You’ve chosen black window frames, but now you’re not sure how to cover them. Here are my favourite window treatments for black windows and also which window coverings to avoid.
The black window trend has been around for almost 5 years (can you believe it?) so it’s high time this post appeared on the blog!
Are you building a new house and wondering if black windows are the right choice? Read this post first. News Flash: not every home looks good with black windows. 🤭
And don’t read this post if you have already chosen window coverings that seem wrong (I’m not trying to crush your spirit or make you feel worse). When you hit the tipping point with too much black, you can feel it and you don’t need me to tell you.
For those of you who are about to buy window coverings for your black windows – this post is for YOU!
The best window treatments for black windows
As I said in my black windows post, the best inspiration photos of black windows usually show them uncovered, like in this kitchen/dining area below. However, most of us need some privacy or light filtering at some point.
So, what is the best way to cover black windows?
Here are some dos and don’ts for choosing window treatments for your black windows.
✅ DO consider white fabric roller shades (in whatever gradation of white coordinates with your trim).
Hear me out, I know what you’re thinking. Before you immediately picture the roller shades with a tassel we’ve all seen in grandmas house, I want you to know that roller shades have come a long way.
This is not the style of roller shade I’m talking about!
They no longer have the plastic look of years ago. In fact I inherited fabric roller shades in my new home and they are exactly what I would have chosen, so it’s great that I don’t need to replace them.
The fabric roller shades on my windows are not 100% opaque, allowing some light to filter in. They also have a linen texture that matches my off-white trim, and you can still see my window mullions and the slight outline of the mountains behind them.
Here is a room where they are covering black windows. These fabric roller shades make a great choice because then at night, instead of looking at black holes on your walls, you’ll have a much softer view. Plus, it provides a seamless appearance from both the inside and the outside of your home.
❌ DON’T choose black window treatments of any kind to cover your black windows.
Your windows will already look black at night and this will enhance that darkness. Also, if you’re not in a condo with big windows like this image, it’ll look like you have black squares all over your walls.
✅ DO consider drapery on your black windows.
Adding some tailored drapery that will mostly be open during the day and closed at night would make the second-best option for covering black windows. If your windows are on the smaller side, dressing it with panels on both sides makes it look larger in addition to adding scale and balance in the room. And, draperies can also add softness and vertical height to a room.
In this room below, the drapery is a similar colour as the walls, and of course, the black has been repeated in small, medium and large in the living room decor.
❌ DON’T under any circumstances choose the zebra blind. (Just like grey floors, they never should have been invented.)
In this ad for zebra blinds, they are perfectly coordinated with the furniture–as they should be because they are no longer neutral. These same blinds on every window will not look good.
Because this next photo is what they would look like in the real world. For example, here the scale is too big for this kitchen window and since hard window coverings are so expensive, they should last much longer than the lifespan of a trend.
I would rather change up my drapery every 10 years to get a different look rather than a blind that covers the window for privacy as well. And, let’s be clear, a house full of striped shades is just not good decorating.
We haven’t even started creating contrast and interest with textures and soft furnishings and we already have to deal with the fact that the walls are full of stripes. Most people forget to consider the street view when choosing window coverings for black window frames. Do you want to see stripes on the outside too?
Read more: The Key to Great Design is Contrast
❌ DON’T cover your windows with 2″ black or white blinds.
Two-inch black wood blinds will darken the room immediately. Not to mention, you’ll need to dust them all the time (just like espresso or black wood floors).
Yet again, in addition to more stripes with horizontal slats, you’ll be looking at black squares everywhere during the day and the night.
Notice this advertising image was strategically taken while the sun is shining directly at the windows. They are tilted just perfectly to cut the light and to create a wash of light over the white sofa with black windows.
Perfect contrast again.
But, please don’t be seduced by ads like this that make these blinds look good. It will not look like this on every window in your home, even if you do recreate something similar in your living room, for example.
Here’s the fundamental lesson from today’s post.
Good photographs sell products that are not that pretty. That’s because they trick the consumer into thinking they are making a good choice because the room looks so beautiful in the ad.
That’s how paint colours are sold every single day.
You see it all of the time… beautiful rooms shown online with paint colours that won’t look the same in your house, either because you don’t have the same decor, or the same colours or same neutral undertones as the ‘so neutral’ paint colour being advertised. Choosing a paint colour solely based on a room image you like won’t look the same in your home in the end.
