Natural light is right up near the top of my list in terms of priorities in a home, and, happily, our retro ranch really delivers on that. We don’t have any trees on our lot, so there’s nothing obstructing the sunshine from filling the rooms in our home. The one big negative of having zero trees on our property is that we also have very little privacy from our neighbors.
It wasn’t long after we moved into this house that I ordered custom light-filtering pull-down cellular shades for all of the windows to provide us with some much-needed separation from our next-door neighbors. That worked really well, but almost a little too well, if you know what I mean. The shades let some light in, which was good, but it also blocked 100 percent of the view outside. It was a little isolating, if I’m honest, so I decided to do something about it, starting in my home office.
No room in our house feels more constricting than my office. I think that’s sort of a mental thing (I’m almost always feeling weighed down by work deadlines), but it also has to do with the natural light this room gets. Despite the fact that there are no trees blocking the light, this room tends to get the very last dredges of sunshine during the day. It’s on the far side of the house and is just generally pretty dim until about 5:00 p.m., and then the bright sunshine only lasts for about half an hour before it dips below the level of neighboring roofs.
I really wanted to do something about this fact, so I decided to try mimicking the look we have in our living room—i.e. floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains. I thought this setup would allow lots more light to get into the room throughout the day, while still providing a small bit of privacy from our neighbors. Sheers are see-through, of course, but the wavy texture of the fabric (especially if you buy lots of them, like I do) helps dilute the view inside just enough to keep your rooms feeling secluded and away from prying eyes. That worked well for our living room, at any rate, so I thought it was worth a try in my office.
I genuinely had no clue that it was going to work so well! As soon as I stepped back after hanging my new sheer curtains (and two decorative white drapery panels), my jaw fell open. It was still pretty early in the day at this point, and usually the light isn’t great, but somehow the scant amount of afternoon sunlight that had made its way to that side of our lot was magnified by the sheer curtains, and the space was as bright as could be! I was floored, and I don’t mind admitting that I spent a good hour in the space figuratively drinking up all of my newly discovered sunshine.
If you’d like to try this look in your home, I ended up purchasing four of these sheer curtain panels (two for each side of our very wide mid-century windows), and two of these white curtain panels. The latter are more for looks than anything else, but I love how they frame the window and the bank of sheer curtains across the middle. I purchased four sheers because I wanted extra fullness. Luckily, these sheers are only about $5 apiece, so it wasn’t expensive to double up the panels. The curtain rod I used was also surprisingly budget-friendly. I love the black finish, and the wrap-around ends, which mean you can get the curtains to sit right up against the wall without any awkward light leakage.
After having so much surprise success with this new curtain look in my home office, I ended up copying the same exact collection of curtains, sheers, and rods in our main bedroom and in our lounge living space, too. As predicted, this update has made all the rooms at the back of our house so much sunnier, and my mood has followed suit. We still have our privacy, but the sunshine has much more free rein to come inside.
Oh, and just so you know, I did leave all of those custom light-filtering cellular shades in place. I appreciate that I can still pull them down to make our 1960s windows a little more energy-efficient in the wintertime, as needed, and they allow us to control full privacy and sunlight, too, so we definitely don’t plan to let them go to waste. Hope this story was helpful!
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