For a very long time, I was convinced that I need to live in a rather large house to be happy. I’d dream of one day moving into somewhere palatial, with an enormous footprint, vast ceilings and many rooms. I’ve always had this feeling that I need a lot of space to be happy.
But then, not so long ago I had a realisation. It doesn’t matter about the size of the home. What it comes down to is light. Natural light is what makes me feel better. So what I actually need is a home that is flooded with natural light and has lots of big windows that provide views of nature.
Scientific studies have proven that regular exposure to daylight is essential to maintaining human health and well-being. Research also shows that I am not alone in preferring buildings with large windows. This is because they provide a connection to the outdoors, give us a better sense of the time of day and allow us to experience varying intensities of light and shadow throughout the day.
Again, it all comes down to biophilic design which I have written about extensively. In fact, it was a short stay at Wildwood Spa, a tiny biophilic retreat in the forest of North Devon, that made me realise how much of an impact natural light actually has and how important windows are.
So let’s take a better look at some of the best reasons to maximise natural light in your home.
1. To Save Energy & Money
This is quite an obvious reason to start with. By bringing as much natural daylight as possible into your home you need to use far less artificial lighting and therefore energy which saves you money in the long run. This is definitely something worth thinking about if you are designing and building a home, renovating or extending. And it is particularly pertinent given the explosion in energy prices this year.
2. To Increase the Value of Your Home
My Home Move Conveyancing recently conducted a survey asking Brits what features of a property will make them fall in love at first sight. Over 2000 British homeowners were surveyed and the results showed that the size of the windows ranked fourth out of 30 features.
Clearly, the size of the windows directly correlates to the amount of natural light that a home gets. This makes natural light one of the most sought-after features and a key priority homebuyers look for when purchasing a property. Experts also agree that properties with good natural light have a higher resale value.
3. To Improve Sleep Patterns
Another reason to maximise natural light at home is that our current lifestyle is really interrupting our circadian rhythm and affecting our sleep patterns. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock. They co-ordinate our mental and physical systems and make sure that our bodily processes occur at the right time during the 24hr period.
The sleep-wake cycle is one of the most important circadian rhythms. Exposure to daylight helps us to stay awake, feel alert and keep active. As night falls, it signals to our bodies to produce melatonin which is the sleep hormone that allows us to have a restful night’s sleep.
As we now tend to spend 90% of our time indoors it is easy to see why there is the need to maximise natural light at home. We need to ensure that our circadian rhythm and the sleep-wake cycle can continue to function properly and protect our sleep patterns.
Without good quality sleep, we begin to see all sorts of physical and mental consequences such as increased stress, emotional distress, mood disorders, memory problems and general poor performance.
4. To Prevent Seasonal Depression
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of seasonal depression. It often affects people during the winter months when a lack of daylight reduces our serotonin levels. It can result in low mood, irritability, lethargy and sleepiness. We can lose interest in the things that we normally love to do and can crave carbohydrates.
It is important to expose ourselves to as much daylight as possible during the winter months so that we don’t experience these drops in serotonin and the resulting side effects. Spending more time outside will help with this, but also finding ways to maximise natural light inside your home too.
5. To Keep Us Fit and Healthy
As we’ve seen natural light is absolutely necessary for keeping us fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. But it is more than our sleep and our mood that is affected by the amount of natural light that we are exposed to.
Our skin absorbs vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D helps to prevent bone loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, weight gain, and various cancers. And according to science, it doesn’t matter whether we get this sunlight outdoors or indoors.
Vitamin D is also important for our immune system. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that Vitamin D is crucial for activating our T-Cells which enable us to fight off serious, life-threatening infections in the body.
Exposure to natural light as we have seen increases our serotonin levels. A side effect of this is that serotonin suppresses our appetite and helps us to lose weight or not gain weight. Makes sense if you’ve ever found it easier to diet in the Summer months.
How Can We Maximise Natural Light at Home?
This is much easier to do if you are designing and building your own home, planning an extension or undergoing a large renovation project.
1. Add Extra Doors and Windows
Plan in as many large windows and doors as you can. Unless your home is a listed building and has to abide by certain regulations, making your windows and doors as big as possible will allow more light to enter your home.