Window coverings are expensive so choose carefully.
If you’d like my help with your paint colours, new builds or renovations, see all my eDesign packages here.
Are Black Windows the Best Choice for your New Build?
How eDesign Saved this Exterior from Black Windows
What Everyone Should Know about Black
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your info regarding black windows. I love them and will be using them in my new build – but I’ve taken all you’ve written about them into consideration in order to make what is now an informed decision.
Such good advice I have always hated the look of those zebra blinds especially from the outside! i love black but there is def too much of it used throughout houses People think it is the answer pick black. The other thing to remember with both black windows inside and for example black door hardware it still marks up over the years and the black finish can have chips and marks so if this will bother you pick something else
Please address what the window treatments look like from BOTH the inside and the OUTSIDE. I find that if you have a dark exterior color and use some sort of light window treatment, it looks the same as your description of using black shades in the interior but in reverse. Maybe there is no way around this.
Maria, so are you saying that white plantation shutters or white faux wood blinds are not timeless and are in fact ugly?
I’m guessing she means they generally don’t work with black windows (which lean towards modern). I consider them timeless in the right situation ie with more traditional windows and decor. I’ve 2″ wood blinds in my bedrooms with traditional colonial style windows for 29 years and they are timeless there.
“Good photographs sell products that are not that pretty. ” Love you Maria! Sending you love from England and hope to visit Canada again soon! x
Interesting about the zebra blinds. I first saw them in Czechia a few years ago and thought they were perfect. The striping was subtle and barely had a striped appearance, and it was so easy to control the amount of light from privacy to soft filtered. So I’m not convinced these should never have been invented. Maybe they have a place.
On the other hand, I think mine is the only house built around me in the past 5 years without black windows inside. Never did like the look and think it’s a fad. I did do dark bronze/black on the outside, which works with my color scheme which has some dark bronze flashing, fascia, soffits and steel posts.
I just cannot stand those zebra striped window shades, too harsh for residential homes. I chose a soft sheer blind that has 2 sheer panels with a sheer horizontal blind that can be tilted. They provide the perfect covering for our home which is on a mountain and gets a ton of light, it really reduces the glare, but you can see through them too!
Thank you for addressing window coverings. I have always told clients to select something for their windows that doesn’t compete with their beautiful interiors or the gorgeous view. When you walk into a room with a black zibra shade that is the first thing you will see and never forget!! The price of these crazy shades is amazing also. Go with the simple rollershade and use the money you save on more lamps!!
I don’t have black widows and I’ve always used a mixed approach for window treatments usually doubling and even tripling the treatment such as roller shades for night privacy just in the bedrooms and the family room followed by woven shades on top for texture and color (only medium to light wood like our floors). The woven shades are all you see during the day so the light can filter through but sometimes I have them all the way up too. I mighty frame the windows with drapes to add height, width and softness. However I love a black on black roller shade. To me white from the outside looks like you hung a sheet on your window.
We rent and have been fortunate to have neutral (matching the walls) top down-bottom up pleated shades in our previous and current home. The pleats are very narrow and unobtrusive. The ones in our bedroom block light. What we love about them is that you can lower them from the top part way so you can have privacy and light at the same time. Or raise them from the bottom like traditional shades if privacy isn’t an issue. We don’t have black windows, but they would certainly be a neutral solution as long as the windows aren’t overly wide or floor-to-ceiling tall (that might require “industrial strength” cords and mechanism).
That’s “Liz in Oregon” not “Iregon.” 😀
Agree with the Zebra blinds. Great post Maria. I have on some windows two blinds all custom made. The first inside the window frame is a white sun filtering blind that allows the light and the view but provides privacy during the day. Then on the outside of the frame I have a blockout patterned blind for nighttime and when the sun is strong. It all works brilliantly plus I can change out the roller blind when I am tired of the look. I used to have white wooden blinds but got tired of the cleaning. Don’t know why I didn’t do the double blinds sooner. Personally I can’t stand bare glass at night as I find it creepy plus in Australia the light and heat is so strong that it is necessary to have good window coverings.
Can you have white trim and coloured walls with black windows or should the trim be same colour as wall?