How Dutch Windows Represent the Fine Line Between the Public and Private Spheres
One of the first things that struck me during my visit to the Netherlands was that the Dutch are not too keen on curtains. Or if they do have curtains, they seem to leave them open almost all the time. So any passerby has a perfect view of the inside of a Dutch home, by day or by night.
On one occasion, I walked along a row of homes whose windows were very close to the footpath. Almost all of the windows were uncurtained. Domestic activities were on full view of the street - many were watching TV; some others reading at a table, or preparing something in their open plan kitchen.
At first, my curiosity got the better of me. I simply wasn’t accustomed to having people’s domestic life projected onto the street for all to see. Then, I checked myself, suspecting that there must be a rule of etiquette that covers this sort of situation. As a Dutch resident later confirmed to me, while the Dutch like to keep their windows open to the street, they also understand that this gesture of transpare…
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