Q: The neighbors have a lot of land, and recently they cut down many of the trees that shaded our house. At first we appreciated the additional light. But now the weather is getting warmer and our house is already noticeably hotter than last year. We planted some new trees in our yard, but it will be a while before they get big enough to provide shade. What are some ideas for our windows to help keep the sun out?
A: Interior window treatments can help, though as you already know, shading the outside of your entire house is the best way to keep the inside of your home cool. Bonus if you plant deciduous trees, because during winter, you’ll get more light and in summer you get the shade when you need it the most. Until your new trees grow, consider a sturdy trellis outside the windows for vines such as climbing roses, bougainvillea, clematis, wisteria, grape, kiwi or whatever works in your region and your landscape plan. Quick-growing shrubs or trees might be helpful temporarily as well. To avoid potential damage to your house from roots, invasive plants or overly aggressive growth, talk with landscapers or contractors to know what is best to plant and where.
Architectural ideas include exterior shutters that have louvers you can adjust to help control the harsh sun and allow a view toward the ground. Highlight this with interesting rocks and low plants or a water feature. Or, go for retractable awnings or exterior shades in neutral tones or natural reed or bamboo to match the style of your home.
Inside, use a layered approach for the glass itself and your window treatments. Do you have insulated double-pane windows? If the windows don’t already filter out UV light, consider a film that is applied directly to the glass. It will change the view outside and the landscape colors, but will make a difference in your comfort level. Next, add a roller shade or shutters to block the sun during the hottest part of the day. That might be enough to fit your decor style, but you could also add breezy sheer or lightweight linen panels to soften the look of your windows. If you need even more light control or to keep the cold air out during winter, finish with a heavier fabric drapery panel, perhaps with a blackout or thermal liner.
By the time your new window treatments need replacing or the vines need to be seriously pruned, your new trees will be big enough to shade your house. Good luck and let me know what you decide to do.