Which Type of Window Treatment Should You Use? Plus a Look at Solar Shades In the Evening!

Roman shades in the sleeping loft | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?

Choosing window treatments is intimidating. Who here has ever thought that? We joke that we’re the resident Window Advisors on our block; we’re always answering the question from friends, neighbors and family, ‘Which type of window treatment should I use in this insert-room-here?’

This post is in partnership with Bali Blinds, a brand we’ve used for years and continue to love. Fabric samples are always free, and Bali Blinds can be purchased at any of these retailers or you can call their customer service directly.

We’ve been installing Bali Blinds throughout our own homes in nearly every style and color for the better part of a decade, and because of that, it doesn’t feel like a terrifying choice. It feels fun! So today, we’re going to break down why we chose each type of window treatment for different rooms, as well as taking the mystery out of, ‘But how does it look from the outside at night?’ Let’s do this!

When To Use Roman Shades

Roman shades are a great way to add a bit of texture, color and pattern to a space through the vast array of available fabrics. We’ve used them in our Chicago dining room, snug and the Tree House loft just to name a few. We’ve ordered Roman shades in both bold colors and calm neutral tones and love that they can either adapt to make a statement, like they did in our friends’ Jill and Eric’s home:

Roman shades in a mid century dining room | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?

Jill + Eric’s Roman Shades

… or blend into their surroundings!

Roman shades in a bedroom at our Tree House | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?

Roman shades at our Tree House

As with most of Bali’s offerings, Roman shades can be tailored to suit the light control needs of any space by selecting different fabrics and liners. Keep in mind that different fabrics paired with different liners can achieve almost any combination of privacy or darkness desired!

Roman shades that make a statement! | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?

Dave + Carmen’s Roman shades

When to Use Natural Shades

In search of an earthy and sustainable shade? Natural shades might be a great fit! Made from renewable resources like bamboo, sisal and jute, no two natural shades are exactly alike. Natural shades are a great option when additional texture, depth and warmth are desired.

Natural shades in a dark green bedroom | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?
Meg + Joe’s natural shades

Lucy’s room got just the right dose of all three when we outfitted her space with these room darkening shades a few years ago. As with Roman Shades, multiple combinations of materials and liners can be used to dictate the light filtering properties of the shades.

Natural shades in our daughter's nursery, with a blackout liner | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?
natural shades in Lucy’s nursery

When to Use Horizontal Blinds

Horizontal wood blinds are a tried and true classic window covering. They’re uniquely beautiful and act as a natural insulator to keep rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and they look great doing it!

Horizontal blinds in a living room setting | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?
Joe + Kara’s horizontal wood blinds

Horizontal blinds also offer almost nearly infinite levels of adjustable privacy with the twist of a wand. Available in wood, aluminum and vinyl and also with countless options for control, horizontal blinds can be designed to fit any space where contrast, wood tones and classic charm is desired.

See also: Choosing wood blinds for a timeless look, part 1 and 2.

When to Use Cellular Shades

If big energy savings and efficiency are your top consideration when selecting window coverings, cellular shades are a great choice. Available in many solid colors, materials, and textures, cellular shades play nicely with almost any decor style and are among the least visible window coverings when fully retracted.

Sampling cellular shades in a sunny living room | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?
Amy + Ed sampling cellular shades

These beauties can also reduce heat transfer into a space by up to 64% by blocking the sun’s heat in the summer and retaining heated air in the winter! The energy savings could really add up in extreme climates! In addition to increasing energy efficiency and style, cellular shades can be made in almost any shape to fit the most unique window styles – think: round and octagon windows.

Cellular shades in a sunny living room with family | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?

​​​​​​​Amy + Ed’s cellular shades

See also: Choosing the best cellular shades, part 1, 2 and 3.

When To Use Solar or Roller Shades

Solar shades and roller shades are nearly identical structurally and are some of the most sleek window coverings available. Minimalists, these are for you!

black solar shades in our Tree House dining room | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?
solar shades at our Tree House

While solars and rollers are similar in functional design, there’s a big difference between how the two function:

  • Roller shades are designed to filter or block light at varying degrees for privacy and light control.
  • On the other hand, solar shades are designed to filter light to protect from glares and sun damage without blocking views to the outside.
Solar shades in a sunny living room | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?

solar shades at the Two Flat

All that to say, we love to use solar shades in spaces where privacy isn’t the #1 priority. On the sunnier sides of our home, solar shades are the perfect solution to reduce glare and UV rays without blocking the natural light that we (and our dozens of houseplants!) love so much. For added light control and energy efficiency options, we like to pair solar shades with textural custom drapery for what adds up to be one of our favorite combinations of window coverings!

