Windows are our eyes to the outside world. They let us see if visitors are coming or if danger is imminent. However, their visibility can often be a double-edged sword: people outside can often see more than they should, especially at night.
Here’s how to make windows more private at night:
- Use curtains
- Installs blinds or shades
- Choose from a wide variety of window films
- Frost your glass window
- Install privacy screens, shutters, or panels
- Use dimmer and task lights
This article will outline some of the most effective ways to keep prying eyes out of your home, especially at night. Privacy plays an essential role in a safe and well-balanced life, and luckily it doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve. Keep reading to learn your options and decide what’s best for you and your home.
I’ll start with the most classic approach to keeping your home private: installing curtains. There’s a wide variety of curtain designs to choose from.
However, since our primary purpose is privacy and aesthetics are only secondary, we’ll focus on the type of curtain that has helped most homeowners preserve their privacy:
These curtains are very effective in blocking light from either side. Thus, you’re assured of privacy, so long as they are drawn.
- People outside cannot see inside. Light is completely blocked, so people would not see inside.
- Many sizes and colors are available. Blackout curtains don’t have to be black. They can come in many colors, so you can find one to fit your home’s aesthetic.
- Blocks out the noise. Because of how thick they are, they are also good for soundproofing your home.
- You need to draw them close to work. If you forget to draw your curtains close, they won’t be able to block the light.
- They block light. Because of how good they are at blocking light, your home can be too dark when they’re drawn, especially during the daytime. You’ll have to rely more often on your inside lights.
- They’re heavy. Maintaining blackout curtains can be a hassle because of their thickness. They’re difficult to clean, fold, and install.
If you don’t think your curtains are enough to do the job, then pairing them up with blinds, shades, or window films may be best. This helps you control the amount of light coming in and out. This is because blinds or shades are easier to pull up or down, depending on what you need.
Blinds and shades are also a classic option for improving window privacy. You can pull them anytime to block the view or pull them up again for more light. But first, what’s the difference between these two?
Blinds come with slats, which may either be horizontal or vertical. This gives blinds more control over light because you can adjust the slats. The slats are also rigid, made of plastic, wood, bamboo, aluminum, etc.
Meanwhile, shades are often a single piece of fabric that you can roll up or down. There’s less light control with shades because they’re either closed or open.
There are many types of blinds and shades available in the market, each offering different pros and cons:
- Roman shades. These are the traditional shades and are considered to be more aesthetic. They’re often thicker, thus blocking out light better than other shades.
- Cellular/Honeycomb shades. Aside from helping with light control, cellular shades affect insulation by trapping air. Therefore, they make your home cooler in the summer but warmer in winter. They also allow light to come in from the top or bottom parts while dimming the middle section.
- Zebra blinds. Zebra blinds strike a balance between privacy and light control. The alternating slats allow light to come in while also obscuring you and your home.
- People outside cannot see inside. These window coverings do an excellent job of obscuring visibility.
- Light control. These two window coverings, especially blinds, make controlling the amount of light easier. You can pull them down at night but keep them up during the day.
- Affordable. Blinds and shades are easy to procure and are cheaper options. They also come in various colors and sizes.
- Insulation control. Best insulation or heat-resistance properties come from honeycomb or cellular shades.
- Difficult to install. Depending on the type and size, blinds or shades may need special installation procedures.
- Wear down easily. As you pull them more often, these window coverings get worn down. Thus, you may have to replace them after a few years of excessive use.
Window films are a modern alternative that many are starting to prefer over blinds, shades, and curtains.
Films are easier to maintain and may be cheaper in the long run. They are also easy to install – just peel and stick.
They are also very customizable. You can have simple frosted styles or even opt for a faux stained glass design.
When you think of window films, your first thought may be that of the reflective type. It’s the one that keeps outside people from looking in but lets you see from the inside.
While that seems sleek and fitting for privacy purposes, reflective window films don’t work at night. This is because, at night, inside lights are often brighter than those outside.
Thus, instead of outsiders seeing mirror versions of themselves, the inside of your home gets illuminated to their view. This defeats their purpose, doesn’t it?
Suppose you’ve had reflective window films installed already, no need to fear. You can pair them with blinds, shades, or curtains at night to keep off unwanted gaze.
However, if you haven’t gotten any window films yet, here are the best choices for keeping your home private at night:
Decorative window films are often used inside offices, conference rooms, or areas where privacy is needed. They’re also often used in bathrooms.
With decorative window films, people outside can’t see what’s going inside, and vice versa.
- People outside cannot see inside. The film is opaque, thus keeping prying eyes out.
