Traditional Brackets Offered By Osborne

Brackets have been used in numerous types of architecture for several reasons. Colonial buildings were sometimes built to include decorative corbels on the exterior to make the otherwise plain buildings come alive. In the following years, the design evolved into what is now referred to as Victorian architecture. In this highly ornamental era, it was not uncommon to see corbels on the exteriors of both common and governmental buildings. In medieval Europe, many used brackets for protection. At that time, brackets were made from stone materials which had frightening contortionists, dragons, and drunkards chiseled into them.  The theory was that if individuals placed these carved corbels on the outside of their homes, they could ward off evil spirits. In contrast, the churches of the time period would surround themselves with images of biblical figures carved into corbels to give visual representations of light to the people.

In America, corbels were made from wood rather than stone because of the abundance of trees in the surrounding forests. When gingerbread-style houses became popular, the brackets were integrated into the facades. This style soon became popular with farmhouses as well. When used boldly along with molding, the farmhouses were transformed into something quite picturesque.

With the invention of the railway system and assembly lines, a greater quantity of corbels could be ordered and transported quickly by train. Until this time, corbels were used mainly for decorative purposes, but the style began to change. Consumers began desiring products which served a functional rather than ornamental purpose. To meet this demand, bracket designs changed from ornate carvings to the more simplistic. The straight lines on the aptly named traditional corbels gave the impression of strength over ornament.

Consumers today are also looking for functionality in corbels rather than the highly decorative look used in the Victorian era. Modern traditional brackets avoid using curves and are recessed to provide a simplistic look. Osborne Wood Products, Inc. realizes the need to offer simple as well as elaborate and ornate corbels and brackets, and because we strive to meet the needs of our customers in every way possible, these traditional brackets are offered at Osborne Wood Products in a number of designs and in up to eleven different wood types.

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Remote Controlled Window Blinds and Shades

Remote Controlled window blinds and shades otherwise known as motorized window blinds and shades are now available from most reputable window coverings retailers.  Once only available to the rich and famous, advances in technology have brought the price of remote controlled window blinds and shades within reach of most consumers.  There are a few different types of remote controlled window blinds and shades such as, Battery Powered, Hard Wired, Infrared, and Radio Frequency operation.  These different types vary by manufacturer and there is no one size fits all.  If you are considering a purchase of remote controlled window blinds you should always discuss your needs with a qualified retailer such as does not offer a motorized option on their website but, they will offer this option to those who contact Mike directly to discuss their needs.  It is important to understand the pros, cons, and limitations of remote control window blinds before making a purchase.

Even though remote control window blinds and shades are growing in popularity this option is not always the best application for every window in your home. I usually recommend remote controlled window blinds for hard to reach windows.  Windows that are high such as an entry foyer windows or a window that is difficult to reach such as a window behind a bathtub, these would be perfect examples of shades that require motorization.  If you are thinking of using remote controlled shades in every room of the house I usually advise against it unless you are incorporating the shades into a whole house automation system such as X10® or TAHOMA®.

Once you have selected the windows that require remote control operation you will need to select the type of motorized system.  The most commonly used system is the RF or Radio Frequency battery powered motor.  RF allows you to remotely operate the window blind without having to be in close proximity of the window.  The radio frequency single will pass through walls or window valances so that you will not have to point the remote directly at the electronic eye in order for the blind or shade to function.  Although infrared remote control blinds and shades are still available it is considered “old technology” and is not recommended for most applications. If you are planning to operate a large quantity of blinds and shades via remote control then a “hard wired” system may be the way to go.  Hard wired motorization will eliminate the need for batteries (usually 8-12 per window blind) and will also allow for larger, heavier window shades to be operated via remote control.  Hard wired systems will require the services of a licensed electrician so be sure and take that into account when budgeting for this type of system.

Remote control window blinds and shades can also be integrated into home automation systems such as TAHOMA® by Somfy or the more commonly used X10® system. By integrating your remote controlled window shades to a home automation system you will have the ability to operate your window shades, lighting and thermostat from a remote location via the internet.  Full home automation not only can give  your home that “lived in” look while you are away but it can also be very effective when trying to conserve energy.  By controlling your window shades, lighting and thermostat remotely via the internet you can set all of these to function at peak efficiency which will lead to energy savings and extra cash in your pocket.  Remember, if you are shopping for remote controlled motorized blinds and shades always discuss your needs with a qualified professional such as to maximize the potential of the shades and to save you from costly mistakes.

