I am renting a house that has beautiful wooden venetian blinds - that I can not remove or replace - but they are not very effective at blocking the ambient night light that is abundant on my street. This affects my sleep hygiene - it is strongly recommended to sleep in as dark environment as possible.

Now the challenge is:

  • I can not remove the existing blinds
  • I want to keep the room light during day so no sticker or dark foil
  • my budget is limited and I would like to avoid buying and installing heavy curtains

How do I darken the room on a budget? Any DIY tips are welcome.

  • You can add curtains or drapes. Use some heavy-duty 3M command strips and large hooks if you want an apartment safe installation. If you have enough room in the window "cubby" then a shower rod would also work. Personally, I have Eclipse brand curtains, they were relatively cheap and work great.
    – Jason
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 15:26
  • Blackout curtains are a traditional solution. I'm still using a set my mother made for my bedroom (mumble) years ago -- a thin but fairly opaque black lining behind a patterned display layer "for pretty". They aren't all that "heavy"... Note the word "made"; curtains, being essentially simple rectangles, are one of the most straightforward sewing projects you can tackle, so if your budget is really tight you can just buy fabric and thread and invest time.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 17:41

12 Answers 12


Buy paper window shades. Specifically the ones that are folded like an accordion and have an adhesive edge at the top. Trim them to the width of your windows. Lay them out flat and paint one or both sides black with spray paint. Stick them up behind the Venetian blinds. If you only painted one side then you can face the white side out if you are concerned about the external appearance.

During the day you can lift them up and clip them in place with those plastic clips that are used to keep chip bags closed. Or if the windows are double-hung you can accordion them up and sit them on the top of the bottom sash.

  • Still more work than buying a set of second hand blackout roman blinds which is what I did in my house. They cost us NZ$7.50 each. (about USD$6)
    – hookenz
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 22:02

sheet of cardboard (or similar) cut to fit inside

  • I used to vampire-up my apartment windows with display cardboard (think: science fair) so we could run the projector. The corrugated kind doesn't mind being taken in and out so much and if cut correctly it doesn't need adhesive.
    – Mazura
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 2:12
  • I've had a problem with cardboard: the sun hit it directly, making it bend, and the sticky tape fell off. It also felt like a fire hazard. Commented Jul 7, 2019 at 6:02

I am a graveyard shift worker. I found the best solution is a cheap sleep mask you can get at Walgreens. Total blackout for you leaves light when you want it. Not being sarcastic, just this is what I found over years trying to sleep during the day.

  • A link to the exact product would be a good idea. I have never found a mask that worked for me yet, just falls off / too hot. Commented Jul 7, 2019 at 6:03
  • When I worked 2300 to 0700 shifts I tried various sleep masks. I settled on a Tempur-Pedic Sleep Mask. It was contoured such that it allowed blinking without catching eyelashes.
    – pndfam05
    Commented Jan 28 at 21:29

Get a set of second hand curtains from the local second hand shop.

We just did this to our master bedroom. Now we own the house but didn't want to pay a lot of money for curtains and my wife found some really nice second hand roman blinds for $7.50 each. We put them underneath our regular curtains and the room stays warmer at night and significantly darker.

You could the same type of thing.


I'm pretty sure you've already considered this, but just in case you haven't...

It may be an obvious option, but the direction your blinds face is pretty important... To block street- and auto lights, you'll want to make sure inside edges turn down, if you're any higher than the first floor.


I have migrane headaches and have to have a completely dark room to sleep. I bought solid pink insulation and cut it to fit my windows. painted the side one side white and then still hung blackout curtains. you can not see your hand in front of your face in the middle of the day, but you can sleep.


Make your own ShiftShade. Watch this on how it works: go to youtube DOT com and search for ShiftShade.

Then buy the fabric yourself. It's called: Roc-Lon Blackout Fabric and you can probably find it at your local fabric store (mine has a 40%off sale, AND a 25% off coupon you can find on their website: JoAnn DOT com )

Then decide how you want to put it in your window. If you want to do it like ShiftShade, buy the fiberglass rods on Amazon (remember to buy the end caps, too).

Alternatively, you can use neodymium magnets and metal thumb tacks, screws, or mount an additional magnet to your window frame.

This whole project will probably cost around $10 per window.


Window Tint. That will let light in during the day and give you better coverage at night.

YOu could go lo-tech and use black sheets. Just pin them up on the wall at night. That is probably your cheapest, albeit, most horrible looking solution. Then again it's just for sleeping.

  • Does the color of the sheet impact its level of transparency?
    – Tester101
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 15:18
  • No but it effects the amount of light that is reflected or absorbed.
    – Jason H
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 19:34

If you want a cheap easy solution, you can buy fabric and safety pin it to the blinds. If you pin just the top and bottom, when the blinds are pulled up 100% then ~1/2 of the fabric would be seen underneath the blinds. So I'd suggest ~ 4 sets of pin to have the minimum extra fabric seen. I'd also suggest using khaki, it is relatively cheap and thick.

*I'd also suggest pin it to back(window side) of the blinds so it is not seen as much and you can retain the beauty of the wooden blinds.


My husband is a shift worker and often has to sleep during the day. I bought black rubber shelf liner , cut it to size, and used spray adhesive to attach it to the windows. You cannot tell if it is day or night when you are in there. Very inexpensive and easy to do.


A proven way to do blackout without a curtain rod is to use black fabric cut to the window size. Put up Velcro dots on the window frame, placed strategically to match Velcro on the fabric. You can actually make fabric to look like Roman shades. Looks great, no screws or hardware and easy to wash. Remember to use matching Velcro dots to achieve the look of Roman shades. I had this for years on wood windows where I didn't want hardware.


I often have to sleep with bright lights directly above my eyes. Just use some clothing and stuff to block the brightness.

Eg I like to lay thick socks on my eyes to do so. If you cannot sleep without moving, you can trial-and-error with all the (different types of) clothing and stuff that you possess to make a makeshift band around the eyes.

For those with a higher budget, Amazon's suction curtain might be useful

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