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Pros and Cons of Sheer Window Shadings

Pros and Cons of Sheer Window Shadings

Sheer window shadings have been on the market for decades, and they continue to be one of the most popular options for window treatments in the home.  This is with good reason, since sheer shadings are also one of the most versatile products on the market.

Hunter Douglas invented the first sheer window shading called Silhouettes, revealing them in the early 1990s.  Today, that product continues to be their most popular window covering.  Silhouettes, and their subsequent copy-cat products, are a unique combination of both a sheer drapery and a blind.  So, while you can retain your view to the outdoors by raising the shade completely out of the way in into its compact headrail, you can also leave the shades down and tilt the fabric vanes to allow complete privacy or a little peek outside.

Silhouette quartette

Photo courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Depending on the fabric you select, the vanes will offer complete privacy when closed or they can be a bit more sheer.  The product also comes in light-dimming fabrics, blocking out most of the light from a room when they are closed.

Another great feature of this product is the protection they offer against the damaging UV rays of the sun.  When the vanes are closed, Silhouettes offer nearly 100% protection for your home’s furnishings and decor – no more fading and sun damage!  But, the best part is that even when the vanes are open – allowing to see outside – the sheer fabric will still filter out 88% of the UV rays coming into your home.

Silhouette Luminette

Photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

For patio doors and other very wide spaces, Hunter Douglas offers a companion product called Luminette.  This option is essentially the same as a Silhouette – just turned on its side to slide along the window instead of moving up and down.  While it looks much like a sheer drapery, Luminette also offers the versatility of fabric vanes which give you the ability to precisely control your light and privacy in the room.

Silhouettes offer a variety of operating systems, including a top-down/bottom-up option, a motorized option and a cordless version.  They also have a variety of fabrics and textures available to fit most any decor.  Three different vane sizes (2″, 3″ & 4″) offer an option for every space.  (Tip:  the larger the vane size, the better your view to the outside).  And, Silhouettes can be made in many specialty shapes, including arches and triangles, to fit those oddball windows you may have.

Silhouette shapes

Photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

While it can be difficult to find “cons” for this beautiful and versatile product, there could be a few depending on your preferences.  The first is sometimes one of the most important considerations when you are shopping for new window treatments:  price.  Silhouettes are at the top of the food chain when it comes to window shade pricing.  The quality is superb, along with their warranty, and the product should last for decades, but you will pay for it up front.  Hunter Douglas does have another product – nearly the same as Silhouette – called Nantucket.  This product is slightly less expensive than Silhouettes, but it functions exactly the same.

Another potential issue with Silhouettes, and one I’ve heard from clients more than once, is that they look “too formal.”  The sheer fabric, for some folks, evokes memories of grandma’s living room (you know, the one you were never allowed in as a kid), and that just doesn’t fit with their casual lifestyle.  Hunter Douglas has been working on this, and has introduced a few more casual fabrics in the past year.  In addition, their Nantucket line has a more casual appeal, although fewer fabric choices than the Silhouette line.

Silhouette top down bottom up

Photo courtesy Hunter Douglas

The other “problem” with Silhouettes is that they offer a fairly limited color palette – at least they used to.  Originally, their fabrics consisted of very light neutrals and pastels.  And, since this product is an investment, a light neutral is the most versatile color option for future redecorating (you probably won’t be replacing these every time you paint your walls a new color!)  But, they now offer some deeper, richer colors in cocoa, charcoal, olive, gold, burgundy and other accent hues.

And, while Silhouette and Luminettes offer superb protection against UV rays and heat gain in your home, they aren’t as good at insulating against the cold of winter.  They do offer some insulating qualities at the window, but if heavy insulation at the window is your goal, honeycomb shades may be a better option for you.

Now, you many notice that I have been talking exclusively about the sheer shadings by Hunter Douglas; that’s for good reason – they are simply the best on the market, in my opinion.  While they are expensive, you do get what you pay for.  While the vanes in Silhouettes remain straight and crisp, the competitors’ vanes can tend to warp and wave over time.  But, you will find similar products, at lower price points from other manufacturers.  Be sure to look at your options and, as always, get the best you can afford; over the long haul, you won’t regret it.

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2 Responses to Pros and Cons of Sheer Window Shadings

  1. […] including cellular/honeycomb shades, pleated shades, Roman shades, woven wood/grass shades, and sheer window shadings, offering an option for every style and home. Photo courtesy Hunter […]

  2. For sure the ideal window covering for larger applications !

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