Tip: Bali Blinds recently launched new solar and roller fabrics, including some with eco-friendly options! See more here.

An Evening View from the Outside, In​​​​​​​

Whenever we mention our solar shades, we’re inevitably asked just how much privacy they actually offer at night. This will vary heavily on the opacity of the selected fabric, which typically range from 1% to 14%. The higher the opacity percentage, the more visibility you’ll have. The lower the opacity percentage, the tighter the weave and the more privacy you’ll gain. In our Chicago home, our front windows have all been outfitted with solar shades with a 10% opacity. We chose 10% because allowing more filtered sunlight in was our goal.

A view in the evening of looking into our living room, with solar shades down | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?
solar shades with 10% opacity

As can be seen in the photo above, shapes and outlines are visible inside the home, in the evenings, while the lights are on. If privacy + minimalism is your jam, I’d suggest roller shades to block the nighttime view completely. For more detail, we’ve discussed nighttime privacy at length here and as always, encourage ordering free sample swatches to see what percentage of openness might be right for your space!

An Evening View from the Inside, Out

When closed in the evening, solar shades create a nearly solid block of color with almost no view of the outside.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Just keep in mind that with the lights on, you can be seen inside the home much more than you can see to the outside.

A view in the evening with solar shades down | via Yellow Brick Home: Which type of window treatment should you use?
solar shades with 10% opacity

In Summary

Bali’s window covering options are expansive, but we hope this primer has helped narrow down the options to find the shades or blinds that are right for you and your space. As a friendly reminder, don’t hesitate to get those free samples picked out and on their way to you!

If you have questions, drop them in the comments below, and we’ll gladly help you through your window treatment dilemmas.

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  • Sarah3.16.21 - 11:31 AM

    What a timely post! I just bought a house that is in desperate need of window coverings, I purchased my first Bali Blind Roman shade last night. I was debating the roller vs solar but didn’t understand the difference, this helped a lot! ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.16.21 - 12:19 PM

      I’m so happy this could help!ReplyCancel

      • Sarah3.16.21 - 3:07 PM

        Is there any chance you could add a closeup photo of the top of your roller blind? I was debating the fabric direction, in front or behind, and the website mentioned the front would hide the roll more… Which had me worried about whether the roll wasn’t that pretty or something hahaReplyCancel

        • Kim3.16.21 - 3:17 PM

          You can see in the evening photo what the valance looks like for rollers and solars! It will hide the roll completely if you add the cassette valance (which is what you see in the evening photo). I personally prefer using the valance and having the fabric roll from behind, so that it sits closer to the window.ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.16.21 - 11:42 AM

    I have a giant (**GIANT**) window above my bed.  It pours in cold air during the winter so I hung some plain thermal draperies from Target to cut down on the draft.  But it looks a little like a theater curtain in there and it’s difficult to open/close them each day.  I know a better solution is going to be big $$$ so I don’t want to get it wrong.  I need draft blocking, light blocking, ease of operation, attractive appearance, and something that can cover a large expanse (bonus if it has 3-on-1 operation).  ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.16.21 - 12:23 PM

      With the cold draft, you may want to consider cellular shades! You can get it motorized so you only need to push one button each morning and evening to open or lower. Cellular shares will still let in some light though, so you could always layer with curtains on either side of the window.

      A roller shade is more minimal but won’t provide as much protection from the draft. However, it can be full blackout and also put on a motor to lift and lower!

      And if motorized isn’t the right fit for you, you can select a continuous loop chain (if your window is really tall, this would be easier to open/lower) or cordless so that you don’t have messy cords dangling.ReplyCancel

  • Julie3.16.21 - 1:31 PM

    I never considered the look and light from the outside. I really like the way your front living room window looks with the shade down, and something to think about next time I’m going shopping for window coverings.ReplyCancel

  • Debra3.16.21 - 3:34 PM

    No questions, but just loving the little peep of sweet Mr.B <3ReplyCancel

  • Kylie3.16.21 - 6:39 PM

    The problem we face is what’s the best option for energy efficiency + grubby little toddler hands. We LOVED our cellular blinds in past houses but we moved here just before our son turned 2 and have been paralyzed in blind decisions since then.ReplyCancel

    • Scott3.17.21 - 9:46 AM

      We’ve loved the combination of solar shades and heavy custom drapery in our home. We always like having multiple window covering options based on the need for privacy and/or energy efficiency.ReplyCancel

  • Gustavo Woltmann3.25.21 - 11:49 PM

    Thanks for all the suggestions. These can make my home look a lot better. ReplyCancel

  • Mariele3.29.21 - 10:51 PM

    What about curtains?ReplyCancel


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