Blinds with Curtains: 11 Ways to Layer Window Treatments

Blinds with Curtains: 11 Ways to Layer Window Treatments
Layering window treatments is a great way to add visual interest to your space while giving you increased privacy and light control. But how to layer window treatments isn’t as simple as it sounds. If you pick the wrong combination or the wrong colors, it will look strange and unattractive. Below, we walk you through the seven essential steps to choosing layered window treatments. Then, we cover our 11 favorite ways to combine different blinds with curtains into one cohesive look.

Consider the space.

When choosing a layered window treatment, you need to consider both form and function. For example, you may love the look of sheer fabric shades, but those won’t hold up well in a bathroom where privacy and moisture-resistance is of paramount importance. However, those same fabric shades might go great in an office that gets a lot of light and is only used during the day. You also need to think about the amount of light control you want. In a bedroom, you might want blackout shades for privacy and sleeping and sheer curtains for light filtering during the day. Making these decisions upfront will make it far easier to narrow down your window treatment options.

Determine how deep your windows are.

The deeper your window, the more options you will have for window treatments. This is because the bottom layer of blinds or shades is usually inside mounted, making it easier to mount a curtain rod or second window treatment outside the blinds. If your windows aren’t deep enough to inside mount blinds or shades, you can still make a multi-layered window treatment work, but you’ll have to plan it carefully. For instance, if you outside mount blinds, then a cornice or valance at the top might work better than a curtain rod which would have to extend pretty far out to accommodate the blinds.

Learn How to Measure for Mini Blinds So You Can Order Yours Today!

Decide on a base layer.

neutral tone living room with blinds

After you’ve determined whether or not you can do an inside mount on the window, it’s time to start choosing your window treatments. For the base layer, you can choose a “hard” window treatment (i.e., wood blinds, mini blinds, shutters, etc.) or a “soft” window treatment (i.e., roller shades, Roman shades, curtains, etc.). There’s no right or wrong answer to this. It’s entirely dependent on what look you’re going for, how much light control you want and how much privacy you need. In many cases, your house or apartment will already come with wood blinds or faux wood blinds, and you might not want to replace them right away. But if you’re starting from scratch, your options are practically endless!

Decide on a top layer.

The base layer is usually–though not always–the more practical layer that’s used for privacy and light control. In many cases, the base layer will be more neutral and sort of fade into the wall whereas the top layer is meant to be seen. The top layer is usually soft (i.e., made out of fabric) and is an excellent opportunity to introduce colors, patterns and textures into your wall. If you already have a lot going on in the room, you might want to opt for a more muted top layer. But if the room is feeling a little bland, a bold curtain or roller shade can be just what you need to pull the room together and perk it up.

Add an extra layer if desired.

bathroom window with valance

If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can add a third mini layer to your window treatments, such as a valance or cornice. These add-ons cover the very top of the window treatment, hiding any exposed hardware, but leaving the rest of the window treatment free. A cornice may be a wooden ledge, basically like crown molding for the top of your windows. You can also get cornices that are upholstered boards covered in fabric which may be straight across or carved into a design. A valance is a short curtain that hangs only partway down the window. It is not meant to be pulled back like a regular curtain. Less common are window scarves, which are swags of fabric draped over a curtain rod. All these third layers are optional, but they really add some drama to a room if you want a statement window treatment.

Add Blackout Blinds to the Layering of Window Treatments for Better Lighting Control

Choose your fabrics and colors.

Once you’ve settled on how many layers you want and what window treatment you will use for each layer, it’s time to choose your materials. Carefully consider your woods, fabrics, colors and patterns–not just individually, but also together as a coordinated look. A fabric pattern you love as a swatch might look garish when placed next to your favorite blinds. Get swatches and samples of all your options and evaluate them in the room at different times of the day (colors can look very different in natural daylight and artificial light at night). Take your time and don’t rush things because you want to love your new window treatments.

Enjoy your new window treatments!

Once you’ve made your final selections, order your window treatments and hardware and wait for them to arrive. Once they come, you can install them yourself or get a professional to do so for you. When you’re done, sit back and enjoy your fabulous new layered window treatments.

So that’s how you choose layered window treatments. If you need some inspiration, browse our list of our favorite ways to layer window treatments:

wood blinds and curtains graphic

1. Wood Blinds + Curtains

This combination of blinds with curtains is a classic for a reason: You absolutely cannot go wrong with wood blinds, or faux wood blinds, topped with curtains. The blinds offer a classic, neutral look that blends in with any decor, and the curtains can be chosen in any color and style–from contemporary to traditional. If you’re renting a place and it came with blinds pre-installed, hanging curtains is also an easy way to cover them up and give you more control over the natural lighting.

