Ask Jennifer Adams: Window blinds or shades? Balancing privacy, sun shades and views

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Slatted blinds such as plantation shutters allow light into your home but block the views of passersby.

Q: The front of our house faces west, so the entire house stews in its own juices all spring and summer, and into the fall. My husband loves those 10 percent screen shades, but I hate the way they look from the outside, and they make me feel claustrophobic on the inside. I like traditional drapery panels, but we are on a busy street, so we need privacy. My husband doesn’t seem to care because we never use our living room, but I care. Please help.

A: Well, balancing your privacy with keeping views of the outside is definitely a trade-off. And, thinking about how your window treatments look from the outside isn’t something everyone considers. To increase  shade from outside, consider planting a big tree or hedge or trellis with grapes, kiwi, or other quick-growing vines. That will be great-looking but might not address the privacy problem.

If you’re in a tall condo tower, maybe what your windows look like from the outside isn’t a big deal. But for curb appeal in a single-family house, it matters. This is where neutrals and slatted blinds or shades really shine. I love slatted blinds, such as plantation shutters, and you can adjust the angle of the louvers to allow light into your home but block the view of passersby. Soften the inside by layering with sheers or simple drape panes.

Sunshade screens are good for reducing glare and heat, but, as you noticed, they do absolutely nothing for privacy at nighttime. In fact, the way these screen fabrics (and a lot of sheers) work is that the darker side is hidden from the  lighter side. So during the daytime, the outside of the house is lighter than the inside, but anyone on the inside can see a filtered view out.

If you choose shade screens, you can always layer slatted blinds or sheers with a drape panel. When your husband is home, he can adjust it however he wants, and you have pretty drape panels to adjust the way you like. To keep the look nice from the outside, pick a consistent first layer (sheer, shade, or blind) throughout your home, or at least the side of the house that faces the street.

Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, writer and TV personality. Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com or on Twitter: @JenniferAdams. For more design ideas, visit Jennifer’s blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.