Monday, December 27, 2010

Insulating Shades for Winter

Q: I've heard that there are some shades that can act as a barrier between the window and your home to help prevent heat loss. Is this true? Can you tell me more about them?

A: Cellular shades are unique in their structure and function since they trap air between the window and the rooms in your home. Each air pocket, or cell, runs horizontally across the width of the window and opens to trap air when the shade is pulled down. And when the shades are pulled up, they resemble standard horizontal blinds, making them easy to install and coordinate with existing window treatments.

The air pockets, or cells, of cellular blinds come in a variety of sizes and often appear in different cell widths. Smaller size cells have less thickness but are usually layered to provide greater insulation against your window. Larger cells are usually left in single layers, making them better suited to larger windows where thicker slats or folds balance out the width and height of the glass.

Both small and large air pockets provide additional insulation against heat loss in winter and excess heat gain in summer. And cellular shades are gorgeous, too!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Endless Variety with Roman Shades

Q: A friend suggested I look at Roman Shades as an alternative to my current blinds, but I need to know if I can find ones that fit my “earthy” décor. Basically, are their roman shades that fit my natural decorative style as well as the ones that flatter more contemporary homes?

A: Absolutely! Roman shades are available in a huge selection of fabrics, weaves, colors, and textures. And they also come in a wide variety of light filtering and room darkening styles, too. Some of these shades, most notably the light filtering ones, come in beautiful neutral colors that can soften both the look and the light in a room, really complimenting more earthy styles.

Since roman shades come in such a wide variety of styles, it's easy to find ones that fit the style of your home. These unique shades combine the soft look and feel of drapes with the ease and convenience of shades and blinds.

And, in addition to different colors, textures, and light filtering qualities, you can also choose from a variety of folds. Standard uniform folds are always popular in roman shades, but you can also order shades that lay flat when pulled down or ones that emphasize a looser, more relaxed gather of fabric at the bottom of the shade. Considering your interest in more natural colors and styles, the latter might work best for your home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Controlling Sun through Skylights Year Round

Q: Over the summer I had someone install four skylights in my home and, while I love the natural light, I was hoping to find a way to control incoming sun. Is there a good skylight shade (preferably something attractive) that can help control the light and heat?

A: Yes! Cellular shades are perfect for skylights! They come in a wide range of colors and opacities to fit all kinds of homes. Light filtering cellular shades diffuse direct sunlight, giving you the pleasure of natural light without the harsh glare. And room darkening options allow you to completely block incoming light.

As for attractiveness, cellular shades continue to be one of the most popular styles of shades and blinds for both home and office. The sleek, simple design and color variety help make these a versatile option for any homeowner. And, since cellular shades trap air between the window and your room, they also help insulate your home against overheating in the summer and loss of heat in the winter.

And don't forget the convenience of motorized controls in skylights! While manual options are available, many homeowners choose to operate their cellular skylight shades with a push of a button. The perfect choice year round!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Versatile Shades for All Seasons

Q: My home has a ton of windows that face south so there's always light all year round, which means I need shade and privacy all year round, too. Can you suggest a shade that suits my fall and winter style but still matches my summer décor? Thanks.

A: Roller shades would be perfect for your home! These sleek, simple shades come in a wide range of light filtering and room darkening styles that can help diffuse bright light in the summer and create elegant ambiance in the winter.

Not to mention they come in a huge range of colors, texutres, fabrics, and prints. While certain textures or prints are best suited to specific times of year, the range of options means that you can choose a roller shade that will match your decorations all year round.

And, the low-profile design makes it easy to combine window treatments at any time of year. For example, for a sleek, simple look in summer, let the roller shade stand alone or combine it with a simple cassette cover for the roller bar. In the winter, you can hang drapes over and around the roller shade for a heavier, warmer look without loosing the versatility of light control.

Your options are endless!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Routless vs Cloth Tape in Wood Blinds

Q: I've done a lot of research and finally decided on installing wood blinds in my living room, but I'm a little concerned about glare. I know there are options for reducing those little light spots, but I need some help. Can you explain the difference between cloth tapes and routless and why I might choose one over the other?

A: Great question! When comparing routless and cloth tape, it's important to recognize the aesthetics of your window and the purpose of your blind. You've already mentioned that you want to minimize the glare caused by the small holes in the slats and have narrowed your choices down to routless or cloth tapes. Now the differences...

