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Natural light plays a crucial role in human health and wellbeing. As diurnal creatures, our circadian rhythms are strongly tied to the daily cycles of sunlight and darkness. Getting sufficient exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate our sleep-wake cycles, boost mood, and enhance cognitive performance.
Numerous studies have underscored the benefits of natural light. Research has shown that employees working near windows receive 173% more white light exposure during work hours, experience better sleep quality, and report higher job satisfaction than those without window access. Students learning in naturally-lit classrooms have also demonstrated 20-26% faster learning rates and progressed 20-26% faster on math and reading tests compared to those learning in environments without windows.
Beyond regulating circadian rhythms, natural light provides critical ultraviolet rays that enable our bodies to produce vitamin D. Often called the "sunshine vitamin," vitamin D plays a major role in bone health and immune system function. Indoor lifestyles and excessive sunscreen use have contributed to widespread vitamin D deficiency, underscoring the importance of daylight exposure.
On a psychological level, natural light has been linked to enhanced mood and lower rates of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The bright white light of daylight is thought to influence brain chemicals related to mood such as serotonin. One study found that spending just 20 minutes outdoors on a sunny day was enough to significantly improve mood among patients suffering from SAD.
While artificial lighting has enabled humans to be productive 24/7, over-reliance on electric lighting appears to disrupt our innate biological connections to daylight cycles. architects and designers are increasingly incorporating daylighting principles into buildings to synchronize our indoor environments with healthy outdoor light/dark rhythms.
Homeowners can also take simple steps to maximize natural light, such as choosing lighter wall colors, utilizing skylights, and trimming landscaping to avoid blocking sunlight. Likewise, positioning desks and seating areas near windows at home and work is recommended.
In an era of rising energy costs and growing ecological awareness, window coverings that conserve energy are no longer just an option - they are an absolute necessity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, leaky windows can account for anywhere from 10% to 25% of a home's heating and cooling costs. Thankfully, there are many window treatment options in today's marketplace that can significantly cut energy waste while also protecting furnishings from harmful UV rays.
One of the most effective solutions for retaining heat in winter and blocking sun in summer are thermal honeycomb shades. Featuring insulating air pockets within hollow cells, these shades create an effective thermal barrier over windows. Studies show honeycomb shades can reduce heat loss by up to 40%, making homes more comfortable and energy efficient.
John Thompson had high heating bills he wanted to reduce. After installing honeycomb cordless shades on his 1960s era metal-framed windows, he noticed an immediate improvement. "My heating costs went down 25% the first winter after I installed the shades. The house just feels cozier on cold days now."
Likewise, relaxed woven wood shades made from natural materials like bamboo can mimic the shading and insulation provided by trees. With adjustable vanes, they allow control over light and privacy while providing a warm, inviting look. For Kelly Yang's sunroom addition, wood shades in a charcoal finish provided the functionality she needed. "These shades give me options. I can angle the slats to let in lingering evening sun or close them tightly on scorching hot days."
For maximum versatility, motorized roller shades offer the ultimate in customizable control over your environment. Utilizing smart technology integrations, automated shades can be scheduled to lower at certain times of day or in certain seasons to govern sunlight and temperatures. With an app, you can even control them remotely.
James and Erica Campini installed motorized cellular shades in their open floor plan home. Says Erica, "With kids and pets, cordless was a must. The flexibility to create scenes and schedules makes getting the right light or privacy in each room effortless."
During cold winter months, heat escaping through windows can waste energy and make indoor spaces uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are window treatment solutions that act as an insulating barrier to retain precious indoor warmth.
One of the most effective options for retaining heat in winter are quilted honeycomb shades. Featuring multiple layers of insulating material sandwiched between two sheets of fabric, these shades create an effective thermal barrier over windows. The honeycomb construction traps air within hollow cells, providing excellent insulation against cold exterior temperatures. Studies demonstrate that quilted honeycomb shades can reduce conductive heat loss from windows by a whopping 80%, making homes warmer and more energy efficient during winter.
