CHAPTER 1: THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WINDOW TREATMENTS
Let’s get the basics out of the way. For starters, most window treatments can be classified as either blinds or shades. Blinds are technically hard window treatments composed of movable slats that can be tilted opened or closed when the blind is lowered. Shades are raised or lowered by a cording system or a spring component. Most of the time, I use blinds and shades interchangeably for ease as these two terms compose the largest category of window coverings. Blinds and shades are fully customizable, offer complete light and privacy control and have an endless variety of design choices and options. So many choices, so little time!
I initially think of wood blinds in a den or library, but really, they’re at home in most rooms. Wood blinds are simply natural wood slats that are either painted or stained. They are a classic treatment, complementing many decorative styles and their simple construction makes them easy to operate. Many finishes are available ranging from light pine to bamboo to richly stained ebony. Different slat sizes are offered depending on the degree of control you’d like with regards to privacy and light control. For a stylish look, I like to layer wood blinds with drapery or topped with a valance.
Faux Wood Blinds
For the best value and for an uncomplicated look, faux wood blinds are always my first choice. Why? Here are some of my favorite words: affordable, efficient, attractive, and easy maintenance. That means no fading, or fraying and just a quick swipe now and then. I mean really, what’s not to love? Faux wood blinds look and feel like wood blinds, but are less expensive and more durable. Since these blinds won’t warp or fade, they are the best option for humid climates or high moisture rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Shutters are dynamic as an architectural statement and are not only functional and beautiful window treatments, but they can also add value to your home. Shutters help to control incoming light, offer privacy when closed and help to insulate against heat, cold, and sound. Shutters add timeless, traditional sophistication to any room. Shutters are so impressive; they make me feel like the Queen of England in my country manor or a totally hopeless romantic in my beach cottage.
If you’re looking for the lowest cost option in window treatments, mini blinds are your answer! They are a basic blind that does the trick of providing privacy and controlling the light with a simple twist of the wand. Mini blinds are available in an array of colors, different materials (aluminum and vinyl) as well as different thicknesses to solve all your light issues. Mini blinds offer minimal treatment.
Panel Track Blinds
Panel Track Blinds are the best thing to happen to sliding glass doors and large picture windows since vinyl vertical blinds! You can’t beat these when covering a large space. A cross between drapery and vertical blinds, a series of panels slide open and closed on a track system. So cool. When mounted to the ceiling, panel track blinds can also be used as a room divider. The variety of materials offered range from basic vinyl to solar screens to natural woven woods. Once your sliding glass doors are outfitted with smashing fabric panels, you will become a panel fan.
Drapery and Curtains
Drapes And Curtains are the most decorative window treatment and the terms are often used interchangeably as full length panels of material. Drapes add extreme personality to a space, transforming a room in the form of breezy sheers or lush velvet. While decorative, they also filter or block light and may be lined for thermal insulation. Hung high near the ceiling and draped near the outer edges of a window, drapes can make both the room and the window feel larger. Drapes become a perfect companion when paired with another window treatment such as a timeless wood blind, an insulating cellular shade, or a rustic woven wood shade. Drapes are the dessert of window treatments!
For insulation and energy efficiency, cellular (honeycomb) shades, with their little pockets of cells (think beehive and honey) keep your temperature serene. All of those little pockets trap air and help keep the heat out in the summer and the warmth in during the winter. Those bees are smart little hummers! Available in every possible color, they’re an ideal fit for most rooms and the cordless options make them great for families with kids or pets. Top down bottom up features are a must have option for maintaining privacy while still letting light stream in.
Woven Wood Shades
While you may think of woven wood shades, commonly referred to as bamboo shades, as a match for tropical décor, they really are incredibly versatile. Woven wood shades run the gamut from casual and rustic to tailored and elegant. Made out of renewable materials such as bamboo, reeds, or grasses, they are an environmentally responsible selection. Woven wood shades bring wonderful texture into a room and are effortlessly chic. I love the nubby, tweedy look of wovens, even if I can’t do the Rhumba.
Roman shades give the rich impression of drapery with the functionality of a shade that opens and closes easily. When closed, they hang like a panel, like a good solider and when raised, they fold up and look similar to a valance, like a cloud. Roman Shades are available in so many fabrics, creating a burst of color or texture in your room. Different styles fit seamlessly into décor styles such as traditional, family-friendly, and even contemporary. And don’t think form wins over function. With roman shades, there are options galore to choose from like top down, bottom up or cordless or thermal liners. Romans are happy to roam on all of your windows.
The idea of a roller shade is pretty simple. When lowered, the shade hangs flat near the window pane and when raised, it rolls up onto a cylindrical rod. Lots of fabrics are a plus here: blackout material, sheer fabric, and linen and a palette of patterns. Technology today even allows you to print your own images, photos, art or design on a roller shade. I have friends who have a hip café with their logo and menu printed on a shade and is mounted on the window facing the street for instant advertising. A cordless lift option creates an additional clean look. Roller shades are a straightforward, budget friendly window treatment option.
Sheer shades are the best 2 for 1 window treatment on the market. You get the look of a fabric shade with the functionality of a blind. They are light and airy and elegant. When the shades are closed, the vanes can be tilted open for a filtered view or completely closed for privacy. Of course, sheer shades can be raised for a full view of your beautiful garden or kid’s playground or rambunctious pets. Beautiful in living and dining rooms, your bedroom is just as important, as sheer shades in a room-darkening fabric guarantee you the sleep you deserve.
Solar shades are really just a roller shade made with a screen material. If you have a stellar view or just want to bring the outdoors and light into your house, but you need to cut the glare and control the UV rays that stream in from your windows, solar shades do the trick. They do a fine job of filtering the sun, yet your view to the outside is preserved. Of course, the huge plus is the energy efficiency as we all want to save the resources of our planet while lowering our personal energy bills. Solar shades are another “on trend” window treatment in our light obsessed world.
A more affordable alternative to cellular shades are pleated shades which are actually constructed with crisp pleats cascading down your window. The insulation benefits don’t match a cellular shade but the look is quite similar. Many people object to the light that comes through the holes made by the cords as the shade is lowered. However, an option is now available to decrease those unsightly slivers of light, the “no holes pleated shade.” You don’t need an iron to keep those pleats sharp!
Outdoor shades are innovative, lightweight and just shout easy living. Made from a solar screen material, outdoor shades block the heat, glare and damaging rays. The airy fabric lets the wind move through for a cool breeze, yet protects and offers privacy. If you live in a climate with extreme sun, outdoor shades can be mounted to the outside of the house to prevent the sun from even reaching your windows and heating the place up like an oven. Outdoor shades are de rigueur (means you gotta have them) for patios, porches, and other outdoor spaces for ultimate outdoor living and entertaining.