This post is sponsored by Bali Blinds. We’ve outfitted Unit 2 of our ongoing Two Flat project with cordless solar shades that will enhance the look and usability of this unique (future) rental unit.
We own a few rental properties, and there are times when we need to remove our homeowner cap and put on our landlord cap. A question we’ve had to ask ourselves a few times now is:
Who is responsible for window coverings in a rental unit? The tenant or the landlord?
Technically speaking, landlords in our area are not required to install window treatments of any kind, but we like to think of it as a best practice! We pride ourselves in offering unique, thoughtfully-designed and fully-equipped units to our tenants, and we’ve found that including custom window coverings is one way for us to make sure our apartments stand out. It’s also peace of mind for us to handle the install, since it’s one less thing that would have a tenant using a drill!
Narrowing Down Our Options
Unit 2 will be a traditional yearly lease, and we wanted to offer our tenants light filtering capabilities while still blocking harmful UV rays. Bali Blinds solar shades are a consistent go-to for us, because they offer UV protection while allowing a view to the outside – even when drawn closed! The opacity, or ‘openness’, is where you can tailor how much light filtering you’re looking for. For example, a solar shade with an openness of 1% has a tighter weave, allowing the least amount of light filtering. A higher percentage of openness – say, 14% – will allow more sunlight and visibility.
One of our favorite parts of adding new solar shades to windows is narrowing down the options from a wide pool of contenders! Bali offers more color, pattern and openness options than we can wrap our heads around, but the great news is that they offer free swatches! Our goal for this particular unit was for the solar shades to blend seamlessly into the contrast trim color, Sherwin Williams Magnetic Gray. We ordered a range of samples in colors and patterns ranging from cool and warm off-whites, all the way to some darker heather gray options.
Once the samples arrived, we quickly narrowed the wide pool down to a few favorites, then held them up to Magnetic Gray samples painted onto the wall. Kim and I both quickly gravitated toward Biscuit in 4% openness for the perfect blend of neutral tone, texture and light filtering.
We also opted for a cordless lift with a clear hem grip for a safety-first, seamless look. Once we measured our window openings, we patiently waited for the shades to arrive! Here’s a video that shares our process from start to finish, and yes, it really is this simple!
Installation In Just a Few Minutes!
In addition to the range of colors, textures and patterns that Bali offers in all of their products, they’ve seemingly perfected the mounting and installation process as well! The sturdy spring-loaded mounting brackets (seen below) mount with two screws each.
For our inside mount installation, we simply screwed two brackets into the upper window casings flush with the face of the new windows. We generally measure in a few inches on each side so the brackets distribute the weight of the shade evenly.
On the off chance that measurements aren’t perfect, the entire back of the roller shade is slotted to allow for a bit of side-to-side adjustment once the shades are clipped into place. Each of our Unit 2’s four window shades took us less than five minutes to install, including setup time.
The finishing touch of the installation process is to slip on the cassette valance (below) and close the retention clips. Done! Seriously. Five minutes each!
Functionality and Openness
We chose a fabric with 4% openness, which felt like a sweet spot for both sleeping in and visibility. Below, you can see how the shades look when they’re pulled close. They’re not total blackouts, but they eliminate enough light to create a comfortable sleeping environment.
With the cordless lift control, a gentle downward tug on the clear hem grip raises the blinds to near the top, where a gentle soft close feature raises the shade for the last few inches to eliminate harsh operation. As parents ourselves, we prefer this control type because it completely eliminates dangling cord hazards and provides a completely seamless look. It’s a win for everyone!
Hiding in Plain Sight
Our goal for all four of these roller shades was for them to blend as seamlessly as possible into the windows when not in use. The Biscuit fabric pairs nicely with both the trim color (SW Magnetic Gray) and wall color (SW Heron Plume), and the cassette valences hide the shade roll almost completely.
While shades in the living room aren’t necessary for privacy since they directly face the neighboring building’s solid brick wall, they do wonders for the light control in the space! We can very easily imagine cozying up on a big comfy sectional with shades drawn for a lazy weekend movie marathon.
