Interior Design

Solar shades are 2021’s biggest window treatment trend – here's why you should bookmark them

Plus more window treatment trends you’ll want to check out

Mary Patton window treatment trends
(Image credit: Mary Patton)

Window treatments that score highly on the functional scale didn’t used to reach equal rank for style. Opting to protect furniture and more from the damaging effect of the sun, and reducing uncomfortable glare in a room meant sacrificing loveliness. A tough call.

Step forward, then, the latest generation of solar shades, which will save furniture and furnishings from the bleaching and deterioration caused by UV rays and make interiors comfortable to spend time in year round without compromising the room’s aesthetic appeal. 

Interior designer Mary Patton gives us the lowdown on why solar shades are a must for 2021, and reveals the other window treatments that are her favorite choices. Read on for Mary’s expert advice on dressing all your windows. 

1. Choose solar shades – 2021's biggest window treatment trend

Mary Patton window dressing trends

(Image credit: Stoneside)

A room that enjoys great daylight is highly desirable, but light from the sun can damage and discolor furniture and soft furnishings over time, spoiling the look of the room, and leaving you needing to replace the pieces you fell in love with.

It’s also uncomfortable to sit in a room in a bright glare, and the quality of the light can force you to forgo a space like this until the weather or the seasons change. 

The solution that will save your furniture and keep the light in the room soft? Solar shades. ‘They’re a new fave,’ says Mary Patton. 

‘I've become more and more interested in solar shades, as they now come in stylish and beautiful options,’ Mary explains. ‘These are great investment pieces for larger spaces such as a living room or bedroom. Preserving energy and protecting your furniture from the sun is a major plus.’

Solar shades are made from woven material that blocks some of the light coming into the room to help preserve furniture and eliminate glare. The rule when you’re specifying them? The tighter the weave of the fabric, the less light that will come into the room. In other words, it’s possible to tailor your solar window treatment to its location to get just the right level of light and furniture protection. Mary’s a fan of solar shades at Stoneside (above), which let you select from a range of openness factors to customize the treatment.   

If your window is large or high, consider motorized solar shades for easy operation, and pick valance, headrail and fascia options to complement the rest of the room’s furnishings. 

See: Window treatment ideas – ways with curtains, blinds and shutters for every room

2. Try Roman shades to soften a space with hard edges

Mary Patton window treatments trends

(Image credit: Mary Patton)

If you are looking for a window treatment that's making a real comeback from the 1980s and 1990s, look no further than informal Roman shades. 

Made from fabric that falls in soft pleats, Roman shades are an attractive window treatment, and ideal for refreshing a room, says Mary. ‘These are still light without making the room feel too heavy,’ she advises.

3. Go for drapery

Mary Patton window treatment trends

(Image credit: Mary Patton)

Another fabulous way to refresh a room for 2021, according to Mary? Dress the window to introduce a gentler note to the scheme. 

‘I love drapery to add softness to a space, especially during the colder months,’ says Mary. ‘While you don’t always need them for privacy, layering can add a beautiful effect to any room.’

4. Introduce sheer drapery

As an alternative to traditional drapery, consider a sheer version this year, Mary suggests. 

‘Romance, drama, depth, serenity – they all can be evoked with the use of wide-width sheer drapery,’ advises Mary. ‘Their translucency works a kind of magic: just picture these drapes gently billowing in a breeze or casting glorious patterns of light from a golden sunset.’

Sheer drapery can be part of a combination of treatments for a window, as well as a solo option. ‘One of the benefits that come with sheer drapery is that they can be used on their own, or paired with another window treatment,’ Mary says. ‘This includes heavier drapery panels or Roman shades, should you want to control light and privacy.’

5. Pick a more formal linen blend

'Window treatments can add a sense of softness to your space while still creating impact,' says Mary Patton. 'I love to use a linen blend, as it makes the dressiness of custom drapes feel a little more casual. Color and pattern should play an integral role in your window treatments. It should be an intentional choice to stay light and neutral or bring in pattern and color.'

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.