As custom decorating professional and Houzz contributor Jess McBride will tell you, “not all shades are created equal.” Window treatments, like windows, come in many different shapes and styles, and certain window treatments are just better suited for certain situations. Take Solar Shades, for example. While these sleek shades provide a modern look that compliments almost any decor, they are also great for another reason. Solar shades help block sunlight, reducing glare and heat, while still allowing you to see outside.
“If you’ve got an amazing view, but your large windows bring in too much sunlight sometimes, rollers are the perfect solution,” says window treatment specialist Mary Lou Ralston.
Of course, this brings up a number of questions amongst consumers. Do solar shades provide privacy? Can you see through solar shades at night? What rooms are best for solar shades? And this is just the tip of the iceberg. So, we decided to take the time to answer a few of these FAQs in our blog.
Do Solar Shades Provide Privacy?
Solar shades do provide some privacy, but not complete privacy. This is because these window treatments are made of a “vinyl mesh which is available in varying degrees of ‘open-ness,’” explains interior designer Mike Strutt. “The more open they are, the more light they let in, and the more you can see through (both in and out).” Solar shades, for example, are available in 1% (open), 4%, and 5%.
When privacy is important, but absolute privacy is not a must, solar shades are an excellent choice.
What’s the Difference between Solar Shades at Night and During the Day?
Because solar shades are designed to let light in and not block your view, these window treatments actually provide better privacy during the day – you can see out your window, but a passersby cannot see in. At night, when the lights are on in your home, this effect is reversed and the shades become somewhat transparent.
For this reason, we suggest layering your solar shades with curtains or even a second shade in rooms where absolute privacy is a concern.
“Layering window treatments is a useful trick to adopt and has a dual purpose, too,” explains interior designer Samantha Friedman, as this approach adds aesthetic appeal and privacy.


What are the Best Rooms for Solar Shades?

Because they do not provide absolute privacy, we generally do not recommend solar shades for bedrooms or bathrooms. However, solar shades are an excellent option for most other rooms. “More public living spaces, like living rooms and kitchens, are ideal for allowing filtered daylight to penetrate,” writes Karen Egly-Thompson, Houzz contributor and former interior designer. You see, natural light “benefits our alertness, mood, productivity, sleep patterns, and many aspects of our physiology,” adds Dr. Victoria Revell, a chronobiologist at the University of Surrey.
Living Room: As interior designer John Saladino once said, “In my view, no space without natural light is worthy of human occupation.” This goes double for the living room, which is why solar shades make a lot of sense here. These window treatments not only reduce glare, but they also block harmful UV rays, which have been known to damage furniture and even flooring. “These light and elegant shades block blinding sunlight yet let the good light through,” explains interior designer Rebekah Zaveloff. In fact, solar shades block 90-99% of harmful UV rays.
Kitchen: In the kitchen, great lighting is really important. And what lighting source is better than the sun? “Whether you are fortunate to have a large sprawling kitchen that has plenty of options for lighting, or your kitchen seems too dark to feel comfortable, you may want to consider letting in some natural light,” writes Ronique Gibson of Decoist. Solar shades are great in the kitchen as they allow sunlight to illuminate your room, while reducing glare and harmful UV rays.
Sunroom/Patio: Sunrooms let you enjoy the outdoors…from the comfort of your own, climate controlled home. And because your sunroom is made up of primarily windows, the window treatments you choose can have a profound effect on the room’s aesthetic appeal and function. This is why solar shades make the most sense. They allow you to reap the benefits of all of those windows without suffering harsh glare or harmful UV rays.
Businesses: Solar shades are also an excellent option for office buildings, as they reduce debilitating glare on computer screens; restaurants, as they allow patrons to take in the view; and doctor’s offices as they are aesthetically appealing, durable