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Smart Light Control for my Living Room from Urban Aesthetics

By 07/19/2013August 15th, 201843 Comments

Well am I ever glad I asked whether I should puddle my drapes or not. And Terreeia is even happier because she was right, haha!

When I read all your overwhelming “Absolutely not Maria, your living room is way too clean and contemporary” comments, I thought “Duh, of course”.  It’s not like I would ever have specified puddling drapes for a client with a living room like mine, but I was stuck on the romantic feel of that image.

I am so glad I asked your opinion!

What I did not mention the other day was that I had already called my friend Nancy to talk about installing Silhouettes from Hunter Douglas on my windows.

So even though I will not be opening and closing the drapes every day, they should still be just 1/2″ off the floor. I’ll still get full drapes made because I love the luxurious look of drapery fabric and it feels cozy at night when they are closed.

How to Choose Silhouettes

My friend Nancy DeVries is not only a colour expert and decorator but she also specializes in drapery and hard window coverings. She exclusively sells Hunter Douglas window coverings. I knew I wanted Silhouettes and that’s about it. I knew there are many options and special features you can specify so I called in the expert who sells them every single day.

How to Choose Silhouettes

 Here she is with her car full of samples.

How to Choose Silhouettes

Maria Killam and Nancy DeVries

The first decision to make was whether to install a 3″ or 4″ vane size.  When I walked outside to see the effect from the street, I chose the 3″ because I have 2 1/2″ white faux blinds in the two bedroom windows on the right side of the house and from a curb appeal standpoint, the 3″ would relate better to the blinds.

How to Choose Silhouettes

Then we had the colour decision to make. My trim colour is Artisan White from Cloverdale Paint which is an off-white instead of a pure white because that related best to my quartz countertops from Spectrum Stone. So we chose White Diamond.

How to Choose the Colour of your Silhouettes

Recently Terreeia and I were at some friends for dinner on their patio. They had a large, oversize retractible awning over the dining area. As we will eventually redesign our patio, I asked about their awning.

The homeowner said the only regret she had about the purchase was that they made the decision not to add the sensor that would automatically close them when the weather turned windy or rainy. There were many times when she had left the house, it started to rain, and there was nothing she could do because she had ordered manual control instead of automatic for an extra $500.

When you think about it. $500 savings now is hardly worth it for something you would use every day during the summer months.

As you can see (below) it would be a total pain to squeeze in behind the sofa to open and close the blinds every day, so I immediately knew I wanted the convenience of a remote.

I’m such a nut about atmosphere and the light looking just right so I know I’m the only one that would fuss with it. I love to sit on the Barcelona chair with my laptop to enjoy the mountain view.

Smart Shades for my Living Room from Urban Aesthetics


Just for fun, I thought I’d show you the real estate listing, before picture prior to the renovation last Spring which happened before we moved in.

Smart Shades by Urban Aesthetics

I’m so excited to see how they will look installed! In the winter when the sun slants into the living room during the day, you can’t sit on the sofa because it’s too bright. And we didn’t really spend any time in this room during the evenings this past winter because we felt like we were in a fish bowl without any window coverings.

The dining room windows will not be motorized because it’s easy to walk over and pull them up and down. Plus, all the fabric on my dining room chairs actually happen to have Sunbrella protection, so bleaching over there is not an issue.

Smart Shades for my Living Room from Urban Aesthetics

Silhouettes from Hunter Douglas

Nancy says that how you use a room should dictate exactly how you will cover the windows.  Many people relate to personalized window coverings as a luxury and don’t realize that living without the right window treatments can really limit how you spend time in a room which then prevents you from fully enjoying all the rooms in your house.

Is there a room in your home that you can’t be in because the windows aren’t dressed?

