Going Naked vs. Getting the Treatment

It’s time to have a little chat: way back when, in my naiveté, I made some mistakes. Big mistakes. Fortunately I grew a little, I learned a lot, and now I’m here to tell you all about it.

I’m talking about windows, people!

Specifically, whether you should go with bare windows or curtains.  Or shades, come to think of it.

Bare Windows or Window Treatments: The Great Debate

Antonia Osswald’s home via A Beautiful Mess

Do any of you remember the movie The House of Dies Drear? In fifth grade, we had to watch this made-for-TV version of Virginia Hamilton’s novel, about a boy and his family who move into a house that was once on the Underground Railroad. Spooky stuff ensued; in one scene late at night, the boy suddenly looked out the window…only to see a face staring straight at him, pressed up against the glass.

Let me tell you, this scared the BEJESUS out of my Spice Girls- and Lisa Frank-loving self. For years afterwards, I could never be in the same room with a window at night that didn’t have the curtains or shades drawn.

I remember my mother dutifully drawing the curtains closed over every window each night before she went to bed, and opening them all as soon as she woke up each morning. I can still hear the clicking sound of the ropes on the side that we pulled like a theatre curtain. I think this habit of hers was her own creation, but it did help settle my fears as a child.  (Looking back now, it seems like a lot of work for nothing!)

Bare Windows or Window Treatments: The Great Debate

Erin Williamson via Design Crisis

Perhaps this is what made me, as a first-time homeowner, believe that windows needed some serious dressing in order to look good. Somehow I got it into my head that curtains AND Roman shades were what was needed on EVERY window, and I wasted a good amount of money achieving that.

Maybe I was just crazy.

But I do think that there is a tradition (handed down from our mothers?) that if you have a window, it needs curtains or a shade—no questions asked.  But are window treatments really necessary?

Bare Windows or Curtains?

Bare Windows or Window Treatments: The Great Debate

Chelsea Fullerton’s home via The Every Girl

Do window treatments always look better? Certainly they can make a room seem taller and they also give you some privacy, but privacy from what? I for one don’t typically walk around naked in my living room. (The exception being bedrooms—please have treatments in there!).

There is also a trend now towards undressed windows, especially in modern spaces. An undressed window allows the greatest amount of light to penetrate a room, and if you’re a minimalist like me, you’ll appreciate the clean lines and uncluttered look.

This works best, of course, if you have a beautiful window to begin with…something not all of us are blessed with.

Bare Windows or Window Treatments: The Great Debate

Dabito via Old Brand New

I’ve learned the hard way that less is more. I’ve also learned what works for me, my house, and my style.

Don’t miss all my tips on how to choose the right window treatments for your own home!

Where do you fall in the debate? Do undressed windows just look wrong? Do you hate the idea of your neighbors seeing what you’re up to? Or do you like the pared-down look?

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Comments (19 )
  • Kristen
    | 7 January 2015

    That is such a funny story!
    I do believe you’re right – it’s something that we get from our mothers… I had HEAVY silk drapes on all my windows… until I learned differently. I’ve lightened things up a bit, and love it. I only have a natural fiber shade on my dining room, and I really like it, but others tell me I need curtains. I’m not so sure. I like that it keeps the room light and not too stuffy.
    Dressing windows is hard. Can’t wait to see more!

    • annabode
      | 11 January 2015

      It’s so hard! I LOVE the shade in your dining room — where is it from? 🙂

  • sandyc
    | 7 January 2015

    I don’t know that I necessarily got it from my mother but I have a lifelong fear of the dark and am totally not comfortable being in a lighted room with windows looking out into the dark. But during the day, I embrace the light totally and the first thing I do in the morning is open the curtains in every room on my way to the kitchen to make coffee. My current window treatments are very simple, inexpensive, light and airy yet I’ve got the bases covered for nighttime privacy (again, easy and inexpensive). Always looking for inspiration, however, so I’ll be eager to read future posts.

    • annabode
      | 11 January 2015

      So scary, right? It’s taken me years to get over it. We have a HUGE window in our living room, and our curtains wouldn’t cover it even if I did close them every night…so now we let it all hang out for our neighbors ;). But I find I still avoid looking directly at the windows, ha! Light & airy is definitely my favorite way to go, especially in our house which is small and dark. Thanks for stopping by Sandy!

  • Jennifer @ Brave New Home
    | 8 January 2015

    Haha, I think one of the Scream movies where the masked killer pops up in front of a naked window at night did it for me! That, or one of the other many horror movies I watched. I love the look of naked windows especially when they’re beefy and/or better yet, natural wood. I think they can work especially when you don’t have neighbors close by. Personally, my still loving Spice Girls self (did you know they made a musical in the UK?) will always have all her windows dressed.

    • annabode
      | 11 January 2015

      I totally agree, Jennifer! And oh my goodness, no I did not know that! Maybe if we’re lucky it’ll come to the States….;)

  • Gail Ramsey
    | 8 January 2015

    I grew up in a dark house and do love the minimalist treatment for maximum light!

    • annabode
      | 11 January 2015

      Me too Gail! Our house is so, so dark…it’s really the only option.

  • Shannon Churchill
    | 8 January 2015

    I say NAKED! Love the simplicity and light, light, light.:)

    • annabode
      | 11 January 2015

      Haha Shannon, you’re a girl after my own heart!

  • Karisa | Petite Modern Life
    | 17 January 2015

    Commence comment storm. I’ve been waiting for a quiet Saturday morning to read your thoughts on window treatments.. My husband wants them (which is truly a bizarre request coming from him) but I’ve been on the fence as what to do! Will be reading more…

    • annabode
      | 17 January 2015

      I love comments! 🙂 The link to the post on window treatments is here. If I can help in any way, I’d love to!

  • Melodie
    | 15 November 2015

    I don’t like bare windows at night, partly because they tend to look like black squares, and partly because we have prowlers in our neighborhood, and I don’t like the idea of someone standing in the driveway and knowing when I’m home alone! So open during the day to let in as much light as possible, and shut up tight at night! Just something to consider; maybe you don’t care if your neighbors are looking in, but not everyone is friendly….

    • annabode
      | 16 November 2015

      Hey Melodie! I think it’s really up to personal preference — if it makes you feel unsafe, of course go for treatments! 🙂

  • Glyn
    | 11 March 2019

    We’ve spent nine years with curtain poles in place but no curtains. we had our small garden landscaped and I put in feature lighting in. Great at night, adds another dimension. WE are fortunate to have good screening from neighbour so if

  • Marie
    | 13 March 2019

    Kitchen has3windows with mini blinds matching blinds in sliding door, open dining room right next to haswhite cellular shades on 3 then also on 2 narrow windows. I love it when all are totally open but i feel something is missing because im use to curtainS. Really dont want to put haRdware on pretty newly painted walls snd trim. Anyone else feel this way?

  • Patti
    | 19 April 2019

    My house is surrounded by woods on all sides, so i am in love with the green rainforest look Outside my windows. We don’t have window treatments oN the living room or dining room. I love fee like the inside is an EXTENSION of the outside.

  • Anna Davis
    | 9 September 2020

    I like how curtains can make a room appear taller. My house has fairly low ceilings since it was built in the 1960s. I will look into getting some curtains to elongate the walls and create the illusion of space.

    • Anna Smith
      | 15 September 2020

      Yes! Almost any window treatment can make a room seem taller and a window appear larger; if it’s a shade then an outside mount near the ceiling will do it.

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