Window treatments for recessed windows

When it comes to choosing your window treatments for recessed windows, there are a lot of things to consider. Design and style are obviously very important factors. But the challenge a window recess poses means we have to first look at the practical implications. 

In Scotland, with all our traditional stone cottages and period buildings, fitting curtains and blinds for recessed windows is a very common challenge. So let’s have a look what you need to know.

Tiny window: Curtains & Blinds for odd windows

Window recesses in Scotland

Whether you have a traditional or contemporary property, most windows have a recess. It is defined by the thickness of your exterior walls, measuring from the surface of the window to the surface of the interior wall. 

But not all recessed windows are tricky to dress. That’s why, in this blog post, we are looking at what it means to fit curtains and blinds for windows with a recess of 15 to 20 cm or more. 

This is what you find most in Scottish cottages and period properties with very thick walls as well as dormer or sash windows. It gets even more fun when you throw working shutters, radiators and sash or tilt-and-turn windows into the mix. 

Inside or outside the recess?

The main question when it comes to recessed windows is this. Should you fit your curtains or blinds inside or outside the recess? 

There’s no clear-cut answer to this as it depends on a range of factors:

  • How much space do you have around your window and recess?
  • What is the size of the room and windows?
  • Do you have sash, dormer or tilt-and-turn windows?
  • Are there radiators below the window or working shutters?
  • Are you looking to maximise natural light or do you want to reduce light leakage?
  • Do you have easy access to operate your curtains and blinds?

Read on to find out how your space, preferred light levels and available access help you decide on the best window treatment for recessed windows.

Your space

If you are planning on fitting a window dressing to your recessed windows, you need to make sure that there is enough space above the recess or window to fit your pole, track or blind. Curtains will also need enough space on the sides so you can stack them easily when drawn during the day. 

Another thing to consider is the length of your window treatment and the size of your room. You can choose between sill-length or full-length dressings. However, it’s important to know that floor-length window treatments outside the recess may not fit in with the size of the room or the look and feel you have in mind. 

For example, if the room – and window – in question is small, placing your window treatments inside the window recess creates a more cosy and secluded space. While placing them outside the recess takes away space from an already small room. 


The question of placing your window treatments for recessed windows inside or outside the recess is also dependent on what else might be in the way. And by that I mean radiators, shutters, tilt-and-turn windows, sash windows and similar complications you often find in Scotland’s homes. 

For example, a floor-length curtain outside the recess might work in a large room with tall windows. But it gets a bit tricky if there’s a radiator below the window. If you want the heat to circulate the room in the evening when the curtains are closed, placing sill-length curtains inside the recess might be the better choice. 

Also, if you have Edinburgh sash windows with working shutters, you need to make sure that curtains or blinds don’t interfere. If you don’t have enough space above the window, you might have to put your window dressings outside the recess. Roller blinds have the best chance of fitting in a small space without blocking windows or shutters. But Roman blinds or curtains usually don’t fit inside, so will have to go outside the recess. 

Do you have tilt-and-turn windows? Are you considering adding pelmets or swags and tails? Then it’s likely your curtains or blinds will have to be fitted outside the recess as well.

Natural light levels

While windows with deep recesses can create a cosy feel and provide privacy, they also limit natural light. So the answer to how to best fit your window treatments for recessed windows depends on how you’re planning on using the room. 

Are you looking at a bedroom where you want to reduce the amount of light coming in during the light summer nights? Or do you want as much natural light during the day as possible in your kitchen, bathroom or living room? And what about your floor, furniture or art – do they need protection from too much direct sunlight?

One way to maximise natural light levels from your recessed windows is to bend a curtain track so it fits onto the side walls within the recess. If this solution requires too much fabric for your budget, a roller blind placed right above the window will do the trick as well.

But if you’re looking to reduce light leakage, the best way is to place the window treatment outside the recess. Floor-length window treatments outside the recess block the light best. Because if you have a solid wall below the window, a sill-length curtain or blind can still lead to light bleeding at the bottom. 

Alternatively, you can combine curtains outside the window recess with blinds placed inside the recess and add a pelmet to keep light bleeding to a minimum. And if you’d like to protect your interiors from fading, consider fitting voile curtains or semi-sheer roller blinds inside the recess. And then add floor-length curtains outside the recess.

Find out more about semi-sheer window treatments for privacy and sun protection.


Last, but not least, if all of the above are not a concern, then there’s nothing keeping you from simply placing your curtain track or a blind across the window. However, depending on the depth of the window recess, you may find it difficult to open and close your window treatments.

Because recessed windows can often present another practical issue. Access – or the lack thereof. Especially if you have a deep window recess, it can be difficult to fit and operate curtains or blinds.

For example, if the window is located over stairs, in a roof lantern or a kitchen cabinet with sink. In this case, I’d highly recommend considering motorised curtains and blinds. 

Want to find the right curtains and blinds for your recessed windows? Get in touch for a free initial chat!