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What is the modern alternative to curtains?

Curtains have been a staple in homes for centuries, used to provide privacy, block light, and accent décor. However, many modern homeowners are opting for alternatives to traditional curtains in recent years. Some popular modern options provide the same functions as curtains while offering unique visual appeal, easier maintenance, or smart connectivity.

What is the modern alternative to curtains?

When choosing window coverings, homeowners should consider their priorities regarding privacy, light control, appearance, maintenance, connectivity, and budget. Factors like window type, room purpose, lighting needs, and personal style also come into play. Fortunately, today’s options offer flexible solutions to suit nearly any home.

Smart Glass

Smart glass, also called switchable glass or electronically tintable glass, offers a futuristic alternative to cover windows. It uses an electrical voltage to switch the glass between transparent and frosted states on demand. This allows users to instantly control privacy and light levels.

Key benefits:

  • Provides instant, customizable privacy, shade, and temperature control
  • Sleek, modern visual appeal
  • Hands-free automated operation via app, voice assistant, or smart home system
  • Available for nearly any glass surface


  • Higher upfront cost than curtains
  • Some types may slightly darken views when transparent
  • Most effective with direct sunlight (not ideal for northern exposures)

Installing smart glass is also a significant home upgrade project, as it requires replacing existing glass. However, the advanced functionality and contemporary appearance provide solutions traditional curtains cannot.

Motorized Shades

Motorized shades take the technology of standard roller shades and add electric motors to automate their use. This allows remote opening, closing, and positioning via smartphone, voice assistant, or smart home system.


  • Offers customizable privacy and light control
  • Motorization adds convenience over manual shades
  • Options like blackout fabrics can darken rooms completely
  • Smart models integrate with home automation systems


  • More expensive than equivalent manual shades
  • Motors can be noisy in operation
  • Exposure to moisture may damage motors over time

For most windows, motorized roller shades provide a simpler smart window covering option over smart glass. Their softer visual appeal also fits more décor styles than frosted glass may. Homeowners without smart home systems could also opt for remote-controlled shades instead of motorized versions.

Window Film

Window film consists of thin sheet material applied directly onto existing glass surfaces. While often invisible, quality films can provide significant benefits:


  • Blocks UV rays to protect interiors and furnishings
  • Cuts glare and gives occupants more privacy
  • Provides some insulation value to improve energy efficiency
  • Wide range of tint levels available
  • Affordable option for large or custom windows


  • Visible film borders may disrupt views
  • Improper installation can lead to bubbling
  • Not designed for easy removal or adjustment

Window film upgrades windows cost-effectively while avoiding the need for replacements or new coverings. However, improper installation can lead to a lower-end appearance. For the best results, homeowners should hire professional installers.


Blinds serve as perhaps the most popular alternative to curtains today. Advances in materials and motorization place modern blinds on par with curtains for window treatment.


  • Wide variety of colors and materials like faux wood and aluminum
  • Slats can angle to control light and visibility
  • Motorized options allow remote operation
  • Tend to withstand moisture andrequire little cleaning


  • Less customizable opacity than shades when closed
  • Materials like plastic may not convey upscale ambiance
  • May not fully cover specialty windows

Blinds now match or exceed curtains for style and convenience without their intensive care requirements. Homeowners can choose between vinyl, composite wood, faux wood, aluminum, and other slats to complement room aesthetics. Motorizing allows instant light and privacy control from anywhere.


Interior shutters take window coverings from purely functional to an integrated aspect of home design. Their sturdy wood construction conveys quality craftsmanship.


  • Made-to-order sizing for flawless fit
  • Materials like basswood resist warping
  • Convey upscale aesthetics and design detail
  • Provide full light and privacy control
  • Available motorized or manual operation


  • Require expert measurement and custom construction
  • Significantly more expensive than curtains
  • Strong sunlight may still pass between slats

For accent windows, built-in cabinetry spaces, or to complement elegant architecture, few options match the sophistication of interior shutters. Their natural materials and balancing slider operation create an ornamental feel superior to standard window treatments.

Key Takeaways

  • Smart glass, powered by electricity, offers the most advanced alternative to instantly control light, temperature, and privacy, but costs more to install and purchase.
  • Motorized versions of existing products like roller shades and blinds simplify operation and automation without a dramatic change.
  • Window film upgrades existing glass affordably while avoiding replacements, but imperfect installation can cheapen the result.
  • Interior shutters provide the ultimate upscale window covering solution for the right accent spaces.

No single modern option serves as an equivalent stand-in for curtains in all situations. Homeowners instead can evaluate priorities like cost, aesthetics, customization, and smart connectivity to determine if alternatives like shades, blinds, or smart glass better serve their needs.

Often blending modern technology and clean visuals, today’s best curtain alternatives cater to a range of styles and budgets. They lower maintenance requirements while upgrading functionality. Ultimately, the needs of the space and home dictate which qualify as superior modern options over traditional drapes.


