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She sees the light -- too often
Question: I have a vaulted ceiling in my bedroom that has a 2-by-2-foot skylight in the middle. The light through it is beautiful at times, and at others it is disruptive or just plain hot. What kind of window treatment will allow me to open and close it when I need to ... oh, and without having to use a 12-foot ladder every time?
Playa del Rey
Answer: There's a window treatment -- from basic blinds to elaborate Roman shades -- for every skylight and every budget, according to Los Angeles-based designer Patricia Kerr of Kerr Designs.
Electric shades, hard-wired to work with the flip of a switch or a hand-held remote control device, can be "very, very expensive," Kerr concedes, but for some, the $3,000-plus expense (not including the electrician's fees) is worth it. "It's really nice to be lying in bed and just hit the remote to open the shade," she says.
A less expensive battery-operated option also works by remote control and, for a window your size, starts at about $800, plus installation, which can vary from about $150 for a basic skylight on a 12-foot ceiling, to almost $1,000 if, for example, the skylight is up two flights and over a stairwell. Remember, you'll need to get up to it about once a year to change the batteries, which will cost about $80.
The least expensive option, at about $500, is a shade that opens and closes with the tug of an extension pole. But this, too, requires professional installation. Rates start at $150.
"This is not a do-it-yourself sort of project," Kerr warns. "If your calculations are just one-eighth of an inch off, that beam of light will come through and it will be like you didn't do a thing." Check the Yellow Pages or the Web using terms such as "window coverings," "blinds" or "draperies."
If your skylight is made of glass, "You can tint it to dim the light and reduce heat," Kerr says.
Window tinting will set you back only about $150 to $250, depending on the type of film you choose and how curved a window you have. Check "window tinting" for resources.
One last tip: Eyeshades are $6 at Drugstore.com.