Related posts:

The Before Photos of My New House

All About Curtains

How to Measure for a Curtain Rod

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk up to the front door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 

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  • Heddy says:

    Yeah Nancy. Can’t wait to see the finished product

  • Donna Frasca says:

    Im just wondering if your yellow sofa will fade from the UV by the window. The treatments I have block most UV coming through to protect flooring and furniture. Keep an eye on it : )

  • Beth C. says:

    Agree about the tailored curtains over puddled, and agree they should be wide for a fuller look. That will give them a luxurious drape. But, I would reconsider the 1/2 in. off the floor. I think tailored drapes, like well made men’s slacks, should have just the slightest break (this is in no way puddling). But it does two things: they still fall nice and straight, but look more finished, and even expensive fabrics shrink a little over time and you want to avoid them looking like “ankle waders”. They just look more custom that way. Something to consider… Best, Beth C.

  • I agree with Beth !! If you are concerned about your sofa fading, look into window film if you haven’t already. I just installed 10 motorized Silhouettes in a penthouse condo, you will love them. Your room is so beautiful, Maria.

  • Susan says:

    Your rooms are so lovely…and the new drapery will be stunning.
    I know it’s a common suggestion now to put window film on to avoid furniture fading. Before you did something like this…know that plants will not survive in a room with window film and the room itself will feel different on some level because of this.
    Great in a commercial space but use sparingly in a home is my experience.

    LOVE your before and after photos…such a beautiful difference!

    • Barbara says:

      This is absolutely NOT true. I had window film put on my large windows within a couple of weeks of moving in–it was essential in our sunny climate.

      I also have a number of house plants and they do very well (they have been in this room 11 years now), the room does not feel any “different”. However, I had a very expensive film put on, perhaps you have experience with a cheaper product?

      If Hunter Douglas does not provide a written guarantee that you won’t have fading, I would not believe them at all that these blinds will block 90 percent of UV damage. Or do they provide the scientific studies showing the amount of blockage? The window film I bought did provide both of these.

      • Ivy Lane says:

        I have Silouettes in my dining room on a HUGE front window that faces West. I have a few cherished art pieces displayed there along with a beautiful table, wood floor and custom draperies. The shades do their job. I used to sell Hunter Douglas products and felt extremely confident when helping customers make their selections when UV protection was a concern.

  • Susan@Susan Silverman Designs says:

    I had no idea you were even considering silhouettes. I love them…I have them in my living room as well. They will definitely do the job you need them to do. However, unless you have a strictly modern and clean-lined room, I consider them primary window coverings and you will definitely need the secondary window coverings, in this case draperies, to complete the look. I always find it such a “hard sell” when I talk to clients about that. I also like windows to be dressed unless, of course, the window speaks for itself.


  • Debbie Bruna says:

    Love all the white, bright yellow and touches of green. Beautiful room, great job done by a talented designer.

  • karen says:

    Your place is so lovely Maria and I am a tad late on posting my two cents but I have to agree with Terreeia and Kelly T. not a fan of puddled drapes. To me it feels like something that would quickly date a room. I think what your going with is timeless. Plus it just not the right feel for your home. I do not have my window coverings done yet but yes the fishbowl thing hubby didn’t want so we have home depots white paper folding blinds that you can clip when you want them open, very inexpensive but have worked very well in the meantime. It’s next on the list, lol. love seeing all the after photos Maria.

  • Cheryl says:

    Maria, would you mind sharing the manufacture of the retractable awning your friends have? There are several such companies “out there” and we’d like one that has a tract record. Thank you. I don’t live in Canada, just so you know though we just spent some time on Saturna Island which we absolutely highly recommend. So peacful!

  • SandyCGC says:

    Great solution, Maria, and if the final effect of looking out your windows is the same as looking out the blue room windows in your bottom pic, beautiful! Just a curious question, though – maybe I don’t quite understand – Beth suggests you “reconsider the 1/2 inch off the floor”. Are yours going to hang to the floor? The Silhouettes in the blue room go to the bottom of the window which is quite low to the floor. What I love about it is that very crisp, clean look of plantation shutters but much softer. It looks as though it would work with your windows as well as your entire room which is so dramatically crisp and clean (I remember someone suggested plantation shutters). But, I understand it may not be the look you’re going for. Just a question/thought/musing.

