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Bay window blinds made of 2-in Bamboo in White with decorative tape in Ash cover a traditional bay window in a sunny room
July 7, 2023

Best Options for Bay Window Blinds & Shades

Your bay window is likely a prized architectural element of your home. It allows lots of natural light to fill your room and creates an inviting feeling of openness. Sometimes, though, you need to filter that light, enjoy a bit of privacy, or both. When it comes to window treatments, bay window blinds and shades are a great choice that can allow you to control your light and privacy while still showing off the beautiful details of your window.

Before diving into your options for bay window blinds and shades, it’s important to first make a distinction between a “bay” and a “bow” window. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct differences. 

What Is the Difference Between a Bay & Bow Window?

Bay and bow windows both serve similar functions: They allow a panoramic view of the outdoors and let more natural light into a room. But they do have some key differences:

A dark room features flat roman shades made of holland and sherry wool used in place of bay window blinds

Bay Window

A bay window typically has three angled windows, a larger picture window in the center and two smaller windows angled towards it on either side.

Flat roman shades made from Victoria Hagan's Oceana in Slate adorn a bow window in place of blinds for bay windows

Bow Window

A bow window is typically curved and has four or five windows, all of which are usually the same size.

While the construction of these types of windows are different, luckily, the same window treatment options usually work for both. So bay window blinds and shades will often work for bow windows as well.

Now that you’re clear on the differences of bay and bow windows — and their ability to use the same window treatments — you’re ready to explore your options for shades and blinds for bay windows.

Wood & Metal Blinds

Gold champagne metal blinds used in a kitchen window next to a counter with plates are one option for bay window blinds
Pictured: Metal Blinds, 2″ Metal in Champagne

Blinds are a versatile, attractive option for your bay or bow window as their horizontal linear design helps accentuate the verticality of each window. They also give you a similar look to shutters but offer far greater versatility. Blinds for bay windows are available in two main categories: Wood Blinds or Metal Blinds.

Luckily, no matter which material you choose for your bay window blinds, you’ll still enjoy the same benefits.

Benefits of Wood & Metal Blinds

  • Effortless light and privacy control with tiltable slats for everyday use.
  • Lots of color and finish options so you can find the perfect look for your space.
  • Durable materials give you window treatment options you can count on.
  • Can often be inside-mounted (in each window frame) for a more tailored appearance.

Yet, beyond these similar benefits, the two do offer some distinctions when it comes to aesthetics:

Wood blinds made with exotic wood in an intricate Zebrano finish are a refined choice for bay window blinds

Wood Blinds: Classic Refinement

Wood Blinds deliver a sophisticated, refined aesthetic as your bay window blinds. Choose from colors and finishes ranging from chic painted wood to character-rich exotic hardwoods to get the perfect look. You can also opt for Faux Wood Blinds for bay windows, which give you greater durability and moisture resistance, without taking away from the attractive real wood look.

Metal Blinds: Chic & Modern

If you prefer a sleeker, more modern look for your bay window blinds, consider Metal Blinds. The metallic sheen of your color choices gives you a more industrial aesthetic that works well for modern and contemporary homes. Plus, the aluminum construction delivers superior performance for long-lasting window treatments.

2 inch metal blinds made of aluminum in a gold champagne color are a chic modern option for bay window blinds

Roller & Solar Shades

Roller Shades like Ikat in Straw from Sheila Bridges are an attractive, functional alternative to bay window blinds
Pictured: Light Filtering Roller Shade, Sheila Bridges Ikat in Straw

Roller and Solar Shades have very similar designs and functionality. They both operate the same way, as they roll up or down around a tube at the top of your window and both provide a sleek, streamlined design for a minimalist appearance. These simple shades are a great choice for bay or bow windows as they have clean lines that accentuate each window in these structures.

They also share many of the same benefits.

Benefits of Roller & Solar Shades

  • Easy functionality regardless of control type for easy everyday use.
  • Plenty of colors and patterns available so you can find just the right look.
  • Lots of design versatility with its sleek, minimalist construction.
  • Often made from easy-to-clean materials like polyester and acrylic.
  • Easily inside-mounted in each window frame, needing less than an inch to be securely fastened.

Yet, the two also offer unique material benefits ideal for bay window applications.

