Minimalist Home: Naked Windows

When it comes to home décor, there are few things I love more than naked windows. In my book, they’re right up there with empty walls. :-)

Of course, I recognize that window treatments can be quite practical—and in many cases, quite necessary! We live in the city, in view of our neighbors across the street; therefore, leaving our bedroom windows bare is out of the question. Our living room, however, is on a corner; and even though it has large, floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s less directly “exposed” to nearby buildings. Furthermore, a large tree right next to it provides privacy three seasons of the year.

Therefore, we choose to leave our living room windows naked. It’s the best we can do in our urban environment. If we lived in the middle of nowhere (or with plenty of trees to shield the view), we wouldn’t have a single curtain, blind, or shade in the house.

Our situation was quite different in our former house, where our neighbors (and their windows) were just a few feet away on each side. Even then, however, we decided to forgo curtains, and opted instead for the simplest option we could find: translucent, white fabric shades that let in plenty of light and blended in to the white walls around them.

The loft apartment we lived in before that was ideal. There, we had an entire wall of factory windows; and since the building was in an industrial section of the city, across the street from an empty lot, we had no need to cover them. It was minimalist window heaven!

Sure, the argument can be made that window treatments are valuable for climate control—like blocking cold air in winter and sunshine in summer. However, I’ve been in plenty of homes where the curtains don’t seem to be providing any climate or privacy functions whatsoever; their raison d’etre is solely decorative. And if that’s the case, why have them at all?

Lest you think this matter too trivial to discuss, no less than Thoreau himself weighed in on it in Walden:

“I would observe, by the way, that it costs me nothing for curtains, for I have no gazers to shut out but the sun and moon, and I am willing that they should look in. The moon will not sour milk nor taint meat of mine, nor will the sun injure my furniture or fade my carpet; and if he is sometimes too warm a friend, I find it still better economy to retreat behind some curtain which nature has provided, than to add a single item to the details of housekeeping.”

So, how do you feel about naked windows? Do you leave yours bare, or cover them up?

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46 comments to Minimalist Home: Naked Windows

  • On a purely theoretical level, I’m with you 100%! However, practically speaking I went from a windowless basement to a street level flat in the Mid-East…one extreme to the other. First I had no windows to cover – and now I have to cover them with heavy shades in the summer and winter to regulate the temp inside. Many places here have metal roll shutters, exterior, to help with this as well.

    That said, if I ever get to live in my tiny house in the mountains, the windows are going to be naked as a jaybird!

  • Frances

    I dislike curtains as well. I have to have some window covering for reasons of privacy, and also to cut out a nuisance parking security light, which I didnt realise was there until I moved in! I have simple white roller blinds in living room and bedroom and a venetion blind in the kitchen. Works well and means I get as much light as possible as the blinds dont block the windows at all when up. What I really hate is curtains or blinds which cover part of the window when pulled back or up. Unless it is raining heavily or really cold I also open the windows first thing in the morning and keep them open for as long as I can.

    • miss minimalist

      I agree, Frances; at least with roller blinds, they’re completely out of the way (and hardly visible) when not in use.

  • Heather

    As I mentioned, we have plantation shutters. I do so enjoy them. I was never a big fan of curtains but in Texas, you need something to keep the house cool in the hot, hot, hot summer time. When I had my apartment, I had all white long curtains, it was very soothing and easy to clean. But for the most part, I would like to just have open windows.

  • Kim

    Hi. I am a fairly new reader of your blog!

    90% of our windows are due south so we are firmly in the cover them up category. The thermal gain in the summer without heavy coverings is immense. Example: Outdoor temp upon waking 62 degrees, inside temp 62. (We never use the AC and the windows are all open all night). By 3 pm the outdoor temp is 95 degrees and indoors is 88 with the curtains and windows open. Close the curtains and shut the windows before the sun shines in and we can keep it at 80 degrees. In the winter our window routine is reversed. Curtains are closed at night and open during the day.

    • miss minimalist

      Welcome, Kim! Agreed, curtains certainly have their place in climate control — especially with south-facing windows!

  • I’m no minimalist, but I’m with you on the naked windows! I only put up coverings where absolutely necessary. In the living room for privacy, and in the bedroom for darkness (so we can sleep past sunrise). All my kitchen windows are naked. The light in there is glorious! It’s the best room of the house because of that.

  • Carla

    A wall of south-facing windows in Texas means they are covered in the summer. In the winter, though, they are quite nice for solar gain so the curtains are opened then.

