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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Emery


Who doesn't love sunlight streaming in through the windows? But did you know that it can be extremely damaging to your home and its contents?

Emery Design Associates, LLC 2016 (Photo Credit Lily Napach)


My husband has great taste, and when I first met him he had a down-filled sofa with beautiful lines he had inherited from his grandmother. He had reupholstered it in a racing green wool that revealed his love of color, and bold personality. It was sitting in what used to be his study, but what is now the kids' rooms, with southern light pouring onto it day after day. Eventually it became clear that the sun was doing irreparable damage by eating right through the fabric and causing it to disintegrate. Unfortunately we discovered this too late for us to do anything about it. As it happened, we had just had a baby and the study had became a nursery, so the sofa moved to the living room. We were lucky that the timing was right to recover it to match the new room's decor. That said, if you have just spent money to refresh, redo, buy new furniture, or are about to do so, you do not want this to happen to you. You need to plan a sun protection strategy right along with your furniture plan. Not only will the sun damage your fabrics, but your artwork, wood floors and furniture are also at risk. Depending on the wood species, the sun will cause some woods to darken, and others to lighten, but whichever way it goes, chances are you will not be happy about it.

Emery Design Associates, LLC 2016 (Photo Credit Lily Napach)


How do you avoid the damage? There are two effective options, and they both come with added benefits. Invest in solar shades, and make sure to keep them down during the day, or at least when the sun is streaming through particular windows. Keeping them down also helps optimize any air conditioning or cooling system you have, particularly during the summer. But even in winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, it is important to prevent the full strength of the sun from coming in.

Solar shades come in different degrees of openness, and the more open they are, the more you can see through them, which can be a nice feature if you have a great view, but is probably not a great trade off if everything inside gets ruined. The tighter the weave of the shades, the less the damaging uv rays will penetrate, and the better protection they will provide. Installing solar shades will also protect your other decorative window treatments, like draperies or fabric shades. I have seen the sun eat right through a pair of draperies and turn them into shreds, even when they have a heavy black out lining. I like to install solar shades behind a decorative valance or a fabric shade, particularly in a living room. If you are going for a cleaner look, or your budget limits you to one type of window treatment, you can make them the primary shade, and match the color of the window trim paint so they blend in. There are also some decorative or patterned options, though the more protective solar shades tend to be fairly plain, and limited in color.

Emery Design Associates, LLC 2016 (Photo Credit Lily Napach)

With some electrical work, you can have them motorized, and even connect them to your smart phone so you can control them during the day, a nice feature if you leave home and forget to close them. This will add cost, both in the electrical work, and the motors themselves, but may be well worth the peace of mind, and ease of use. Next time I will tell you about the other great option if solar shades aren't right for you...

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