Cloth tapes create an actual barrier to those route holes by covering the strings (and therefore the holes they run through) down the length of the blind. This option can be perfect if you want to add a splash of color to your blinds or coordinate them with existing interior pallets. It's an inexpensive option to block the glare from route holes and add some personalization, too!

Routless wood blinds eliminate the need for those tiny route holes in the slats by weaving the ladders (controlling strings) underneath and between slats. They look and move just like conventional wood blinds but without the holes, giving you a great option if you don't want to change or personalize the look of your blinds.

Either option is great for reducing glare and I'm sure you'll find the perfect wood blinds for your room.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Contemporary Alternatives to Vertical Blinds

Q: My husband and I recently purchased a gorgeous home with long windows that attach to a sliding glass door in the back. We definitely need privacy, but I don't want to block all the light. And I want something more modern than traditional vinyl but not as conservative as some fabric covered vertical blinds.

A: You should consider cellular vertical shades! They're an elegant and sleek alternative to traditional vertical blinds and eliminate the look and sound of conventional hanging blades.

Cellular blinds are unique in their ability to expand and contract as you open or shut them across your windows. Their special design traps air between panels of dark or translucent fabric, providing exceptional light filtration and privacy while simultaneously insulating your home against unnecessary heat gain and loss. And, much like their horizontal counterparts, cellular vertical blinds come in a wide range of colors hat can match any décor.

And, since you have a long window, you can match the shades to one another and can coordinate them with other windows, too!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Simple Shades with Versatile Style

Q: I'm looking for shades or blinds that don't take up too much space and can fit in almost any window. I'm also hoping to find something that can match my “quirky” style but not too flashy. Any suggestions?

A: Believe it or not, roller shades come in a huge range of colors, textures, and light diffusing options. Decades have passed since vinyl roller shades ruled the windows and it's time for consumers to rethink these basic shades.

First of all, roller shades are low-profile, making them perfect for almost any window. Second, they come in a huge range of colors and textures – everything from bold solids to intricate flowering prints to natural weaves. Third, because of their simple design, roller shades make an elegant addition to any home. And, you can personalize them with custom trim or pulls, too.

They also come in a wide range of light filtering options. Some roller shades diffuse incoming light while others strengthen the privacy of your home. Simply choose the color and determine your lighting preference. Many manufacturers can add liners to improve the privacy or room-darkening features of your shade. With roller shades your options are limitless!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shades for Privacy and Light Filtration

Q: Can you recommend something that can both diffuse light AND provide privacy?

A: Sheer horizontal shades are probably your best choice for combining light filtration and privacy concerns. These unique shades have soft opaque slats that float between two vertical sheets of sheer fabric. When you pull the shade down and leave the slats open, you get soft diffused light. When you tilt the slats shut, the opaque slats act like a traditional blind and help block light and give you increased privacy.

Sheer horizontal shades come in a wide variety of colors and light diffusing options. Lighter colors give you adequate privacy when the slats are tilted shut and soft white light when they're open. Darker colors, on the other hand, will increase your privacy and room darkening options when the slats are closed.

Whatever color you choose, sheer horizontal shades are a great choice for combining privacy with the beauty and versatility of light diffusing shades.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Short Explanation of Cellular Shades

Q: I keep hearing about cellular shades and I know they're a popular style, but what exactly are they?

A: Cellular shades are a unique type of window shade that traps air between layers of material in order to help insulate your windows against energy loss and excess noise. When cellular shades, also known as honeycomb shades, are retracted to the headrail, the cells, or air pockets, collapse. In this position cellular shades can resemble common pleated shades or even miniblinds.

But once the cellular shades are pulled down to cover the window, the air pockets expand. Each air pocket (or “cell”) runs the width of the window. These cells come in different sizes and cell counts and connect to one another to create a solid sheet of air pockets.

The larger the cell size, the larger the pleats on the shade and the more air it traps. Cellular shades with large cells are good for large or deep windows where larger pleats look more appropriate for the size.

Smaller cells often come in multiple cell counts (like double or triple) which refers to the number of cells layered between your room and the window. Multiple cell counts often help to increase insulation and noise reduction, but can also give you a very thick shade. These small cells also have smaller pleat widths which makes them ideal for standard or smaller windows.

