How to Dress a Window Without Curtains (Alternatives to Curtains)
Wondering how to cover windows without curtains? Here is a look at some of the available curtain alternatives.
I love the coziness of drawing the curtains on a chilly evening and pulling the bedroom drapes open to see the morning sun.
But new trends in window treatments have been catching my eye. While draperies are the usual go-to for window treatments, there are many gorgeous curtain alternatives.
Curtain alternatives include roller, tie-back, cellular, and Roman shades. Venetian and vertical blinds are good options, as are cornices, barn and plantation shutters, and screens. Replace the window with leaded or stained glass, or use window film for a frosted or decorative effect.
Interior designers distinguish between hard and soft window treatments, depending on the material used (e.g., wood or metal vs. fabric or paper).
However, these are very broad categories and not helpful when choosing something to hang in front of a window. Rather than leave your windows bare (a minimalist trend that does exist), consider using any of these alternatives to curtains.
Soft Window Treatments
Curtains and drapes are the best examples of soft window treatments. They fulfill several functions, depending on whether they’re just for privacy (like sheers or net) or to block light and sound (heavy drapes).
However, curtains also have an aesthetic purpose, to add color, interest, and softness to a room. Let’s see which other soft window treatments are good curtain alternatives.
#1. Roller Blinds
Soft blinds are also called shades.
Roller blinds or roller shades consist of a length of fabric, vinyl, bamboo, or woven seagrass. They are attached to a curtain rod fitted within the window frame, covering the window exactly.
To let in light, you use a lifting mechanism (like a cord) to help raise the blind, which rolls up around a rod. You can raise the shade to any height you choose, depending on your desired light.
Because they are made of such a variety of materials, roller blinds are a great choice as a curtain alternative, whatever your decor. Choose a reasonably priced, functional, mass-produced blind for a home office or bespoke patterned and embellished shades with customized pulls for an elegant dining room.
You can also have automated blinds linked to a smart home system. These are often blackout shades, which also have thermal and soundproofing qualities.
#2. Roman Blinds
Although called blinds, these are also, strictly speaking, shades. Roman blinds are usually made of a heavier fabric than the other styles of shades, including bamboo. These shades lie flat when open and fold up horizontally into deep pleats rather than folds or scallops when raised.
Roman blinds are the ideal middle ground between curtains and louvered blinds, as they offer a variety of patterns and colors of curtains but use very little material, so they are a fraction of the cost. You can add embellishments, binding, and trim to suit any interior style.
Shape-wise, they have the sleek minimalism of blinds, rather than the weight of draperies, but with the same functionality and light control. Like roller blinds, Roman blinds can be customized as blackout treatments.
#3. Cellular Shades
Yet another member of the blind-shade family is the cellular shade, which is a soft pleated fabric blind which can be made from paper, lace, and bonded polyester. These shades fit neatly inside the window casement.
The unusual cellular honeycomb design is ideal for the environmentally conscious – the cell shapes in the blind trap air, insulating your home and maximizing energy efficiency. You can also purchase cellular blinds ranging from light-filtering to full blackout shades.
Cellular blinds are neatly tailored and practical suiting minimalist and clean interiors. They lack the soft touch of Roman blinds but aren’t as obviously functional as louvered blinds.
#4. Window Film
A budget curtain alternative is window film, which you peel and stick directly to the glass. These adhesive films are durable, robust, and can be removed easily, so they are a good option if you’re in a rental.
It’s easy to cut window film to the exact size needed, and you can choose from various finishes, including frosted and stained glass, depending on how much light you would like to shine through.
Another way to cover a window without curtains is to place tall potted plants on the windowsill. You can also hang trailing plants in baskets over the window.
Hard Window Treatments
If you’ve been used to the billowing delicacy of muslin curtains or the cozy heft of velvet drapes, hard window treatments may be out of your comfort zone. However, consider these practical and attractive possibilities for ways to dress a window without curtains.
#6. Venetian Blinds
These are the blinds we’re most familiar with, made of wood, plastic, or metal slats suspended on strips of tape or cords rather than lengths of fabric.
Using a cord or rod, you can rotate the slats inwards and outwards to overlap, open, and raise or lower the entire blind, offering several light control options. These are ideal for windows that need covering for privacy, as you can lower the blinds but open the slats to allow light.
Other advantages of Venetian or horizontal blinds are their pocket-friendly price and a wide variety of materials and designs, including vinyl, plastic, metal, and faux wood. You can choose from different-sized louvers, from thin matchstick-like slats to wide wooden slats.
Venetian blinds are perfect as a curtain substitute and work well in contemporary and minimalist interiors. They’re easy to maintain and very durable. However, they don’t offer the same level of blackout and soundproofing as drapes.
#7. Vertical Blinds
Similar to Venetian blinds, vertical blinds have slats hanging vertically rather than horizontally. They are usually made of more pliable material than horizontal blinds, as vertical blinds tend to be used for covering large windows, sliding doors, or patio doors.
They can also be manipulated to allow in various degrees of light or opened or closed fully. Like any louvered blind, they won’t block light completely, as light always creeps through the slats. Vertical blinds are also not ideal insulation for energy efficiency.
Vertical blinds are a budget-friendly option if you have a lot of large windows or glass doors to cover. They also look neat and sleek, although they can appear office-like and functional if you don’t choose your material wisely.
#8. Plantation Shutters
If you’re remodeling or building a home, consider installing plantation shutters as a substitute for curtains.
These indoor-mounted shutters have the advantage of being louvered like blinds, which allows you to control the amount of light entering the room. However, they are sturdier than Venetian blinds. They can block out far more light and sound and shut tightly to ensure complete privacy.
These are an excellent curtain alternative for colonial-style homes or pared-back interiors, with gorgeous wood finishes or painted your choice of colors.
Plantation shutters are a pricey option. However, you can customize them to fit any window size, especially where curtains would be tricky to mount or bulky to hang.
#9. Barn Door Shutters
These solid wooden shutters are mounted indoors rather than outside the home. Often made from reclaimed wood, you can customize barn door shutters in any wood or finish.
Barn door shutters are perfect for blocking light and sound. Still, they must be fully open or closed, limiting light control alternatives.
Window screens have been used in Japanese and Arabian interiors for centuries instead of curtains. These screens offer privacy without sacrificing light and air.
Shoji panels are made of panels of wood, bamboo, or even rice paper and can be mounted on the walls with hinges. You can also find standalone screens to move from room to room.
Lacey screens are light and delicate or choose a laser-cut wood or metal screen as a more permanent fixture. These solid screens are bespoke pieces made for a specific window or home.
#11. Stained Glass
If you’re willing to take out some windows, a sumptuous curtain alternative is to use stained glass, or bottle glass.
Intricately designed, handmade glass windows are typical of historical buildings. However, you can have beautifully patterned, stained, and textured windows created for your home.
These windows will offer privacy, as their shapes and textures prevent a clear view like frosted glass, but they will only soften, not block light. One of the joys of these windows is the exquisite light reflected through the glass, making patterns on your walls and floor.
Consider bespoke windows if you have an Arts and Crafts-style or historic home, a traditional decor style.
Final Thoughts on How to Cover Windows Without Curtains
There are several options you can use instead of curtains. Choose shades, blinds, or screens to let in light but allow privacy, or choose solid shutters for the ultimate in light-blocking.