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How to use Solar Screen Roller Shades

Have you ever wanted a window covering that would block the harmful rays of the sun while still allowing you to see the view to the outside world?  Well, today is your lucky day because a sun screen roller shade will do just that.  Sun screen roller shades, AKA “solar screen roller shades” were originally intended for commercial use but are now becoming one of the hottest residential window treatments on the market.  You may have seen these shades in your local Starbucks or Boston Market place.  Usually made from Vinyl coated fiberglass these shades are made from a mesh like Compare opennessmaterial that has been designed to cut down the glare from the sun, while still allowing you to see through the window.  These so called, “mesh shades” come in different openness factors, usually 3%, 5% and 10% that represent the openness of the mesh and will also determine just how “see through” the shades will be.  During daylight hours these shades are very effective blocking the sun and allowing you to see the outside world however, the reverse is true when the sun goes down.  If you are looking for a window shade that will give you 100% privacy at night then, these shades may not be for you.  Just as you can see through the shades during the day, once the sun goes down those from the outside can see in.  Of course the view to the inside is distorted but none the less you will still be exposed to some degree depending on the openness factor of your window shades.

Sun screen roller shades are available in a multitude of colors and can be custom made to fit almost any window opening.  The two most common types of Sun Screen roller shades are the spring roller and clutch roller (chain operated roller).  Remote control motorized solar screen shades are also available for those hard to reach places or for those who just love gadgets.  When selecting a roller shade I would always recommend the clutch roller first.  The clutch roller is a heavy duty lifting system that will allow you to have the most control of your roller shades.  By pulling on a circular lift chain sometimes made of metal and sometimes made of plastic you can stop the shade anywhere you would like and will also protect the shade from fraying on the edges which is common on spring roller shades.  The spring roller shade is operated by pulling on the bottom of the shade to activate a spring mechanism that will raise the shade.  With a spring roller shade it is sometimes tricky to get the shade to stop just where you would like it to stop and the shade must always be within reach in order to operate it.  As for motorized sun screen roller shades they can either be hard wired or battery powered depending on the size of the shade.  In either case these shades can be operated by hand held remote control or wall switch.  Motorized window shades can also be integrated with most home automation systems that are being used to control lighting, and thermostats etc.

When purchasing a sun screen roller shade you will be asked what openness factor you would like.  The openness factors are usually 3%, 5% and 10% but can vary by manufacturer.  The openness factor for sun screen roller shades refers to the openness of the weave. To try and put this in perspective let’s start by saying that 0% openness would be a solid shade that you can not see through at all.  If you choose an openness of 3% you will allow the shade weave to open up just enough to allow you to see the outline of  what is outside the window.  By increasing the openness to 5% or even 10% you will be allowing more of the outside to be visible through the window shade. It is important to remember that the amount of sunlight coming through the shade will also increase as the openness factor gets larger.  If you are having trouble selecting an openness factor for your sun screen shade, I would recommend the 5% openness for most applications.  This will give you a fair amount of view through while cutting the glare from even the sunniest of windows.  Remember the more open the weave the more you will see in to the house at night when the sun goes down.

Sun Screen roller shades are a great choice for those who just do not want to lose the view to the outside while cutting out up to 98% of the suns harmful UV rays.

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Shopping For Vertical Blinds

With so many different window blinds and shades on the market today, it’s not always easy to choose the one that’s best for your home.   It is my goal to help you select the best window covering for your home based on my industry experience of 27 years.  By explaining each product available in detail it should help you choose the right window covering for any given application.  That’s right I said, help you choose! Decorating windows is much the same as choosing a flavor of ice cream no one flavor fits all so, when it comes down to selecting the right window blinds and shades for your home the decision must be yours.  I am here to provide the information that you will need to make an informed decision, the biggest mistake you can make is to let some one else choose what they think is right for you.  This article will focus mainly on buying Vertical Blinds and, the many options and features that set them apart from other window coverings.

Vertical blinds have been around since the 1960’s but it took until the early 1980’s for Vertical Blinds to really become a staple in the home of American consumers.  When Vertical Blinds were first introduced they were very limited in the type of materials used and, colors and textures were very limited.  Today, Vertical Blinds are available in three materials PVC, Aluminum and Fabric louvers and endless amounts of textures and colors.  In addition to the available textures and colors the mechanism that operates the vertical blinds has evolved as well, this is called the vertical blind track or headrail. Vertical Blind tracks are usually made from extruded aluminum or steel and come with many options including motorization.  The reason vertical blinds are one of the most popular window treatments on the market today is the many different functions that they perform.  Not only are they beautiful to look at but, they are also one of the most functional window coverings available.