While choosing the best solar shades for windows can seem like a time-consuming task, it’s easy and fun! Bali’s thoughtfully laid-out website can guide you through the selection and design process from start to finish. If a jolt of inspiration would be helpful, you can find a variety of Bali Blinds options in our archives!
If you rent, who has installed the window shades in your home?
As always, Thank you to 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 contact their customer service directly.
Great post – thank you! I’m considering solar shades for our living room, which has two large windows facing our busy street. Would you think 4% openness provides enough privacy even at dusk or nighttime? I basically just don’t want my COVID WAH office setup immediately visible to passers-by :-)
With lights on inside, solar shades won’t offer complete privacy in the evenings. Instead, you might want to look into roller shades, or perhaps layering solar shades with curtains!
I’ve never rented an apartment that didn’t have window coverings, seems like a large custom expense that would have no value to the renter to take with them. As the owner, I wouldn’t want each tenant to choose their own style and put holes in different locations of the trim and walls. From the outside I would want the style of window covering to be the same from floor to floor (in a multi-unit building). For all of these reasons, window shades should be provided.
You make a good point. I bought a 1940s house that was a rental for a long time and there were little holes all over the corners of the original wood window trim. We ended up with similar pull shades like in this post.
Our hope is that by installing something nice to start, there’s no need to continually replace, etc.
Totally agree! I’ve never heard of a rental that leaves the windows completely bare – they’ve always offered some kind of shade or blinds. Cause at the end of the day, there’s only a handful of options to chose from (white, wood, etc). I mean you can’t go putting in some bizarre patterned fushia roller shade in a rental bedroom. But the renter can choose to whether or not to add Personality through curtains. Similar to when you sell your home – most leave the blinds/shades (I have never met anyone who took them). Taking/leaving curtains and rods seems to be a personal thing. With expanding rods and standard ceiling heights they can be reused so much more easily.
I absolutely agree with this idea. I wish more landlords considered this.
As a painter, I rehab homes for a client who owns multiple rental homes and occasionally buys a new one if the numbers work. He says that in our city the landlord is required to provide window coverings. He either buys aluminum blinds or uses whatever window treatments came with the house if they happen to be in good shape. Neither solution looks good to me after we have spent a month or 2 repairing and repainting a new acquisition. He does all the right things, like repairing the systems that run the house, refinishing hard wood floors, having me repair walls, remove wall paper and paint it all. To then end on the cheap with window coverings always makes me cringe. But I can see how an investor thinks, “I’m out of money, I need to just get this place on the market”. Your solution looks 1000x better.
These look great! I’m in my fourth New York City rental, and each and everyone not only had no window coverings, BUT no window covering hardware. As the renter, I’ve had to put up curtain rods and whatnot every single time! It’s such a pain, and every time I’ve done it, I’ve complained and wished it had been done by my landlord.
It’s always worth asking the landlord if they’ll cover the cost of shades, or at the VERY least, chip in / deduct rent for a month!
We’ve always had window coverings in the form of blinds or shutters installed by the landlord, which I really appreciated. They can be expensive and not transferable to a new house when you inevitably move out. Some have left curtains or drapes, which we promptly removed as those were too specific in decor aesthetics.
Good point about curtains!
If you were renting the apartment would you then add curtains on the windows for decor purposes? Or, leave them be.
They can be left alone, or the tenant could add curtains! We always let our tenants know that if they’d like to drill something into the walls (like anchors for a curtain rod), we’d be happy to help them.
I was going to ask this exact question! With you guys specifically it seems like you’d rather be doing that for them, even if they chose product, etc.
This is completely aside from the topic at hand – but please tell me you have decided to adopt that pup. She really seems to be bonding with your family.
Thanks to your multiple recommendations over the years, I am ready to pull the triggers on Bali Blinds! They always look good and seamless in your home(s). When I ordered samples, only 3/5 arrived. I’d also like to see examples of exterior mounting since our quirky windows don’t have room for inside mount like yours. Is it best to reach out to Bali Blinds with those questions or try to get ahold of one of their vendors like Lowes?
I know that the supply chain is a bit behind on samples, so that’s a bummer! I would DEFINITELY call their customer service line. They have always been so helpful when we’ve had questions, and they know their stuff. We’d love to know what you’ve chosen for the fabric!