Roller Shades in a warmly decorated room feature a tea leaf pattern in brown and are used in place of bay window blinds

Roller Shades for Bay Windows

Roller Shades offer lots of options for light and privacy control, coming in both light-filtering and blackout material options. Blackout material can be ideal for bedrooms or media rooms that need a room darkening effect while light-filtering options can provide just the right amount of privacy while still allowing light to stream through.

Solar Shades for Bay Windows

Solar Shades are made with innovative materials that give them the ability to block UV rays while still allowing light to shine through. Blocking UV rays reduces glare and heat buildup and prevents fading of your furnishings so you can enjoy all the natural light of your bay or bow window without the worry.

Solar Shades with 3 percent openness in Black are used in place of blinds for bay windows in a basement family room

Roman Shades

Relaxed Roman Shades made of Linen in White are used in place of bay window blinds on tall windows in a luxurious room
Pictured: Relaxed Roman Shades, Linen Sheer in Ivory with Samuel & Sons Cambridge Strié Braid trim in Spring Green, designed by Alessandra Branca for the 2022 Kips Bay Dallas Showhouse

Roman Shades provide a soft, luxurious look to your bay windows with their elegant folds of fabric. Roman Shades come in several different styles ranging from modern, highly functional styles like Flat and Cascade Roman Shades to more decorative types like Relaxed and Tulip Roman Shades. Choosing the right style for your home will depend on how you want your bay windows to function and look.

Thanks to the two main different styles of Roman Shades, each offer different benefits.

A Flat Roman Shade made from Victoria Hagan's Jasmine in Midnight is a great alternative to bay window blinds

Benefits of Functional Roman Shades

Functional Roman Shade styles include Flat, Cascade, Aventura, and Pleated Roman Shades. These styles are easy to open and close on a daily basis, so you can let in the sunshine from your bay window during the day and enjoy the solitude of privacy in the evening.

Other benefits include:

  • Design versatility among the four functional Roman Shade options from sleek modern, Flat and Cascade Roman Shades to Japanese Shoji-inspired design of Aventura Roman Shades, to the lush, luxe look of Pleated Roman Shades with their exaggerated folds.
  • Lots of color, texture and pattern options so you can find the right look for your space.
  • Blackout and privacy lining to provide better privacy and room darkening when you need it, as well as give greater stability and crispness to the folds of your shades. 
  • The softness of drapery with greater functionality which is especially useful for windows where drapery may not be the best option (like some types of bay and bow windows).   

Benefits of Decorative Roman Shades

Decorative Roman Shade styles include Relaxed Roman Shades and Tulip Roman Shades. These styles offer beautiful designs with elegant, draping folds, but aren’t ideal for everyday use because they require dressing (adjusting the pleats) every time they’re opened or closed.

Relaxed Roman Shades made of Holland and Sherry Andes wool in Azure are used in place of bay window blinds in a coastal nook

These types of shades do have clear benefits, even if they’re not ideal for everyday use:

  • Beautiful designs that add character-rich style to your bay windows that can truly transform a room.
  • Great for layering with other bay window blinds or shades that can add more functionality to your windows such as Roller Shades.

Woven Wood Shades

Woven Wood Shades made of Bayshore in Parchment adorn a bay window in a sitting room in place of blinds for bay windows
Pictured: Waterfall Woven Wood Shades, Artisan Weaves Bayshore in Parchment

Woven Wood Shades are a unique option beyond blinds for bay windows. These types of shades are made from eco-friendly natural fibers like bamboo, grasses and reeds and bring a bohemian, organic look and feel to your bay or bow windows.

Woven Wood Shades come in styles that resemble Roman Shades as well as those that resemble Roller shades. All Woven Wood Shades are highly functional — as well as beautiful and organic — and offer several benefits.

Benefits of Woven Wood Shades

  • Easy functionality regardless of control type for easy everyday use.
  • Adds a natural, organic look and feel to your bay windows with their fibrous texture, ideal for boho-inspired interiors.
  • Softens the light and gives your room a warm glow thanks to its open weave that disperses direct sunlight.
  • Features blackout and privacy lining options to further block light and give you greater privacy and a room darkening affect, ideal for bedrooms.

