window blinds turned down in a 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 — should horizontal window blinds be turned up or down? I asked the experts at Hunter Douglas, and yup, now everything is illuminated. Their complete response is below, but in summary:

Reasons to turn your window blinds up:

  1. 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.
  2. Folks outside usually are less likely to see into your house
  3. On the flip side (pun!) the ‘con’ is: Less aesthetically pleasing.

Reasons to turn your blinds down:

  1. Tilting the window blinds down directs light and heat into the heart of the room. This may be a good strategy for the winter, when you want to warm the room.
  2. Tilt them down, and the blinds look “softer” and arguably, “better”.
  3. Blinds turned down it may make it easier for peeps to peep in.

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.

aluminum window blinds openI installed classic old-school Hunter Douglas aluminum horizontal window blinds in my kitchen.

Because I’m a fan of the product — and because I know that Hunter-Douglas is a longtime industry leader, I contacted the PR folks there to see if they could find a company expert to provide us with a bona fide scientific answer, and they did….

window blinds turned up and down in a kitchen
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 window blinds 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. 

horizontal window blinds on a mid century house
Horizontal window blinds were super common in mid century homes — they are even an element that adds to the curb appeal. Go for the 2″ window blinds in metal or wood — not the thinner ones.
window blinds layered under pinch pleat draperies in a living room
I am also a #1 fan of layering pinch pleat draperies, hung on a traverse rod, ideally, over horizontal blinds — a great look for a living room. 

Hey, I learned from this, Steve! Duh. I didn’t know. 

So, Steve… does that help? Readers?

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  1. Ed Kleiner says:

    For heat efficiency the blinds seal shut better when the convex side faces into the room; this is the cleaner view that you mention. I would expect that the opposite, when the concave side faces into the room, would enhance the circulation of heat into the room as heat rises through the gap where the edges don’t meet as well

  2. Sandra says:

    Yes, that’s what I think, too. Ground level and the height of the peeper are relevant. I’d rather all they can see is the ceiling. That’s what I do at night.
    If, on the other hand, it’s summer and I want air-flow out of the window, I’ll tilt them the other way, as heat rises. On the other side of the house where the breeze comes in, I might keep them horizontal, depending on whether I’m trying to block light.

  3. Sandra says:

    I agree totally! My most common wonder when I had horizontal blinds was always, at what degree should the blinds be open (which ever direction provides the privacy) that allows me to see out but the people outside not seeing in.

  4. Lori says:

    Personally I leave my blinds open. I want to see outside not feel “trapped” inside my home. I close the blinds in the down position at night & then pull my room darkening shades down over the blinds. ?

  5. Charlie says:

    I’ve thought about this for a few years. I live on the Florida coast and get plenty of sun/heat in a house with large windows. I don’t think the direction will make that much difference on your electric bill. My thought is, when the sun/heat hits the blinds, its already in your house. The “heat” will just radiate up to the top of your window, flowing (sorry, couldn’t think of another word) into your room heating your interior. The sun/heat needs to be blocked on the exterior side of the glass, using something such as awnings or Bahama shutters (you can make your own). Personally I like my blinds open to see out. I will close my floor to ceiling curtains (yep in addition to the blinds), when the sun is shining directly into my windows. All this helped immensely with my electric bill. Tint your windows also. With the tint and shutters, you will have greater privacy with very little loss of your view outside.

  6. Midge Brock says:

    When I had “Venetian Blinds” ( that’s what my mother always called them) I always would tilt them upward. Why? Because the shadows cast as the sun was beginning to set gave my rooms a 1940’s “Film Noir” feeling which I loved!!

  7. Charlie says:

    Oh yea, “Venetian Blinds”, I’d forgotten about that name. I too like the look of the sun rays coming thru partially open venetian blinds. Makes for some beautiful MCM pictures. That’s what I love about Retro Renovation. It brings back so many great memories.

  8. Betsy in Michigan says:

    Just in case anyone is interested, wooden Venetian blinds date back to the 18th century. Obviously their popularity has gone in cycles.

  9. DJ Sparkles says:

    I thought everyone knew this. Yes, you tilt your blinds up when the sun is hitting and you want to keep the room cool. I do it every afternoon to my 2″ wood blinds when the west sun hits the back of my house, just like I did at my last house with my 2″ metal blinds. If you don’t believe me- or the experts- experiment with it! You can tell the difference!

    As far as privacy, though, I beg to differ, at least for upstairs. One night I noticed I could see in my husband’s second floor office when the blinds were turned up, because he hadn’t changed them from the morning sun (he never turns them, or even opens or shuts them). But when I turned them down, I could no longer see in the room.

    This was in the dark with his overhead light on, because lighting makes a difference. I really wish I would have said something right away to my neighbors across the street, who seemingly have blackout fabric blinds, but when it’s dark out and the bathroom lights are on, you can see exactly what they’re doing. I feel like Mrs. Kravitz when I look out my window! 😉

  10. DJ Sparkles says:

    Awnings are the best! I complained via our newspaper when our small city hired an “expert” (from California*, no less) to weigh in on revitalizing our downtown. She insisted the stores get rid of all the awnings, which they mostly did.

    Well, the week I wrote my article, our Oregon summer fluctuated from several days of 95+ degree sun to non-stop rain, making it, as I called it, awning weather all the time. And now I drive past the stores who used to be easily identifiable with their pretty awnings with their names on front, because they blend in with all the other brick-front stores. Their huge, gorgeous, old-fashioned front display windows are faded from getting full sun, and the stores are hotter and use more air to cool down. When it rains, shoppers now have to lug umbrellas around or get soaked, as they no longer have the awnings to protect them.

    Awnings, when done right, can be a work of art, yet at the same time, one of the best investments a store (or home) could make.

    *You have to imagine me spitting, like Dog River residents when they say ‘Woolerton’ in the hilarious sitcom “Corner Gas”. But we really do welcome Californians to visit or move here, just not hired as “experts” when they don’t understand our climate.

  11. Cardboard Shoji sun screens. says:

    To cut the heat from my large single pane west facing window, I have cut 3 large panels from a refrigerator box to slide lengthwise along sill against the glass. Imagine sliding Japanese Shoji screens. The light brown non- printed sides of the cardboard, which slightly overlap, face the street and really can’t be seen. When in place, I then close my curtains and because the cardboard is corrugated it is a fantastic heat barrier. At night I slide the two pieces back against the third and can allow the cooler evening light in or allow for an open a window in that section if needed. Very reasonable and very effective!! In the winter I store the 3 panels in the garage. I have labeled and numbered on the inside of the panels as well, so easy for use next year. This can also be done for any window where the sun hits.

  12. Pat says:

    I like to turn mine up most of the time, doesn’t make it quite as dark as you don’t have to shut them entirely to get the glare out of the room. I love the 2″ blinds, have the originals in one room in my house, would never switch just so they match all the other rooms. But can’t afford to buy all new blinds either.

  13. Gail Newman says:

    Thank you for this post. I had vintage blinds in my last house and wanted them for the home we recently moved into. I found a Hunter Douglas business and just ordered these for my kitchen and bedroom windows. I turn them up during the summer and during the winter either furn them down or raise them.

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