Why & How to Layer Sheer & Blackout Curtains

Irrespective of the look you want to achieve for your room, being able to control the inflow of light and privacy is one of the priorities and that’s where custom curtains come in. While blackout curtains are great for blocking noise and sunlight, it is normal to want some light filtering in at specific times of the day, without sacrificing privacy.

As great as blackout curtains are, they are the true definition of not being able to have your cake and eat it. When you hang them alone, you only get sunlight filtering in when you open them. When you close them, you block out the light.

If you want to be able to control light flow and maintain privacy at all times during day or night, consider layering sheers and blackout curtains.

Why Layer Sheers and Blackout Curtains

As mentioned above, layering sheer and blackout curtains gives you maximum control over the privacy of your home as well as the amount of light and sound that comes into your space. When you mount two layers of curtains – sheers and blackout – you get privacy during daytime and darker and quieter hours when you need them.

In the daytime, you can open the blackout curtains and leave the sheer curtains closed to let in natural light while maintaining privacy. Sheer curtains are transparent fabrics that take the edge off the harsh sunlight and let soft light filter into your room in summer.

When it is evening time, or even time for a beauty sleep during daytime hours, close the blackout curtains to have your privacy, warmth, and quieter hours.

You also have the option to layer your curtains with custom roman shades if you prefer a more minimalist setup than two layers of drapery.

How to Layer Sheer and Blackout Curtains

Now that you know why layering sheer and blackout curtains are a great idea, the next thing is to know how to get the job done. In this part, we will look at a comprehensive guide on how to layer your sheer and blackout curtains. Let’s get right into the details!

  • Decide on the Layers Order

When layering curtains, the first step is to decide on which goes first. Do you want to use the sheer as your back layer or the front layer? What is the difference between the two?

Using Sheer as the Back Layer: When you opt for this, the sheer curtains will only be visible when you draw open the blackout layer behind the kivik sofa. When the blackout curtains are closed, they become the highlight of your window treatment. You get a highly versatile setup for light control and aesthetics with this arrangement.

Using Sheer as the Front Layer: Here, you hang the sheer in front of the blackout curtains. This gives an interesting visual outlook of your window treatments since the sheers are visible as the top layer, and this layer of sheers will soften the color of the blackout drapery fabric behind. Similar to the setup noticed above, you can keep the sheers drawn open to let in light during the day while maintaining privacy, and draw the blackout curtains when you want to darken the room, without or without drawing the sheer curtains.

  • Select the Perfect Fabrics for your Curtains

Having decided on the layering order, the next step is to select the style and fabric for the curtains. When choosing fabric for curtains, you need to consider the color palette, aesthetic, and general feel of your room décor.

Your sheers and blackout drapes should work with each other aesthetically in terms of choice of palettes, fabric composition, patterns, weaves, and texture.

Also, remember sheer curtains are not restricted to neutrals and whites. While these are great, you can explore other stunning and delicate colors and prints that will look fabulous in your room.

The general layering rule is to pair patterned sheers with blackout solids and vice versa. You can also create a contrast with the color palette to suit the décor in your space. The good thing is that you will find endless options of patterns, fabrics, and colors to choose from.

  • Select the Right Heading Styles for the Sheer and Blackout Curtains

you can choose from over a dozen heading styles for your curtains, and the choice of heading can make a significant difference in the functionality and style of your curtains. Most people opt for the same heading style for both layers, depending on their décor styles and the kind of furniture they have. For example, you can choose pinch pleats for a traditional décor style and grommet tops for a casual space.

Just bear in mind that some heading styles are easier to glide in than others. For example, rod pockets style drapes are often not as easy to operate as drapes mounted with grommets or rings. So it’s advisable to opt for styles like rod pockets tops if you intend to keep one of your curtain layers mostly open or closed with minimal daily use.

  • Install the Right Hardware

When choosing hardware for layered drapery, go for double-track hardware as you’ll need something that allows you to operate both layers independently. You will not be able to operate both layers on one track only.

To help you further along, here are a few other tips to help in your installation. First, it is best to mount the track/pole at about eight to twelve inches above your window frame when hanging curtains to stop the sun from filtering in from the top of the blackout curtain.

You should also extend the pole length by at least ten inches on each side of your window frame to help block light from coming in through the blackout curtains’ side when closed. Having an extended pole length also provides ample room to pull your curtains back to let light into your room.


There you have the guide for layering sheer and blackout curtains for your room. As a bonus point, you may want to consider adding curtain tiebacks for when you open the blackout curtains for a longer period. Curtain tieback will help you hold the curtains in place and give you seamless access to the sheer curtains.

Virginia Reed

Virginia Reed, an architectural consultant with a Master’s in Architecture from Harvard University, has been contributing to our site since 2021. Specializing in windows and doors, her 17 years in architectural design provide valuable insights into functional and aesthetic choices for homes. Virginia’s writing focuses on energy efficiency and design trends and her articles offer practical advice on selection, installation, and maintenance. Outside of her professional work, she enjoys restoring historic homes and is a classical music aficionado.

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