- Many designs to choose from. You can opt for a simple frosted glass effect, geometric shapes, gradients, dots, etc.
- It lets light in. These window films do not block all light, so you can still enjoy some illumination without fear of getting peered in.
- People inside cannot see outside. If you are inside your home or room, you won’t be able to see through the decorated window film because it is opaque.
If you also want to add some aesthetic appeal while decreasing window visibility, you’d hit two birds with one stone using a perforated window film.
Perforated means having many small holes. This window film has many tiny holes that let you see from the inside while maintaining privacy.
- People inside can see outside. The small holes allow light to come in, letting you see from the inside without illuminating your space too much. However, such a view is pretty dim, but it’s still more than what outsiders would see.
- Freedom to choose the design. Most commercial spaces have these window films because they can have logos or designs imprinted on them. You can have that for your home (or business) as well.
- People outside cannot see inside. Instead, what people see from the outside is a white window or the design you opted to have.
- Can be a bit costly. Perforated films can often be costlier than other privacy-retaining alternatives, especially if they’re customized. However, they’re usually pretty long lasting as well.
Simply put, blackout window films are the film versions of blackout curtains. However, they’re less heavy, easier to clean, and easier to install than the latter. You also won’t have to draw them in or out.
- People outside cannot see inside. Blackout films are one of the best for privacy. They completely block light so people outside would not see anything at all.
- They do not let any light in. Because they block light, it can be too dark in the room. This may mean you would have to rely more often on inside lights.
- People inside cannot see outside. These films block light from both sides, so you would not be able to see outside.
Technology has brought many conveniences, one of which is smart window films or dimmable window films.
- Adjust opacity using a switch. You only have to flip a switch or press on your phone to adjust how opaque or dim you want your window film to be. This is a huge leap for privacy and convenience, as you can decide when you want the film to frost.
- Additional insulating properties. This may depend on the type of smart film, but the material may have other perks like heat insulation or soundproof features.
- Can be installed on existing glass. There’s no need to buy a special glass for this film as it can be installed on your home’s existing ones.
- Expensive. Because of the perks and convenience being offered, smart window films are expected to be more costly. However, the benefits may justify the cost.
- Need a power source. A transformer is needed to provide voltage for the film to work. Without a power source, you would not be able to enjoy the benefits of a smart film.
Frosting your glass allows light to come in but, at the same time, obscures an outsider’s view, thus, giving you privacy. This is optimal for those that want both privacy and illumination.
Here are ways you can frost your glass for improved privacy
- Window films. Many of the window films I’ve described, such as the decorative window film, give a frosting effect to the glass. There are also whiteout and blackout frosted window films available.
- Glass paint. Glass paint is a more permanent option for frosting glass. It’s also good at protecting you against ultraviolet light. The darkness may depend on how many coats you apply and the colors you opt for.
- Etching/acid cream. Etching cream is often used for stencil designs and leaves a frosted effect on the glass. It’s a great option for small glass windows but may be impractical for bigger ones.
Privacy screens, shutters, and panels are all traditional ways of obscuring your windows and maintaining privacy. They may not be as easy to draw open and close, but they give a nice, rustic effect.
- People outside cannot see inside. They’re rigid, physical coverings that block unwanted human sight. Depending on the slits and design, you may be able to peek out, though.
- You can make them from available materials or DIY. You can make shutters, screens, or panels from available wood or materials in your place. You can add a personal touch.
- Rustic or vintage aesthetic. These window coverings have a nostalgic appeal that may suit your aesthetics.
- Durable. As they are made of wood, they would tend to be more durable.
- Hard to install. It may be hard to install shutters, panels, or screens because of their material and design.
- Not modern. This solution may not match your home if you are leaning on a more modern aesthetic. However, if you design them well enough and find help to realize such a design, they may go well with your home.
- Harder to draw close. Because of how heavy and rigid they are, they may not be as easy to pull or draw as curtains or blinds.
Another option to improve privacy at night is to use dimmer lights and task lights. This helps reduce illumination from the inside; thus, people outside won’t be drawn to or won’t be able to see much.
Moreover, these lights help maximize the privacy you would get from the options we shared above. The indoor lights that pass through the glass are reduced, so there won’t be too much to block.
If you opt to install dimmer and task lights, be prepared for the expense as they can be costly. Moreover, your lighting during the day may be affected, so you need to consider this downside as well.
Privacy in your home should always be a priority. Therefore, improving your windows to keep your home more private, especially at night, is worth the investment.
There are many options when it comes to improving window privacy:
- Glass frosting
- Window films
- Dimmer lights
Each has its pros and cons to help you weigh out which suits your needs and requirements best.