Your Guide to 5 Types of Window Shades

Custom drapery is having a moment. After a year at home in our houses, we all know the seasonal patterns more than ever and what each window needs. But knowing the problem doesn't mean you know the answer. That's where I come in to help! I've had lots of questions from clients and friends over the past year that sounded something like this: "I know I need shade, but there are so many options. What is best for me and my windows?"

I'll take you through some of my favorite and most used shade and drapery options so you can be an informed consumer. And if you get stuck, you know you can always ask away in the comments and I'll do my best to answer any questions

Option #1: Woven Wood Shades

Woven shades are always classic and add texture to your room. You can back them in a privacy or blackout liner if you need more light control. Woven shades are light, airy, not too stuffy or serious. Typically, I install them as roman shades so they cascade over your window and stack in elegant ripples. They're great in family rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms and have a polished look without being stuffy or formal.

Option #2: Roman Shades

What IS a roman shade, you may be asking? This is a really popular style of shade often used in bedrooms or in less formal settings. You can find them off the shelf or can have them customized. Look for cordless options that raise and lower with gravity. I love a plain fabric with patterned trim, but there are infinite ways to style them to work in your room. You can go bold on pattern to add dimension to a room, too! They gather as they fold up into your window. You'll always see a bit of the shade and they add really wonderful softness and texture to a room. They can be sewn with or without a header at the top of them, too.

Option #3: Honeycomb Shades

Honeycomb shades have a few special benefits. They're not the most glamorous option when they're down, but when they're up they almost disappear because they're raised and mounted inside the frame of the window.

They also have thermal properties - the cellular nature traps air inside to keep a drafty window from leaking air in or out of your house. They can be single or double celled, large or small cell, and come in many solids and textures. You can specify them for light filtering, privacy, or blackout.

They're a real workhorse and can be installed with tracks at the top and bottom of your window so they can operate top-down or bottom-up. If you look closely in the image below, you can just barely see the rail holding the entire shade mounted onto the trim. (Hint: look between the small upper windows and the large lower windows). I told you they're good chameleons!

Option #4: Roller Shades

The roller shade always brings me back to my corporate days, but I still use them for residential clients today! They are excellent at a sunny kitchen window that gets blasted with afternoon and morning light. Like honeycombs, the roll-up in a really minimal cartridge. I love to hide the cartridge under an upholstered cornice.

Solar roller shades are easy to clean and great in kitchens where you're worried about greasy cooking build-up. For those of you with bad memories of being snapped by the roller shades in your bedroom (or is that just me!), these are a more sophisticated version with either a motorized or simple chain mechanism to raise and lower the shade.

I also love that these can have a super long span, so for 2 or 3 windows together, you can do a single extended roller shade so you don't get stuck raising and lowering 3 shades and having none line up. Am I the only one who can't stand that?

Option #5: Plantation Shutters

Plantation shutters are permanently installed in your window to look like part of the frame or casing. They typically have louvers to control light and privacy and can swing fully open for cleaning your windows.

They tend to have a coastal feel and can be installed "split" so you can control the light levels on the top and bottom separately. I love installing split plantation shutters in bathrooms and powder rooms with lower windows as they give visual privacy but still let light shine in!

When choosing the right treatment for you, first consider the light or privacy you're controlling. Then consider what you want the shade to do for your home - do you want it to disappear into the casing, look like part of the architecture, or be a decorative statement?

With these answers in hand, you'll be that much closer to picking the perfect type for your room. Don't be nervous about mixing types from room to room, either. No designer loves things to be too matchy-matchy! As always ask away in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer any questions that pop up!

If you need a professional eye on your windows for maximum beauty, be sure to reach out to us — we'd love to meet you!



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