10 Window Treatment Ideas for Small Windows

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated December 22, 2021
Window box with an American flag outside a house
Inti St Clair via Getty Images

Selecting the right treatment for a small window can make a room seem brighter and more spacious

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

If you have a small window in your kitchen or bedroom, smothering it with drapes isn’t usually the best approach. When dressing a small window, you want to let in as much natural light as possible to avoid making a space look smaller. Here are 10 inspirational window treatment ideas for small windows—from the best treatments to new colors and patterns to try.

1. Window Shades

Roman shades on windows with nature views
tarnrit/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

There are various types of shades that work well on a small window.

Roller Shades

Roller shades come in a wide variety of materials, colors, patterns, and sizes and are ideal for use on small windows. It’s a one-piece flat fabric that rolls up neatly, fully or partially, into a cassette. The sleek, minimalist design doesn’t overwhelm your window, fitting snugly within the frame, and they aren’t expensive to buy or complicated to fit. They’re perfect for a modern, streamlined finish.

By selecting a fabric with a decent amount of opacity, it can still let light into the room even when the shade is down.

Roman Shades

Another one-piece design, when lifted, the fabric on Roman shades stacks in folds. This offers an elegant, soft, and timeless look while more streamlined than drapes—but it might be too heavy for the smallest windows. If you’re looking for more insulation, the fabric tends to be heavier than a standard roller shade.

Cellular Shades

Also known as honeycomb shades, these small window treatment options use layers of pleated fabric with varying degrees of light filtration that fold away neatly when raised. Their modern design offers additional insulation, making them a good choice if your window is draughty. Because they can trap moisture, they aren’t always the best choice in a humid space, like a bathroom.

Solar Shades

Solar shades, also known as “window sunglasses,” preserve your outside view while still filtering incoming light. Like roller shades, they roll up into a cassette when raised, leaving very little fabric to obstruct your small window. Solar shades let in the most natural light of all window treatments, making your small window extremely functional regardless of size.

2. Blinds

A sunlit window with wooden blinds
Catherine Falls Commercial/Moment via Getty Images

Blinds are another popular option for small windows as you can measure them to fit within the window frame. Both shades and blinds are more functional than curtains. Pleated blinds or wide-slatted wooden Venetian blinds let lots of sun into a space, and vertical designs are better for tall and thin windows.

Available in a variety of materials and to suit any budget, you’ll have plenty to choose from.

3. Estate Shutters

Luxurious plantation shutters in bathroom window
Anett Flassig/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Custom-made estate shutters made by a local window treatment specialist will fit neatly into a small window space, and, depending on how you adjust them, they can make the most of the available light or completely block it. This makes them a versatile choice for ventilation, privacy, and temperature regulation. Their classic look also makes them a good choice for historic homes.

Because they’re usually custom-made and often made from wood or faux wood, they’re more expensive than a typical roller blind or shade.

4. A Single Valance

If you want to add a decorative touch to your small window without blocking out any available light, you could opt for a valance that covers only the top of the window.

This is a good choice in a room where you don’t need the added security or privacy you get from a full shade. It also works if you want to add some subtle layering to soften the look after fitting a plain fabric roller shade.

5. Small Window Curtain Options

An open small window with curtain in a bedroom
ZenShui/Sigrid Olsson/ RF Collections via Getty Images

Typically, sill-length, short curtains work for small windows. Reaching the top of the windowsill, they won’t overwhelm the space.

Alternatively, you could opt for café curtains. They cover the bottom half of the window, allowing light to still enter while offering a degree of privacy. Café curtains are a popular choice in bathrooms or for small windows that lead out to a public footpath or street; you hang them using adjustable height curtain rods that sit within the window frame.

You can use the power of illusion and hang long curtains on small windows to make them look larger. If you want to go for this look, hang the curtains as high and wide as possible to help the petite window look bigger.

Steer clear of fringes, tassels, or swags, as these can make the window look smaller and obscure the light.

6. Frosted Glass

Plants seen through a frosted glass window
Danielle Reid / EyeEm/EyeEm via Getty Images

Frosted glass can work well as a treatment for a small window in a space like a bathroom or a hallway, where you want permanent privacy or the sun’s glare is a problem. Because there’s no need for blinds or curtains, it keeps the space clean, and light is still let in effectively. You can achieve a frosted glass effect by using sprays or decals that you can remove when you want a change.

7. Stained Glass

A porch door with stained glass on it
sturti/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Fitting stained glass on a large window is expensive, time-consuming, and can sometimes be an overpowering look in a room. On a small window, it won’t cost so much, and it can be a lovely decorative element that allows you to maintain privacy, avoid bulky window dressings, and let in natural light.

If you want a window to look bigger from the outside, opting for a reflective glass finish is another option.

8. Colors and Prints for Small Window Treatments

Select any colors or prints for small window treatments mindfully. Light, cool shades can help to make the space and the window appear larger.

If you’re using bold colors, match the curtains to the wall shade. That way, you’ll draw more attention to the window and outside space, creating an illusion of more space inside. 

Small, subtle details that match the rest of your decor are a good idea for patterns.

9. Avoid Complex Layering

Adding a simple valance above a plain shade or blind can work on a small window, but fussy or complex layering will make the window and the room look smaller. Avoid things like long drapes over bulky Roman shades.

10. Go Minimalist

A small minimalistic window
Catherine Falls Commercial/Moment via Getty Images

Sometimes, you can leave your small window without any window treatment at all. This works best for those positioned high on a wall with no privacy concerns or for architecturally significant ones you don’t want to cover. In rooms like this, adding decorative touches on the window ledges can add some style and personality while letting in the maximum amount of natural light.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.