Looking to create a cozy bedroom hideaway, or to block out sun during baby’s naptime? How about creating a stunning media room where guests can watch a movie at any time of the day or night?
Transforming your space can be as easy as selecting the right window treatment. And yet, with more options than ever before, selecting the right window treatment for your home can be daunting for the uninitiated. Here, we examine some of the most popular and versatile window treatments options, paying special attention to that age-old question: What’s the difference between shades and blinds?
While technically “blinds” are any slatted window-coverage option and “shades” are made of fabric, there’s a lot of overlap in product terminology; at this point, shoppers seem to use the two terms interchangeably. Both options offer a minimal look and feel (they cover the window opening only) but plenty of coverage, allowing you to adjust for light and privacy with the tug of a cord.
- Venetian blinds are usually made from wood or plastic. They have the advantage of offering privacy when they are down, either by being fully closed, or by having the slats tilted so that light can come in, but people cannot see into the room. One downside is that they can be dust traps, although you can buy special dusters for this purpose.
- Vertical blinds add dimension and perspective to tall windows and doors; because of this, they are often enlisted to dress patio and balcony doors. Available in both fabric and vinyl materials, you are sure to find a color and material that meets the needs of your space. Vertical blinds work well to block light, especially in darker colors.
- Indoor shutters offer a classic, elegant look that privileges both function and style equally. Even sturdier than blinds, shutters can be expected to last up to 20 years! That’s quite a commitment to your window treatment, so it pays to make sure that shutters are the right decision for you. In addition to being sturdier than either shades or blinds, shutters also come with a higher price tag. However, given that you can expect your shutters to last for years to come and that they are a snap to care for once installed, shutters can be an excellent long-term window treatment.
Both types of window treatments can add privacy and block out light, but shades can be the less expensive option between the two. The biggest difference, however, is that shades do not have slats or vanes. They are made of continuous pieces of fabric that roll-up via a pulley mechanism.
Another key difference between shades and blinds is that shades (especially shades made from lighter colored and more porous materials) are often used to filter or soften light rather than to block it, even when completely down. You’ll choose from shades made from a variety of different materials including cotton, polyester, and linen. Some shades may be coated with a PVC Fiberglass coating to help resist stains, dust, and to help the shade maintain its shape.
- Pleated shades are a simple and pleasing, classic choice. They are made of a single piece of fabric, accented by crisp pleats. They come in a variety of fabrics and colors. Lighter colors allow more light to come in, while darker colors are the right choice for enhanced privacy and to keep light out.
- Cellular shades are quickly becoming a favorite in the window treatments market. They have honeycomb-shaped pockets between the back and front panels, making them cost and energy efficient. How? The pockets trap air, reducing heat loss in the winter and keeping your rooms cool in the summer.
- Choose roller/solar shades to reduce glare and harmful UV rays. Another benefit of solar shades is that they are easy to clean with a wet cloth. Select from a variety of textures and fabrics, including eco-friendly bamboo and hemp blends for your green home.
- Roman Shades can be light and elegant, with a permanent folded bottom or multiple folds. They can also be made from heavier fabrics, which block the light. These shades are ideal for rooms where you want some light to come in, as they are not high on the light-blocking spectrum. Cleaning Roman shades is easy — just use your vacuum attachment and a light touch to remove dust and debris from inside the pleats.
At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got curtains (or “drapes,” which are often lined, pleated, and more formal—and also, not to mention, more expensive), which offer a more traditional window-treatment look and an even greater opportunity to add height, color, texture, and pattern. Curtain panels can be purchased in endless patterns and fabrics, from linen to velvet and in every print you can imagine.
Curtains are great for general living rooms, and bedrooms. They add sound protection from the outside, ideal if you live on a busy road, as well as the obvious benefit of light reduction, which can be enhanced with black out linings and interlinings.
However, in rooms where you have a lot of moisture in the air (bathrooms and kitchens) curtains are not the most hygienic or long-lasting choice. The moisture can make the curtains decompose and shorten their life.
Layer Up Your Options
To create a well dressed room, layering your window dressings is a great option. Use roman blinds and full length curtains, or a double track with a voile and curtain, giving a sumptuous glam look. Having double window dressings also allows you to anchor a color scheme in the room.