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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