Choosing the right window treatments

Part one: blinds

Today's window treatments represent a smart new simplicity. Simple doesn't mean plain, but does suggest a crisper, cleaner, approach for your home windows. Giving your windows a fresh look is easier than ever thanks to an astonishing array of high-tech shutters, shades, blinds, fabrics, and decorative hardware in all sorts of colours, styles, and finishes.

Before choosing from the wide selection of new design possibilities, determine the function of each window and what you want the window treatment to do. Consider privacy, light control, ventilation, the view, and energy efficiency when selecting a covering for any window in your home.

Keep in mind that a well designed window treatment suits not only the window, but also blends with the rest of the room and adds to the sense of unity. Here are a few suggestions to help you update and beautify your windows.

Shutters

You can use interior window shutters in any room in your home and seldom need a fabric valance or drapery to dress them up. They are attractive, help regulate light, insulate, and fit into almost any décor due to their simplicity and clean lines. Although available in numerous colours and stains, shutters look best when painted or finished the same as the rest of the window frame.

Café shutters make a good choice if you want to cover just the lower half of a window. Double-hung tiered sets can cover a window completely, giving you more ways to regulate light and privacy.

Wood shutters offer a greater selection of louvre widths, frame styles, stains or colours, but are usually more expensive than vinyl.

Quality vinyl shutters provide a practical option. They are easier to clean, moisture resistant, and won't crack, peel, fade, or deteriorate like wood, although colour selection is usually limited to white or ivory.

Shades and blinds

You can display shades and blinds alone, pair with a valance, or combine with drapery panels of varying lengths and styles. High-tech styles and materials leave no shortage of choices. Because they often share materials, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between shades and blinds, so here's a brief description of some of the most popular types.

Roman blinds: these are made of woven fabric that looks and feels like drapery, and can be raised or lowered like a blind. Roman blinds feature loosely folded, horizontal pleats usually four to six inches deep.

Pleated blinds: these stack compactly above window for maximum view. They are hidden under curtains when fully raised,

Honeycomb blinds: layers of fabric are pleated accordion-style in honeycomb shapes. These are available in single, double, and triple cell designs. Air-cushioned fabric layers provide exceptional insulation.

Woven wood shades: these are made from bamboo, matchsticks, hemp, jute, woven reeds, grasses, and other natural or natural-looking materials. They require more stacking space than pleated or honeycomb styles.

Venetian (horizontal ) blinds: these come in sizes from one-inch mini-blinds and half-inch micro blinds to two-inch aluminium macro blinds. They stack compactly above the window.

Vertical blinds: these are made from fabric, vinyl, and wood. They open by simply rotating the vanes. They are great for sliding patio doors, picture windows, or any other large window. However they can make a home look like an office.

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