Thanks! I’ll report back when it’s all finished :)
We just had a difficult time installing a solar roller from Bali that we bought at Lowe’s website, in a custom size. It was hard just because the roller brackets had to go in the very corner of the window frame and the drill didn’t fit, so we were sending the screws in at a slight angle. We did inside mount, no valance. I’m very intrigued by the clear thingies you have that seem to extend the brackets. Can you talk a bit more about that? Thank you!
Hi Meghan! I’m curious what your brackets looked like. We’ve used these same ones several times and they don’t have to go on the end – we usually install them 2-3” in from the corner. Because of the way the solar shades are made, there’s enough room for the shade to slide side-to-side for the perfect fit.
I don’t know about the window coverings, I think you are smart to install your own so damage is not done to the windows, not everyone is tool savy. But seriously….that dog and your husband, they look like they are in love!
We are landlords of 20 units and we always provide window coverings. Ours are not as nice as your and usually install vinyl mini blinds that are inexpensive and we replace between tenants once they are dirty and broken. We also used cordless for safety reason. If I could get free ones I upgrade, but our $15 shades are much better than a tenant hanging a Penguins sheet in the window held up by nails. On sliding glass doors we provide the rod and the tenant provides their own curtain.
Love your insight, thank you, Julie!
Love the look you’ve gone with! I own now but rented for years in LA and Santa Monica. Some units had draperies, some had none, and some had drapes on some windows and not others so I assume it was not a requirement. I got pretty good at installing cheap mini-blinds and finding a place that sold inexpensive drapes for the rental market. This was pre-Ikea (I am old!)
Not sure if you’ve covered this elsewhere, but do you have any concerns about finding a renter for the yearly lease when the other unit is an Airbnb or the like? I’d be very reluctant to sign on to a revolving cast of close neighbors – noise, safety, potentially getting asked all sorts questions even if your rental agreement specifies to contact you, etc. And now, virus-related concerns.
We will be open and honest with them, so they can make the decision that’s right for them. We’ve gone back and forth on the Airbnb aspect, especially bc of the pandemic. We’re taking this day by day, since there’s a lot to consider!
All 6 rentals we’ve lived in have come with blinds. I crave light, and I hate the way almost all blinds and shades look, so I leave them open pretty much all the time (only pull them down when I absolutely must have privacy). My dream rental would have a simple clean curtain rod hung at the proper height above the windows, so that I could choose my own drapes and not worry about loosing my deposit for making holes (bonus points for a double rod so I could do sheers and drapes).
That’s an interesting idea! Of course, they’d have to throw in the rings, too. ;)
So glad you did this post! My husband just ordered some solar shades for our kitchen at 5% opacity, but we need more for my office and I’d rather support Bali Blinds since they sponsor you!
Love you, Jane! Their quality is top notch.
What’s that nice trip-hop song playing in your video?
It’s by Engelwood and Dyalla!
I am super curious to know what you include in your leases. I’m sure you know there was recently a hot debate on Emily Henderson’s blog about asking for permission vs forgiveness as a renter since so many gals on her team are renters. I would also LOVE to see what a rental looks like for you when a tenant moves out.
I haven’t seen that post on Emily’s blog – I’ll have to check it out! Our renters just moved out of our garden apartment, and they left the place spotless, but we’ve also had tenants move out and leave things so-so. It sort of comes with the job, and we’re okay with that.
Hi! Our landlord provides mini-blinds but after living in our apartment for 5 years (8 total now), we replaced all the mini blinds with shades (similar to the ones you installed) because I was so sick of the mini blinds getting damaged. Our window locks stick out and if the blinds are down and you close an open window, it literally slices right thru the blind breaking multiple slats. After 5 years of breaking a set and getting them replaced (luckily LL knows that’s a problem and just has multiple sets in the basement we can grab to replace them with) – I broke down and just bought our own nicer shades. Totally worth it and we’ll probably leave in place when we move out. I don’t know why our LL doesn’t just install better quality blinds that don’t get damaged so easily! Many of our neighbors have broken slats that you can see from the outside and it looks awful!
The State Sanitary Code doesn’t say landlords have to provide window coverings, but you may need to ask your local municipality or check another source. Remember also that just because it’s not the law, doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea!