Design: Shades ahead

By Terry Lobb

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Manage great views with the need for privacy and to ensure the room still looks good.
Manage great views with the need for privacy and to ensure the room still looks good.

How we dress our windows is very personal, as is anything we do with our homes.

Some people double-glaze for warmth and to filter the UV rays and some have their windows tinted.

Every home deserves careful consideration when choosing the right treatment for windows. If you are building from scratch, it's a shame to have lovely new carpet - and often new furniture - faded by the sun because you hadn't thought the complete process through.

A few years back I worked on a lovely renovation on the west coast, where my clients had put a top storey on their bach and moved living spaces upstairs to the most exquisite views.

Unfortunately, with great views on the coast comes glare off the sea and, late afternoon on the west coast, when the sun is low, it becomes particularly intrusive.

This is often a time you just want to enjoy the lovely space you have created, but the light is too bright.

The room had been painted an off-white with a hint of warm grey - just enough to soften the light and add a bit of warmth on a cold day.

We had several options, but decided definitely no sheers, nets or voiles.

We tossed around the idea of sunscreen roller shades to filter the glare, which would also help block UV rays but still give the sense of spaciousness.

We certainly didn't want to close in the rooms too much.

The only drawback was that we needed privacy at night from people strolling on the beach and being able to see directly into the living spaces.

Another option was sliding shutters. This would have looked stunning but the cost of this option wasn't feasible.

Another option was venetian blinds. The very slim fussy aluminium blades tend to bounce the light around and also created too much pattern on the windows. There was an option for a wider blade, which reminded me of the old venetian blinds we had had when I was growing up.

The windows were large and I felt that the blades may also sag over time because of the weight.

We looked at cedar blinds but, because of the size of the windows, the blinds just jumped out and said "look at me, look at me", and the view was lost.

The look was right but the wrong colour.

So we chose a custom-finish blind with a wide blade.

The colour was a hint darker than the walls, because with the angle of the blade when open the light would lighten the colour making the blinds appear the same colour as the walls, and at night they became a hint darker.

My clients had to bear in mind that timber blinds are designed to stay down and that when up there is a bulk in stacking and a tendency for cords to stretch.

Because the blinds were a similar colour to the walls, they became part of the wall, so visually it wasn't a problem. So the painted venetians were the best option - the space remained open because of the colour and we didn't end up with a great pattern on tiny blades with the light reflecting off them creating another problem.

Complete privacy at night and filtered light during the day - and very happy clients.

Think about the look you want and why you need protection on your windows.

Terry Lobb is an interior/ kitchen designer and personal colour and style consultant who takes a holistic approach to living with colour, texture and style - email: terry@terrylobb.com; website: terrylobb.com

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