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The Art of Layered Window Treatments

Posted on 
October 11, 2023

The Art of Layered Window Treatments: Insights from AVIR and Lutron's Design Team

Layering in interior design. It lends depth, versatility, and flair.

Specifically, layered window treatments bring a unique interplay of light and design, allowing for customized ambient experiences tailored to individual preferences. As a certified Lutron shade installer in Palm Desert and the surrounding areas, AVIR, draws insights directly from Lutron's design experts and delves into the intricate world of window treatment layering.

Daylight as the First Ambient Layer

Effective lighting design is multifaceted, from ambient to task and accent lighting. Daylight, which is a cornerstone of ambient lighting, becomes manipulable through window treatments. A kitchen bathed in diffused sunlight, casting gentle shadows over stone countertops. Or a home theater, devoid of distracting glare, offering a perfect cinematic experience. Such nuanced environments become possible through layered window treatments.

Natural Light Design Control with Automated Shades

Every textile offers unique light-control characteristics based on its weave's openness. By automating this movement, users can fine tune their indoor ambiance, from bright daylight atmospheres to more subdued, private settings. And automation isn’t just about convenience. It fosters a closer connection to the outdoors by allowing homeowners to orchestrate their indoor light according to external conditions.

Opacities, Colors, and Layered Window Treatments

Layering isn't simply about adding multiple fabrics. It's a nuanced balance of design and functionality. Kevin Gray, a renowned interior designer, emphasizes the strategic use of different opacities based on directional sunlight. For instance, Lutron's roller shade with a solar screen can filter the blazing sunlight in east or west-facing apartments, while more decorative shades like Roman shades can provide an intimate feel. Moreover, coordinating colors and designs across different layers can greatly enhance or diversify a room's aesthetic.

Blackouts are commonly used in bedrooms, nurseries, home theaters, and media rooms. They offer a crucial benefit to light-sensitive people, whose sleep can be disturbed when even a small amount of light enters the room. “Guest bedrooms should be fitted with blackout shades as well,” advises Gray. “Sometimes people don’t know if their guests will be light sensitive, so it’s good to give them the option of total darkness.”

Because blackout shades block all light, it’s important to layer them with treatments that filter light for moments in the day when occupants don’t want complete darkness. Gray suggests using Lutron’s dual roller system to layer a blackout, such as Bouclé, with a sheer solar screen, like T Screen. “This takes up less space in the drapery pocket because it uses a single rod for both blinds,” he says. Since rollers can be mounted inside window frames, they leave plenty of space to layer soft treatments outside or on top of the frame.

Rollers are a popular choice for blackout treatments, although they can only provide total darkness when side channels are installed.

Gray also recommends layering Roman shades or lined drapes over solar mesh for an elevated blackout experience in bedrooms. “Generally, I use Roman shades or lined fabric in bedrooms. For Romans, ensure that the shade is a few inches bigger than the window to fully block the light.” Romans are ideal for this application, with near-blackout performance and zero need for a side channel or additional design work. As for room-darkening applications, lined drapes that extend beyond the window opening are also effective for blackout fabrics.

Keep in mind that blinds should not be used for blackout applications. Window treatments with slats have light gaps along each slat’s edge—plus, the material’s depth prevents the use of side channels to block out additional light. Instead, install a separate roller with side channels behind the blind for a blackout effect. Blinds, such as Lutron Horizontal Sheer Blinds with Palazzo fabric, are very well-suited for applications where both room-darkening and view-through are desired from a single solution.

Soft Treatments: Versatility Across Homes

Soft treatments, due to their adaptable nature, are preferred by designers for various home styles. Kevin Gray emphasizes how lighter treatments, from sheers to drapes, can soften spaces, lending them a more intimate, homey feel. This versatility can range from muted fabrics that blend seamlessly into the room’s design to vibrant, unique textures that stand out.