Cellular Shades

Cellular Shades made of three-quarters single cells in Lace are a great efficient alternative to blinds for bay windows
Pictured: Light Filtering Cellular Shades, ¾” Single Cell in Lace

Cellular Shades are a highly functional and chic option for your bay window blinds. These types of shades feature a unique honeycomb design that allows them to insulate your room by trapping hot and cold air in its cells. The result means more regulated interior temperatures that may even help you save on your utility bill. These types of shades can be ideal for bay or bow windows in older homes that may let in a bit of a draft.

Beyond their ability to insulate your home, Cellular Shades offer several other benefits beyond blinds for bay windows.

Benefits of Cellular Shades

  • Easy functionality regardless of control type for easy everyday use.
  • Lots of color and pattern options so you can find the right look for your space.
  • Sleek minimalist design means these shades fit in with all types of styles.
  • Blackout and light-filtering options available so you can achieve the right level of light and privacy control.
  • Easily inside-mounted thanks to its compact design that can fit in narrow windows giving you a streamlined, tailored aesthetic.

Vertical Blinds

Vertical Blinds made from Park material in Winter are a possible alternative to blinds for bay windows
Pictured: Light Filtering Vertical Blinds, Park in Winter

Vertical Blinds are made of panels of material that run on a track system for easy functionality. For bay window blinds, you can choose a panel track system design especially for bay windows, which features a center section and two side sections installed at a 135-degree angle to the center. This set-up fits most bay window applications. For bow windows, Vertical Blinds are not an ideal choice, as they do not operate well on curved structures due to their design.

Vertical Blinds offer a unique solution as bay window blinds with several benefits.

Benefits of Vertical Blinds

  • Easy functionality thanks to their simple track system design that allows you to move all panels at once or single panels as needed to cover just the area you want.
  • A sleek, modern aesthetic thanks to their clean simple lines that can suit a wide range of aesthetic styles.
  • Lots of material options featuring a range of colors, textures and patterns so you can find the perfect look for your space.
  • Light-filtering materials from sheers that soften natural light to more opaque materials that provide more privacy and light control.
  • Ideally ceiling- or wall-mounted above your bay windows to allow for unhindered control from one side of the track system to another.

Now that you know your options for bay window blinds and shades, you’re likely wondering, how to measure these unique windows when ordering your window treatments? Luckily, it’s easier than it looks.  

How to Measure for Bay Window Blinds & Shades

How you measure for your bay window blinds and shades will vary a bit based on the type of window treatment you choose as well as whether you choose to inside- or outside-mount your blinds or shades. Inside mount refers to your shades or blinds for bay windows being installed inside each window frame for a chic, tailored look. Outside mount refers to the blinds or shades being installed outside of each frame, typically on the wall or ceiling of your bay or bow window.

Measuring for Inside-Mount Blinds or Shades

  1. First, measure each window’s depth (the space from the edge of the frame to the window) to make sure there’s enough space to inside mount your blinds or shades. If the measurement is ¾” or larger, it is likely that you’ll be able to inside mount your blinds or shades.
  2. Measure the width in three places: top, middle, and bottom. Then round all to the nearest 1/8” and take the smallest number for your ordering width.
  3. Measure the length in three places: left, center, and right. Then round all to the nearest 1/8” and take the largest number for your ordering length.

Measuring for Outside-Mount Blinds or Shades

For outside-mount, you can skip measuring for depth because your blinds or shades won’t need to fit in the window frame. Therefore, you’ll just need to measure for width and length:

  1. Measure the width of the area you wish to cover with one shade or set of blinds. This will likely be from angle to angle in a bay window and from window frame to window frame in a bow window.
  2. Measure the height of the area you wish to cover, starting as high above your window as you want and measuring to the bottom of the frame. The length should be the same across all sets of blinds and shades for consistency.

Take the Guesswork Out of Measuring for Blinds for Bay Windows

With the insight you need into your bay window blinds and shades options as well as best practices for measuring, you now have the groundwork to begin your window treatment project. If you’d rather take the guesswork out of measuring for shades or blinds for bay windows, you can rely on our team of professionals who offer complementary measurements. Contact us today to schedule your free measurement and get your project started on the right foot.


Ensure your window treatments fit perfectly when you schedule a free measurement with our expert professionals.

A professional window treatment installer measuring one window with a measuring tape for a bay window treatment application