Why are Vertical Blinds So Popular?  Well, for one they are the most versatile window blinds and, can be used on just about any window in the home including sliding glass doors.  Because vertical blinds are made with vertically hanging vanes or louvers the blinds can be adjusted for varying degrees of privacy and light control.  By rotating the louvers closed your blinds will provide 100% privacy and light control depending on the louver material selected.  For those who prefer a more open look at the window you can make the blinds stack to the left, stack to the right or split in the center.  This will allow your window to be exposed for open viewing. Because vertical blinds can be stacked left or right they are still the best choice for covering sliding glass doors (patio doors).  By stacking the louvers the same way the door opens your door opening will be clear of any obstructions when walking in and out.  Vertical blinds are also the most cost effective window covering for sliding glass doors.

When choosing a vertical blind vane material there are many things to consider, opacity, composition (PVC or Fabric), color, texture.  Opacity is the amount of light that passes through the louvers when they are closed. As a general rule, most Fabrics are Semi-Opaque meaning that some light will pass through even when the louvers are closed; PVC (plastic) on the other hand is usually opaque and will darken the room when closed.  There are many different fabric and PVC textures from which to choose, no one texture fits all.  PVC has become the most popular vane material because it is easy to clean and the patterns and textures resemble the soft look and feel of fabric.  Fabric louvers are still used in areas of the home that require a “softer look” and offer many unique textures.  Fabric is not as easily cleaned as PVC but typically has a life span of 10 to 15 years depending on conditions. Aluminum vertical blinds are very rarely used any more but may still be used in very specialized applications.  Most vertical blinds offer an optional Valance to cover the headrail (track); it is my recommendation to always add this valance to your order unless you have your own valance that will fit properly over the vertical blind headrail.

Vertical Blind tracks are not all the same, some are constructed of aluminum and some from steel.  I would recommend an aluminum track when ever possible; aluminum will withstand any humid conditions with out the risk of rusting.  The steel tracks are usually a bit less expensive but do have a tendency to flex and bend more than aluminum tracks. That being said, always choose an aluminum extrusion over steel.  The mechanics of the vertical blind tracks vary; some have a mechanism called a “clutch” that will realign the louvers if they accidentally go out of synchronization.  This is another option I highly recommend because the number one problem experienced with vertical blinds is the louvers going out of synchronization.  Last but not least the spacing of the track needs to be even and the best way to achieve this is with a pantograph gear (a.k.a. scissor gear) this will allow the vanes to be spaced evenly and not bunch up on the ends.  I know all of this must sound like rocket science to some of you, but I am here to make your job easier so the next time you purchase a Vertical Blind visit as all of their tracks will be guaranteed to meet or exceed these specifications.  If you have a window that is in a hard to reach area then motorized vertical blinds may be the answer.  Motorized Vertical blinds are available with battery powered tracks that can be operated with a hand held remote control or wall switch.

As you can see vertical blinds are very versatile and will fit most home decors.  If you are in search of a window covering that offers as much function as it does beauty then Vertical Blinds may be right for you.  As you can see there are many different options when shopping for vertical blinds and there is no one size fits all with custom made vertical blinds.  When Vertical Blinds are custom made to YOUR specifications you will love what they can do you and your windows.

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How to Choose Window Coverings

There are many different types of Window Blinds and Shades currently on the market so how can you know which one is right for you?   In general window coverings are divided into two categories “Hard Window Coverings” and “Soft Window Coverings”.  Hard Window Coverings are usually broken down in to two categories consisting of window blinds and window shades each of which contain many different products.  Soft Window Coverings are decorative window treatments usually made from fabric by the yard.  Products such as Draperies, Swags, and Valances all are considered products within the soft window covering category and are often used to “dress up” the Hard Window Coverings.

So with all of these choices how does the average person select the window covering that is right for them?

There is no simple answer to this question because decorating is like choosing a flavor of ice cream some like chocolate while others prefer vanilla. With that in mind I will attempt to lay some ground rules that apply when choosing the correct window covering for you.  In this article I will focus mainly on “Hard Window Coverings” these are typically the functional part of the window covering and as stated earlier consist of mainly window blinds and shades.  Watch for future articles that will focus on “Soft Window Coverings”.