Homeowners seeking to move beyond aging curtains will discover a widening range of modern window treatment alternatives. Options like sleek motorized shades, customizable interior shutters, and ultra-advanced switchable smart glass now compete as more innovative choices compared to drapes of old.

Beyond fresh visual appeal, these modern solutions also focus on custom-controlling sunlight, temperature, and exposure through app integration, automation, voice commands, and advanced materials. They require less care and upkeep than fabric while blending seamlessly into minimalist, contemporary spaces.

However, no alternative serves as a universal replacement. The best choice comes down to factors like existing infrastructure, room use, budget, and personal priorities. Homeowners looking to balance innovation, design, utility, and value will likely discover a compelling curtain alternative to meet their needs.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. What are the best modern alternatives to curtains?
    Some top modern options to consider instead of curtains include motorized shades, window film, interior shutters, and smart glass. These provide privacy, light control, and modern visual appeal while requiring less maintenance than drapes.

  2. Are automated blinds a good alternative to curtains?
    Motorized blinds serve as an excellent alternative for convenience and ease of use. Remote app or voice control eliminates the need to adjust blinds manually. Home automation integration is also easier than with curtains.

  3. Should I get blackout shades or curtains?
    Blackout roller shades will typically provide superior light blocking compared to blackout curtains. Shades feature tighter side seals and often have thicker, more opaque materials without draping vulnerabilities curtains may have.

  4. How do smart curtains work?
    Smart curtains integrate wires into the curtain material to control motorized opening, closing and positioning via smartphone, voice commands, or home automation systems. This allows app-based customization of privacy and light levels.

  5. Can I put window film on existing glass?
    Quality window films are designed to apply directly onto existing glass. They cling using a static charge without needing glues or adhesion. Professional installers can apply film to most glass types.

  6. Are curtains still in style?
    Basic curtains can still work well in many traditional decorating styles. However, an increasing array of modern alternatives now provide better light filtering, require less care, convey more updated aesthetics, and allow smarter control.

  7. What is the most cost-effective smart window covering?
    Affordable window film and remote-controlled power blinds likely qualify as the most cost-effective smart window solutions without fully replacing existing windows or coverings.

  8. Can alexa control blinds?
    Amazon Alexa integrates well with leading smart shades and blinds brands like Hunter Douglas, Somfy, IKEA, and Select Blinds to allow voice-based remote control. Compatible models can open, close, preset, or schedule via voice commands.

  9. How do I choose interior shutters?
    When selecting interior shutters, consider the size of your windows, room aesthetics, quality of materials like basswood, construction techniques like mortise and tenon joinery, hardware durability, and any special installation needs.

  10. Do motorized blinds require electricity?
    Most motorized blinds use rechargeable batteries to power their lifting mechanisms, while some may plug into standard wall outlets. Electrical wiring requirements depend largely on the specific product.

  11. Are blackout curtains hotter?
    Darker window coverings like blackout curtains absorb and trap more heat inside. Lighter shades colors that still filter light may help rooms feel slightly cooler. Proper circulation from fans helps mitigate heat buildup.

  12. Can you put blackout film on skylights?
    For skylights and ceilings, removable blackout shade panels typically work better than directly applied window films. However, some specially-formulated skylight and plastic panel films exist.

  13. Do smart glass windows work at night?
    Smart glass allows users to instantly switch between clear and opaque settings as desired, regardless of day or night. This gives full 24/7 privacy control not possible with blinds or curtains reliant on environmental light.

  14. What are sun controlling window treatments?
    Window treatments designated as sun controlling typically refers to fabrics, coatings, and glass designed to block intense solar light and heat while preserving outside visibility. These features enhance comfort and privacy.

  15. How do I choose a blind color for my home?
    Choosing blind colors requires balancing personal taste, room decor, outside views, privacy needs, and sunlight filtering intent. Light-diffusing neutral shades often suit many spaces well.

  16. Where should blinds be positioned on windows?
    For optimal light control, airflow and exterior views, hanging blinds as close to windows as possible is often ideal. Precise mounting height depends on blind hardware and the presence of window frames.

  17. How do you measure for custom interior shutters?
    Professional interior shutter companies measure window height and width precisely, taking into account any obstructions. They also measure window depths in multiple places to ensure perfect final product fitting.

  18. Do blackout shades need a topper?
    While most effective total blackout requires both blackout roller shades and topping panels, quality blinds alone can still darken rooms reasonably well. Toppers enhance overall light obstruction.

  19. Are roman shades better than drapes?
    Many designers prefer the soft, elegant look of roman shades over drapes. Roman shades also provide excellent insulation, light control, and often easier operation. However, drapes work better for gathering and framing larger windows.

  20. Can Alexa control Lutron shades?
    The Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Bridge allows users to control Lutron Serena or Sivoia QS Wireless shades via voice commands with Amazon Alexa. This provides convenient hands-free shade automation.

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