Deep sill with books, plants, candles

I admit I never thought much about window sills, much less putting things on them, until I bought my first house. I grew up in a stucco house with sills so teeny the cat could barely sit on them, which were entirely and uncompromisingly eaten up by honeycomb shades.

In my new house though, the windows were adorned with chubby, clattery faux-wood blinds that could be hoisted up off the sill to reveal an entirely new, unused, extra place to put things. Once I discovered that there were these little built-in shelves all over my house, the possibilities seemed endless. I put things on the sills in my living room and the sills in the library – which are both great places for your seasonal holiday decor, incidentally – or in the bedroom upon which sill my air plants actually bloom sometimes.

Illuminated Autumn tree in window sill

Sticking my happy little autumn tree on this window sill in my living room worked out rather well if I do say so myself.

The sill in my office is particularly, shall we say, well loved. Here’s the thing though, as you can see in the photo above if I want to put anything on my window sills somewhat permanently, the blinds have to stay up, looking vaguely silly dangling below their valance. This is where roller shades come in; mounted inside the window frame, they can be rolled all the way down to the sill without disrupting anything in their path. Here are five things you can do with roller shades and your window sills that simply can’t be done with any other window covering:

  1. A home for decorative objects.

window sill with plants, candles, photos

(Image Credit: Stijlvol Styling)

Roller shades are especially useful for protecting your stuff; not only are they slim enough to open and close behind your decor, but solar roller shades are also made from a light filtering material that blocks enough UV to prevent whatever you put on the sill from fading. You may think this means you’ll need to equip your windows with some hefty room darkening roller shades, but this holds true even for windows you still want to be able to see out. Roller shades can be woven loosely or more tightly, as well as coming in a variety of fabric options, allowing you to customize how much of your view you want to retain. Chicology’s View-tiful shades, for example, are formulated to do precisely that – keeping the view without UV rays sneaking in alongside. So feel free to put things like books, figurines, keepsakes, pictures, or any number of other things in that previously unused space without worrying about them fading.

On the other hand, placing transparent objects on your sill allows you to take full advantage of the light coming in. My aunt had a collection of blue glass bottles in her front window, and even when the sun wasn’t directly hitting them they still made the room glow just a little.

Empty green bottles on sill with string lights

(Image credit: Song Bird Blog)

Here’s a similar concept from Song Bird Blog

More loosely woven roller shades can have the same effect, allowing your transparent objects enough light to shine without sacrificing your privacy. Personally, I like to put perfume bottles in the bathroom window, and having light filtering roller shades would allow me to put them there without worrying about the UV breaking the perfume down. Candles in glass jars are also a great addition to the window sill.

2.A garden, hanging or otherwise.

Hanging rod garden

(Image credit: Sam Henderson for HGTV)

Here’s a tutorial on how to DIY this garden.

Maybe you want some fresh herbs in your kitchen, but don’t really want to give your neighbors a delightful view of you (and your herbs) backlit up at night. With continuous cord loop roller shades, you can customize your privacy level to your own comfort and satisfaction behind your plants, without the risk of plowing the shade right into your pots or elbowing them while you try to maneuver the shade up and down. This is especially useful for hanging gardens, where the plants are free to swing and spill soil all over the counter-tops if bumped. If airborne plants aren’t for you, you can still put your pots directly on the sill.

Tillandsia window sill

I didn’t even know these things could bloom until this one started going at it.

Although plants on your sill won’t have as much extra room as free hanging plants, if you have window sills deep enough for pots, they’re almost guaranteed to allow a roller shade to be closed behind them. It’s not like the plants are using any UV at night anyway.

3. Useful kitchen or bathroom tool storage.

Bathroom necessities in window

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Adding an herb garden to the unused space in your kitchen window allows you to keep fresh herbs in easy reach, and the same logic can be applied to other kitchen implements. Jars or vases with enough height can comfortably hold wooden spoons or spatulas. With an extra-large window, you could even hang your pots and pans in the window and still allow the roller shade to close behind, instead of having them dangling down in the middle of the kitchen. A sill is also a great place for a knife block, keeping it up and way out of reach of roaming little fingers.

In the bathroom, you can keep things like cotton swabs in glass jars in the window sill; the glass will look pretty with the light shining through behind even if the contents are mundane. If you have a large window in your shower, storing your shower supplies in that extra space on the sill is a great option.

Shower with extra shelving

(Image credit: Ana Kamin for Apartment Therapy)

You won’t have to worry about your roller shades in a damp environment depending on what material you get, but you should probably still protect the sills from your drippy shampoo bottles.

4. In addition to tools, window sills are also great locations to keep cook- and other books.

Deep sill with books, plants, candles

(Image credit: Ollie & Seb’s Haus)

Even if your window sills aren’t deep enough to hold your books in a bookcase-esque row like this one from Ollie & Seb’s Haus, you can store books open or closed in cookbook holders, or lean them flat against the window and then close the roller shades over them. The same principle holds true for office supplies, for example, my own office sill boasts an ever-growing collection of notebooks (I swear, I don’t know where they keep coming from), but you can also easily store folders or binders out of the way in an office window sill, while magazines be stacked in truly large window sills. Sure beats having one of those funny little magazine holders from the ‘70’s in the bathroom, ala my grandparents’ house.

5. Finally, we arrive at the last and perhaps most dramatically useful upgrade roller shades can give to the unused space in your windows: a place to mount additional shelves.

Glass shelves in window frame with plants

(Image credit: Martha Stewart)

As excited as I was to place things on my newly-discovered window sill ledges, roller shades are so thin that they can allow multiple shelves to be mounted to the window frame, and with a continuous cord loop style shade, it’s easy to roll the shade up and down behind. Building shelves onto windows isn’t a new idea, however, with roller shades the shelves can be mounted inside the window frame, decreasing how far the shelves protrude into your space. Narrow glass shelves like these from Home Depot can be petite enough sit entirely inside the window frame. Glass shelves seem to be the go-to for this DIY project to minimize the visual impact the shelves have on your windows, however, FrouFrugal does a lovely job here with plain old wood.

Glass objects on shelf in window

(Image Credit:Froufrugal)

While Wearing Heels also has a nice article on how to add DIY shelves into your window. Adding roller shades to the equation gives you all the same benefits of decorating the window sill; light filtering UV protection for the objects you want on the shelves, privacy when you need it, and not only are they slim enough to open and close behind the shelves, you won’t have to worry about them knocking into your stuff when you roll the shades up or down.

Chicology offers roller shades in a variety of colors, styles, and weaves to allow you to order the material best suited to your needs. Unlike our competitors, however, Chicology also offers ready-made roller shades for every width, in one-inch increments from 23” to 27” so you can get your shades faster and with less expense. Our roller shades require only 2.125-inches to 3.25-inch for flush inside mounts, which allows even the most slender of sills to become usable space. If your sill is deeper than 3.25 inches at most, you can install Chicology shades and start using all those wonderful little built-in shelves all over your house.