Design Tips for Household Shades

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Window treatments are deceptively complicated. When decorating your home, they are easily the most influential in not only the theme of your room, but the functionality. Shades determine the amount of light you let in, any views or amount of privacy, and also the theme. Choosing the right set can be intimidating, but there are some basic things to consider when shopping. Here's our guide on how to design your room with the perfect shades.


There are many types of shades available including roman shades, fabric shades, natural shades, aluminum blinds, pleated shades, bamboo shades and even faux wood options. Obviously, price will be a determining factor, and the least expensive tend to be the least attractive. For a low-budget window treatment, consider roller shades, which are better than aluminum blinds and are still inexpensive. They also have a visually appealing look. Wooden blinds are a good option if you choose not to paint them, and they are also less expensive. If budget is not an issue, then choose a style that fits best with your home's aesthetic.


Your home's current style is a huge factor in determining window treatments. For example, if your home is modern or contemporary, then wooden and faux blinds would work well, as would mini shades, illusion shadings or roller shades, if your home is a bit older. For your shades, choose a color that is not too overwhelming or draining. If you love bright colors, then choose an off-shade of that color to tone it down. Consider shades that are common throughout the rest of your home and coordinate accordingly.


Is your home close to your neighbors'? If you feel like someone could easily peek in when you don't want them to, then consider shades that will protect you from that possibility. For privacy, the best shades include bamboo, wooden, vertical and cellular. Each offers just enough coverage so that you don't have to worry about creepers in your lawn getting a free show.


Particularly in a living room or entertainment space, where television viewing and video game playing are common practice, you want to avoid any glare that could seriously damper your view of "American Idol" on the DVR. Consider blackout cellular shades, if you're an avid TV watcher, or PVC-backed fabric vertical shades. These also work well in bedrooms if you want to avoid that morning sunlight.


So you finally got that beach house you've always wanted. To soak up the views but not the sun, sheer weave sun-control shades are a perfect fit. The glare is minimized, but you can still maintain some amount of privacy at night and enjoy views during the day. Light-filtering bamboo shades are another great choice, as they have more open weaving. Sheer shades also add a nice effect that makes a space seem airy, light and wide open.


Keeping shades in good shape can be difficult, particularly if you live in a humid area. To avoid dampness and damage to your shades, consider installing treatments that are built for it. Vinyl roller shades, 2-inch faux wood shades and Phifer sheer weave solar shades are all great options to avoid having to replace over the years. Another common source of shade damage is sunlight. If your shades are going to be in a room where they are exposed to excessive sun on a regular basis, then pvc vertical blinds are perfect for blocking intense heat while withstanding sun damage. They also have a lifetime guarantee against warping and cracking, so you don't have to worry about paying to replace them.


The wrong size shades will never work properly, so it's important to be precise. Always measure your window frame with a steel tape measure that will give you the most accurate measurement. Round to the nearest 1/8 inch, and always measure the width first, then the height. For the width, measure in three places; then use the narrowest width for your guide. To ensure minimum light gaps, add 4 to 5 inches on each side of the blinds (top, bottom, left and right). Also be sure to leave room for mounting brackets, which can be between 1 and 3 inches tall.

For a home feature that defines a room's feeling and aesthetic, it's important to get the right one. Before you go shopping at all for shades, consult this guide, and figure out what you're really looking for. Once you have all your facts and preferences together, then you can start making the most out of your window treatments.

Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for

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