Designer Advice: Using Sheer Fabrics

Posted by Rebecca Atwood

We asked designers from our community to weigh in on what they love about sheers and how they’ve used them in recent projects. We hope you'll enjoy their expert advice below.

Photographer: Blake Shorter
Linear Stem Draperies in Pistachio

“The ethereal quality of a sheer window treatment immediately brings a lightness to a room. The softness of the drapery as it stacks and the subtle break on floor creates a modern, tailored vibe that I love to use in both transitional and more contemporary projects. I use sheers everywhere! Window treatments, bed curtains, and even on lampshades—anywhere we are trying to filter the light. More recently I have been combining printed sheers with a lining fabric to create a layered look on pillows. I find I am gravitating more and more to using sheers in living and dining rooms. Currently on a NYC project where we have a formal but modern aesthetic, I paired silk matchstick Roman shades inset into the windows with sheer woven silk drapery panels mounted on hardware as the final outside layer. Very chic!”

—Christine Markatos Lowe, Christine Markatos Design

“I love the way sheer fabric looks. It feels fresh and adds a sense of lightness and ethereality. I use sheers often in window treatments when some privacy is needed but we want the light to filter through. We thought sheers would be the perfect treatment for the windows in this Upper East Side living room. They add warmth and a softness framing the windows. They allow light to filter through and can also block sun glare.”

—Eve Robinson, Eve Robinson Associates

Notched Vines Roman Shades in Ivory/Gray

“I often use curtains to soften the edges in a room and add height visually. One of the best tricks is to work with a sheer because it makes the scale of the window look higher if you can raise the curtain rods. That tends to feel less formal, like less of an impasse between indoors and outdoors. I also use sheers behind glass mounted on a café rod on the inside of cabinet doors or to give privacy on a front door.Recently I have been using sheers as bed skirts or as a softening element when I have a four-poster but don’t want all the heaviness. Where we want more decorative detail, I’ll use a regular trim on them. Even if I were to use a sheer as a Roman shade, I might run a tape trim on the edge—not a big, heavy bullion trim, but a rick rack or thin eyelash flax or linen. A sheer lampshade is beautiful too, a little softer than silk and less formal. Sheers can be beautiful as a shower curtain with a waterproof inner liner to give that gauzy atmosphere. I also saw a High Point vendor with these gazelle-like dining chairs with sheer slipcovers. That gave a romantic, ethereal line to some badass chairs. Very unusual but really pretty.

—Celerie Kemble, Kemble Interiors

“Sheer to me says casual and approachable. Rooms with sheer curtains feel like I can relax in them. They have a breezy feel, even if the breeze is not blowing on me directly. They work fantastic as curtains in public spaces. I don’t normally love large puddles, but sheers can puddle and it is no problem. They also work well behind blackout curtains in bedrooms to allow for some privacy but also allow light in. I love them on café curtains as well.”

—Andrew Howard, Andrew Howard Interior Design

Photographer: Tori Williams
Embroidered Dots Draperies in Ivory Rose

“I love to use sheers when we want to set a mood of coziness, like being in a cocoon inside your home. It’s great that they also lend some privacy and filtering of light from the outside world. To me, they create calm, and that is welcomed anywhere in our busy, modern homes. Recently we did some café curtain sheers in Notched Vines for a client's breakfast nook, which we call “the lounge.” They really set the tone for the space to be calming but also interesting in a way that draws you in. It’s a cozy spot to sit and enjoy coffee or drinks any time of day. The amount of privacy was also perfect for our clients who have a nice view to the backyard but needed screening from the neighbors’ home.”

—Betsy Hicks, Betsy Hicks Interiors

“Sheer window treatments actually accentuate the natural light by diffusing harsh, direct sun into a soft, ambient glow. The material composition of the fabric will determine how it can be used. If it's a natural fiber with little structure, it is best utilized in a relaxed style, whereas a blend or synthetic fabric may do well with more structured pleats. We make sheer drapery a little fuller than standard drapery to give it more substance. We recommend a heartier weight with some texture versus a plain, very see-through fabric.”

—Katie Jones, Island Shade Shoppe

Photographer: Blake Shorter
Notched Vines Draperies in Pistachio
Photographer: Tory Williams
Linear Stem Draperies in Yellow
Photographer: Blake Shorter
Leafy Vines Cafe Curtains in Light Blue

“My favorite window treatment style that I have really come to love in recent years is the café curtain. For a long time they were thought of as antiquated, usually in a rod pocket style with lots of fabric scrunched up toward the top of the rod. I now look at them with a completely different mindset. Café curtains continue to let in natural light from the top and can stay closed versus a Roman shade that you're always having to maneuver up and down on a cord and that can make a dark room feel even darker. A café curtain for a powder room is an especially attractive spot to use a sheer fabric where it keeps things really light and also provides you with that layer of privacy that is so needed. I especially love layering wallpaper and sheers in the same colorway and pattern. It feels cohesive without being overly matchy and keeps the overall design incredibly light and simple. In a small space, too many different prints and textures can feel like overkill, but a light, sheer café curtain layered on top of the same print in a wallpaper to me feels like a timeless, classic approach that is also very fun and highly functional.”

—Becky Carbone, Becky Carbone Interiors

“Sheers naturally lend softness and airiness to a space. There is a versatility with sheers because they allow for natural light to pass through and create dimension as well as add texture—even if it’s subtle. The mood of a room is created through all the elements, but window treatments and sheers specifically can really sway the mood to feel more romantic, dramatic, and tranquil. I like to use them in rooms where keeping as much natural light as possible is a priority and privacy isn’t a concern. When a fully functioning, closing drape isn’t necessary, adding stationary panels can make a world of difference in making a space feel complete and ‘done.’”

—Tyler Del Vento, Tyler Del Vento Interior Design Studio

We’re excited to expand our selection of printed and embroidered sheers. Please let us know what you think about our current patterns and colors and new ones you’d like to see by emailing Are there motifs or color stories you’re looking for? We love to hear from you.