2. Wood Blinds + Cornice

If you hate having the hardware at the top of the blinds exposed, you might be interested in installing a cornice. You can get a carved wood version that either matches or contrasts the color of your wood blinds if you want to continue the wood theme. If you like the look of fabric but want something more structured than a valance, you can get an upholstered valance instead. An upholstered valance can also be paired with curtains over blinds as well.

3. Wood Blinds + Valance

If a cornice is too structured and sharp for you but you still want to cover the top of your blinds, a valance is a good alternative. These short curtains come in many options, from sleek and straight across to ruffled swags, that can dress up any decor. Similar to the cornice, a valance can also be paired with a full-length curtain for added light control and privacy. You will need a strong double curtain rod but, otherwise, valances aren’t too tricky to install.

room with bright yellow interior and curtains

4. Wood Blinds + Window Scarves

Window scarves are the more flowy, less formal cousin of the window valance. These swags of fabric are wrapped around the curtain rod to create a soft, appealing drape. The curves of a window scarf create a nice contrast compared to the straight lines of the blinds. Depending on how you arrange the window scarf, it may expose more or less of the window and curtain rod. Similar to the valances, window scarves can also be paired with curtains using a double curtain rod. We especially love seeing a colorful window scarf against a more neutral full-length curtain.

5. Woven Wooden Blinds + Curtains

Classic blinds with slats look fantastic with layered window treatments. Over the past five years or so, it’s become very popular to pair dark-colored woven wooden shades with white curtains, and we can totally see why. The look is both modern and traditional, and the texture of the woven blinds contrasts nicely with the smooth fabric of the curtains. Keep in mind that woven wooden blinds can become rather see-through at night, so you might want to invest in a blackout liner for added privacy and light control.

roller shades and curtains graphic

6. Roller Shades + Curtains

Who says you can’t have two fabric window treatments at once? Not us. Because of their lower profile, roller shades actually fit rather well beneath curtains. The combination is a great option when you need a higher level of privacy and light control, but the curtains you want aren’t thick enough to provide it. With a blackout roller shade, you can block out almost all the light and still use whatever curtains you want. With the curtains drawn, you might not even be able to tell there is a roller shade behind it.

7. Roller Shades + Valances

If you’d prefer not to cover up your roller shades completely, but you want to put something over the hardware at the top, a valance or upholstered cornice will do the job nicely. Choose a matching fabric for a more subtle look, or get a contrasting pattern for a real pop of color. The clean lines of an upholstered cornice go nicely with the sleek profile of the roller shade, but if you’d like something even more constant, then the fabric swags of the valance will fit the bill nicely.

8. Roller Shades + Roman Shades

While this may sound like a lot, hear us out. You can totally make Roman shades work with roller shades. In this case, the roller shades act as a blackout blind or privacy liner, allowing you to choose whatever fabric you want for the Roman shades. Keep in mind that you will probably need to inside mount the roller shades and then outside mount the Roman shades since most windows aren’t deep enough to inside mount both, so make sure you have enough room inside and around the window for all the hardware.

pleated shades and roman shades graphic

9. Pleated Shades + Roman Shades

Similarly, you can also install a pleated shade beneath a Roman window shade for a layered look. Made of 100 percent polyester fabric, a pleated shade is best used to filter light as opposed to blocking it. You can draw the pleated shade down during the day to filter the light and then lower the Roman shade fully to provide more privacy at night. Similar to the above combination, you will likely need to inside mount the pleated shade and outside mount the Roman shade, so keep that in mind as you measure.

10. Cellular Shades + Curtains

Like pleated shades, cellular shades are also made of 100 percent polyester fabric, but they have two layers instead of one to provide even greater light blocking. (If you’re wondering what cellular shades are, they look like a honeycomb when turned on its side.) However, cellular shades don’t always block enough light, and that’s where the curtains come in. You can draw the cellular shade and leave the curtains open for some light filtering or close the curtains for more privacy and light blockage–whatever your preference is.

11. Sheer Curtains + Fabric Curtains

living room with double curtains

We couldn’t write an article about how to layer window treatments without including this classic combination. Hung with a double curtain rod, two layers of sheer curtains and opaque curtains allow you to customize your light control and privacy during the day and at night. Open both sets of curtains for maximum sunlight, draw the sheer curtains for some light filtering or close both sets for full shade.

From blinds with curtains to roller shades with Roman shades, there are many fantastic looking ways to layer window treatments for every window in your house. Browse this list for inspiration if you’re just in the planning stages, or reach out to our customer service team if you need help ordering your chosen window treatment.

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