Which way to tilt horizontal blinds — slats up or down?

retro renovation pams kitchenWhen we asked readers should toilet paper go on the roll “over” or “under” (as if!), reader Steve was agnostic on the issue. However, he flagged another vexing question — how should the slats of horizontal blinds be adjusted? I asked the experts at Hunter Douglas, and yup, now everything is illuminated. bwah bwah.

Steve wrote:

The real question is how blinds should be closed – concave side facing in or out. Believe me; this is a very contentious issue in my household.

I installed classic old-school Hunter Douglas aluminum horizontal blinds in my kitchen — see the story I wrote about the blinds I put in my kitchen (shown above) here — so I contacted the PR folks at Hunter-Douglas to see if they could find a company expert to provide us with a bona fide scientific answer, and they did….

hunter douglas aluminum blinds

HunterDouglas “Reveal” aluminum blinds

Bobby Dill, General Manager of the Hunter Douglas Horizontal Blinds Division, provided this assessment of the pros and cons of how to angle the slats on horizontal aka in the postwar days as “venetian” blinds:

It really is consumer preference, although we know that turning the slats upward (front edge of the blind upward) usually provides more privacy, less light into the room, and minimizes heat transfer into the room…. Closed in the inside up direction, blinds may not have as soft an appearance, but there is greater control of daylight entering the room.  Sunlight and some radiant energy will be deflected upward and away from the room.  This benefit is especially relevant in places like offices, where there can be substantial energy savings derived from maximizing that amount of natural lighting in the space.

With that said, tilting to the front (front edge of the blind down) provides the most aesthetic benefit, but will admit more light through the small gaps where slats overlap because of the angle of sunlight on the window.

Really, it comes down to personal preferences and the particular situation.  Horizontal blinds provide benefits and functionality when tilted in any position.  There is no “right” or “wrong ” way go.

Thank you, Mr. Dill. Hey, I learned from this, Steve! Duh. I didn’t know. I am bad about physics or whatever this would be classified. Let me summarize, am I understanding this correctly:

Reasons to tilt your blinds upward aka outside:

  • Directs light and heat up to the ceiling. A good strategy for summer, when you want to keep room cooler – could help cut air conditioning bills.
  • Folks outside can’t see into your house.

Reasons to tilt your blinds downward aka inside:

  • Directs light and heat into the heart of the room. May be a good strategy for the winter, when you want to warm the room.
  • Tilted down, the blinds look “softer”, arguably, “better”.
  • Peeps can peep more easily.

So, Steve… does that help? Readers?

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  1. Judi says

    If you are closing them for privacy it really depends on the angle people on the outside are relative to your room.

    If the “viewers” are below window level then the the front edge of the blinds should be down so they are looking up at the back surface of the blinds not between them as they would if they were angled the other way.

    If the viewers are above window level, the opposite is true.

    • pam kueber says

      As far as I know, a blind slat will not rotate 180 degrees. So, we’re talking about the sharp edge that’s on the inside of the house when the slats are wide open in flat-parallel position with all the light streaming in horizontally.

      See the Hunter Douglas image above? The “front edge” is the sharp edge … inside … concave part of the blind is toward the top — e.g. the blind slat is like a hill.

      I hesitated to use ‘convex’ and ‘concave’ in the original story — because wood blind slats are flat. Aluminum, yes, they have a concave and convex side. My blinds: Front edge would be inside the house when blinds are wide open horizontal — the concave side is on top.

  2. Joe Felice says

    “Peeps?” Just in time for Easter! Does anyone know why they are called Venetian blinds? Surely, they did not originate in Venice, or even Venus. I lived in Italy, and never saw blinds of that ilk. Back in the day, we did not have air conditioning, but eveery room had Venetian blinds. (Until 1960, few people had A/C.) So we would always adjust the blinds so as to eliminate direct sunlight in the room. and yes, this required constant re-adjusting every few minutes, which people actually did. Here in the Denver area, eliminating direct sunlight is often all one needs to stay relatively cool. The sun is very intense here (We’re a mile closer, after all.), and the temperature is otherwise not that high, except on a few summer days. Well, at least back then, before climate change. We do experience a lot more hotter days in recent years. Winters are warmer now, also.

    • pam kueber says

      Golly, another research project! But just the kind I love.

      Meanwhile, I got two words for ya, as it comes to manage the “vintage” sun: Aluminum awnings!

      • Joe Felice says

        Oh, yeah! I forgot about those. And sometime fiberglass ones. Not sure when fiberglass came upon the scene, however.

  3. says

    On a side note, can anyone tell me anything about those cabinets? They’re gorgeous! Not sure if they’re refinished vintage or new replicas. Fingers crossed for the latter.

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