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We’ve been living in our home for two months now, and our living room is the most completed room in our entire house. That certainly doesn’t mean it’s 100% done, but I’ve definitely spent the most time working on this space and I’m obsessed with the progress so far. However, there is one task on my to-do list that I’ve wanted to get done since we moved in…add privacy shades on our windows!
You guys know that I’ve added olive green curtains in here and they’re awesome, but to be perfectly honest, they’re purely decorative. I love the warmth, color, and texture they add to the room. Plus, they really draw the eye up and make our ceilings look taller, highlighting our chunky crown molding. However, I never had plans to open and close these curtains on an everyday basis. Instead, I knew I wanted to add some window shades that would be up during the day and down at night for privacy.
How to Choose Window Treatments
Even though I was preeeetty sure which type of shade I wanted for these living room windows, I still thought it would be beneficial to dive in and create a “How to Choose Window Treatments Guide”! I get so many questions about blinds, shades, and curtains and I figured this could be a great resource for others who need to dress up their windows. So let’s get right to it!
What Kind of Window Treatment?
That was the big question I grappled with as I worked on decorating our living room space. There are so many options when it comes to window treatments — Roman shades, woven shades, solar shades, curtains, and more. How was I to decide? Well, the first thing I did was take a look at each of the top categories individually.
Image via Studio Studio McGee
I’ve actually never used “real” Roman shades in my home. I say “real” because I did DIY this “faux Roman shade” with extra fabric in our old kitchen, but I don’ think that really counts. Roman shades are great when you want to add color and pattern to a space. You can customize the look so they integrate with the room’s decor. Roman shades can sometimes be pretty pricey, but Lowe’s Home Improvement has some amazing options that are on budget.
Because I already have colorful curtains in our living room, roman shades weren’t the best idea for this project (too much fabric!). But I will certainly be looking into the below options for upcoming room makeovers. Maybe our laundry room window??
Rooms to Use: Any! I like them over a kitchen sink, in a nursery, or in a bathroom space.
All Fabrics – Levolor Roman Shades
You guys know I love me a good bamboo shade. Natural woven shades are always a good idea and they’re a budget-friendly way to make your home look more high-end. They add color, warmth, and texture to a space and they act as a nice neutral for your other decor. I’m telling ya, you really can’t go wrong!
In our condo, I had a bamboo shade in our guest room and another in our master bedroom. These usually come in a few set widths, but you can have them cut in-store at Lowe’s for free! That’s exactly what I did for our rooms and they fit snug as a bug. As for the length, the ones I’ve used in the past come in a standard size (64 inches). Lucky for you, I have a DIY tutorial to shorten bamboo shades if they’re too long! It’s super easy and you can customize them to fit your exact window length. And here’s a step-by-step tutorial to hang these shades too
I really considered doing natural woven shades in our living room because I just can’t get enough of the warmth and texture, and they have such a casual vibe. But in the end, I decided to change things up since that is my go-to look.
Rooms: Literally any room. I love natural woven shades!
Levolor Sand // Levolor Spa Cove Tan // Allen + Roth Sedona Whitewash // Allen + Roth Tiran // Allen + Roth Mangrove Twist // Allen + Roth Natural // Alle + Roth Grassy Key // Allen+ Roth Islamorada // Allen + Roth Big Pine
Obviously, you guys know I love curtains since I already have some up in the living room! When it comes to curtains, the options are endless. Color, pattern, texture, pleats, hardware, lining…there are lots of choices to make. Curtains offer a classic look and add warmth, texture, and color to any room (like in the guest bedroom reveal above!). As I always say, it’s best to go high and wide when hanging them to make your windows look bigger and ceilings taller. Also, I love my curtains to just kiss the floor. This blog post has more tips on how to hang curtains the right way (a must-read before ordering anything!). And if you’re using them in a bedroom or nursery, you might want to read my tutorial for DIY blackout curtains.
There are some instances when curtains aren’t a great idea. One example is when there is an obstacle in the way of the curtain flow. I’ve had many readers reach out asking about curtains over a radiator or tucked behind a bed, and I just don’t think that’s a smart move. There are so many other great options for window treatments, so it is probably best to forego curtains if you can’t get to them easily.
Rooms: Bedrooms, Living Room, Dining Room
In rooms where you want to allow as much light as possible to stream through, solar shades are a great idea. They can make it seem as if you don’t have any window treatments up at all, as they usually blend in seamlessly to your trim when they are pulled up. That’s what we used in the living room of our condo. When you want some privacy, you can pull them down and you can customize the amount of light that streams through to really make them work for your specific needs. Most block 99% of UV rays, which helps keep you and your home safer.
That’s exactly what I want for our living room. I want the solar shades to disappear into the trim, but then at night, I want to pull them down for privacy. That way we can watch TV without the entire block seeing what we’re up to!
All Fabrics –Allen + Roth Solar Shades
Finding Solar Shades for My Living Room
Once I figured out that I wanted solar shades, I got to work researching. I looked at lots of amazing options but quickly narrowed in on these Allen + Roth solar shades. I love that they can be customized by both width and length to fit your exact window. Plus, they have various cordless options and even motorized ones. Yeah, pretty dang cool!
You can order ten swatches for free from Lowe’s and I did just that. After combing through the dozens of options, I narrowed it down to ten swatches ranging from white to cream to beige.
Narrowing Down the Fabric Selections
Even though I was eager to order the window treatments, I’m so happy I took the time to order swatches. They came in a few days and seeing them in person was super helpful.
I didn’t want to go with stark white, so I stuck with mostly ivory, cream, and even a few more natural-looking colors.
I laid them all out on my kitchen table and looked at them individually. Honestly, I was super overwhelmed and didn’t know how the heck I was going to narrow it down to one winner.
After feeling them and looking at each one individually, I took them over to the living room to check them out near the windows.
Okay, this made things a lot easier! Right away, I nixed the colors that were too stark white next to the trim. I didn’t want my trim looking dirty.
I then placed a few of the colors next to the dark green curtains to check them out.
I also viewed them next to the wall color (“Ballet White) and trim color (“Simply White).
What’s an Openness Percentage?
I ended up really liking the color white/linen and I ordered it in four different percentages…1%, 3%, 5%, and 10%. Unlike roman shades or roller shades, solar shades are graded with a percentage based on their “openness.” The lower the percentage, the tighter the fabric weave. So a 1% fabric will let less light through than a 10% fabric.
Here’s a view of that in action through my window. You have a tight weave of 1% on the left with a more open weave of 10% on the right, both in the white/linen color.
With solar shades, you will be able to see the view outside your house, while reducing the visibility and light coming into your home. So they’re definitely not blackout shades (which we don’t need in here), but they will give us the privacy we’re craving when we’re home at night.
After looking at all of the samples many many times, I landed on the white/linen color in 1%. While I liked the darker fabric options, I ultimately want these to blend in seamlessly with the trim and decor. Placing it next to the paint color and trim color helped me make that decision! We’re looking for privacy in here at night, so that’s why the 1% appealed to me the most.
Ordering My Solar Shades
Next, it was time to get these babies ordered. I measured all of my windows really carefully (you want to make sure your measurements are very precise!) and headed online to order. There are so many options to customize, so here’s a screenshot of what I went with for each shade (although the size changed based on each window).
I’m still waiting for my window treatments to arrive. Once they do, I’m planning a full blog post and tutorial showing you how to install them. I know window treatments can be intimidating, so I’m hopeful that breaking it down step-by-step will help you as you dress those windows in your own home!