Sheer drapes and rollers don’t provide significant insulation from outside temperatures but can protect furniture, art, rugs, and even wood surfaces from damaging UV rays. This makes sheer fabric ideal for spaces where diffusing light evenly tends to be more important than blocking it, such as kitchens, living and dining rooms, and bathrooms. When layered with room-darkening or blackout treatments, sheer fabric is also appropriate for bedrooms, home offices, and media rooms.

Lutron’s solar screen fabrics are available in different openness factors: 1%, 3%, 5%, and 10%. “The looser and more open the weave, the more light it lets in,” explains Gray. “The tighter it is, the less light enters. I usually pick 5%–7% to maintain a view outside. If the artwork is very expensive, and the window faces east or west, then I'll use a bit of a tighter weave, just as I would in a bedroom.”

To control glare and improve visual comfort, choose a fabric with an openness factor of less than 5%—ideally with a dark color facing the interior. If you want to maintain a view outside, use a fabric with an openness factor of 5% or more, also in a dark color. To optimize energy efficiency, try a dual-sided sheer weave with an openness of less than 5%, with a light-colored fabric facing the glass.

Gray recommends using a tighter weave in spaces like bathrooms, for privacy, especially if neighbors or passersby can see in. “I’d use a 1% or 2% openness, so they can really only see a silhouette. If there are no neighbors, then you can do whatever you want—no one can see—so you might choose 5% or 10% openness.”

For windows that get a lot of direct sunlight, select durable fabrics.

“When you use a natural linen or a natural silk, you have to put a blackout lining behind it,” explains Gray. “Even so, the drapery returns can still get bleached.” Instead, use more delicate fabrics in spaces that don’t receive as much direct sunlight or rooms with northern or southern exposures. All Lutron fabrics are engineered and tested to be durable for over ten years, so designers can be confident that their Lutron shades will last.

Layer sheers with room-darkening and blackout treatments to create versatile ambient lighting scenes during the day. For example, a room-darkening honeycomb shade might be tucked under an elegant sheer Roman in a home office. The reverse approach also works: pair a sheer shade with a blackout drape in a bedroom to provide more ambient light options. Then, program automated shades to open the blackout gradually in the morning while lowering the sheer shade to keep light diffuse and gentle.

You can also layer two sheer fabrics to create different ambient light environments throughout the day. A room that gets a lot of direct afternoon sunlight would benefit from a sheer treatment in a dark color to reduce glare and improve visibility. At night, a lighter treatment would give this same room a cozy ambiance and offer greater privacy. A dark sheer roller paired with a light sheer Roman would allow for these scenarios in a living room, kitchen, or other room where room darkening is not a priority.

Motorization and Hembar Alignment

While layering offers aesthetic appeal, the practicality of adjusting multiple shades can be challenging. Here, automation becomes invaluable. Lutron's Intelligent Hembar Alignment ensures shades remain perfectly aligned, eliminating visual discrepancies. Such precision, combined with intuitive controls, allows users to effortlessly orchestrate their preferred lighting scenes.

Seamless Controls: The Magic Touch

The sun’s journey across the sky changes the shading needs of a room. Therefore, having a seamless control system becomes crucial for fine-tuning layered window treatments. Lutron's hand-finished keypads, like Alisse and Palladiom, offer meticulous control, letting users redefine their spaces with the touch of a button.

For a firsthand experience of these innovative window treatments, AVIR invites you to explore Lutron’s Experience Centers.


AVIR offers a five-year maintenance service agreement, "M.S.A.".

This M.S.A. includes additional maintenance outside of warranty, to ensure there are no system issues for our clients.

After-hours service: AVIR offers after hours and weekend emergency service and can generally be dispatched to service a system within an hour.

If you are interested in scheduling for one of our professional engineers to design a system for your remodel or new construction project in Palm Desert or rest of the Coachella Valley, we may be reached at:

Phone: (760) 799-0881

Email: Sales@AVIR.com

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