2. Replace External Walls with Glazing
Consider replacing walls with glazing like large bi-fold doors or minimalist sliding patio doors that can fully open up one side of your home. This will not only improve the airflow in your home but will also allow light to flood in.
3. Replace Internal Walls with Glazing
If you have a particularly dark room in your home, you may be able to knock through an internal wall and replace it with glazed panels. This will allow you to still have a defined boundary between the rooms but the light can flow between them uninterrupted.
4. Add a Rooflight
Another way to maximise natural light in your home is by adding a rooflight. You can choose from a flat rooflight which offers a minimalistic finish or a pitched rooflight which has the added benefit of adding height to the room and therefore creating a feeling of spaciousness.
If you aren’t able to make structural changes to your home there are a number of other ways that you can bring more daylight into your home without the building work.
5. Use Light Colours When Decorating
Decorating with lighter colours is generally accepted as making a space feel brighter. Light colours reflect and bounce light around whereas darker colours tend to absorb it.
6. Choose Lighter Furniture
Dark, heavy furniture can take up a lot of visual space as well as absorb light. Opting for lighter furniture that can reflect the natural light around the room is a much better choice.
7. Add Mirrored Surfaces
If you can’t add extra windows, try adding mirrors to your interiors instead. Mirrors can bounce light around the room creating the illusion that light is entering the space from different angles. Consider getting mirrors that look like windows to trick the eye into believing that there is more natural light coming in.
8. Choose Lighter Flooring
By choosing lighter and polished flooring you can reflect the natural light back up into the room. Something like polished stone tiles works well for this.
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Window treatments are an essential component of any space. As a city dweller whose space overlooks neighboring apartments, investing in a great sets of curtains was obviously one of my top priorities upon moving in. That said, because function was top of mind, I opted for a pretty basic looking set of drapes. They do the job, sure, but are they interesting? Eh. I probably could’ve put a little more thought into making them a little more decorative. As it turns out though, it isn’t too late to do just that — and without breaking the bank!
One way to give plain curtains a little more flavor? Layering a bunting pennant or garland on top of or in between your window treatments. I first saw this trick in a Ballard Design catalog with their sculptural Mystic Ceramic Garland, and it got me thinking about how easy this idea would be to implement. Then I caught sight of the same idea at work in photographer Erin Derby’s apartment, only she hung a golden star garland in between her window treatments rather than right on top of them. The way it drapes over her art here — and works with the colors in the piece — definitely spices up her solid color curtains.
You sometimes see people introduce these types of flourishes to their spaces during the holidays, but I’m talking more about a year-round solution. All you have to do is pick out a garland that speaks to you and then tie it to the ends of your curtain rod or rods. You could even hang one of these over a set of French doors. Whatever hanging configuration you choose, just be sure to keep the garland on the loose side so you can still open and close your curtains easily. You could even layer two garlands together; in that case, I’d probably choose something beaded and pair that with something tasseled for contrast in shape, size, and texture.
Stylistically speaking though, the garland options are limited. You can choose something a little more sophisticated with ceramic beads, like the Ballard garland I mentioned above, or opt for something felted, colorful, and more whimsical, as shown below.
In particular, this rainbow one from Crate & Barrel is under $30 and will certainly pack a punch in a kid’s room or even just a colorful living room. You could also DIY something similar if you’re crafty with pom-poms.
Willing to make more of an investment? I can’t get enough of this floral number from Anthropologie, which is sure to make even the most cookie cutter of apartment bedrooms feel like something out of a fairytale.
If you ever tire of displaying your garland on the windows (though I don’t think you will!), you can incorporate this kind of piece in many other areas of your home. You can always hang one above a headboard, wrap it around a mirror, or use a glue gun to adhere it to a lampshade. If you want to think outside the box for your window treatments even more, you could try string lights in this spot, too, just as this Chicago renter did. The possibilities are endless!
Vertical blinds in our living room that we inherited from the previous owner
When we bought our flat in 2013, we inherited the blinds that the previous owner had kindly left us. They were awful. We took most of them down immediately. In the living room, we had cream vertical blinds which I have hated since the day we moved in. But I just couldn’t work out what to replace them with.
