Sheila Rich Interiors: Design Blog

Helpful tips and suggestions on designing your interior.

Options for a Sliding Glass Door Dilemma

A reader asked for my help with a challenge regarding her stained wood, 12 foot sliding glass doors.

She felt torn between wanting the beauty of the door to show and wanting privacy at night. Drapes weren’t an option for her because she just didn’t like them, and she didn’t want the door covered up during the day.

While you may not have the exact same situation of wanting to allow light to flow through such a large stained glass sliding door, many homeowners who have regular sliding doors want to allow natural light and a beautiful view into the room most of the time, while requiring privacy at other times. Here are a few ways to tackle that dilemma.

Glass Door Treatment Options:

sliding-glass-doorPlantation shutters. Because this style of shutter stacks beyond the glass door on either side, it creates a frame for your door and keeps it and the view visible when the shutters are open. Plantation shutters have louvers of varying widths; you should select the appropriate width for your sized door (i.e., the 12 foot door would work well with the widest slats). However, keep in mind that since they’ll be stacking on either side of the door, the width of the slats you choose depend on how much tolerance your room has for the protrusion of the stacked shutters. Part of the beauty of plantation shutters is that even when you have them closed over the doors, you can adjust the louvers to let in varying amounts of light or to give you complete privacy.

Paneled Shoji Screen. This screen has a very Asian influence and lends itself well to a contemporary room. Shoji screens also stack on either side of the glass door, and their flat panels don’t protrude as far into the room as plantation shutters. With either plantation shutters or Shoji screens, you don’t have to have them stacked evenly on either side of your door; it’s perfectly fine to stack more on one side than the other.

Luminette shades or Silhouette blinds. These are both soft glass door treatments that you can see through, yet they can be adjusted for complete privacy. The Luminette draws to the side like a drapery and the Silhouette rolls up like a shade. As with the Plantation shutter, I recommend the largest vane size (suitable for your particular door size) for the most open feeling when the treatment is over the door.

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Make the Most of Multi-Level Windows

Multi-story windows allow outdoor views into your home. Window treatments can afford privacy and enhance decor without blocking sunlit views.

Multiple levels of windows that cover the entire height of one wall may have been put there in order to take advantage of a beautiful view and add drama. If that’s the case, it’s best to leave the windows bare and let nature become your window treatment.

However, if you need to filter sunlight or want more privacy, window treatments may be necessary. But -- not all of the windows must be treated equally! You can use sheer shades on the bottom tier for privacy, leaving the upper levels open. This way, the light filters through the bottom and nature emanates through the top.

You can also select draperies and/or cornices that coordinate with the rest of your décor and pull the color scheme of your entire room together. This also works well if you consider a window to be unattractive, since you can use the coordinated material around the window to camouflage it. The personality of your windows can be further enhanced by your selection of rods and hardware, which you can find in a wide range of styles, colors, and materials.

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Does privacy = heavy window treatments? Absolutely not!

Maximize natural light and outdoor views in your home while maintaining privacy with proper landscaping and minimal window treatments.

It’s not necessary to deprive yourself of nature’s beauty by using heavy window treatments for privacy. Different areas of your home can be treated in different ways to maximize light and openness where you want it while giving some rooms the privacy they require.

Bathrooms/Bedrooms. These rooms may only require privacy when they’re in use. Consider using Top-Down-Bottom-Up blinds: with these soft pleated shades, you can choose which part of the window you want to leave exposed. For example, you can let them stack at the bottom of the window and let light in only through the upper portion of the window, which will afford you privacy while still letting light in. Or you can stack them at the top of the window and raise them up from the bottom. You can also use room darkening shades or blinds in the bedroom to keep light out when you’re sleeping.

Landscaping. Consider your landscaping “outdoor window treatments” for privacy. This doesn’t mean putting shrubbery up against your home (a bad idea for several reasons). Rather, use plants as screening - strategically plant shrubs or trees several feet away from windows so that they block window views from passing cars or neighboring homes while still allowing you a full view of the outdoors. By using plants as a way of screening, you can still enjoy natural light indoors. Make sure to use landscape lighting so you also have a nice night-time view and you won’t be looking out into total darkness.

Window Treatments. Use window draperies that pull back and frame the windows when you want to let light and the view in. They can either be balanced on both sides to frame the windows or you can opt for a drape that gathers along one side of the window only - whichever suits your taste and works best in your room.

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