Window Treatments That Allow You to See Out But Not See Inside

Panels, shades and blinds are capable of providing unobstructed views or privacy but they can't manage both at once. Window film strikes the ideal balance, allowing unobstructed views while maintaining your privacy; when properly installed, it lasts for several years. Pair the film with drawn floating sheers, traditional draperies, elaborate cornice boards or rich valances to frame the interior window, or use film on its own for a sleek, simple look or to highlight wood trim.

Empty big living room
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Save money by applying film to windows at eye level, keeping clerestory windows bare.

Mirrored Window Film

Apply mirrored film to your window to maintain an unobstructed view of the outdoors without sacrificing privacy. These products work similarly to those used to create the one-way windows synonymous with police stations and most apply directly to the interior of the window. One side features a light-reflecting finish that keeps the interior of your home hidden from passing cars, pedestrians and neighbors. The opposite side is clear or a soft shade of black; the former maintains a visibility nearly identical to that of a bare window while the latter reduces natural light.

Black Window Film

Reduce home-energy costs while maintaining your view and keeping the interior of your home hidden during the day with black privacy window film. Unlike blackout products, which completely block your view, this style allows you to see a darkened version of the outdoors, and is comparable to the product used to tint car windows. These products have the added benefit of blocking UV rays, reducing the amount of heat that enters your home during the warmer months while protecting interior finishes from premature fading. They won't provide privacy at night when you turn your indoor lights on, but hanging drapery panels and pulling them closed in the evening solves the issue.

Installation Considerations and Tips

Before you install any type of window film, contact the manufacturer of your windows if possible. Film may damage windows with built-in UV protection if the film is installed on the interior, and some manufacturers will void your warranty. If you decide film is the best option for you, clean your window as thoroughly as possible before you install the product. Any excess caulk around the edges and dirt buildup or other scum on the glass reduces the film's ability to establish a tight seal.

Alternative Traditional Treatments

See-through shades allow ample light inside the house while slightly obscuring the view from the outside. Solar shades provide amazing protection from sunlight, making them ideal if you have a room full of antique wood or huge windows that heat up the space when left undressed. They provide adequate privacy during the day while allowing you to see much of the outdoors; they don't provide privacy at night. Interior shutters are a decent alternative, allowing you to close the slats for complete privacy or angle them to allow somewhat of a view and filtered natural light without reducing privacy.