Since cellular shades come in a large variety of colors and light filtering properties, there's something for everyone!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Styles for Top Down Bottom Up

Q: A friend of mine has cellular shades with the top down bottom up feature. They're great for early mornings or late evenings and I want to know what other styles are available with this feature.

A: Cellular shades, roman shades, and even some natural woven shades come with top down bottom up features. This unique feature allows homeowners to raise both the bottom and top rail, giving complete control over privacy and light. No wonder you like them so much!

Cellular shades have become very popular due to their sleek style, variety of colors, and exceptional insulating qualities. They also come in a wide selection of light filtering and room darkening styles.

But if you're looking for something different than cellular, you may want to consider woven shades with the same top down bottom up features. Woven shades introduce a natural fiber element into your room and often originate from sustainable sources which makes them ecologically friendly, too. Woven bamboo, grasses, and reeds are only a sample of the natural fibers available in woven shades.

Roman shades, on the other hand, bring the soft fabric of drapes into a shade and they're also available in top down bottom up styles. And, like cellular, roman shades come in a wide range of colors, textures, and styles that can either filter or block light. Great for privacy and room darkening, too.

With all the options, I'm sure you'll find the perfect top down bottom up shades for your home.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Softer Kind of Shade

Q: My home has a traditional feel with some contemporary pieces and I'm torn between shades and drapes. I like the soft fabric look of drapes, but I'd rather have the convenience of cord controls (and the more compact design, too). What can you suggest?

A: Roman shades are perfect for your needs! These shades mix the soft appearance and feel of fabric with the ease of shade controls. These fabric window treatments cover your window with either elegant folds of fabric or more contemporary flat panels, both of which can be raised and lowered with traditional shade cord controls or cord loops.

And, since roman shades come in a variety of styles, colors, and textures, you have a huge range of choices to match your home's unique décor. They're also available in room-darkening or light-filtering fabrics that give you even greater control over the atmosphere in your home. And, in addition to being versatile, roman shades also come in top down/bottom up styles that allow you to raise and lower your shade from either the bottom rail or the top.

With almost unlimited options in styles and function, you can't go wrong with roman shades!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blind-Celluar Hybrids

Q: I'm hoping to learn more about alternatives to traditional cellular shades. I read somewhere that there's a style of cellular that looks more like blinds. Can you give me more information?

A: Of course! Comfortex (a leading manufacturer of blinds and shades) created Odysee Insulating Blinds that combine the insulating features of cellular shades with the look and versatility of traditional blinds. From a distance, these unique shades resemble typical blinds with horizontal slats, giving you the look and flexibility of blinds. But, instead of tilting the blinds, you manipulate the cord controls to expand and contract the slats.

When you expand the slats, they open up into large cells (just like cellular shades) to block or filter incoming light, increase privacy, and create an insulating layer of air between your room and the window. This insulating layer can help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing energy costs and ultimately saving you money.

You can also leave the Odysee slats in the contracted position so they lay flat and give you access to your view and appear much more like conventional blinds. The best part about these blinds is that they give you the versatile light control, privacy, and insulation of cellular with the look and feel of conventional blinds. They're perfect!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Inexpensive Alternatives to Real Wood Blinds

Q: I love the look of wood blinds, but can't afford to install them right now. Are there any other blinds available that might be good instead?

A: Faux Wood Blinds come in all kinds of colors and textures, many of which mimic the look and feel of real wood. Faux wood blinds tend to be less expensive than their natural alternatives and are perfect for areas where humidity can be a problem. Since they're created from composite material, faux wood blinds resist warping and bending and are great for bathrooms and kitchens.

Keep in mind though, that although faux wood blinds tend to be more affordable than wood, they're also heavier. This means that they have more strings (ladders) to hold each slat in place and they require more energy to adjust the height. But these composite alternatives can certainly be worth the adjustment if you're looking for a more durable, cheaper alternative to real wood blinds.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Modern Vertical Alternatives

Q: I'm hoping you can help me out. We have a house at the lake with huge windows that give us a great view. Unfortunately, they give everyone else a view inside our home, too...especially at night. Can you suggest a good shade? Hopefully something without vinyl slats?

A: Yes! There's two really good alternatives to traditional vertical blinds. Cellular shades and sheer shades both come in vertical styles.

Cellular shades have become one of the most popular alternatives to vertical blinds. These unique shades trap air inside vertical cells when they're pulled open, giving you light control and privacy while simultaneously helping you save energy through additional window insulation. They come in all kinds of colors and are available in both light diffusing and room darkening styles.

