Dear Gail: I’ve recently changed jobs and am now working at night. I have soft sheer shades and absolutely love them, but obviously, they are not the best for daytime sleeping. I want to keep my shades, as I love looking into the backyard while still having privacy. I really don’t want heavy drapes, so I am looking for some other options. — Mara
Dear Mara: Shift changes are hard, and good sleep really makes a difference in your productivity and health. I understand about not wanting heavy drapes, so here are some other options.
The easiest, if you have a deep window frame, is to add a blackout roller shade behind your existing shade. When the roller shade is pulled up, it will be hidden behind your shade headrail. They’re easy to install, and most large home improvement stores have them in stock and can cut to size.
Now, since they are mounted inside your window, you will still get light from the sides, as an allowance needs to be taken for the roller hardware. So it just depends on if you need total darkness. If you don’t have room to mount them behind your shades, you can mount them outside and add a valance so they will be hidden when pulled up.
I know you want to keep your shades, but consider replacing them with a sun-up, sun-down shade, which is two shades on one headrail. It will give you the softness when you’re home and then room darkening to sleep.
Two fabrics are used on one headrail with a center rail in between the two fabrics: one fabric between the top rail and the center rail and one between the center rail and the bottom rail. When you want the light, you pull it so the sheer shade is covering your window. When you need to sleep, pull it so that the blackout shade is covering the window. The opposite shade will just be stacked either at the top or bottom of the shade, taking up very little room.
Another shade option is a blackout Roman shade. You can mount it on the outside of the window, and then when you pull it up, it will look like a decorative valance. The amount of wall space you have from the top of your window to your ceiling will determine how far it will come down into your window when pulled up.
If you have limited space, I’d suggest a flat Roman. A flat Roman lays flat when down, versus a soft Roman that has folds. So when pulled up, it will be longer and come farther into your window.
Now on all the shade options, you will get light seepage coming through the sides of the windows, but very little. You could mount the sun-up, sun-down shade on the outside of your window, but I personally don’t like the look, and the shade is heavy.
A more expensive option, but one that will completely block out light, are exterior shutters. I have Rolladens on my home, and I can tell you I have no idea what time of day it is when I wake up. This is good and bad, because I do oversleep sometimes if I don’t set an alarm.
Being that your bedroom faces your backyard, it would look fine to just have it on one window. When rolled up, they stack into a headrail. Select a color that is close to your exterior paint and you won’t even notice it.
I know you don’t want heavy drapes, but here’s another option if none of the shades are to your liking. You can use a double drapery rod with a separate blackout liner on the back rod and drapery panels on the front. The panels could just be side panels, and the liner would stack behind them when pulled back during the day.
Now, to make sure you get the full benefit of them, you should mount them from floor to ceiling and at least 12 inches out from each side of the window. This will block 90 percent of any light from coming in. I say 90 percent because you’ll still get some light sneaking in from the sides and top.
To reduce light coming in from the sides, use a drapery rod that returns to the wall. This way the drapery panels will wrap to the wall, eliminating the gap between the front of the rod and the wall.
To keep light from coming in the top, I’d suggest a cornice box, since the top returns to the wall. You are adding costs, but this is the best way to block most of the light.
I hope one of these will work for you, and sleep well.
Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to GMJinteriors@gmail.com. Or mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is www.GMJinteriors.com.