Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shades and Blinds for Arches

Q: I just bought a new home and there are lots of arched and angled windows. I want to put some sort of shade on these, but I don't know my options. Can you help?

A: Of course! If you want a more traditional look, there are wooden arches that let you angle the slats to let in more light if you want. They also come in fixed forms, too, where the slats can't be moved. Otherwise, if you want a more contemporary look, lots of companies have put out shades that fit all sorts of window shapes and sizes.

Cellular shades are among the most popular choice and you can match them to your other window treatments, too. I like the arched shades by Hunter Douglas because they can be moved up and down, giving you even more control over incoming light. Hunter Douglas also makes stationary cellular arched blinds that cannot be moved, but will still filter light depending on your choice of color and style.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let in Light AND the View

Q: I LOVE to cook, and just moved into a house with an amazing view out of the kitchen window. The only problem is that the sun streams in late in the day. I need to block the light, but don't want to interfere with the view. Have any ideas?

A: This is a REALLY common problem, especially with people who live in the country and love to watch the wildlife but don't like the bright sun. You might want to try solar shades. They work a lot like light diffusing shades but have a different sort of weave that allows you to see out the window, too. There are lots of different styles and colors and you can choose ones that block a little or a lot of the light.

I'd recommend solar shades for any room where you love the view but where privacy is not necessarily a priority. If your neighbors are close enough to see into your kitchen at night, you might want to consider combining solar shades with drapes to give you more privacy at night. While these shades are perfect for letting you see out, they also let others see IN.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cellular Shades and Cell Sizes

Q: There are a lot of different cell sizes in cellular shades. Why? What are they for?

A: Different cell sizes give you lots of variety in looks AND insulation. Only small cells can be bunched into multiple layers, though, which is especially important if you have a window that gets a lot of sun.

Smaller sized cells make smaller pleats and bigger cells make bigger pleats. You'll want to remember this when you look at the size of your window since smaller pleats look much better on smaller windows than they do on large picture windows. (“Big” cells are usually 1/2” or larger and small cells can be as little as 3/8” across)

I found an exception to this with a cellular shade made by Hunter Douglas that bunches multiple smaller cells in what looks like a single-layer larger-cell cellular shade. It's a remarkable concept because it give you the insulation of multiple small cells but with bigger pleats. You know that big picture window that gets too much sun? Here's your answer!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What are Cell Counts?

Q: Cellular blinds come in lots of different cell counts. What's the difference?

A: There are so many options with cellular shades, it's sometimes hard to tell them apart!

Most cellular shades come in single, double, or triple cell layers. Obviously, a single layer of cells is usually thinner than double or triple cell layers, but this isn't always the case. Since cellular shades come in lots of cell sizes (like I said, there are LOTS of options with cellular shades) a single layer of large cells can sometimes be as thick as a double layer of small cells!

Mostly, though, cell counts (referring to cell layers, of course) give cellular shades their trademark insulating qualities. Triple cell layers give you more insulation against heat and noise than double layers, and double give more than single. It's actually pretty easy, but you'll need to keep in mind the depth of your window, too. Triple layer cellular shades are great, but they can get pretty thick!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Look of Cellular Without the Price

Q: I love the look of cellular blinds but I'm on a tight budget. Any suggestions?

A: You might want to try pleated shades since they look a lot like cellular blinds but are much more affordable.

With pleated shades you get the same look as cellular shades, but without the actual air cells that make cellular shades more expensive. If you need energy savings or noise reduction, however, you still might want to consider investing in good cellular shades. Otherwise, a pleated shade makes a great alternative.

Pleated shades are especially nice because they come in the same color selection as cellular shades. Light filtering pleated shades are gorgeous in bedrooms and living rooms and I love the way they look in the middle of the day! These even make great alternatives to other kinds of light filtering shades like roller shades or sheer horizontal shades because they have that modern, pleated look that makes cellular shades so popular.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Light Filtering Horizontal Blinds

Q: I love horizontal blinds, but I like the light filtering qualities of some thinner shades, too. Is there any way to get both?

A: Try sheer horizontal shades!

Sheer horizontal shades are great for filtering bright light but they're also perfect for privacy, too. If you like the slatted look of regular horizontal blinds, you'll love sheer horizontal shades. Although they don't have rigid slats (the “slats” of sheer horizontal blinds are actually slips of opaque fabric), these shades still look like traditional blinds.

The best part about sheer horizontal shades is the sheer fabric that holds them together. When you tilt the fabric vanes open, you get filtered light. Tilt the blinds shut and you can block more light and get a lot more privacy. I'd highly recommend sheer horizontal shades for rooms with really bright sunlight because you can filter the light or block it completely. They also come in a wide range of colors and have a beautiful soft look that's especially nice for bedrooms or living rooms.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Look of Wood Blinds Without the Fear of Warping

Q: I love the look of wood blinds but I live in a very humid climate. What options do I have for the look of wood blinds without the potential for warping?

A: Faux wood blinds!

Faux wood blinds are the perfect alternative to real hardwood blinds and capture the look and feel of wood without warping. While they look and feel like real wood, faux wood blinds are actually made from either a composite blend or PVC that's designed to resist humidity and warping. If you really want the look and feel of real wood, but need the durability of synthetics, faux wood blinds are the answer!

So what's the difference in composite or PVC versus real wood? Well, composite faux wood blinds are made of a blend of materials and generally weight up to 60% more than hardwood. Because of this blend, composite faux wood blinds are highly resistant to warping. PVC faux wood blinds, the same tough material that makes up those white plumbing pipes, can weigh as much as 100% more than real wood blinds. This industrial synthetic is not prone to warping at all! Both types are highly resistant to humidity and incredibly durable, and come in a wide range of colors and stains, making them the ideal choice for your kitchen or bathroom.

Remember that, although they are very durable, the slats on faux wood blinds are heavy and require more ladders (strings) to keep them in place. This additional weight means that you need more strength to raise faux wood blinds than you do with hardwood blinds. This is especially important if you're planning to install faux wood blinds on high, hard to reach windows or if your home has older residents who might have a difficult time raising the blinds.