Sheer shades are available as panel tracks and come in a huge range of colors and textures. These unique shades block direct sunlight while still giving you full access to that wonderful lake view. If you want something to help control light during the day while still keeping your view, sheer shades are great! Tighter weaves provide a little privacy at night, but not quite as much as cellular.

Both, however, are great for modern or contemporary décor.

Enjoy the lake!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Optimizing Comfort and Convenience

Q: I have a friend who recently installed remote-controlled shades in his home because he has really high windows. While my windows are just fine height-wise, I really like the idea of having something like this for my media room. Can you get these to help keep a room dark?

A: Yes!! In fact, motorized (also known as remote controlled) shades are perfect for media rooms! Not only do they come in room-darkening styles, the remote controlled features make it even easier to streamline your media experience.

And you might want to consider cellular shades for your media room. They come in lots of different colors, many of which are perfect for blocking light. And they're simple style makes them perfect for any room (Not to mention their unique design also provides some added insulation and energy savings). With the added motorized features, you can raise and lower your cellular shade with a simple touch of a button.

Just keep your window remote alongside your other controls and you have comfort at your fingertips!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Light and Airy Shades for Spring

Q: My home is getting a makeover and I want to change my window treatments to something “lighter”. Although it's nice to have a light color, I'm actually looking for something that doesn't look as heavy as my old drapes. I guess clean lines are a must, but I don't want it looking too contemporary, either. What's out there that's simple enough for spring and summer but also affordable?

A: You're in luck! Roller shades, pleated shades, cellular (honeycomb) shades, and even mini blinds would suit your needs. All of these have a simple, sleek design that's light on the eye and light on the wallet. The clean lines won't weigh down your windows and, with the exception of mini blinds, all of the shades are available with light-filtering options.

Roller shades are especially well suited for spring because of their simplicity and versatility while cellular and pleated shades bring a slightly more sophisticated look to your windows while still maintaining clean lines. Mini blinds, on the other hand, give you the light control of slat shades without the thick slats, keeping your rooms light and comfortable throughout the year.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Earth-Friendly Shades

Q: After witnessing Earth Hour, I began thinking more and more about small changes I can make around my home to be more environmentally friendly. So, on my quest for new window shades, I've decided to go “green”. Any suggestions?

A: Now is the perfect time to look for more sustainable window shades and blinds. Woven wood, bamboo, reeds, and grasses are all sustainable fibers that work beautifully as shades. In fact, manufacturers have come up with new and innovative ways to use these fibers to give you even more variety in natural woven shades.

Most people associate woven shades with open weaves that accentuate the natural grasses from which they're made and let in a fair amount of light. Although standard “earthy” shades are still available and work perfectly for creating a warm atmosphere, there are more tightly woven shades and blinds that create a slightly more modern look while still maximizing light control and privacy. And they're available in a wide range of colors and textures that will match any decor!

So why not extend Earth Hour to Every Hour by using woven wood shades!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Review of Children's Roller Shades

Originally submitted at

With Ambience Roller Shades, you will be smiling at these adorable patterns as your child sleeps soundly. Whether you choose airy and care-free butterflies, cuddly & playful teddy-bears, or twinkling stars with personality, Ambiance roller shades offer the designs you want to make your child’s ...

How Cute!

By Love The Butterflies! from Memphis, TN on 3/20/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Easy To Clean, Easy To Control Light, Quality Construction, Easy To Install, Attractive Design, Ensures Privacy, Retracts Easily

Best Uses: Accenting Windows, Blocking Light

Describe Yourself: Midrange Shopper

These roller shades are just adorable! I got the yellow butterflies for my baby girl's room and it completed it perfectly. My husband loved how easy they were to install and they are a quality product! Keep up the good work! I love my shade.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Controlling Light at Dawn and Dusk

Q: My living room faces west and although the views of the sunset are fantastic, I need shades that can block the light, yet still let in some of the natural light through those windows. Are there any shades that can block just the direct sun?

A: Top down/bottom up shades would be perfect! With top down/bottom up, you can raise and lower the shades from either the top rail (normal) or the bottom. This means that you can choose to block or filter just the top or just the lower part of your window, still allowing sunlight to filter into your home while still blocking direct light.

