Reasons to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades


Hey All. Yes, I took a couple weeks break. Homeschooling ended last week, and it was pretty draining. As are so many things recently. We have some much anticipated *unscheduled* family time coming up, and I’m looking forward to it! How are you all doing?

A couple of updates! It’s hard to believe that our big Remodeling a Remuddle renovation finished up 6 months ago (minus some details), but Old House Journal has been waiting for the hydrangeas to bloom outside my kitchen window to schedule photography. At last, the shoot is scheduled for the end of the month and should be published before the end of the year (fingers crossed!). I can’t wait to share more details with you that I’ve been keeping back, waiting for better pics. Also, our No Plain Jane Powder Room from the One Room Challenge last year was featured on Houzz.com! Check it out.


But on to today’s topic! Roman window shades (or Roman valances — they fall in this category, too!) in all their many varieties are one of the most versatile window treatment options around. They look great layered under drapes for über traditional rooms, all by their lonesome in a bright & fabulous pattern for kids’ rooms, beautifully subtle in a linen for minimalist Scandi rooms … you get the picture.

Natural fiber shades are often Roman in style as well, and work well alone or paired with drapes, in both traditional an modern situations.


But when to do outside mount vs. inside mount shades? — THAT is the question!!!!!


There are pros & cons to both inside and outside mount shades. We’ll take a look those now, just so that you are fully informed as to what you’re selecting, but stick around to the end to see how I usually decide which style to choose in a given scenario.


The Pros/Cons of Inside Mount Shades



  • Easy installation: Just drill the mounting board up into your window casing.
  • Smaller and (sometimes) therefore cheaper (at least when you’re doing natural shades which are usually priced by width/length). However, the smaller amount of material used doesn’t matter very much if you’re doing fabric shades that don’t require sewing an additional width of fabric.


I used inside mount Roman shades in Thing 2’s bedroom a couple of years ago. While our ceilings aren’t high, our windows are big in comparison, so an inside shade doesn’t compromise the view much.

This is the only kind of window treatment installation my Handsome Husband will do anymore. Drill it up, and you’re done!


Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades



  • You need window depth: You need at least 1.5″ of window depth (For a slim mount. Often shades will require 2-2.5″ of depth) in order to mount them inside the casing. In many builder-grade homes from the ’70s-’90s, you don’t have that 1.5″.
  • Not for light sleepers: There will be .25″ of light showing on either side of the shade when the sun comes up. My family can sleep in semi-light, but for those who need total blackout capabilities, this sliver of light can be a total deal-breaker.
  • Inevitably, you block some of the view.


The Pros/Cons of Outside Mount Shades



  • Maximum view: By hanging an outside mount shade so that it just covers  the window casing at the top, you can maximize the viewing area of the window while still employing a window treatment.
  • Larger looking windows: Whenever you mount window treatments outside (but just covering) the window trim, your window MAGICALLY GROWS!
  • Total coverage for light sleepers: When lowered, an outside mount shade entirely covers all glass and the window casing/trim. There is no crack through which the morning sun can invade your room!
  • Trick of the eye for awkward window heights: If you have windows & doors that are of different heights, hanging outside mount shades at equal heights around the room can be used to trick the eye into thinking all windows/doors are equal as well.


I used outside mount shades in my Ultimate She Shed to make the windows look taller than they were!





  • More difficult mounting job: This is especially in an older house where everything is uneven!!! Get a professional to do it. It will save your marriage and your walls.
  • More materials = more expensive: When you have a number of windows all cased together, you need to do a single long shade (like in the kitchen later down in the post), rather than a bunch of singles butting up to one another. All that extra material sewn together can add up in material and fabrication cost.


When to Select Inside Mount Shades vs. Outside Mount Shades


While I take the pros/cons of each style into consideration (especially when clients say they need blackout conditions in order to sleep), I prefer to examine each room/window situation.

The situation will usually dictate the best solution and save you from making a pro/con list. :0


Inside Mount Shades:

  1. You have beautiful trim & you want to show off!
  2. Your windows are nice & big, so cutting down on visible glass isn’t a problem..
  3. Your ceilings are high — so high, in fact, you may want to bring them down a bit.
  4. Your ceilings are low but your windows go nearly to the top — even standing, your eyes will be below the level of the shade when it’s raise.


This reproduction home had lovely decorative trim around the windows that we wanted to show off. All the windows received inside mount Roman shades, and the windows perpendicular to the fireplace also received drapes mounted higher, drawing the eye up.


Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades


In a sneak peek from Project HGD Remuddle Remodel, I chose inside mount natural Roman shades because I wanted to bring the height of the windows down a bit to match up with the French doors to the left.


Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades


In our Hopkinton Historical project, once again, the ceilings are barely 8′. But the window casings are so near the ceiling, you don’t lose much window height by using an inside mount shade.


Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades


Outside Mount:

  1. You don’t have nice trim. Let’s hide it!
  2. Your windows are small — let’s make it look bigger.
  3. Your ceilings are low — let’s make them look higher!
  4. Your ceilings are high but your windows are low — you need to make your windows proportional to the rest of your architecture.


Just to show you how mounting a shade or valance above and outside the window frame can make a window look bigger, I searched through my phone and found these images from the installation of our NH Lake Camp project from a couple of years ago.


I’m sorry the pics are so grainy!

Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades


Even though this is a valance, the argument is the same for a full outside mount shade — it maximizes the view and tricks the eye into thinking the window is larger.


But speaking of difficulty with outside mounts, in this same home, which is 60-70 years old, we did outside mount natural shades in the main room, mounted actually on the flat trim.

Long story as to why we had to mount it on the trim rather than above it. It’s perfectly acceptable to mount a shade on flat trim, but in this case it made for a very tricky mounting job. The windows were totally crooked! My installer hung the shades a quarter inch above the trim in one corner and flush with the other on one window, half above in one corner of another window…. An expert installer is KEY to making everything look even!


In this post, a homeowner called and asked me to help her with window treatments for her kitchen, which she had recently beautifully redone herself with her husband. The ceilings were only about 7′ high, and there was a long, large window. She wanted a window treatment for softness and color, but didn’t want to cut down on the already low viewing height.


Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades
Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades


In this makeover from the archives, the teen son needed TOTAL BLACKOUT conditions. We used outside mount tortoise shell shades AND drapes to make sure not a speck of light got through!


Why to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades


Notice how the tortoise shell shades are in line with the top of the pleats?


BIG DESIGNER TIP: If you are doing outside mount shades (whether fabric or natural) in combination with drapes, make sure the top of the of the shades lines up with the top of the drapes — NOT THE RODS. This is a mistake I see repeated often by DIYers.


Any questions? Do you have a window situation that has you stumped? Let us hear about it!


See you next Saturday!




Home Glow Design Shop on Chairish

2 thoughts on “Reasons to Choose Inside vs. Outside Mount Window Shades”

  1. What a great post, Amy-so informative! I love natural Roman shades and have had to do both inside and outside mounts; you captured all the pros and cons perfectly.
    I also loved seeing your powder room in Houzz, and can’t wait for the reveal of the Remodeling a Remuddle soon.

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