Explore different types of window shades to find the perfect fit for your windows.
With all the different treatment styles, shopping for window dressings is a little like shopping for clothes. You want to keep in mind current fashions while also picking something flattering and practical. Window shades are like blue jeans—casual in style with plenty of function and a little flair thrown in. Here are the different types to try on.
One type of window shade experiencing great popularity right now is the Roman shade. It's a rectangle of fabric or woven material that covers the window. When closed, the shade is flat. When pulled open, hidden cords pull up the bottom rail so the shade gathers in gentle horizontal folds. There are completely flat Roman shades as well as pleated and gathered styles. Roman shades have a casual feel, but the effect of a closed Roman shade is anything but dull: Light filtering through the window reveals pattern or texture that would be hidden in gathered drapes. Use a Roman shade to show off something special.
Like a Roman shade, a roller shade is mounted to the top of the window, either to the inside of the casement molding or to the wall just above the molding. When closed, the roller shade lies flat and covers the entire window. To raise it, you tug on the bottom rail and a spring-loaded mechanism in the header coils up the shade. Roller shades can be very inexpensive -- $10 per window for plain vinyl ones -- or more costly for unusual materials, decorative patterns, or UV-filtering weaves. Roller shades are often used in conjunction with other window treatments. The roller shade provides privacy and light control when needed, but it can be tucked out of sight under a valance or behind closed curtains when not necessary.
A balloon shade is an eye-catching window treatment that can be stationary or functional. The stationary kind covers the top third of a window in generous folds of fabric, creating the effect of a skirt with the hem tucked up. The functional kind is similar to a Roman shade, but with a voluminous amount of fabric. When closed, the balloon shade poufs out. As the cords pull up the bottom rail, the poufs become tighter and more gathered. This shade is excellent for showcasing an elegant fabric that has a shiny texture, such as silk.
These are also called cellular shades and honeycomb shades. The material, which is a coated synthetic fabric that blocks the sun's rays and has insulating qualities, is crisply creased into dozens of horizontal accordion-style pleats. When closed, the shade covers the window but does not lie completely flat. Cords threaded through holes at the sides of the shade pull up the bottom rail, causing the pleats to compress up to the header. Like roller shades, pleated shades are often used in conjunction with other window treatments. They come in several transparencies, from light-filtering to blackout and are available in nearly any color.
For windows that have an unusual shape, there are shades that are designed to fit. For example, arched windows sometimes let in too much sunlight, which can fade furniture and floors. A fan-shape pleated shade can unfurl to cover the semicircle panes at the top. Or, for narrow sidelights that flank front doors, there are several options, including skinny pleated or roller shades.
Window treatments can be a crowning touch to any room, especially a window wrapped space like a sun room. All it takes is some smart measuring and a well thought out plan. I'm Lacey Howard, editor of Decorating Magazine, and today I'm going to show you how to make your window treatments sparkle. The first step of dressing your windows is choosing a style of blinds or shades. Natural shades like these offer a wonderful texture, and a beautiful look when the light comes through. If privacy is a must, line your natural shades. No matter the style of blind or shade you choose, the next step is measuring for either inside or outside mount. A good rule of thumb is to use outside mount to make small windows appear larger, or to cover unattractive woodwork. For outside mount, measure the window's width from just outside the casings. Because outside mount shades hang above the molding, you can determine at what height on the wall to mount the shades. If you're lucky enough to have gorgeous moldings like these, you'll want to let their historic character shine, so go for inside mount. Measure the width of the window from the inside edges of the trim. You'll butt the top of the shade to the top of the window frame so that the shade fits just inside the window's moldings. Be certain to measure each window individually. You'll be surprised how much they differ. Next, frame your views with draperies. Here, we chose dramatic panels to frame each bank of glass. When hanging drapery panels, there is no hard and fast rule about high on the wall to hang them. For most spaces, drapery panels should skim the floor. Save puddling for formal rooms and sumptuous lightweight fabrics such as silk. No matter the formality of your room, hang drapery hardware at any level between the top of the window molding and the ceiling. The higher on the wall you hang the panels, the more visual impact they'll have, and the taller your ceiling will seem. Rod pocket fashion such as these have a shorter finished length than tab top or fabrics that require drapery clips like these. Both tabs and clips add length to the hanging panels. Like any type of home accessory, hardware can range from off the rack at a big buck store to custom made. One designer tip, be certain your hardware has telescoping rods. With this feature, hardware can easily change rooms or configurations when needed. Another hint is when you're faced with corner windows in a room like this one. Avoid a traffic jam of finials and brackets in the corners. Use an elbow connector piece to join the links of drapery rod and ensure a smooth transition. With smart measuring and thoughtful placement, your drapes and shades become the crown jewel of every room of your home. For Decorating Magazine, I'm Lacey Howard.