The living room window is long, offset from the centre of the room and has a radiator below. Due to the small size of the room, the furniture placement adds an extra level of complication. Also, the room is north facing so is naturally dark. When we last redecorated I decided to embrace the darkness and paint the room in a dark moss green which makes it lovely and cosy but darker still.
We needed to replace the vertical blinds with something that wouldn’t block out the little natural light that we have in this room, but that would still provide us with privacy from the road and the houses across the street.
All of these considerations were completely overwhelming and I couldn’t work out what the best option would be. When Luxaflex got in touch to ask if I would like to review their blinds and installation service I couldn’t have been happier. Having professionals help me to solve the window dressing dilemma I had lived with for way too long was such a relief.
Luxaflex has been on my radar for many years now and I have featured their wooden shutters here on the blog before. As a company, they are well known for their exceptional quality, unique design, and outstanding craftsmanship. So obviously they were top of my lust list when it comes to my own home.
My local Luxaflex dealer is Ronald Kirby & Sons in Newton Poppleford near Sidmouth, Devon
Luckily, our local Luxaflex showroom, Ronald Kirby & Son, is only an hour away, near Sidmouth. They don’t just do Luxaflex blinds, but specialise in carpets, flooring, wallpapers, paints, curtains, blinds, fabrics, trimmings, upholstery and furniture. This was very reassuring as I knew that they would be able to help me to find the perfect blinds for our living room, whilst taking the whole room into consideration.
I was able to organise a visit to the showroom of the Luxaflex dealer, where I met Simon, his wife, and their son Sam. They were all extremely friendly and put me at ease straight away. They listened while I explained my struggle to choose a new window treatment for my living room and didn’t make me feel inadequate for not knowing what to choose despite working in interiors myself.
The showroom at Ronald Kirby & Son houses a comprehensive display of all of the available Luxaflex window treatment options
They showed me the full Luxaflex blind collection that they stock and talked me through the benefits, the differences and which rooms each type is most suited to. They are so knowledgeable and straight away I knew that I could trust them to help me choose the perfect solution for our home.
I was also able to look through the fabric book and see the huge variety of beautiful and innovative fabrics with the look of silks, linens, and satins. It was at this point that I started to feel overwhelmed again and had to tell Simon that I may need help narrowing down the fabric and the colour. He assured me he would be able to help me choose when he came to measure up during my Luxaflex home consultation.
A selection of fabrics available for the Luxaflex blinds range
Looking at all the Luxaflex blinds up close in the showroom enabled me to narrow it down to the Pirouette shades. What attracted me to them is the flexibility to control both light and privacy. The veins control how much light enters the room but even when completely open the sheer fabric provides the perfect level of privacy from outside without blocking the natural light. At this point, I was still worried that they may make the room darker but Simon assured me that they wouldn’t and I trusted his opinion. (He was right!)
Samples of the Luxaflex Pirouette Shades shown open and closed
Simon went above and beyond to help me choose the right colour for the Luxaflex Pirouette blinds I was going to order. I showed him some photographs of my living room so he was able to help me narrow it down to a few colours. He then arranged to have fabric samples sent to my home so I could see how each colour on the shortlist would look in my home.
We booked our home visit and Simon and Sam came to measure up and help me finalise the colour choice. All Luxaflex blinds are made to measure and the Luxaflex dealers can advise on whether you should have your blinds fitted inside or outside the recess.
With Simon’s expert help we settled on Tiger Eye as the colour. The fabric wasn’t quite a blackout but offered the perfect amount of opacity when closed and the perfect amount of privacy when open. It is a beautiful warm coppery shade that looks beautiful against the moss green walls and enhances the quality of light that comes into the room.
I was also impressed to learn that the beautiful and innovative fabric employs UV filtering technology that protects furniture and flooring. Luxaflex Pirouette shades block up to 81% of harmful UV rays with veins open and 99% when closed.
Once we were all measured up and the final fabric and colour choice had been made, Simon informed me that the lead time for the blinds to be produced was currently at about 18 weeks. Apparently, the blinds are made abroad and given current supply chain issues it’s no wonder that the lead time has increased. Obviously, this wasn’t an issue for me having waited far too long already to get replacement blinds.
