Today’s window treatments come in all shapes and sizes, including many streamlined options that blend effortlessly with refined, rustic interiors. Whether you’re looking to add some visual texture to a room — or just trying to protect your furniture from direct sunlight — you’ll find a bounty of blinds, shades and other simple window treatments that will get the job done.
This essential guide sheds light on the latest window-dressing options and trends.
Simple, uncluttered and timeless, blinds are a perfect solution for homeowners searching for that understated window treatment that won’t take away from their decor.
Generally less expensive (and less fussy) than curtains, blinds also create a sense of depth by adding layers to your windows, helping to create focal points throughout your home. They’re particularly useful for difficult-to-reach and awkwardly shaped windows.
Vertical blinds are made from a series of separate slats (usually vinyl) and are a great option if you desire precise light control or face the challenge of extra-wide windows. Once solely associated with office buildings and hotels, vertical blinds are making a comeback with a wide variety of new materials and finishes.
Mini-blinds have always been a popular choice thanks to their many benefits, such as affordable price, light-weight material and easy-to-install features. Long lasting and available in an array of colors, some folks tend to fall into the min-blind trap, using them in every aspect of their home. Try mixing it up with other styles, or pair minis with colorful curtains or sleek shutters.
Standard blinds are wider (2 to 3 inches) than minis, resulting in a classic feel, perfect for particularly deep windows. They’re also reasonably priced (usually between $50-$70 per set), making them a thrifty option for homeowners who desire a high-class look on a modest budget.
Wood blinds offer up a warm, rich feel in both casual and traditional rooms, and can be stained or painted to match any decor, as well as floors or walls. Because of their natural nature, though, wood blinds are not suitable for extra chilly or moist locations. Another tip: You can get the look at a fraction of the cost with wood-core blinds coated with vinyl finish or with look-alike synthetics.
Blinds can be fitted inside or outside window recesses, but make sure you’ll still be able to open the window. Windows that tilt and turn, for example, call for blinds outside the recess. Also, blinds fixed inside recesses tend to seep light.
Shades are on the softer side of window treatments and can be raised or lowered for privacy and light control without sacrificing gorgeous outdoor views. Available in an array of color, fabric and pattern options, window shades are the perfect way to coordinate window treatments with your interior style — and add special functions such as UV protection and temperature control.
Roller shades are universal, though they’re particularly well-suited for inward-opening windows, slanted windows and skylights. The most popular styles are usually fitted to the top of the window, but bottom-up rollers are also available. If this sounds too plain for your taste, dress up roller shades with DIY trim (think shells, leaves, beads) or interesting pulls.
Roller shades must be made with stiffened fabric. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, choose linen or cotton and simply spray with a fabric stiffener. For maximum light control, consider bottom-up styles that allow you to cover just the bottom of the window while leaving the top open to allow natural light in.
Roman shades offer the simplicity of rollers with a softer, more elegant style. Kept in place with rods sewn into pockets on the back of the blind, Roman shades easily close up into a series of horizontal folds. Roman blinds absorb some sound, making them perfect for bedrooms, but they can pose problems for very wide windows. For total darkness, line them with blackout fabric.
Cellular shades (also known as honeycomb shades) are highly functional and attractive at the same time. Standard cellular models come in single or double thickness — the latter maximizes energy-efficiency and helps keep out UV rays, while both options provide some soundproofing and great temperature insulation in the summer and winter. Cellular shades compress tightly when open, making them very easy to incorporate into any interior.
Solar shades diffuse light and UV rays simultaneously, eliminating distracting glares on TVs and home computers while combating heat to keep rooms cool. Although solar shades are available in a limited range of colors, they come with a buyer-friendly “openness” rating. (The lower the rating, the more coverage you get.) And don’t forget that you can always pair shades with other types of window treatments so as not to sacrifice your desired look for function.
Traditionally reversed for home exteriors, interior shutters are becoming more popular for cottage-style homes. Sometimes slatted and sometimes solid, shutters offer complete privacy along with optimal light control. Contrary to popular belief, shutters are not limited to just wood (think metal, plastic, even frosted glass). Another unique option: Reclaimed shutters are easy to find at flea markets, but it can be difficult to find ones that fit well together. Just look for easy-to-use joiners to seal the deal.
Café shutters are just what you’d imagine: small, quaint window treatments that cover the lower half of your windows — giving you the freedom to leave the upper half uncovered or to combine with curtains. Café shutters are easy to paint or stain to coordinate with your home’s interior.
Tier-on-tier shutters give you even more control over the amount of light that shines in. The bottom and top halves work independently from one another — great for daytime coverage without being completely shut off from the outside.
Single-piece shutters are ideal if your window is less than 3 feet tall. These full-length options give the look of folding doors over your windows — adding a unique architectural element with historical character.
The height of a shutter should be at least two times its width. Ignoring this rule could result in shutters that look out of proportion. The size of the window may affect how the shutters are hung: Bigger shutters may need to be hinged individually.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out these tips on window hardware.