Design Details: Blackout Window Treatments

This past weekend I had these beautiful blackout window treatments installed in a client’s home. I thought this was a good opportunity to share a little more about this Casual Coastal project and also some tips on using blackout window treatments in the home.

This is the first floor primary bedroom a week after my clients moved in. The house is situated on a hill and looks due east. Great for the lady of the house who likes to jump out of bed with the sun, but the gentleman much prefers easing himself into the day (I know how that feels!). Add to that – the bedroom is white on white and is staying that way. Practically blinding. So, blackout window treatments were the only choice.

Linda Merrill Casual Coastal bedroom Before

Here are all the fabrics we decided on for the custom blackout window treatments the slider, blackout shades on the side windows, custom headboard in a faux ostrich, and a custom bedspread with shams.


And the design of the bedding and headboard. These items are still in production but will be ready soon! The bed is a split-king adjustable bed so a full bedspread was needed to cover the mechanics of all that.

Linda Merrill Casual Coastal custom bedding and headboard plan

Note my rendering doesn’t exactly match the bedding design – only the top of the bed is the patterned fabric, the drop sides are a dark blue velvet. The shams will be reversible for a choice of looks.

Linda Merrill Casual Coastal Bedroom

The side windows are relatively narrow and butted up against the large armoire. My original recommendation was outside mount blackout roman shades to match the drapery fabric and also balance the height difference, but my client really wanted a minimalist option and the armoire would have had to be pulled away from the wall a few inches to accommodate outside mount shades.

Linda Merrill bedroom shades inside mount closed blackout window treatments

These inside mount roller blackout shades virtually disappear behind the simple header.

Blackout Window Treatments Tip #1 – Outside mount shades provide the most completely dark experience with little to no light bleed around the edges so long as they are running as flat as possible against the window frame. Inside mount shades do allow some light bleed around the edges. (More on the differences between inside and outside mount shades here).

Linda Merrill bedroom shades inside mount open blackout window treatments

An example below of my initial thoughts using outside mount roman shades to match the drapery fabric.

Linda Merrill outside mount blackout window treatments side windows

This primary bedroom is a walk-out to the back deck and newly installed terrace. To the left of the slider is an enclosed outdoor shower. In other words, this is a doorway that will be used regularly. So it was important that the drapery panels not get stuck in the slider when it’s open and closed. Most particularly because we opted for a white fabric. Luckily, there is plenty of wall space on either side of the window to install wide-spread panels and keep them well off the door, clean and not blocking the views.

Linda Merrill bedroom drapery wall full open blackout window treatments wide placement

Cozy when closed!

Linda Merrill bedroom drapery wall full closed blackout window treatments wide placement

I thought this was also a good lesson in how the width of the panels can make the entire window feel bigger. I talked all about this here .

9 Linda Merrill bedroom drapery wall full open blackout window treatments narrow placement

The narrower placement just doesn’t have the luxe feel of a fuller set of panels.

Linda Merrill bedroom drapery wall full closed blackout window treatments narrow placement

Blackout Window Treatments Tip #2 – Blackout window treatments – especially drapery panels – are HEAVY! Make sure when specifying the drapery rod that it’s sufficient to hold up the panels without sagging or pulling off the wall. These 1-3/4IN rods with 2IN rings have the heft to keep the curtains where they belong. The rod is 117IN with no splicing. Because the rod is so hefty, it only required a single center bracket. If more brackets were needed then we would need to use by-pass rings. There are also sturdy wands behind each panel to help open and close them.

Linda Merrill blackout window treatments drapery panels Casual Coastal 2


Linda Merrill blackout window treatments drapery panels Casual Coastal

There are also other uses for blackout window treatments.

Linda Merrill Bathroom Les Touches Walls and Windows Boston Challenging Spaces

In this bathroom project, we were using Les Touches wallpaper and fabric from Brunschwig and Fils. The cafe curtain was made using blackout lining even though creating a totally dark room wasn’t the issue. Nor was privacy – as the fabric is a nice weight cotton and with a standard lining no one was seeing through them. However, without blackout lining, light would come through the fabric and change how its color looked depending on the strength of the sun, green leaves, blue sky, etc, and it would then not match the wallpaper and side panels (which hide the washer/dryer) and storage shelves).

Linda Merrill Bathroom Les Touches Walls and Windows Boston 2 challenging spaces

You can see below how different the wallpaper (l) and fabric (r) look when put up against a window with no blackout lining. I’m wearing an orange and pink top which is why the wallpaper looks pinkish – it’s reflecting the color of my sleeve as I hold up the samples to take a photo. You’d hate to see this show up in your space!

Les Touches wallpaper and fabric light changes

It’s always tricky when using matching wallpaper and fabric to make sure they will actually match. Similarly with my Coastal Casual bedroom blackout window treatments, with the blackout lining, the white fabric will always match the walls. If they have standard lining, the white would be influenced by the outside lighting when filtering through.

Blackout Window Treatments Tip #3 – Use blackout lining to control how the light – both inside and out – affect the color of your chosen fabric.

I had these beautiful roman shades made for a client’s bedroom last year. We used Schumacher’s Talitha embroidered fabric. My client and I did discuss using black out lining vs. a standard lining. In her case, she did not want blackout as she’s inclined to keep them down during the day but didn’t want the room to look like a tomb. You can see, however, how the color is affected and also, how the embroidered patterns show up in different lights.

Linda Merrill roman shades backlit

One thing to keep in mind when using embroidered fabrics is how the embroidery is done. In this case, each medallion is its own embroidered area – there are no connecting threads across the back of the fabric. If an embroidered or woven fabric has threads connecting the various details of the weave or embroidery, these threads will show through as shadows on the fabric. Not good.  Linda Merrill Schumacher Talitha embroidered fabric

Blackout Window Treatments Tip #4 – Use blackout lining to blockout any construction issues you don’t want to see shine through when backlit by sun light. When in doubt, always hold up your materials to the a window and see how it will look with different lining opacities.


Design Details Blackout Window Treatments Pin



Blackout Window Treatments

How High Should My Drapery Panels Be Hung?

How Wide Should My Drapery Panels Be? 

Window Treatments on Mismatched Window Sizes



8 thoughts on “Design Details: Blackout Window Treatments”

  1. What an excellent and educational post, Linda. I learned some things I’d never thought about. Every new interior designer and anyone considering window treatments needs to read this!

  2. Great tips Linda! It’s your attention to details like these that makes the designs so livable, and your work so special. By the way, I’ve always LOVED that Les Touches bathroom. Swoon!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.