In our homes, windows offer pictures of the world—a glimpse of sunlight or the great outdoors. These pictures deserve beautiful frames. Decorative blinds, shades and window treatments serve many functions, but they should always enhance your home decor. There are many elegant choices beyond white plastic blinds and vinyl shades, and you don’t have to settle. With all the resources available, your windows will be “best dressed” in no time, and you’re sure to enjoy the view.
Made in the shade
Soft, sheer looks are the latest trend in window decor, says John Sloot, owner of Interior Window Design at Adore Furniture (www.interiorwindowdesign.hdspd.com) on Atlanta’s west side. A sheer shade filters light while maintaining the view and creates a neutral canvas for the rest of the home—it’s the perfect “transitional” look for any style, from traditional to contemporary.
“Sheer fabric in Roman [shades] is just making its way to the states and has been popular throughout Europe for several years,” says Karen Clay, owner of Budget Blinds of North Atlanta (www.budgetblinds.com/northatlanta). “The color range is everything from subtle to brights—great for recreational and kid’s spaces. Europeans also are used to washing their window treatments versus us drycleaning here, so even the delicate sheers slip off the headrail with velcro, so you can easily toss in the washer.”
Sloot says that while in the past people layered drapes over sheer fabric panels, now shades or blinds are the most popular undertreatment for drapery. And with shades now widely available in customizable colors, patterns and textures, with add-ons such as motorization, blackout lining, energy efficiency and UV protection, there are plenty of combinations to choose from.
Motorized window treatments—which are great for those hard-to-reach windows or for on-demand light control—have come a long way. Now they are quieter and easier to use than ever. Synergy Shade Solutions (synergyshadesolutions.com) offers several motorization options, including a remote-controlled motor that uses radio frequency. Owner Ozzy Llanes says the range of a radio frequency sensor is much broader than infrared frequencies typically found in these devices. Aiming the remote directly at the sensor is not required, and the shade can be moved up or down from 35-40 feet away.
Blinds have evolved beyond plastic—which can be unsightly and crack or peel easily—and now come in several materials, from wood and faux wood to high-quality metal. Faux wood blinds work well in bathrooms because they resist moisture damage, says Zach Gibbs, managing partner at The Shade Store (www.theshadestore.com), which has showrooms in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco and kiosks at Robert Allen showrooms nationwide.
Whatever blinds are selected, cord safety should also be considered. Children and pets can become entangled in long cords, and, according to the Window Coverings Safety Association (www.windowcoverings.org), homeowners should replace any blinds, corded shades and draperies made before 2001 with today’s safer products. If this is not possible, cords should be kept out of reach of children and secured appropriately. Tamika Stinson, owner of Atlanta Babyproofer by J. Addison (www.atlantababyproofer.com), recommends avoiding window treatments with continuous-loop pulls and instead opting for cordless designs, which can be manual or motorized.
On a budget?
“If money is a factor, then we recommend putting lower-priced products in areas that are not visible to guests,” says Joan Miller, of The Blind Ladies (www.theblindladies.com). “In bedrooms, unless it’s the master, most people like to use something economical... We find that most clients like to have the nicer window coverings in their busier trafficked and living areas.”
When deciding how to dress your windows, the options are limitless. Window treatments need not be neglected afterthoughts. Whether you use a designer and custom materials or choose to order yourself, you’re sure to find window treatments that suit your personal style and home.
Designers offer their recommendations for window shades
Signature Illusions transitional shades
“Illusions shades are great for the homeowner looking for something different and the functionality of a solar shade and sheer in one.”
—Karen Clay, Budget Blinds of North Atlanta
Alustra Silhouette window shadings (shown) and Alustra Luminette Privacy Sheers by Hunter Douglas
These high-performance premium window coverings come in an array of fashion-forward color and fabric combinations and offer precise light-control, motorization and much more.
—John Sloot, Interior Window Design at Adore Furniture
Persona by Comfortex shades
Customers can screen print virtually any design directly onto a window shade, from a drawing or pattern to a photograph or business or sports team logo. Plus, you can visualize how the finished product will look at www.personashades.com.
—Mark Jeross, Royal Crest Inc.
Qmotion manual shades
For a cost-effective and safe solution, choose track systems for draperies, manually lifted shades such as Qmotion manual shades (shown) and traverse rods with baton pulls.
—Tamika Stinson, Atlanta Babyproofer by J. Addison
Working With a Pro
Professional designers offer additional expertise and services for choosing and creating the right window treatments for your home. Designers know the products inside and out and have personal relationships with manufacturers, says Mark Jeross, past president of the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) and current sales manager at Royal Crest Inc. (www.detroit-blinds-shades-shutters.com). Plus, they have access to styles, colors and features that have not yet flooded the market and are sometimes not available to consumers. Visit www.atlantahomeimprovement.com to connect with local window treatment experts.
10 Things To Consider When Choosing Window Treatments
1. Room type: Consider the function of each room in your house: Think about details like the times of day you spend in each place.
2. Decorating style: What is the overall “look” you want to achieve? Consider your big-picture decorating scheme before making a purchase.
3. Material: Think functionality—do you want sheer or heavy filtering? Don’t forget environmental factors that could affect your material, such as moisture and humidity.
4. Color: Are you looking for neutrals to design the room around or bold focal points? Do you want to introduce color through patterns or solids?
5. Specialty shapes and design options: Interested in custom options? The sky’s the limit for customization, so consider what is possible within your budget and what will complement the other design elements in the room.
6. Privacy and light control: Don’t make the mistake of going too sheer in a room where privacy is key, like bedrooms or bathrooms. How does natural light make you feel in each specific room—are you craving it or needing to tone it down? Remember that in some rooms you want to feel energized and in others you need sleep and relaxation.
7. View-through: Do you want to see out of the window even when the shade is drawn?
8. Operating systems: Interested in a motorized remote-control shade? Consider situations where that convenience might be necessary, such as multi-story windows or skylights.
9. Pricing: Are you able to splurge on exclusive to-the-trade options accessible through a designer? Is it important to you that professionals plan and execute the project? Or do you need the best product at the lowest price, with the option of DIY installation?
10. Measurement and installation: Have you taken thorough measurements of each window before purchase? Take note of all specific installation needs and plan accordingly.
—Hunter Douglas (www.hunterdouglas.com)