Quilted cellular shades helped homeowner Andrew Willis transform his drafty 1920s Tudor revival home into a cozy winter haven. "I used to feel cold spots near the windows on winter days before installing the shades. Now the house stays evenly heated, and my energy bills are at least 25% lower."
Besides quilted honeycombs, relaxed Roman shades also provide outstanding insulation. Featuring soft folds of fabric when lowered, these shades prevent heat transfer by trapping air within those billowy cascades. Roman shades insulate well on their own, but can be enhanced by using interlining materials like thermal suede or microfiber fleece between the front and back fabric layers. This adds additional insulation for maximum warmth retention.
For Ruth Chen, roman shades became the perfect window treatment solution for the dining room in her 1930s colonial. "I love the soft, romantic look of relaxed Roman shades paired with the extra coziness from the fleece lining. Now my family enjoys breakfast in a warm, bright space even on below freezing mornings."
Finally, insulated drapery panels and vertical blinds also deliver effective thermal protection. Stylish insulated drapes feature liner fabrics that prevent cold outdoor air from reaching room temperature window glass. Vinyl, foam, or fiberfill interlining options add substantial insulation against winter's chill. Vertical blinds with enclosed air pockets provide an insulating barrier as well. These sleek, modern options lend themselves well to contemporary decor.
During warmer months, stifling indoor temperatures can make homes uncomfortable. Hot, stagnant air becomes trapped indoors, causing rooms to overheat. Thankfully, window treatments made from natural, breathable fabrics allow fresh breezes to flow through while still providing shade and privacy.
Lightweight linen is one of the most breezy, breathable fabric options for window treatments. Made from the flax plant, linen has a loose weave that enables air to pass through easily. Roman shades and drapery panels made from 100% linen beautifully filter light while allowing windows to "breathe." The natural fibers also absorb moisture, helping rooms feel cooler.
Interior designer Alicia Chu recommends linen for window treatments in summer. "Linen diffuses the harsh summer sun streaming into my south-facing living room," she says. "Yet the weave doesn"t obstruct summer winds, so we get nice cross breezes."
Besides linen, bamboo is another excellent choice for breezy window coverings. Bamboo woven wood blinds feature openings between their slats to facilitate airflow. Homeowner Tyler Rogers installed new bamboo blinds in his sunroom on the advice of his neighbor. "I love how these blinds reduce the glare off the lake while letting refreshing breezes through on hot afternoons," he says.
For screened porches and patios, woven reed shades create cover from the sun while welcoming in cool winds. Made from natural grasses, these shades feature visibly open textures that maintain ventilation. The breezy shades enabled Sara Chen to start using her porch earlier each summer. "The reed shades filter the intense midday sun but still let the breeze flow"opening up my porch for relaxing even on hot days," she explains.
Solar screen mesh is another good option for breathable window shading. This finely woven vinyl-coated material blocks up to 80% of solar radiation while providing wind permeability. Homeowner Jensen Lee installed solar screens on his second story windows. "It used to get sweltering up there on summer afternoons before the screens went in," he recalls. "Now we get a nice cross breeze that makes the bedrooms much more comfortable."
Vertical blinds with breezy space between their slats offer yet another breathable solution. Madeleine Thompson took this route for her large living room windows. "I adore the clean, modern look of sleek vertical blinds," she says. "But the space between slats also allows fresh air to circulate, keeping my main living area comfy."
As eco-awareness grows, many homeowners are seeking out window treatments made from plant-based, sustainable materials. Utilizing renewable resources helps reduce dependence on finite fossil fuels while lowering the carbon footprint of manufacturing. Plus, organic materials like linen and jute possess an inherently fresh, earthy beauty.
Flax linen is one of the most popular plant-based fabrics for window shades and drapery panels. Made from the fibrous stalks of the flax plant, linen offers durability along with natural breathability. Roman shades made from Belgian linen enabled Susanna to instill her craftsman bungalow with relaxed vintage charm. "The texture and drape of linen filters light beautifully while paying homage to the homes of the Arts & Crafts era," she explains.