    • Beth C. says:

      Hi Sandy, the 1/2 in off the floor refers to the drapes Maria is considering, not the silhouettes. Best, Beth C.

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    And….you’ll be softening up that not so great view from that window! Looks like those folks could maybe use a color (& shutter) consult, Maria. O, I’ve got to stop this!!!!
    You WILL enjoy the room soo much more now–it deserves to be used, right? You sure don’t want it to become a “parlor” that nobody wants to muss anything up in. Crazy the way ONE element makes a space totally more inviting! Enjoy!

  • BillP says:

    Wonderful choice, Maria. As seen in the blue room, I believe that the silhouettes alone finish the room nicely. I believe that a full drapery in addition will close your room off tremendously. If they are full, you have to consider the substantial stack which they will create when open. That will also block some view. Even in the dining room, the full drapery will take away from the limited floor area. I’d confine the sumptuous drapery to your bedroom and opt to keep the living room more open. There is also the challenge of how you would hang a drapery behind your sofa. If it is hung inside the soffit it will look funny (as in the before picture) and the room isn’t large enough to hang the rod just under the crown outside of the soffit.

  • Dianne says:

    It was great to see learn about window coverings. That is the question I had been wanting to ask. What colors fans do you choose with dark blinds?

  • StephanieR says:

    Love those Silhouettes. I can’t afford them (yet) and my fixer-upper house needed a more budget-friendly solution. I put wide faux-wood venetian blinds in my north facing picture window. After a year of squinting at the glare even with the blinds angled half closed (and not using the room), I added Ikea Vivan panels ($10/pr) over the top as a temporary solution. At least now I can use the room! I still want the Silhouettes, though.

  • jennifer says:

    I have 14 floor to ceiling windows in one large room facing a 20 mile view of the Texas hill country. We see the sunrise each morning. It is my living room, breakfast room and kitchen area. They’ve remained uncovered for 10 years. I had a window expert measure, and I was set to order the Hunter Douglas Silouhettes for them. I could adjust them from the top or bottom. I thought they would be perfect. I wanted something that would give use privacy and light control, while blocking as little of the view as possible. My daughter talked me out of them, saying they would look like cheap office window coverings. I’m going to show her your post! Thank you for all of your great advice.

  • Mary says:

    My living room has windows on 2 walls. The east wall has a big palladian window. The north wall has a regular window. I have blinds on each window but not on the palladian part. And I have stationary panels for each window.
    I have a hard time in the morning using the room because the light coming in through the palladian window is so bright. But I don’t know what to cover it with.

    • Nancy DeVries/ Urban Aesthetics says:

      Hello Mary, Silhouette shades can be ordered for perfect and imperfect sized arch windows as well as Honeycomb shades, and shutters. What type of blinds do you have on your other windows?

  • We have Silhouettes in our living room which faces east. We have large windows, and they really soften the light. We wouldn’t be able to sit in there without them. On summer mornings, it’s almost too bright anyway. I keep them closed all the time, but love how it filters the light.

  • dcz665 says:

    A Remote Sounds Perfect. We Had A Remote Internet Access Installed On Our Heat, Ac And A Few Lights. It Took A Bit To Work Out The Kinks But We Love It. No Forgotten Lights And We Can Regulate The Temps So Easily. Just An Fyi For Future Reference.
    (Sorry For The Caps…No Idea Why This Is Happening)

  • Jane says:

    I have had Silhouettes for a couple years. My young nephew (3) proudly announced that he had killed the mosquito that had somehow flown into the middle channel of the widest bay window Silhouette. There is now a blood stain on that sheer fabric, way from the sides. Any suggestions?