  • I would love bare windows, but living in a single story house in inner loop Houston, there are numerous reasons why this just isn’t practical – not the least of which is a significant other who doesn’t own a bathrobe. I have put in cellular shades, with no strings, in the bedroom – they have a clean, uncluttered look and provide insulation benefits. I eventually hope to replace the slatted blinds in the rest of the house with similar shades.

  • Hmm, we stripped our windows bare when we moved into our last apartment, but in the hottest summer afternoons we put an old sheet over the windows–both inside and out–to keep that hot afternoon sun from heating up the stones in our fireplace and cooking us. UGH!

    When we used to live in an apartment with a nice view of the neighbors, we used the white shears you describe for a little privacy.

    But I agree, if window coverings don’t serve a practical purpose, they are just taking up space and collecting dust. . .lots of dust.

  • Anders

    I also live in the city and all my windows are naked. My bedroom in view of the neighbors across the street, but I don’t really mind… if someone like to watch, he/she should feel free, but I don’t think people spending much time to look in other apartments

  • Anna

    I’m with you! In previous homes I have just used lengths of muslin and draped them over the windows – and for years we slept with nothing at the bedroom windows – just woke up gradually with the dawn – wonderful. And went to bed in the dark (we only have a bed in the bedroom and never read in bed so never have to have reading lights). I love bare windows or just a flimsy bit of muslin or linen here and there!

    • miss minimalist

      Anna, that sounds beautiful to wake up with the dawn…and drift to sleep by the light of the moon. Thanks for sharing that!

  • Anna

    PS. I love lying in bed and looking at the moon and stars… So calming.

  • Meg

    Hubby and I live in a little Cape in Maine, and the living room has small 1940’s windows. Right now they’re bare, but a pretty valance on each one would draw the eye up a bit. I tend to like the dark a lot more than the light, so our bedroom windows are completely covered in dark curtains. I love it! To each his own! Oh, and if you like Henry (and who wouldn’t? he’s so funny), check out this blog: The writer posts a bit from Thoreau’s journal each day. Enlightening, amusing, and amazingly insightful.

  • Oh, I wish you had pictures of that loft. It sounds gorgeous.

    I have simple white drapes. Cotton, easy to wash and put back up. They serve the purpose of insulation mostly and some privacy issues too. They soften the space and are very functional. I especially love them in the summer when they lightly blow when a breeze comes up. I think it’s beautiful.

  • Amanda

    We do not have any curtains, mostly because the former owners didn’t have any and I’m terrible with window treatments. We really don’t need any because we’re surrounded by trees and no one can see in. The only drawback is that the windows look very black at night from the inside and I don’t love that look. I might hang some sheers, but wouldn’t do anything more than that.

    The upstairs bedrooms have those honeycomb white window shades which I love. So soothing and such a nice texture.

    • miss minimalist

      Amanda, how nice to be surrounded by trees! Another vote for those honeycomb/cellular shades… I’ve never had them myself, but it sounds like they may be a nice, minimalist window option.

  • Yup, every window’s naked. Mind you, it’s easy to do when you’re in the middle of 100 acres with thousands of trees around, and no neighbours anywhere nearby. The roof overhang keeps the high, hot summer sun out, but lets the lower angled, warming winter sun in. As a concession we hang thick muslin sheets on the western windows to keep the setting, but still hot, summer sun out.

  • no covering is ideal. i have astigmatism, so find white slatted blinds useful to tilt light for less glare. simple white cotton panels in living room are the only treatments in the house–previous owner left curtain rods. i close blinds at night and against hot summer sun. i find some privacy to be conducive to simplicity, but agree that “window treatments” for their own sake are not.

  • AMD

    A short commute is an important part of my approach to a simple life.

    I’m talking REALLY short. Our kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom windows look directly into the windows of the building where my partner and I both work. After dusk we can easily see our colleagues sitting at their desks working late. That means they can see us doing… whatever!

    We keep the kitchen blinds always open, the bathroom blinds always closed, and the bedroom blinds closed all night starting in early evening.

  • Red

    Unfortunately, our apartment lease specifies that we MUST keep blinds on all of our windows. If we ever buy a home and it is far enough from our neighbors, I love the idea of having naked windows! The corner of naked windows in your home are absolutely lovely!