Simon and Sam came back earlier this month to fit our new Luxaflex blinds. It was a really smooth operation and I can’t recommend Ronald Kirby & Sons highly enough. The service is super professional but being a family business, the customer service was extremely friendly and approachable. No question was too silly and they made time to show me everything I needed to know. They are a real credit to Luxaflex who should be very proud to have such fantastic local dealers.
The Luxaflex Pirouette shades came with the Luxaflex PowerView motorisation advanced operating system. This means that the blinds are actually motorised smart home blinds controlled via an innovative wireless system that lets you control the blind using an app on your smartphone or tablet. The blind is operated by built-in Li-ion batteries so no wiring is required.
Now, this is the best bit for me. Luxaflex PowerView enables you to create and schedule customised room settings that allow your blinds to open, close, or adjust automatically throughout the day or night. I’ve set mine to open automatically at sunrise and close automatically at sunset seven days a week. However, you can set scenes that allow you customise the blind for various activities such as reading, nap times or movie nights for example. You could programme it to open later at the weekend. The customisation options are really convenient.
Being able to operate the blind from your phone or tablet also means that you don’t have to worry about going on holiday as you can either leave them to open and close at set times or you can operate them remotely making it less obvious that nobody is home for a prolonged period.
If you are even more techy, you’ll be pleased to know that the PowerView Automation can be connected to leading Smart Home systems including Google assistant, Apple Homekit, and Amazon Alexa to create a personalised, whole-home smart solution.
If tech isn’t your favourite thing, it is perhaps easier and convenient to use the PowerView Pebble remote control to quickly adjust any single or group of PowerView blinds with just a push of a button. Using the Scene controller, you can create scenes using the app and then download and activate them so that you can use them on the Pebble remote.
Luxaflex blinds with PowerView can also be controlled via the Pebble remote control
There are so many benefits to the Luxaflex PowerView blinds. They can help reduce energy loss, and save on heating and cooling costs to create more energy-efficient and healthy homes. This is something that will undoubtedly be a priority for many families as the cost of energy soars.
They have also been designed with child safety in mind as the cordless control removes the potential hazard for small children.
We’ve had our Luxaflex blinds for a couple of weeks now. My only regret is not getting them much sooner. They look absolutely fantastic, both inside and from outside and provide enhanced privacy and security. They are super easy to use and the automatic function is just so convenient. I love the fact that I never have to worry about them and they simply open and close on their own at sunrise and sunset. I may need to adjust those timings throughout the year as it gets lighter earlier and darker later, but it’s so easy to do that by simply creating a summer scene.
I really can’t fault Simon and Sam from Ronald Kirby & Sons. Their expert design advice, product knowledge, and seamless installation really was second to none. If you are reading this in Devon I really can’t recommend this Luxaflex dealer highly enough. They helped me to work through all my issues to find the perfect blinds for light control, privacy, and safety.
And I am super happy with the quality and ease of use of my new Luxaflex Pirouette blinds. I’m just wondering how long it will take for the children to stop squealing with excitement each time they catch sight of them closing or opening of their own accord.
So what do you think of the Luxaflex Pirouette blinds with Powerview? I’d love to know your thoughts and whether you would consider them for your home. Leave a comment below and don’t forget to pin this post to come back to later.
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Some love them, some hate them, but if you sleep hot, have a hefty electricity bill because of drafty windows, or simply can’t seem to catch enough winks, blackout curtains could be your new best friends. They serve a variety of purposes, from blocking out unwanted light to insulating the heat or AC in your space, and can save money, energy, and you from sleepless nights. Blackout curtains can also keep your home cooler during warmer months, which is beneficial if you’re gone during the day and would prefer not to walk into a home that feels like it’s been slow roasting for eight hours. Another huge plus, which can’t necessarily be said for other highly functional home essentials, is that blackout curtains pass primarily as decor statements, adding to a room’s design rather than taking away from it. We’re big fans, so we put a range of blackout curtains to the test to find the best of the best.
