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I'm moving into a gorgeous new house with one wrinkle: my bedroom has two full walls of windows, plus skylights. Most of the day, this is great, but at night, I really want it dark where I sleep.

I am coming up with a few options, all of them mediocre, and thought the DIYers might have more:

  1. Buy a zillion window shades/curtains. Con: with the number of windows I have (plus the skylights) this is pushing into the $2000-3000 range.
  2. Curtain off a space with light-blocking curtains and put the bed in there. Con: bad ventilation in the summer.
  3. Buy a four-poster bed and hang light-blocking curtains from it. Con: as #2, but much worse.
  4. Learn to sleep in a sleep mask. :-/

Any other thoughts from the assembled? Have you done this and had it work out?

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Expensive, but cool Smart Glass –  Tester101 Feb 10 '11 at 18:18
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Sadly, smart glass doesn't really get 'dark', just translucent. –  Alex Feinman Feb 10 '11 at 19:25
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where I live, it gets dark at night. Do you sleep during the day? –  shirlock homes Feb 11 '11 at 0:08
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@shirlock: Maybe he's got street lights shining in the window? We've got an arched window section that lets a TON of moonlight through on a clear night and full moon. This weekend's project is building a valence box for it. :) –  Doresoom Feb 11 '11 at 15:46
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Good point Doresoom, I was being a smart a**. Guess I gotta go with the curtain idea, short of covering the glass with an solid material. –  shirlock homes Feb 12 '11 at 13:14
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5 Answers

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I've been thru this, and option #1 is probably the best way to go. If you go with a company that specializes in blinds, you'll discover that there are many different types - some are translucent, others are designed to keep out all the light.

Having custom-fitted blackout blinds might be worthwhile, even if it's just for the bedroom. I don't know what you'd do for the skylight, though. Hopefully it's not in a bedroom.

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It is a bedroom. Blackout shades for part of it, plus a large blackout curtain to segment off the bed, made enough of a dark spot to sleep in. –  Alex Feinman Oct 1 '12 at 1:34
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Wanting to shade your entire room is a by-product of wanting it to be dark enough to sleep at night, which is your real problem.

Have you considered a sleep mask? Seriously. It may solve your problem (if you can tolerate it) and is by orders of magnitude the cheapest solution…

Example sleep mask

I had the very same problem in an old apartment with stucco ceiling and no curtain rail. In my lazyness, I pulled out a airline sleep mask and slept like a baby…

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I have, and I do this sometimes. It's very annoying from a tactile standpoint, despite 4 different masks, but it's sometimes worth it for the darkness. –  Alex Feinman May 9 '12 at 19:06
    
Yeah I had a feeling not everyone would like the sensation. –  msanford May 9 '12 at 20:48
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I might not have as many windows as you based on the prices you're mentioning, but I've been just fine with curtains ... no fancy, automatic opening things, just plain, simple, curtains. My neighbors use blackout curtains where they have a projector set up, so we can watch movies on the big screen during the day, and they can get their room to the point where it's a tripping hazard if the kids haven't cleaned up.

Something else to consider would be to add some trees outside to help screen the sun from the windows; if you're sleeping at times when the sun's high, you might also consider awnings.

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You could try pricing out some simple vinyl roller shades. They typically come in widths up to 96" and lengths up to 120". You can mount them outside of the window frame, so each shade can span multiple windows.

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I'm not sure how window shades would be costing so much, have you seen blackout curtains?

I have also seen suggested fitting the window with thick styrofoam pieces. This is very cheap and easily removable, but not very pretty.

Another option is tinfoil. Over a few years the sun begins to eat at the foil and small holes appear.

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