If I had to guess I would say, that 95% of all households in America that have windows have at least one window blind or shade covering a window.  There are many different types of window blinds and shades on the market today and new products are always popping up.  Up until recently the “hard window coverings” category was divided into two categories Window Blinds which are window coverings with some type of movable louver or slat to control light and privacy and Window Shades usually some type of solid fabric that must be raised or lowered to control light and privacy.  Now there is a third category often referred to as “Window Shadings” these are products such as Shangri-La shades that actually combine the functionality of a Blind with the Soft look of a shade.

When choosing the best window blind or shade for your window the first question you must ask your self is “What do I want from the window covering?”  Is light control the most important or is Privacy the most important feature? It may be that you want both, or it may be that you just want your windows to look beautiful with little regard for light control and privacy. What ever it is you are seeking from your window blinds and shades it is important that you understand the functionality of each product in order to make an informed decision.  Going forward I will outline each hard window covering product currently available on the market that will assist you in making an informed decision when shopping for window blinds and shades, and let’s not forget the window shadings.

Window blinds such as, Wood Blinds, Faux Wood Blinds, Mini Blinds and Vertical Blinds are all slatted blinds that control light by rotating or tilting the slats (sometimes called Louvers).  These blinds are the most versatile because they need not be pulled up or stacked to see outside your window. The amount of light entering the room and the privacy level is controlled by simply rotating the slats or louvers.  Blinds such as these are typically considered more “casual” when decorating and are often used in less formal areas of the home such as, Family rooms, children’s bedrooms, Bathrooms, and Kitchens.  Of course there is no rule that says you can only use these blinds in certain rooms but remember that decorating is very subjective and if you are happy with the way something looks in your home then it is the right choice for you.

Window Shades such as Cellular Shades, Roman Shades, Roller Shades, and Woven Wood Shades are usually made from semi opaque materials that restrict the view to the outside world.  Because these shades tend to be made out of fabric (with the exception of woven wood shades) they lend a softer look and feel to the window. Most of these products can be made light filtering or room darkening it depends on the amount of light you want entering the room.  Room darkening shades are perfect for bedrooms or media rooms when total darkness is something that is required.  Light filtering shades can be used in any room of the house when total darkness is not a concern.  The functionality of window shades differ from that of window blinds mainly when it comes to the “view through” of the window treatment being used.  When a window shade is installed on a window you must raise the shade in order to see the outside world there are no slats or louvers to be tilted.  Because most fabric window shades have a “softer” look and feel they tend to be installed in rooms such as Living Rooms, Dining Rooms, Master Bedrooms, and Girls Bedrooms.  Woven Wood Shades or “Bamboo Shades” are a bit more casual and tend to be used mostly in family rooms or anywhere a more casual feel is what you are looking to achieve.  Remember if you have a creative eye these products can be used in any room of the house, I have seen Woven Wood Shades used successfully in dining rooms and living rooms so let your design instincts take over when making your selection

Window Shadings is a new window covering category that was introduced by Hunter Douglas about 20 years ago with the introduction of the Silhouette® shade.  Window shadings incorporate the versatility of a window blind with the soft look of a window shade.  These shades often have a fabric slat that can be opened or closed for light control and privacy along with a sheer fabric facing for a soft uncluttered look at the window.  They can be raised and lowered like a window shade or they can remain in the lowered position to operate the fabric louvers just as you would operate a window blind.  These shades are typically higher priced and are used in Living Rooms, Dining rooms and Master Bedrooms.  They are truly unique in appearance and typically draw a lot of attention to the window.  If you are looking to increase the “WOW” factor of any given window then Window Shadings is the choice for you.  Since the introduction of this Window Shading Category products such at Shangri-La have evolved and made this window covering category a bit more affordable while still capturing the same “WOW” factor.

Choosing the correct window covering for your windows really comes down to what you feel comfortable with.  As I mentioned earlier decorating is very subjective and there is no right or wrong way to decorate, or to treat a window for that matter.  If the window treatment you want to use looks right to you then it is. Don’t let your neighbor convince you otherwise or you will just be unhappy with your choice.  I have been covering windows now for about 27 years, and the one thing I have learned is that there is no such thing as a right or wrong window covering.  Of course you can use my notes about each product as a guide when choosing a window blind, shade or shading but ultimately the choice is yours and what ever you choose will be the right choice for you. This article is a very general overview of the products currently on the market, as time goes on I will publish articles that are more product specific so stay tuned!

