When we purchased this home, the one thing I knew for sure was that we weren’t going to go down the California Shutters route again for any of our window or door coverings. After living with them for 7 years in our first home, I knew they were more inconvenient and less stylish than I like. Here’s a few of the main things I didn’t like about California Shutters:
Cost. The price of shutters is high, especially for good quality ones. You can get less expensive shutters, but they generally have much thinner slats, and have a plastic look to them.
Space/Appearance. Unless your windows have fairly deep sills, the shutters are installed on the trim around the window, making them stick out a few inches and look a little bulky.
Function. In order to have a full view out your window/door you have to open the shutters like you would french doors. So they now take up significant space on the wall on each side of the window as well. This limits what you can put on the wall and floor space next to the windows/doors. Also, if the layout of your room doesn’t allow for enough space, your shutters can’t ever be fully opened.
Durability. With young kids who like to open and close and open and close things, and usually aren’t very gentle in doing so, shutters can pose a problem. With so many different moving parts and hinges, there‘s much more opportunity for things to break (like slats coming off/cracking).
The one thing that I really liked about the shutters is the control you have over the direction of light that comes into your space. I could angle the slats accordingly to allow the light to come in pointing up, so as to have it bounce off the ceiling and create a soft light throughout the room. My husband‘s favourite feature is that you could look outside discreetly without needing to open the entire window covering.
We’ve all been there before in a new home, am I right? You’ve just moved in and don’t want neighbours to be able to see you moving about all day and night, but haven’t had the time and/or money to get proper window and door coverings yet. So what do we do? Go to your favourite home improvement store and buy some of those pleated paper stick on window coverings like these from the Home Depot. They’re “just for now” right? But they technically work, and even though they are a pain to open and less than appealing to look at, they hang around way past their welcome date because there’s SO many other things to do and pay for.
Being our second new build home, we knew how long these suckers hang around for. We opted to just tape up some garbage bags on all the windows in the common areas of the home, knowing we would be ordering Zebra blinds for there soon and didn’t want the added cost of the paper blinds, or to become complacent with them causing us to wait even longer for a permanent solution.
We did, however, get the paper blinds for the sliding glass patio door, as well as the 2 windows on our double front doors. These were two areas that we were torn about how to dress.
Sliding glass patio door treatment options
Ok, here’s what you came here for, right? Here are the options that we considered, and the pros and cons we discussed about each.
Curtains. This was my desired option from before we got our keys. Here are the key points we considered about curtains.
Design. I knew curtains would bring a softness to the room. The way they drape down and the soft light filtering through them bring a sense of calm and coziness to the room.
Space. Curtains don’t take up any additional space. Yes, they are installed outside the window frame, but whether they are open or closed, they take up the same amount of real estate in the room.
Versatility. I also like that they allow for some design freedom, since you can always replace them with different coloured/textured curtains and change up the feel of the room, something that is not an option with installed blinds or shutters.
Cost. Yes, many curtain options are very expensive, but many are also very affordable. The best part is if you do your research, many of the very affordable options are just as if not more beautiful than the high cost ones.
Function. Depending on the type you choose, they can block out all the light or softly filter the light. If you get a double rod, you can have the best of both worlds as far as light filtration goes. And when you want all the light and visibility, you slide ‘em to the side and have access to your whole window/door.
Durability. We have 3 kids now, 2 when we moved into this home. Durability is probably the #1 factor for any purchase we make. Kids can be rough on things and so durability without needing to constantly protect the item is a key factor. Some curtains are very delicate and require dry cleaning. But there are also many many curtains that are machine washable and can stand the test of sticky little fingers grabbing at them!
2. Zebra Blinds. This is the type of window covering that we chose for the rest of the main floor of the house, as seen above. Here’s what we considered:
Design. Since these were going on the windows in the room with the sliding door, the design would be seamless and flow well. However, because the sliding door is 6 feet wide and 6 feet high, 2 separate blinds installed side by side would be required. This may leave an awkward space where they meet in the middle.
Space. Zebra blinds do not take up any additional space in the room. They are installed inside the window frame, and roll up into their own casing when open.
Versatility. Once installed, there’s no changing them out. However, because they are installed inside the frame you could always also hang curtains over them for a layered effect.
Cost. For a 6 foot wide, 6 foot high sliding door frame, you’re looking at a considerably high cost for the zebra blinds.
