Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Control Options of Roman Shades

Q: I really like the look of roman shades but wanted to know what control options are available. Thanks.

A: Roman shades make a great functional alternative to drapes and come with either continuous cord loop controls or with the popular top down/bottom up feature. Most people are familiar with cord loop controls since they've been featured on blinds and shades for years. These cords are looped through the top rail and all you need to do is pull on one side of the loop to raise the shade and the other side to lower them. They're pretty safe, too since they maintain a constant length no matter how high or low the shade.

The top down/bottom up feature in roman shades is not as well known but it's just as convenient. In fact, it's one of the best secrets in the industry! This feature allows you to not only raise and lower the bottom edge of the shade, but the top half, too. This way you can get light through just the top edge of your window (which means it's perfect for when the sun is really low). You can use these shades like normal roman shades or conveniently lower the top rail to let natural light in at the top! It's such a great idea!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Soft Blind Alternatives

Q: I'm hoping to find something that functions like a blind but isn't rough or rigid like traditional wood or aluminum. Basically, I want the versatility without the slats. Can you help?

A: Of course! There are a few “blind alternatives” available. The most common are sheer horizontal blinds but there are other popular options like cellular and pleated shades. If you really want the slat “look” but with softer tones or light filtering, then you'll want to go with sheer horizontal shades. These shades have strips of opaque fabric suspended between sheer panels so that you have the best possible light control. You can leave the “slats” open to let in soft, diffused light, or you can tilt them shut for better privacy or to darken the room. Of course you can also raise these and let in full sunlight, too.

Cellular and pleated shades look a lot like traditional blinds but are solid pieces of fabric rather than slatted. These are great options for more contemporary looks but are still soft to the touch. In fact, cellular blinds have the added benefit of insulating your window against energy loss and noise.

My personal favorites are the sheer horizontal blinds because you have so many options for light control. But honestly, any way you go, all of these are great, soft alternatives to your traditional slatted blinds!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shades with Top Down/Bottom Up

Q: I really like the top down/bottom up feature of some cellular shades and wanted to know if that same control feature is available on other shade/blind styles.

A: Yes, the top down/bottom up control option is available on cellular, roman shades, and pleated shades. For those of you that may be unfamiliar with the term “top down/bottom up” it refers to the option to raise and lower both the top and bottom rails. This wonderful feature allows you to block a portion of your window at either the top or the bottom, giving you a lot more flexibility in blocking direct sunlight. The top down/bottom up feature works just like a regular shade, except you can also lower the top rail, too. I adore these shades and think they're the perfect solution to most privacy and light problems.

As mentioned above, this feature is very popular for cellular shades but is also available with roman and pleated shades. Roman shades give a nice soft fabric feel while pleated shades are a cost effective solution for those who like cellular blinds but don't necessarily need the insulating qualities. The top down/bottom up feature is fantastic and really makes for a very versatile blind!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Light Filtering Shades and Blinds

Q: I need shades that will filter light instead of blocking it but I only know of a few styles. Could you give me some of the most popular (and maybe some not-as-well-known) styles that come in light-filtering styles?

A: Yes! The most common shades styles with light filtering options are cellular shades, roller shades, solar shades, roman shades, and sheer horizontal and vertical shades. Yes, believe it or not, roller shades and roman shades both come in styles that let diffused light into the room. In fact, all of the above styles come in lots of different colors and textures for light filtering. Darker colors, of course, will block a little more light while lighter colors will certainly brighten up a room.

Sheer horizontal and sheer vertical shades also look great! In fact, these provide extreme versatility in light filtering options. These shades combine very sheer and light-diffusing fabrics to give you multiple options in how much light you want to let in. Lots of colors make these a great option, too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Opacity of Roman Shades

Q: I love the look of roman shades but really want soft light, too. I'm so used to seeing roman shades in really thick fabrics that darken rooms and wanted to know if they come in more light-filtering styles. Can you tell me what kind of varieties there are in roman shades? Thanks

A: You can get roman shades in all sorts of colors, fabrics, and thicknesses, even light-filtering. Most people associate these drape-like shades with dark rooms and lush fabrics but they can also appeal to lighter rooms, too! In fact, light-filtering or sheer roman shades are great for bedrooms and dens where you might want to keep the soft look of drapes but still have the convenience of shades.

The amount of light filtered will depend on the make and style of the shade you choose and can also be affected by the color and style of fabric as well. For example, light-colored sheer roman shades won't block much light but they'll certainly cut down on glare and still give you the roman shade look. The light-filtering roman shades will block a little more light but are great when you want natural light without the bright sunshine. There's a lot of variety in fabrics and weaves and the combination of colors, makes, and textures gives you huge range of lighting options!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Very Durable Shades and Blinds

Q: I have a house full of young boys and who have managed to destroy a few shades on their voyage into adolescence. Although the older ones are growing out of the rowdy stage, I still have two more to go. I need “unbreakable” shades that still look decent but won't cost me a fortune. Can you help me?

A: Of Course!! In fact, faux wood blinds not only look fantastic, they're also made to be durable under a huge range of conditions. There are two types of faux wood blinds: wood composite and PVC. Both are extremely durable, and very easy to maintain. Since they're not real wood, they're easier to clean and can withstand the bumps and jars of everyday life. They're also more dense which makes them heavier than wood blinds and you can get them in all kinds of colors (including ones that look like real wood!)

You might also want to consider roller shades. They are simple, flat and can withstand lots of traffic. They come in a wide range of colors, textures and styles that give you a lot of flexibility on looks, too. Different materials need different maintenance, though, and you might want to look into vinyl shades. A lot of people are turned off by the word “vinyl”, but these shades are very different than the ones from decades ago. You can even dress them up with trims and hem styles.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Trims and Edges for Roller Shades

Q: I'm planning on putting roller shades in my condo but wanted to dress them up a bit. Can you tell me a little more about trim options?

A: Of course! While you can dress up roller shades by choosing different fabric options, you can also choose different trims and shapes for the bottom edge. Most roller shades come standard with a flat (horizon) hem but Hunter Douglas lets you spruce up your roller shades by offering seven other hem styles: Horizon with trim, half moon, scallops and shells, breakers, wave, broken scallop and seagull. Each of these hem styles also comes with trim options that resemble the decorative trims on expensive curtains or pillows.

If you want a more modern design, I'd recommend the more contemporary decorative tape trims. These follow the same horizontal style as traditional roller shades but have nice clean lines that fit a more modern style. They look great on big windows and work really well in almost any space. Hunter Douglas does a great job of giving you lots of options for colors, fabrics, and light filtering, too!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shades with Cordlesss Controls

Q: I have three young children and just redecorated their bedrooms. I was hoping to get some sort of shade or blind with cordless controls for safety. What styles are available with this option?

A: That's a great idea to put cordless shades in your kids' rooms since they're designed for easy control and safety. Cellular blinds, wood blinds, and roller shades all have cordless options available. Cellular blinds (also known as honeycomb shades) are soft to the eye and soft to the touch and come in all kinds of light filtering and room darkening options. Their pockets of air also make them great for insulation.

The cordless function of cellular blinds is the same on wood blinds. All you have to do is push up or pull down on the bottom rail to lift or lower the blinds. Not only is this very safe and functional, it also gives the windows a clean cord-free look!

I'm personally a big fan of roller shades for kids' rooms, though. Not only are roller shades flat and soft, most are incredibly durable. You can also dress them up with decorative trim! The cordless controls on these are composed of a spring lift system. It's easy to control and still very safe.