Should I Cover That Window?

Design Advice by Heather Theiss
West Coast Design Consultant Heather Theiss dishes on “to cover or not to cover” those windows.

At least once a day I hear some permutation of the question: Should I cover that window? Maybe it's the transom window over your entry door, or the landing window at the top of the stairs. It could be the window above your kitchen sink, or those family room windows that face a private yard. There's not always an obvious answer to the question, but in this article I want to go over some of the more commonly overlooked reasons why you might want to cover that window after all.

#1: Privacy

Privacy is often the primary reason to cover any of your windows in the first place, so of course it is important to consider. When a customer is thinking of leaving a window open, the first thing we check is whether that will affect privacy. For example, if you think you don't want to cover the skinny little sidelight window next to your entry door, be sure to take a look at what can be seen from that window. If it faces your main living areas, you may want to cover it so people walking up to your door cannot see you and your family clearly. 

#2: Peace of Mind

So let's say you have a room in your home whose windows are perfectly private from neighbors and the street. Should you leave those open? Maybe, but it's important to check with your family members on whether or not those windows being open might make them feel uncomfortable, especially at night. Sliding doors are a common one for this problem: When it's dark outside and the lights are on inside, that big expanse of glass can become an uncomfortable black hole. Some people may feel on display, or worry about what they cannot see outside. Be sure to get input from all of your family members to ensure that everyone is able to feel comfortable in those rooms after sunset.

#3: Light Capture

Okay, so here's one that in my experience very few people think about: Covering your windows helps keep your rooms bright at night! Going back to that big sliding door in your family room, you may not realize how much of the light you are using to brighten your rooms at night is going right out of that 40-50 square foot opening, and never coming back. Light travels in a straight line until it bounces off of something. Covering the glass allows you to bounce all of that light right back into the room, and makes for much more efficient use of interior lighting.

#4: Sun Fading

We all love those gorgeous wood floors, but if you don't protect your floors from sunlight, they won't be gorgeous for long. In a single sunny season even brand new floors with UV protective finishes WILL fade if they are left in direct light. While floors are the most obvious victim of sun fading, don't forget about your furniture and the art on your walls. If you are a collector of original art, you definitely need to consider whether there is direct sunlight hitting any of your prized pieces. We may be cloudy for much of the year here in the Pacific Northwest, but when that sun comes out, it is not messing around, so don't underestimate it! If you have not lived in your home long enough to know where the sun will come in, consider the direction the window is facing: South facing windows can get sun all day, while truly North facing windows will never get direct light.

#5: Energy Efficiency

Of COURSE I had to get around to this one! Most window treatments, when closed, will increase the energy efficiency of your home. Some of the most common windows people leave uncovered are also some of the worst offenders in energy loss: Sliding doors and skylights. Skylights, in particular, leak out warm air all winter long, and on hot spells can really make a room uncomfortable. Other high up windows, like entry door transoms and stairway landing windows, can also be problematic in hot weather. If you are working on making your home more efficient, don't forget to cover these windows with something energy efficient, like honeycomb shades.

#6: Uniformity

I left this one for last because I think it is quite subjective. If the window you are thinking of leaving off is separate from the rest of the room, like a kitchen sink window, or those little side-facing windows in a Craftsman living room, uniformity matters only if it matters to you. If you are worried about it, that may be an indicator that it will bother you if you don't do it! Pay attention to your own feelings (and those of your family), and let that guide you.

We’re here to help

I hope this list helps you with your decision on whether or not to cover that window. If you read through it, and are still not sure whether or not you want to cover it, then don't! While it is usually more cost-effective to buy all of your window treatments at one time, and there is always a risk that the product you select may not be available in the future, sometimes you just have to live in your home for a bit before you decide, and that's okay too!

Remember, it's always easier to make these decisions with the help of a professional, so be sure to call us and schedule an appointment with a design consultant who can walk you through this, and the myriad of other choices you have in choosing window treatments for your home!
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