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Finding Cellular Shades

cellular shadesHave you been searching for that perfect Window Treatment?  Cellular window shades may be just what you are looking for. Cellular Shades also known as Honeycomb Shades will spruce up any window in your home by adding a soft pleated look at the window.  As an added bonus Cellular Shades by design will substantially increase the energy efficiency of your windows.  How can you beat that?  A window shade that beautifies your windows and saves you money on your energy bills is almost too good to be true.

Cellular shades come in many different cell sizes and colors and offer many different options.  There are single cellular shades and double cellular shades, small size pleats and large size pleats. Choosing a cellular shade that is right for you is a personal decision.  Don’t be confused by the variety of cell sizes and colors, or if the shade is a single or double cellular shade.  The correct choice when selecting a cellular shade is what looks best to you on your window.  Remember, we are decorating your windows and what looks good to you may not look good to a friend or family member.  Decorating your windows is a very personal decision and there is no right or wrong choice.  If you like what you see next to the window, then it is the correct choice for you. The energy savings you receive from these shades can be considered an added bonus!

There are many different options available when purchasing cellular shades.  They are, Light Filtering, Room Darkening, Top Down Bottom up, Cordless Lift, Continuous Cord Loop, Specialty Shapes, Skylight Shades, Two on one headrail and Comfortrack side track system.

Light filtering cellular shades are the most commonly used fabrics.  They are often considered semi-opaque which means they emit a soft glow at the window while maintaining your privacy.  Light filtering fabrics offer 100% privacy while allowing filtered sunlight to enter the room safe from damaging UV rays.

Room Darkening cellular shades are perfect for those areas of the house that require total darkness.  Bedrooms and media rooms are a good example of where room darkening shades work best.  These shades have an added layer of silver mylar adhered to the interior of the cell or “honeycomb” that blocks light and is not visible once properly installed in the window.  Usually white to the “street side” these shades like all cellular shades offer a clean uniform appearance from the outside of the house as well.

If you choose the top down bottom up option then you will have purchased a shade that is like two shades in one. A top down bottom up shade can be operated two ways by use of two lift cords, first the shade can lift up from the bottom as a standard shade would and second the shade can drop down from the top while the bottom of the shade remains closed.  Top Down Bottom up Shades are a great choice for windows that require additional privacy such as bathroom windows.  By lowering the shade down from the top you can maintain your view to the outside while maintaining your privacy inside.

Cellular shades made with the cordless lift option are the perfect choice for keeping your home child safe.  Cordless shades operate with the gentile push or pull of the bottom rail, eliminating the risk of strangulation to young children.  No dangling cords, also adds to the clean uncluttered look of cordless shades on your window.  If you wish you can have the best of both worlds by selecting the cordless top down bottom up option.

For large cellular shades there is the continuous cord loop option.  This option is specifically designed to lift and lower large heavy shades (usually wider than 72”) with ease.  By pulling a continuous cord loop the string maintains a constant length while lifting and lowering your shades. The cord loop can be used for shades of all sizes and the cord loop should be firmly attached to the inside casing of the window or side wall for child safety.

Thanks to the flexibility of the cellular shade fabric, Cellular Shades can be made to fit most specialty windows.  Specialty windows are those odd shaped windows such as, ½ circles, circles, angle top windows and skylights.  Specialty shaped Cellular Shades can be made to fit almost any window in your home. It is important to note, that not all specialty shades are functional.  It is important to ask before you purchase a specialty shade if it will be functional or stationary.

For larger windows where one shade may not be possible the two on one headrail option is available.  This option allows for 2 shades to be share the same top mounting rail.  It allows for a clean uniform look at the top of the window and for easy installation of two shades hanging side by side.  When mounting two shades on one headrail it is important to specify the size of each shade, they do not have to be the same size but must add up to the overall width of the window.

Comfortrak plus energy saving cellular shades offer a side track system that seals off the gaps between the edges of an inside mounted shade (not available for outside mount).  The side track creates a barrier against cold air drafts in the winter and cool air escaping in the summer.  As an added bonus homeowners qualify for a 30% tax credit up to a maximum of $1,500.00, when they insulate their windows with the Comfortrack plus energy saving sidetrack system.

Cellular window shades are one of the most versatile window coverings on the market today. Once reserved for the high end decorator these shades are now available to all, and offer a great bang for the buck!

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