For an urban loft look, Amy chose Belgian linen grommet panel curtains. "I love how the thick linen drapes in this enormous window softens all the brick and cement. And the material"s natural origin aligns with my commitment to sustainability."
Bamboo is another renewable fabric choice growing in popularity. Bamboo woven woods woven from bamboo reeds or stalks offer a sustainable alternative to vinyl or plastic blinds. Steve and Linda selected bamboo cordless shades for the custom windows framing their mountain view. "We"re glad our new shades are made from fast-growing bamboo rather than slow-growing hardwoods," says Linda.
Jute, a natural fiber derived from plants in the linden family, brings organic texture to window shades. With their visible natural jute slats, Sara"s new roman shades add an earthy accent to her living room. "I love that the slats come from a rapidly renewable source. And the natural variations in color and texture bring life to this space."
Sisal, created from agave fibers, makes a durable, sustainable window covering option. Knotty, organic sisal shades enabled Gaby to make a bold style statement in her sunroom. "I was going for an earthy but modern look in here. The sisal shades really delivered the natural texture I wanted."
Beyond fabrics, wood window treatments can also be eco-friendly with FSC-certified timber from responsibly managed forests. The rich walnut stained wood blinds Renee chose came from FSC-certified forests. "I wanted the warmth of real wood but without depleting tropical rainforests," Renee explains.
For uncompromising environmental dedication, recycled window treatment materials take sustainability to the next level.ultra-green rPET draperies feature backing woven from recycled plastic bottles. rPET drapes gave Mikaela peace of mind about her environmental impact without sacrificing style. "I love that these drapes saved 18 plastic bottles from landfills. And they look amazing!"
Finally, bioplastic window shades take green to a revolutionary level. Made from plant starches instead of PVC, these innovative shades feel and function like vinyl"but derived from sustainable crops like corn and wheat. "The bioplastic shades were a splurge, but worth it to me to reduce plastic waste," says Justin. "And they look fantastic in my living room."
In the 21st century, smart home technology has revolutionized the way we interact with our living spaces. Windows, in particular, have benefited from automated, app-controlled window treatments that enable effortless modification of natural light, temperature, and privacy within our homes. For many homeowners, automated shades have become the ultimate way to maintain dynamic light control throughout the day.
Unlike stationary window coverings, automated roller shades, cellular shades, blinds, and drapery can be scheduled to operate at optimal times based on location, season, and weather conditions. Homeowners can create customized scenes where window treatments adjust autonomously to filter or block sunlight, retain heat, or facilitate airflow as needed at that particular time of day.
With a smartphone app, these automated shades can also be controlled remotely on-demand. Forgot to close the bedroom shades before leaving for work? No problem " just tap your phone to lower the shades for darkness and privacy. Heading home at noon but want the windows open for ventilation? Tap again to lift the shades to your desired height. Apps even enable voice control through smart assistants.
Beyond convenience, automated shades promote energy efficiency. Studies show programmed window coverings can reduce energy costs by blocking solar heat gain in summer and containing heat indoors during winter. Automated shades also protect furnishings by reacting to the sun's movement throughout the day.
New parents Michelle and Trevor installed automated blackout cellular shades in the nursery. "Being able to darken the room for naps and nighttime at the touch of a button has been a total game changer for our baby's sleep," says Michelle.
For high-tech executive Robert Westin, installing automated smart home window treatments was a no-brainer. "I travel frequently for work. Having the ability to operate all my shades remotely provides peace of mind and convenience when I'm away," he explains.
More homeowners are seeking window treatments that not only look great, but also harness the sun"s power for energy. Enter solar window shades " the cutting-edge way to spice up your decor while generating clean electricity.
Integrated thin-film solar cells make these shades active power producers for your home. Located along the edges, top, or bottom of shades, nearly invisible PV cells transform sunlight absorbed through windows into renewable energy. Your window shades essentially become mini-generators supplementing your electricity usage.
Daniel and Isabella Khan fell in love with the concept of solar shades for their modernist-style home rebuild. "We wanted an eco-chic way to generate power from our expansive glass facade," says Isabella. They chose urban-inspired solar roller shades that complement their contemporary decor. Daniel appreciates seeing energy production right on the custom display. "Watching our solar shades generate power throughout sunny days keeps us mindful about conserving energy."
