Mixing Window Treatments: The Ultimate Guide

Are window treatment options giving you paralysis by analysis? Every room calls for different window dressing combos. It’s not as simple as blinds for light filtration and curtains for blackout. Here’s all you need to know about mixing window treatments.

As a general rule, I always layer with two window treatments. This is unless there is something right below the window, like counters or bathtubs. In some instances one type of treatment can make a statement on its own, but in this post I’m digging into all the possible combinations (almost).

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The Guide to Mixing Window Treatments

Sheer Curtains + Light Filtering Shades

You usually don’t need a blackout effect for common areas – living room, family room, dining room, etc. There are exceptions, but usually, the goal is as much natural light as possible. Bamboo or other natural fiber shades paired with semi-sheer curtains is a great combo! Linen or faux linen are the perfect option for this. It looks natural and organic and lets just enough natural light in. This is what I opted for in our current living rooms.

Why semi-sheer curtains? Blackout curtains can be just as nice, but are substantially more expensive. Therefore, I say spend your money on other upgrades if you don’t need to make it dark in these rooms. Then you can focus on the style and color of the curtain panels rather than their opacity.

Blackout Curtains + Light Filtering Shades

Opacity matters in bedrooms! You’ll want blackout/ room darkening curtains for a bedroom to block early morning light. Then, it’s nice to have some natural light in your bedroom to live your life the rest of the day! Natural fiber/ bamboo shades will let a good amount of light in even when closed, so it’s my go-to for bedrooms.

Light Filtering Curtains + Roman Shades

The reverse option would be blackout Roman shades and light filtering curtains (see photo above). This way you can pull shades up, and close the curtains when you need both light and privacy at the same time. Just make sure the curtains are sheer enough to bring in your desired amount of light.

Blackout Curtains + Roman Shades

For rooms where privacy is not a concern and you can open everything up to let light in without a care, you can double up on the thick fabrics for an ultra luxe look. Try pairing one pattern fabric with a complimentary solid color, like in this beautiful example by Home Glow above.

Shutters + Curtains

Shades are my personal favorite but they do have some drawbacks. For one, you can’t peek outside without pulling the entire shade up. Also, not all styles call for natural/bamboo tones. If you’re going for a more traditional look, I recommend interior shutters. Plus they allow different levels of light, much like blinds – fully shut, fully open and everything in between! The only downside is the are the most expensive option of all window treatments and you’ll have to order custom 99 percent of the time.

Blinds + Curtains

Blinds aren’t quite as pretty as the other options. However, most of us have them somewhere. I do in the kids’ rooms! There are ways to make them look higher-end. The first recommendation is to opt for wider slats. I always choose 2-3″ slats. The next recommendation is to pair them them with beautiful curtains and hang the curtain rod as high as possible.

Just like shutters with curtains, you get the biggest range of light, but for a lower price tag. In fact, you can grab off-the-shelf wide slat blinds at Lowes or Home Depot and they will cut them to the exact size you need right there. Blinds are the most cost-effective window treatment available, and that could leave you with extra cash to splurge on nicer curtains to go with them.

Shades + Shutters

Shades with shutters are an unusual combo, but can really work when done right! Cafe shutters work well for this. This dining nook by Our Vintage Nest has a farmhouse vibe, and the windows have tall trim. The tan woven shades pull the wood tones within the room and the painted white shutters match the trim.

This combo is a good option for those who love shutters but want to add more texture and/or color where curtains won’t work. Curtains won’t work in most bathrooms for example, or when furniture sits against a window.

Valance + Shades

Another unusual combination. But when it works, it really works! You can utilize this combo where curtains won’t fit (in this case, the bed would block them). It’s also a great option if you want to put your creativity to work and choose colorful or patterned fabric to contrast with your natural shades.

Cafe Curtains + Shades

And finally, shades with cafe curtains! Cafe curtains are making a strong comeback right now and they can work with so many different combinations. They have an organic, lived-in look, but can also be dressed up with nice hardware and curtain rings. This cozy combo works for downstairs areas where you’d need both light and privacy during different times of the day, and for those not afraid to veer from the traditional.

The Truth About Mixing Window Treatments

The truth? These are just guidelines and these days designers are getting creative mixing and matching all types of window treatments. It really comes down to the utility for each room, and your own privacy and light filtering preferences. And of course your style!

I recently met someone who said they hate curtains! All curtains. So, to each their own. I will venture to say there is one pretty strict rule, and that is to use the same products in the main living space if you have an open floor plan.

What’s your favorite window treatment combo? Do you layer-up in your home?

Mixing window treatments in formal sitting room. Bamboo shades with sheer curtains. A dog sits on a striped armchair under the window.