    • miss minimalist

      Hi Red! When it comes to naked windows, apartment living can certainly have its drawbacks. One day I’d love to have *all* naked windows, too — but it would likely require moving out to the country. :-)

  • i live in the country, on a small acreage, in the wet tropics.
    our house doesn’t have any aircon or central heating…..just a wood stove.
    backed curtains and timber blinds definitely help with climate control inside the house, and reduce the amount of wood we burn.
    we lived for six years with no curtains, and noticed as soon as we got them that we lit the wood stove a lot less.

    also….if i don’t have the windows covered in the bedroom, then i wake up the second the sky begins to lighten in the morning. i’ve tried using a sleep mask, but it often disturbs my sleep. i thought a sleep mask would be an elegant alternative….just a tiny bit of fabric over the eyes as opposed to metres of it over the windows!

  • Kat

    Naked as the day I was born – the windows that is! I’m in an urban area on the 3rd floor of a building surrounded big mature trees. I know exactly how close to the windows I can go in the bedroom before someone on street level can see me so I make sure I’m not naked closer to the windows than that. And if they happen to catch a glimpse so what. In summer the leaves are so thick that the street and buildings across the street disappear into a soft cloud of green. So serene. The trees I can practically touch from the windows are the reason I purchased the unit. I could use drapes to control the sun’s warmth in the summer but so prefer the naked look I just suffer with the heat with open windows. In the winter I add a sweater.

  • […] Use light as décor. During the day, throw open the curtains or blinds (or consider letting your windows go naked) to maximize natural light. In the evening, a few candles or string of white lights can create a […]

  • tminor

    I have bare windows in the kitchen and living room and love it!! I am in the process of taking our wood blinds out of the bedrooms and replacing them with rollup bamboo shades. I think this will have a very minimalist look and there is no metal hardware or anything, just two small nails to hang them from. They are very cheap too. I found them at an oriental supply store on line.

    Love this blog!

  • Margina

    I have valances on my windows and mini blinds (all white). I also found that by not having curtains my allergies are much better without all that material hanging around. I open the mini blinds first thing in the mornings. My first choice is all naked windows but I would need to be away from a street and neighbors so for now this works for us. I also like naked floors we have no carpet at all in our home and I just love the hardwood floors.

  • Stared at in England

    I live on the 9th floor in England, unfortunately across a small lane from 4 houses with rooftop balconies that are at about the 7th floor level. People on these balconies sit, all lined up, and stare into the windows of our building like they’re watching a reality tv show. You can tell if they can see someone moving about in their flat by them pointing out the window to their friends. Previously I lived with only white roller blinds, but since these houses have been built I have cafe-length lace curtains, white mini-blinds and am thinking of voiles as well!

  • Kat

    Our previous house was in the country & I left all the huge living room kitchen windows bare. My in-laws kept trying to give me money to buy curtains, but I didn’t want them. The bedroom windows had wooden blinds to keep out the sun when I little ones needed to be in bed and it was daylight out and also our bedroom windows faced the barn (our business) and we frequently had customers out there at night & at night you could see right into our bedroom. I don’t make a habit of walking around nude, but still the blinds were welcome occasionally. Our current house is in town, my husband likes the living room blinds closed & it drives me crazy because I got so used to the years of light in our other house. The girls have light colorful curtains in their room because they like the color. We have blinds & room darkening curtains in our bedroom to block a pole light. If it was possible, I’d love bare windows…except maybe Sunday mornings in my bedroom–the only day I get to sleep in.

  • Rebecca

    Oh I am all for this idea! I just moved into a new apartment a few weeks ago and decided to leave my windows bare. So much more light comes in! Not to mention no more monthly curtain washing from the kitty fur. My kitties love sitting in the windows (as most do) but would cover my chocolate brown curtains with fur. Now I am one more step closer to becoming minimalist. Thank you!! :D

  • Kristina

    Covered! I love privacy and feel much more comfortable and secure if people can’t look into my home. For me, it’s also a safety issue…I live on my own, and some of the single women in my complex have had homeless men peeping in their windows. I guess I’m alone here, but I really like my curtains, and someday if I have my own place I’d like to have wooden shutters as well. I’m a big fan of boundaries.

  • Sarah

    I live in southern Arizona and my bedroom window is always in full sun. I currently have black velvet curtains up and I hate them! I got them to black out my room and keep it cooler but it doesn’t do either. I applied tint on the windows and although it helps a little with sun and heat , it is still not enough. I wish I could go bare! The curtains on now hold in so much dust and my ocd isn’t happy with it.

  • We live just outside Chicago and have Venetian blinds. In summer, they cool our condo. In winter, we just leave them open all day to warm up the condo and haven’t used the furnace in 16 years.

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