How Window Film Changed My House (and life)
The thing that I love most about this house is also the thing that has caused me the most stress (and damage, and money), up until just recently: The beautiful west facing California sunlight. It made the house unbearably hot in the afternoon (almost year round), and it faded out all furniture, textiles and wood in a very bad, sad way . . . until I met LLumar Window Film.
My relationship with these windows is as long as they are tall. Let’s go back to the beginning when we bought the house.
A lot has changed, folks. They were big and opened up the space, but they were dark and tinted.
After we moved in it looked like this (below). Definitely airier and brighter but that tint was a problem.
Why someone would buy a house like this, then darken it was beyond me at the time, and being the sucker for natural light that I am I was so excited to rip that stuff off. We had it removed, then the windows washed, and let the light flood in. It was magical from December through April. Every instagrammers dream. I’m sure you know where this is going. Come springtime the house was HOT. Like unbearably hot. We installed these automatic roller shades to help combat the heat.
These blocked the harsh light while still letting in a ton of light, and it provided great privacy at night. But these shades clearly weren’t as fun to stare at as the view was, and they really didn’t help much with the heat. So then (and here is a real riveting story) we had our AC checked, and it needed thousands of dollars of work to bring it into working order – new ducting, new intake vents, blah blah. Once we got that fixed the house stayed SO much cooler. But on those hot days with the sun blasting in, it was still pretty arresting.
We normally shoot this room either in the morning, when it’s cloudy or when the shades are down. But here is how it actually looks during the day. Super streaky, harsh and generally very hard to photograph. See how the sunlight is barreling into all my furniture and textiles? It was doing damage as I was innocently playing with my baby in the other room.
It was slow, but sad.
The leather in my sofa has been almost completely faded except for where the pillows were blocking the sun from hitting it.
The flooring is even worse – as you can see there’s a pretty severe line where the rug is. It’s crazy. And it’s probably happening to your poor floors as we speak. So we had three problems:
- The heat
- Furniture fading
- The sun glare and EXTREME brightness in the afternoon hours.
So I met with LLumar, a company that manufactures window film for your windows that is professionally installed by a local dealer that can address all of those problems. At first I was wary, having removed a window tint 2 years before. I didn’t want anything to affect the quality of light in my house.
But they convinced me that window tints have come a long way since 1992 when those tints were installed, that I would never notice a visual difference – and that those major problems would be helped. They showed me a few different tints that of course looked blue against white but the second we held them against a window they were totally clear. There is a broad range of window film available from practically clear to dark with up to 99%+ UV ray protection (this has a tint you might notice). I chose to go with Vista by LLumar products on the lower windows and AIR80 on the upper. I had them put up a sample before they did it, and I honestly couldn’t see a difference in the amount of light that came through for one, and just barely for the other. If I hadn’t been so scared of the light going away I probably would have done Air80 everywhere (which is what Bob, the installer from Solar Art Window Film, suggested).
So here’s how the process works:
- A local installer comes to give you a quote and show you your options.
- You choose the window film you want based on your needs. They have window film to help with privacy, UV ray protection, heat reduction, fade and glare protection and also security (more to come on that later) But basically, within each series, there is a range of coverage options.
3. A week later they come back and install – which takes a couple hours for each window. They put it on with water and a squeegee.
The process was super fast and painless. The installers were professional, friendly and total pros. When they were finished it was like nothing ever happened.
It’s hard to shoot this product because it is literally designed to be unseen, but in the below photo you can see the slight tint that it has.
We did our master bedroom windows as well because it was also west facing and insanely bright and hot.
You can’t even tell where the film starts and stops, which I was so impressed by.
So how much exactly does it cost to install the window film? Well, it varies widely depending upon:
- Your film selection
- How large your windows are
- The complexity of the project
- Where you live/cost of living in your area
Of course, I selected two of highest end window films possible. The living room windows were 183 square feet, and the cost could be $1100 – $2000 depending on the film chosen. Mine were around $2k because the windows are huge. If they are more standard like my master bedroom they can be more in the range of $400 – $600. Another big selling point on this window film is that every film (no matter the tint) acts as a security film if the window were to shatter and holds all the glass in place rather than have it fall all over the floor or heaven forbid a loved one.
It’s “winter” in LA but it was in the 90’s 2 weeks ago, and while we had the AC on, Brian and I both noticed a difference in the living room. Normally you can’t really sit in that room because it’s so warm when it’s that hot outside, but it was so much better with less heat, glare, and hopefully unseen furniture damage – which will come in VERY handy because we are probably replacing that sofa with a big navy linen piece.
I love the light in this room even more because I can actually sit in here during the day now. I write, play and can watch the sunset without my eyes being cooked. The message here: if you are in a situation like this and are looking for a solution, the LLumar tint film is one that I absolutely recommend. It’s an investment at the beginning, and kind a boring way to spend money, but the enjoyment we get year round out of that room is going to be worth it, as well as saving our furniture and art. The sun, as much as we love it, is a wonderful and powerful force. So, we can finally keep the happiness inside, and keep the heat and damage outside, where it belongs.
***I was compensated by LLumar for this post, although all words, ideas and opinion are mine.