Cellular shades are the most popular style of these types of shades and come in a variety of light filtering and room darkening options. If you want a shade that generally allows light to filter into your home, you may want to choose a light filtering or light diffusing option. If you want a shade that will help darken your room at any time of day, you may want an opaque or room-darkening shade.

Either way, top down/bottom up cellular shades are a great choice for homeowners hoping to block only direct light, no matter which part of the window it comes through!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blocking Sunlight for Daytime Sleepers

Q: My new job requires me to work nights which means I have to sleep during the day. Can you recommend shades or blinds that could block out sunlight altogether?

A: Certain kinds of roller shades, cellular blinds, and roman shades are specifically designed to eliminate daylight. Room darkening cellular shades might be perfect because, in addition to blocking the sun, they provide insulation against both heat and noise.

If your looking for something a little simpler, however, you may want to look into vinyl roller shades. These low profile shades are easy to install and even easier to use.

Roman shades have also been popular as room-darkening shades. They're available in a wide range of fabrics so you have the option of choosing a darker or heavier fabric to block light. They also come with optional liners to help eliminate unwanted light and their soft folds are perfect for creating a warm ambiance in any bedroom.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Moveable Arch Shades

Q: I just bought a home that has decorative arch windows in the living and dining rooms and need something that can be raised or lowered depending on lighting. I've seen wooden slatted ones, but I'm looking for something that can let in even more light. Any suggestions?

A: Cellular shades come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and, although you can get them as stationary shades, you can also order movable ones. While most fabric and cellular arch shades resemble fan shapes, the movable shades by Hunter Douglas actually have cells that run parallel to the window sill. While this certainly helps them function as movable arch shades, it also give them the aesthetic appeal of matching the other shades in your room.

And, speaking of matching, if you decide to go with the cellular window shades for your arches, you can choose colors and textures that match other Hunter Douglas shades. This means that you can coordinate your movable arch shade to the other shades in your room, too!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Options in Skylight Shades

Q: What types of shades are available for skylights? And what options do I have for controlling my skylight shades?

A: Most skylight shades are actually cellular shades. When designed for skylights, these insulating shades usually come as a single-cell shades (a single layer of air pockets – or cells – that expand when the shade is closed). You can choose either light diffusing or room darkening shades depending on your lighting needs. And, conveniently, skylight shades come in a wide range of colors so you can either match your existing window treatments or the color of your ceiling for a seamless look.

As for controls, window blind manufacturers offer two types of skylight blind controls: manual and motorized. Manual operation usually involves a long specialized pole (available from the manufacturer) that allows you to easily reach and adjust your skylight shade. However, if your skylight is very high or you simply want an easier operating solution, you might want to consider a remote controlled shade. Just imagine, perfect light with a push of a button!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Easy Maintenance Blinds and Shades

Q: What kind of blind can you get that you don’t have to dust? Or, better yet, is there a maintenance-free blind?

A: Although all blinds require some maintenance, roman shades and roller shades often offer the best options for easy cleaning.

Roman shades are essentially drapes that work like shades and blinds. These unique window coverings can collect some dust, but they’re much easier to clean and maintain than your average slatted blinds.

Your best bet, however, is probably roller shades. These flat pieces of fabric or vinyl are easy and quick to wipe down and keep clean on a regular basis. They’re also very durable and are great for homes with high traffic and lots of activity. Simply pull down the shades and wipe them clean. And, since roller shades come in a wide variety of colors and textures, these simplistic shades may be your best option to complete your home.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Enjoying the View AND the Sun

Q: I just bought a house with an incredible view out the front windows. I love it, but I'd like a little more privacy during the day while still being able to enjoy those gorgeous mountains! What kind of shade can I get that lets me have both?

A: You'll probably want to invest in sheer shades. Sheer shades, also known as solar shades, are designed to maximize control over light while still allowing homeowners to enjoy the view. These gorgeous shades decrease direct sunlight while simultaneously providing a degree of privacy during the day.

Solar shades and sheer shades are created with “openness” factors that allow a certain percentage of sunlight to come through. Large openness factors (usually between 14% and 15%) give you maximum view and maximum light. While these are great for huge private yards, they may not be the best choice for street-facing windows or ones where direct sunlight can be a problem.

Since solar shades come in a wide range of weaves (between 15% openness and 3% openness) you have a lot of choice in daytime privacy, sun control, and preservation of the view. And, if you need more privacy at night, these compact shades can easily be combined with drapes or other blinds.

Enjoy those mountains!