DEAR GAIL: I’ve recently changed jobs and am now working at night. I have soft sheer shades and absolutely love them, but they’re obviously not the best for daytime sleeping. I’ve tried sleeping masks, pillows over my face and even hung a sheet — boy that was pretty. I really don’t want to give them up as I like that I can look into my yard but still have some privacy. What can I do on these windows to get some sleep but still enjoy my view on days off? – Rosemarie G.
DEAR ROSEMARIE: Sleep deprivation is not good and studies have shown that it is the cause of many accidents as well as a list of health problems. So let’s get you some options and some sleep.
The easiest, if you have a deep window frame, is to add a black-out roller shade behind your existing shade. When the roller shade is pulled up it will be hidden behind your shade headrail.
Another option is to use drapery panels with a blackout liner. To make sure you get the full benefit of them, you should mount them from floor-to-ceiling and at least 12 inches out from each side of the window; this will block any light from coming in. If you are able to go wall-to-wall, that’s even better. Something you do need to consider is how much wall space your draperies will need to clear your window when you want to let light in. This is called stack-back or how much wall space the panels will take up when fully opened. There are a couple of things that affect the stack-back, including how heavy and thick your panels are and how full you make them. The fuller and heavier the fabric, the more wall space they’ll take up when opened.
Understanding stack-back is important since I’m assuming you want to keep as much of your view into the yard. Without getting complicated with calculations you can figure stack-back this way. Take one drapery panel that you’re considering and gather it together. This will give you a good estimate on how much wall space it’s going to take up when you open the draperies. Let’s say you have a 54-inch wide panel and it gathers down to 25 inches. To have it completely stack off your window, you would want to place the drapery rod 25 inches from the edge of the window. This also allows you a little room if you’d like to cover the edge of the window frame. I normally like to cover at least 3 inches of the window frame.
If you don’t want all that fabric on your walls, you can use a blackout Roman shade. You’ll want to mount it the same distance around the window as the panels. The difference is that you’ll be able to pull the shade up off the window. But in this case you’ll need to consider how much wall space above the window you need to stack it off the window when pulled up. If you have a lot of room above your window, you’ll probably have no problem clearing it.
I do prefer the look of the panels since they frame your window and you’re dividing the fabric. The Roman shade can look heavy with all of the fabric stacked in one place. You also have to worry about the weight of the fabric. You’ll need to make sure you use molly bolts or mount into your wood header when installing the shade.
You can also consider replacing the shade with a sun-up, sun-down shade, which is two shades on one headrail. Two fabrics are used, one between the top rail and the center rail and one between the center rail and bottom rail. When you want the light, you pull it so the sheer shade is covering your window. When you need to sleep, pull it so that the black-out shade is covering the window. The opposite shade will just be stacked either at the top or bottom of the shade taking up very little room.
Now on all the shade options you will get light seepage coming through the sides of the windows, but very little. You could mount the sun-up, sun-down shade on the outside of your window, but I don’t recommend it. I personally don’t like the look, and the shade is heavy. More than once an outside-mounted shade has pulled out of the window frame because of the weight, and since there is nothing supporting that weight.
A better option if you need total darkness, is to add stationary panels on each side of the window covering the edges. I would go 3-6 inches into the window to block out the light.
A more expensive option, but one that will completely block out any light is metal rolling shutters . I have them in my home and I can tell you I have no idea what time of day it is when I wake up. This is good and bad because on the weekend I do oversleep sometimes.
I hope one of these will work for you, and sleep well.