    • Nancy DeVries/ Urban Aesthetics says:

      Hi Jane, I would recommend contacting the dealer who sold you the Silhouette shades for the name of the blind cleaning company that they use. To be on the safe side, use a professional blind cleaning company to remove the stains of that nature.

  • Hoechstetter Interiors says:

    Good call on skipping the puddled drapes in this space, Maria. Sometimes it’s a lot harder to make decisions for ourselves because we’re too invested in the outcome, so when I’m trying to make a tough decision about my own home, and dithering between a couple of options, I often ask myself what I’d recommend to a client if it were their space, and that generally clarifies things pretty quickly.

    As to the blinds, why not go with wooden plantation shutter? They look so chic, luxe, and finished in a way that no fabric blind that isn’t primarily decorative ever will.

    They can be backed with room-darkening fabric if need be, but I agree that window film is an even better idea, as long as you’re not changing out the windows themselves.

  • Joanne G W says:

    I enjoy before/after photos, and yours are amazing. You went from fusty and dull to clean, crisp, and sparkling.

    • Maria Killam says:

      OMG of course I did, that was the previous owners furniture, not to be confused with anything I would ever have 🙂 Just in case that’s what you thought, haha!

  • BillP says:

    Maria, I notice that you don’t have a dining room chandelier, although the before picture has one in the dining room. I’m seeing chandeliers in almost every room these days, some are almost like jewelry in finishing off a room. I know that you like lamps, but what are your thoughts on chandeliers?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Oh I need one, I just haven’t made it a priority to source yet. I love candles at the dinner table but I definitely need a chandelier. I just photoshopped the empty hole with wires hanging out of it for this pic! Maria

      • BillP says:

        The chandelier in the blue room is very nice for that room. It will be interesting to see what you choose!

  • Betsy OShea says:

    I agree w Beth re drapery being at least touching the floor if not a 1/2″ break. Humidity will shrink drapes over time and off the floor really looks too short. See Cote de Texas blog article about drapes. Best education on correct ways to chose styles and how to install drapes i ever read. I have one idea for a Great chandalier. Ballard Design sells a beautiful somewhat oversized Orb chandelier in 3 sizes and 2 finishes(oil rubbed bronze or silver). Its a great knock off of one featured on the cover of House Beautiful 3 yrs ago that went for $3000. I bought it in med /bronze and it it transformed my DR….course i hv a round table but i would like it w any shape table. Just a suggestion to consider

    • BillP says:

      Betsy- I have had my eye on the Restoration Hardware orb for my great room with a 12′ ceiling. They also have three sizes but I think generally larger than those at Ballard. The medium at RH is 32″ diameter, which I was thinking of for my room which is about 17×21, with a lower ceiling over the kitchen which adds about 12′ to the width of the room. Any suggestions on sizing?

  • Sue says:

    Hi there,
    what is the name of the paint color in your dinging/living room combo?? It looks beige w/yellow…very pretty!!

  • Marcela says:

    I thought this day would never come! i have been living in my home for going on five years. During that time i have been looking for window treatments (panels specifically) like a crazy person for my “formal” living room/dining room. I need a length of 108in and this has caused me so much distress because of the comitment to the style of the curtains. I absolutely love that room but can never really enjoy it because its unfinished decor.

  • Having a treatment break on the floor can be really good if you have a polyester element in the drape. By breaking on the floor it can control the billowing that is a common complaint with polyester drapes. (Polyester is handy in so many ways, it just does not want to fall and drape the way natural fibres do.) Breaking on the floor works with pleated styles but not with ripplefold. Ripplefold must sit above the floor to show the curves off. I always love headings that are a bit bigger-6″ or 8″ buckrams just give a wow factor. Also consider interlining your drape. It will add an imperceptible richness to the look of the drape without adding face fabric. I can’t wait to see…

  • Lisa says:

    Maria, you are so cute when you pose for the camera. When I saw that before pic of your living room I thought it was new and said outloud, “Where’s her yellow sofa?”. And then it was back in the next pic. Whew!

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