Function. Zebra blinds are great because you can alternate the strips, which will block out the most light and give you full privacy, overlapping the stripes gives you that “zebra” look, letting some light through and a little less privacy. Then you can chose to open them a little or a lot, exposing as much of the bare window/door as you please. For us, we also have the transom window on top of the door, which means we would have to get another 2 sets to cover that one space. Being over 6 feet up from the floor would mean that to open up that space and let some light through would require standing on a chair, not something I saw myself doing daily, meaning we would lose that feature of our house all together.
Durability. Having lived with Zebra Blinds in other areas of our home now for a couple years, I can confidently say that they are not the MOST durable with kids. The mechanics of them hold up well, however if any sticky fingers grab the blinds, they will leave marks that I have found difficult to remove. Also, if the blinds are crinkled at all, they tend to gets marks on them that make it look like the blinds are wrinkled. For a high traffic area like a sliding door, I don’t think they would hold up too well to being touched a lot. (I’m very glad that the company we purchased our zebra blinds from have a 1 time replacement policy. They will replace the blinds for each window in your home ONE time within 15 years totally free of charge.)
3. Horizontal Slatted Faux Wood Cordless Blinds. This is the option we chose for all the windows on the second floor. Here’s what we considered when thinking of the sliding door:
Design. As with the Zebra Blinds, we would need 2 sets of the cordless blinds to cover the window. The blinds do look clean and tidy, though don’t really add any character to the space.
Space. Cordless blinds do not take up any additional space in the room. They are installed inside the window frame and push up with such ease, my 3 year old can do it.
Versatility. Like zebra blinds, once installed there’s no changing them out. However, because they are installed inside the frame you could always also hang curtains over them for a layered effect.
Cost. These are more affordable than the zebra blinds, especially if you go the route of buying them prepackaged at a home improvement store (like these from Home Depot) and having an employee cut them to size with their special machine in the blinds department. If you decide to buy them custom from a blinds manufacturer then the cost is similar to the zebra blinds.
Function. As with shutters, you can really control the direction that the light comes into your home with these cordless blinds. Completely closed, open slightly, or all the way open, you have plenty of options. My favourite part is that they push up and pull down one handed and don’t have any dangerous or unsightly cords hanging around.
Durability. Ours have held up very well. If they get dirty you can wipe them down with a dry or damp cloth or lysol wipes, and I’ve even seen them removed and placed in a bathtub of water for a good soak (something that you may want to do if they are in/near the kitchen and get some grease residue on them). My kids have been pretty rough on them while opening and closing and we haven’t had any issues yet.
There are many many other options that you could consider, but these were the ones that we looked at in depth. Ultimately we ended up choosing the curtains for 2 main reasons. First, they were the only option that wouldn‘t permanently cover the transom window above the door, and Second, they were the least expensive option. The second reason was really only my husbands. He still wasn’t sold on the idea of curtains, and I convinced him to just give it a try mostly because it was going to cost us $70. This way if he really hated the look then it wasn’t a huge investment and we could pivot from there by choosing a different option and repurposing the curtains in another room.
Products we used
Like I said before, we upgraded the look of our sliding glass patio doors for $70. Everything we used was from IKEA and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Here’s a list of what we used with the links attached and it‘s cost:
Racka/Hugad double curtain rod in black $21.98
Gjertrud Sheer Curtains $19.99
Hilja Grey Curtains $19.99
Installing the double curtain rod was super simple and straight forward. Because we already have 9 foot ceilings and the door has a beautiful transom window on top, I didn’t feel the need to hang the curtain much more than a few inches above the trim around the door/window. So we held the curtains up and chose the height based off of where the bottom of the curtain fell. I love the look of the curtains gently skimming the floor. When there is a smaller window on a large wall, it can really make an impact to hang the curtains much higher than the window frame, creating an illusion of a larger window.
After installing the brackets with just a couple screws in each, we put the white sheer curtain on the back rod followed by the grey curtain on the front one. I literally just took the curtains out of the package and hung them up, no ironing, no fussing.
And just like that, the sliding glass patio door in our dining room is all dressed! Just 3 products, $70, and a simple install, and the space feels upgraded, cozy and more like home. Follow me on Instagram for more tips and projects while we upgrade our new build house into a cozy home. To never miss out on a blog post, scroll on down and subscribe to my page!