For Steve and Linda Clark, solar bamboo wood shades were the perfect green alternative to their outdated vinyl blinds. "We jumped at the chance to install beautiful and functional solar shades," Steve explains. "It feels good knowing our window treatments pull double duty." The Clarks love getting a small offset on their electric bill while also blocking harsh western sun.
Jess Chen wanted solar shades specifically for her sun-drenched home office. She picked chic solaria fabric roller shades in an energetic cherry pattern. "I adore the cheerful vibe of these print solar shades. Seeing them actively make electricity motivates me creatively," Jess explains. Positioned near her desk, the shades power her laptop and task lighting.
Solar screens and woven drapery can also generate electricity through integrated photovoltaics. Katie Blanchard"s breezy solar drapes are among her favorite features in her coastal cottage renovation. "I"m obsessed with how the solar panels along the drapes top rail make power from sunlight and salt-tinged winds," Katie says. The breezy linen diffuses light while harnessing the sun"s rays.
Motorized solar drapes take energy generating window decor to the next level. Programmable schedules and remote app controls allow homeowners to optimize electrical production throughout the day. Gail and Ginny Pierce added smart solar drapes during their net zero energy home remodel. Says Gail, "We love fine-tuning the positions of our draperies via app to maximize solar production all day long."
For many homeowners, solar shades are about more than just energy savings " they represent a chic and eco-friendly lifestyle choice. Leanne Cruz, owner of Vancouver solar design firm Azure Rays, notes that today"s solar shades are colorful, creative and contemporary. "Solar window treatments not only produce free power, they make a vibrant style statement," she emphasizes.
Controlling glare without sacrificing one's view is an important consideration for many homeowners. Excessive glare from sunlight can cause eyestrain, headaches, and even temporary vision impairment. At the same time, people want to enjoy outdoor vistas and natural light from their windows. Thankfully, several effective window treatment solutions exist to reduce glare and filter light without fully obstructing exterior views.
Solar screens are a popular option for cutting glare and heat gain while maintaining visibility. Made from finely woven mesh coated with vinyl or plastic, solar screens block intense direct sunlight from entering a room. They filter up to 80% of incoming solar radiation for comfort and energy efficiency. Yet the transparent mesh preserves clarity, enabling residents to enjoy their outdoor perspectives.
New parents Michelle and Trevor installed solar screens in their nursery. "The tightly woven screen diffuses the harsh afternoon light so our baby can sleep, but we can still see outside. It's the perfect solution for us," shares Michelle.
Likewise, solar shade film applied directly onto glass filters excessive glare and UV rays. This thin polymeric film rejects up to 90% of infra-red light through nano-scale technology. Homeowners can maintain their view while benefiting from cooler rooms, lower air conditioning bills, and protected furnishings.
Kristen Morales opted for solar shade film in her sun-filled kitchen. "I adore the surrounding garden views while cooking. The solar film cuts the afternoon glare and heat gain but preserves my precious panorama," she explains.
For patios and pergolas, adjustable woven shade screens manage sunlight and visibility. Louvers, panels, or roller screens made from materials like bamboo or reed can be angled to allow glimpses out while blocking low afternoon sun. Outdoor spaces stay shaded and comfortable for extended use.
Vincent Liu installed adjustable reed screens on his poolside pergola. "These movable shades give me flexibility. When the low sun glares on the water, I adjust the panels to block it while still seeing the kids swimming," he describes.
Inside, consider window treatments with adjustable vanes or louvers. Height-adjustable bamboo or faux wood mini blinds tilted upward maintain privacy and reduce glare while allowing for bi-directional sightlines. Light-diffusing cellular or honeycomb shades offer similar adjustable light control.
Rather than blocking his lofty views, Mark Cho installed solar-blocking cellular shades in his high-rise condo. "The adjustable vanes give me customized control over glare, sunlight, and visibility," he notes. "I get the lighting comfort I want without sacrificing my amazing vistas."