The Best Blackout Curtains
What to Consider When Shopping for Blackout Curtains
What’s your main goal? Are you mostly interested in blocking out light or insulating your space? Are you hoping to use the blackout curtains on their own or to layer behind sheer or decorative curtains? Do you want them to absorb outside noise as well? Take stock of your priorities and read on to determine your best approach to shopping for blackout curtains.
First things first: Blackout curtains should be able to do as their name suggests and keep natural light from shining through. Beneficial for nurseries, home theaters, and your dream home in the Arctic Circle, blocking out light can help you and your family stay on consistent sleep schedules, let you enjoy movies sans glare, and even customize and redirect the lighting in your home. Want to hang an investment painting but you’re afraid the noontime sun rays from the adjacent window may damage it over time? Blackout curtain. Have a fabulous accent wall you want to direct rays to during golden hour? Blackout curtain, drawn halfway.
It could be time to face the fact that your windows aren’t impenetrable shields between you and the outside world. Whether preventing cool winter drafts from creeping in or precious heat and AC from slipping out, blackout curtains add a weighted, usually thick layer of insulation. If this is your goal, consider curtains that fall to the floor, fully closing in around the window for optimal fortification (of your home and bank account, considering the money you’ll save on electricity bills). Blackout curtains can also insulate your home from outside health hazards like seasonal allergens, urban pollution, and smoke.
That’s right — you can even use your curtains to block out or lessen outside noise. Not only does this add to their function in home theaters, but it can also mean the difference between a comfortable night’s sleep in your small city apartment and moving out of your urban abode entirely. Keep honking cars, music, and voices to a minimum without raising the volume of your sound machine, and keep your space as private as you like.
The material you’ll mostly see when it comes to blackout curtains is polyester or some sort of blend. It can be crafted to meet the specific needs of the curtain’s design and tailored to be more sound- and/or light-proof. Polyester can also yield durable and shiny velvets, among other luxe materials, for a beautiful look that’s also easily washable — essential if you’re simultaneously blocking out pollen or pollution.
Curtains aren’t cheap, especially those of high quality or longer lengths. Polyester tends to bring the price down a bit, but expect to pay between $35 to upwards of $200 per panel for long, high-quality blackout curtains that will last. That said, this isn’t the case for our best overall pick (more on that below)….
What We Look For in Blackout Curtains
We tested a wide range of blackout curtains and judged them on the following criteria:
The Best Blackout Curtains
These are the real deal when it comes to achieving, as the name suggests, total blackout in any room. Not only do the SUN+BLK 100% Recycled Total Blackout Curtains win our best pick overall, but they also happen to be our favorite budget-friendly pick. In testing, we were so impressed by their ability to block natural light that we even draped a panel directly over a forcefully bright spotlight, the bulb of which shouldn’t be looked at with the naked eye, and there wasn’t even a sparkle detectable behind it. These aren’t any heavier than your average curtain — in fact, they may even be lighter weight — nor do they have that unappealing plasticky look or feel typical of inexpensive curtains. On the contrary, they are among the most attractive blackout curtains we tried. They are backed with an extremely thin and flexible layer of foam, which absorbs any and all light rays from behind while allowing the recycled polyester outer material to remain lighter in color. Forget draping big, dark curtains just for the sake of blocking light — these allow you to keep the integrity of your space’s indoor lighting and decor scheme. Lastly, the rod pocket heading allows the curtains to work with your curtain rod’s design (especially if you have one made for blackout curtains) without giving way to any sneaky rays that can come through grommets or other heading styles.
Who It’s Best For: Those ready to invest in interior design-friendly blackout curtains; those who want a luxe-looking velvet; those who prefer rod pocket headings.
Keeping your precious air conditioning in during the summer months, especially if you leave your home during the day or have south-facing windows that scorch your space with extra sunlight, can save you money as well as keep you comfortable. This is especially important for hot sleepers, but everyone can benefit when the temperatures get high. The HDP Faux Linen Room Darkening Curtains are a wallet- (and environment-) friendly addition to your summer decor, helping to conserve your household energy output by holding cool air in and preventing harsh, hot sun rays from counteracting your AC’s hard work. In testing, these effectively blocked sharp rays of hot light, kept our spaces deeply dark at night, and allowed them to be bright and airy during the day. Without breaking the bank, these are some of the chicest blackout curtains on the market, letting you change their hanging style between their rod pocket and back tab features. They wash and dry easily and can even be ironed as necessary, which we love for achieving clean lines and that well-dressed window look.
