We know that the same windows that provide heat in winter will also collect unwanted solar heat in summer. The only way to have more control and flexibility over natural lighting is with the use of window treatments. Curtains can keep your home cool on hot summer days and help retain the heat in winter. Window treatments experts these days can design beautiful windows so that a different look can be given to the room. Also, people always have the option to customize their own curtains.
It is important to point out that curtains/draperies don't have to be the only decor piece for windows. Over the past few years, so many different types and styles of window treatments have come on the market. Gone are the days when choices were limited to curtains and/or heavy draperies. Now when it comes to window treatments, you have these options to go for – blinds, shades, or curtains/draperies. Looking at these options, curtains/draperies are the easiest to come across but what if you wanted the alternatives? How do you differentiate between the blinds and the shades?
On the most basic level, Blinds are hard window coverings made with horizontal slats, and Shades are window coverings made of one or more pieces of fabric. Blinds are “hard” window treatments with slats or vanes made of wood, composite, vinyl or aluminium. They can be horizontal or vertical. Shades are “soft” window coverings made of fabric, vinyl, woven woods or grasses.
Often one of the least expensive options in terms of window treatments, blinds are easy to maintain. They have a clean appearance and don’t take up extra room. They allow you ultimate control over privacy and sunlight. Depending on the style you go with, you have options with them. You can pull up the slats to expose a window entirely, angle the slats to control the direction of the light or close them tightly to block out any sun. To do these, consider where the light comes in from each window and at what times of the day. As well, any privacy concerns (close neighbours, busy streets, etc.) can help you decide on the right design for you.
The main differences between the types of blinds are in the material used to make the slats and the sizes of the slats. The style of most of the blinds is called Venetian. Venetian blinds are the most popular style of blinds. As Venetian blinds are raised, the bottom slat is pressed into the slat above it as seen in almost all types of blinds.
Vinyl blinds: vinyl units are lightweight but can be flimsy, bend easily. They are usually available only in smaller slat sizes i.e. mini-blinds and micro-blinds.
Aluminium blinds: These are of better quality than vinyl blinds while still being lightweight. They are available in a large range of sizes, colours, and finishes, including metallic or soft suede.
Faux wood blinds: faux wood imitates the real thing without warping, fading, or cracking. They are easy to clean and are moisture resistant but are the heaviest horizontal blind option. Available in one and two-inch sized slats.
Real wood blinds: These are actually lighter in weight than faux wood and will give a room a natural, organic feeling. This window shade option will block a considerable amount of light; they are likely going to be the most expensive.
Vertical blinds: Like the name suggests, this type of blind has vertical slats instead of horizontal slats. These swivels to get open or closed and they pull to the side of your window.
Here are some of your shades options; read on to learn about each style:
Austrian Shades: Austrian shades are immensely popular for their timeless elegance. The Austrian shade is one of the most dramatic types of window treatments ever created. It is a treatment in which the fabric falls in a series of puffy festoons created by vertical rows of shirring. With vertical swags finished with a scalloped edging, it adds a touch of vintage in a modern home.
Roman Shades: Roman shades consist of one continuous piece of fabric, featuring horizontal folds down the length of the shade. These folds lay flat against the window when down but fold up nicely when raised. Its beauty is in combining the soft look of fabric drapery with the functionality of a shade.
Solar Shades: Solar shades are also known as “window sunglasses” for their opaque designs that allow you to preserve your outside view while also providing considerable light control.
Cellular Shades: Cellular shades are the best insulators of all energy-efficient window treatments. They get their name and insulating properties from their fabric honeycomb cells that trap air between the window and the room. This results in heat gain in the winter and heat loss in the summer. Cellular shades also provide sound insulation, as well.
Roller Shades: Roller shades are one of the most affordable options when it comes to covering your windows. These shades roll up neatly onto a tube, making them appear minimal and discreet when raised.
Sheer Shades: Sheer shades are an elegant window covering. These popular window treatments feature two sheer fabric facings over soft fabric vanes. When vanes are open, diffused light is let inside, and your view to the outside is preserved. When closed, however, room-darkening styles of sheer shades will completely block out the light.
Pleated Shades: Pleated shades are made from a single piece of fabric with pleats that collapse and stack neatly as you raise the shade. This slat-like effect gives your home a casual, semi-sheer look that allows a considerable amount of light to filter through the window.
Tie-Up Shades: Tie-up shades are sort of like a cross between a shade and a curtain. These shades are constructed from a piece of fabric which features ties that extend beyond the bottom of the shade. You can raise the shade by rolling it up and then tying the shade in place.
Remember, if you can’t seem to find ready-made options to your liking, you can always go with custom blinds to get the exact look and function you desire. Embrace the custom window treatments for the new look you desire.
Lots of special features are available, such as solar blackout shades, motorized shades, and cordless shades. These help to customise your window treatment as you so wish. When looking at the different types of window treatments, remember that child-safe features including cordless and motorized operation are paramount these days.