Thursday, October 30, 2008

Other Types of Vertical Blinds

Q: I want vertical blinds for my patio door, but don't like traditional styles. What other options are there?

A: What a great question! Traditional vertical blinds certainly have their place, but a lot of manufacturers have come up with some stunning alternatives. Hunter Douglas has a cellular shade that works like a vertical blind but looks and functions like a cellular shade. It looks amazing!

YourBlinds also carries a vertical blind that works a lot like solar shades. It's a flat panel that slides across your window that blocks harsh sunlight, but still preserves your view. If your patio has a great view, this might be your best options.

Comfortex and Bali also have options in sheer and light filtering vertical shades. These work more like traditional vertical blinds but, instead of separate vanes, these are linked together with a sheer fabric. Close the vanes for more privacy or open them for filtered light. They come in lots of colors and look great!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Benefits of Mini Blinds

Q: I just graduated college and need to outfit my new apartment with some budget-friendly shades. I'd love your opinion.

A: Although mini blinds seem to have a bad reputation, they're actually a great option for small budgets. I actually like the look of aluminum mini blinds, especially when they're incorporated into a more modern environment. They have clean lines, they're inexpensive and very easy to install and operate. Not to mention they come in lots of colors!

One of the best things about mini blinds is that they're very easy to maintain and are incredibly durable. Just wipe them clean and you're done! You don't have to be delicate with these blinds, which makes them a great choice if you plan on taking them with you when you move. They're cheap, versatile, and durable. You can't go wrong!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Benefits of Cellular Shades

Q: I've heard a lot about cellular shades recently. I love the look, but what other benefits do they have?

A: Cellular shades are great because they help insulate your windows against energy loss as well as sound. They act a lot like double-pane windows by trapping air between their layers, becoming an insulating barrier.

Cellular shades actually have small tunnels of air that expand as you close the shades. Each of these little tunnels helps keep warm air in during the winter time and blocks some of the sun's heat in the summer. They're especially nice for windows that get a lot of direct sunlight during the summer months and can even help muffle the sound of your neighbor's parties, too!

Keep in mind that cell counts and sizes have a lot to do with how well a cellular blind insulates your window. Take a look at my other post here to find out more about cell counts and click here to find out more about cell sizes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blocking AND Filtering Light

Q: My living room/media room faces the backyard and, although I love the light that comes in later in the day, I need something that will filter out the direct sun without totally blocking the light. The problem is, I also need a shade that will darken the same room during the day when we watch movies. Any suggestions?

A: Two-In-One Cellular Shades! I actually mentioned these in a previous blog post about top down/bottom up shades. Two-In-One shades, or Dual Shades, are a variation of the top down/bottom up design. These cellular shades have three rails: a bottom rail, a middle rail, and the headrail. While the headrail remains stable, the other two can move up and down and you can actually choose different types of shades to mount between them. Since they don't overlap, you actually get two different shades in a single mounted headrail! And each of them collapses so you can use them separately if you want, too.

For example, when you want to watch movies, simply lower the bottom rail to use the room darkening shade. When the movie's over and you want a little more light, move the middle rail down to expose the light-filtering shade. See, a perfect match!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Top Down/Bottom Up"

Q: I've heard the term “Top Down Bottom Up”, but what does it mean?

A: “Top Down/Bottom Up” refers to blinds and shades that can be raised and lowered from the top and the bottom. The term “Top Down” actually refers to the normal functions of blinds and shades that can be raised from the window sill. The second term, “Bottom Up” refers to features that allow the top of the shade to be lowered from the headrail.

These types of shades are great for windows where you want targeted light control. Just raise the bottom to let in light near the sill and lower the top rail to give more light towards the ceiling. The great thing about these blinds and shades is that, even with the “Top Down/Bottom Up” feature, you can still fully raise the blind. You can work them just like a normal blind, but also take advantage of that neat “Bottom Up” feature to let in more light. I love these blinds because they also come in two-in-one styles!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shade Safety Features for Homes with Children

Q: I have young children and am very concerned about their safety around blinds. What are some features I should be looking for when choosing good window treatments?

A: If you're looking for conventional blinds and shades, look for ones with cordless or motorized controls or styles that maintain short cord lengths. Lots of cellular shades, for instance, have manual control options that allow you to raise or lower the shades by manually lifting or lowering the bar. Since these are cordless, they're perfect around young children! (Not to mention cellular shades are soft on small hands, too) Roller shades also come with manual, spring lift controls that don't have cords, either.

Motorized shades are also kid-friendly. A lot of these come in cellular shade styles and are great for big windows where the controls are far above the floor (and out of reach!). I also like the look and function of short cords that are designed to maintain a continuous short length. Hunter Douglas makes one for cellular shades and roman and roller shades both come in styles with continuous cord loops. These are inexpensive, easy to use, and very safe!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vane Types for Vertical Blinds

Q: I really need vertical blinds for my sliding glass door but hate the look of vinyl. What other types of vanes/slats are available?

A: Thankfully, there are lots of options beyond traditional vinyl vertical blinds. Although vinyl is easy to clean, it's not always the most attractive option (not to mention they're noisy!). Lots of companies now offer different types of fabric vertical blinds, both rigid and soft. These fabrics are fantastic because they give you options for light filtering or room darkening vertical blinds.

Free-hanging fabric vanes are quiet, soft on the eye and ear, and, in my opinion, very elegant. They come in lots of different colors and fabric styles so you can choose ones that blend well with your room or style. Fabric vanes also come with optional PVC inserts that keep them rigid. These are nice because they offer the same fabric look, but with much better room darkening qualities. And they're quiet, too!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Styles of Remote Controlled Shades

Q: I would really like to get remote controlled shades but don't know what kinds are available. Can you help?

A: Absolutely! There are lots of options for remote controlled or “motorized” shades, it just depends on what you're looking for. A lot of manufacturers understand the demand for the convenience and style of remote-controlled shades, so there are lots of options.

Cellular shades come with remote controlled options which makes them perfect for large picture windows and media rooms. I also highly recommend motorized light-filtering sheer horizontal shades because they're the only shades you can control the raise, lower, and tilt with your remote. If you're looking for something more traditional, however, you may want to look at motorized wood or faux wood blinds where the tilt is controlled via the remote.

Remote controlled shades are perfect for hard to reach windows like skylights or tall windows. But, honestly, they're great for any room where convenience and luxury are key!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Skylight Shade Options

Q: I have a few skylights in my house and need some sort of shade that can help me control the sunlight. What are my options?

A: Your best bet is to use cellular skylight shades. In fact, if your skylight is really high on your ceiling, you might even want to consider getting ones that are remote controlled. Some brands have long poles you can use to raise and lower your skylight shades, but remote controls are a lot more convenient.

Cellular skylight shades are basically the same cellular shades made for other windows, except they run on tracks that keep them flat against your skylight. The best part about these shades is that they come in all sorts of light filtering or room darkening styles which means you have total control over the light. Cellular shades are also energy efficient which helps you save money, too. Not to mention that cellular shades look fantastic on ANY window!