Who It’s Best For: Those who don’t want to spend and arm and a leg for a pair of blackout curtains, those who really don’t want any light shining through.
Good to Know: To keep the integrity of these light-canceling curtains, HDP recommends dry cleaning only.
Drafty windows are the enemy of anyone who loves a warm, cozy space in the winter. And if you invest in central heating, they can also be the enemy of your bank account. Whether or not you simply get chilly when you sleep, West Elm’s Worn Velvet Blackout Curtains are a saving grace during cold weather. These brushed, low-pile velvet curtains have pleated rod pocket headings that give them a strikingly luxe appearance while allowing them to block heat from escaping. After testing for a month in New York City’s winter, we noticed our space to be significantly warmer without increasing the output of heat whatsoever. For those who enjoy the historical relic that is radiator heat and don’t get to choose your temperature, layering these blackout curtains over strategically opened or closed windows effectively allows you to customize when and where you feel the warmest. We also noticed that the thick hem at the panel’s end creates a seal between the window and the floor, making even our floors warmer and more comfortable. The price of each panel is well reflected in its weighty, plush, and glamorously robust look and feel. In testing, the curtains didn’t fade, shrink, wrinkle, or otherwise distort after multiple washes, which is necessary since the knit weave — gross as it may sound — collects quite a bit of the pollution from outside.
Who It’s Best For: Those ready to invest in interior design-friendly blackout curtains; those who want a luxe-looking velvet; those who prefer rod pocket headings.
Good to Know: We recommend getting the length that allows your curtain to hit the ground rather than hover above it to optimize warmth and prevent any heat from escaping or drafts from spilling in.
What if you need absolute dark to get to sleep but prefer to wake with a touch of natural light? Urban Outfitters’ Blackout Pompon Curtain kept the artificial city light and luminous moonlight of the evening out of our space while allowing us to rise naturally with the daylight in the morning — a total win-win. A single, thick layer of woven cotton acts as a soft light filter come daytime but provides sleep sanctuaries with total privacy. As a morning person myself, but only if the sun is up, I personally can’t stand greeting the day in a room with zero light, so this curtain became my go-to. Its pompon-edge detailing is cute as well, so I’ve been able to keep my room decor fun and my sleep schedule on point.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want room-darkening curtains that create a blackout experience at night and let you to rise with the sun in the morning.
Good to Know: Getting these curtains in white allows them to filter less daylight while the darker hues and bolder colors do more to prevent unwanted rays.
If you’re a highly sensitive sleeper and wake to even slight sounds or visual motion, these deceptively heavy-duty curtains are for you. Beautiful enough to garner compliments (which we shamelessly loved), the linen-looking Peace & Quiet Noise Reducing Blackout Curtains from Pottery Barn are made in a Fair Trade Certified factory and give you three different headings to choose from: rod pocket, back tabs, and the option to clip rings on top. For background, I live above a daycare and have a garden-facing apartment, which means I have gotten to know the barks of my neighbors’ dogs just about well enough to be considered fluent. A single Peace & Quiet panel, made from a dense polyester that’s both visually and tangibly deceptive, eliminated the barks, bird chirps, and Ring Around the Rosie-ing from my bedroom, restoring my sanity and protecting my landlord from a broken lease. I wasn’t kidding when I said a good blackout curtain can make or break your city life experience.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want blackout curtains that also reduce noise; those who prefer the linen or natural fabric look.
Good to Know: Pottery Barn has a comprehensive guide to dressing your windows on each product page, from finding the perfect length to listing everything needed for installation.
Sarah writes about all things shopping for Apartment Therapy. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Elle Decor, and PureWow, among others. In her free time, you can find her strumming away at her guitar, on the perpetual hunt for the coziest duvet, and enjoying Sundays in the park with Marty—that’s her pup.