Blinds, Shades and Shutters: What You Need to Know About Custom Window Treatments

by Editor on November 13, 2013


When your new house is built, the next step is selecting the furnishings that will turn a house into your home. One of the last steps many new homeowners take is to select window treatments to finish off each room. This article introduces you to the three main categories of window treatments: blinds, shades and shutters. You will also learn about the four hottest window treatments in stores today.

Blinds, Shades, Shutters: What Is the Difference?

Blinds, shades and shutters are all window treatments. However, each brings something different to a room.

  • Blinds. Blinds offer a flexible way to let light in while still maintaining privacy. Blinds can come with horizontal or vertical slatsor strips of material. Material can include wood, plastic and composite materials.
  • Shades. By nature, shades are opaque. As such, window shades offer more privacy and ambient light but less flexibility in terms of being able to see in and out simultaneously.
  • Shutters. Shutters are typically installed on the exterior of the window (rather than on the interior like blinds and shades). Shutters serve a dual purpose of protecting against the elements and controlling the amount of light in a room.

Types of Blinds

There are four main types of blinds you can select for your window treatments.

  • Wood. Wood has enduring appeal because it is a hardy material that brings warmth to any room.
  • Faux. Faux-wood blinds look like real wood but are more durable. Often, they are more affordable, making them an economical choice for furnishing multiple rooms.
  • Mini. Mini blinds offer the greatest flexibility in light control and diversity of styles.
  • Vertical. Vertical blinds bring visual interest to any room, and pair well with French doors and other treatments.

Types of Shades

Two types of shades have emerged as the clear frontrunners in today’s window-treatment market.

  • Roller. Roller shades can be customized for different opacity levels. They’re also themost flexible in blocking out light at different times of day.
  • Cellular. A more common name for cellular shades is “honeycomb” shades. These durable, energy-efficient shades are perfect for blocking light and enhancing privacy.
  • Pleated. Pleated shades ensure a uniform view from the street (the backing material is a uniform color), and offer both functionality and crisp attractiveness. For extra privacy, you can install pleated shades with privacy liners.
  • Roman. Roman shades, or Roman blinds, seem similar to curtains but have greater functionality when it comes to enhancing privacy, and controlling light and heat.

Types of Shutters

Both of these shutter types are hardy and attractive for exterior treatments.

  • Wood. Wood shutters are the ultimate classic window treatments and can be dyed to match any design.
  • Faux. Faux-wood shutters are a perfect choice for difficult climates (humidity, dryness, frequent inclement weather).

4Trendy Window Treatments

Interior design trends now favor four particular types of window treatments:

  • Green treatments.“Green” treatments include organic and sustainable materials and recycled materials. An example of organic materials may be hemp or organic cotton. An example of sustainable materials might be bamboo or cloth dyed with nontoxic dye. An example of recycled materials may be repurposed fabric or wood. Another important facet of green treatments is energy conservation. Treatmentsmay be constructed to reduce glare, fight off known allergens, repel heat orother energy-saving, health-enhancing measures.
  • Color treatments. Big, bold color is back in fashion. Jewel tones, brown in place of black, ocean shades (teal, green, aquamarine) and dusky shades such as lavender are all hot in window treatments this year.
  • Luxury fabric treatments. Luxury fabrics are finding their way back into the mainstream window treatment market even while the green trend gathers steam. Especially popular luxury fabrics include velvet, grosgrain, silk, leather, suede, fur and damask.
  • Minimalist treatments. Minimalist treatments offer a direct counterpoint to the “luxury movement,” with their sleek, simple, Asian-inspired lines. Often minimalist treatments are married with “green” treatments — for instance, a frills-free bamboo blind.

By using this basic window treatments primer, you can evaluate each room in your new home and customize it to fit your tastes and preferences.

Image by Ed g2s from Wikimedia’s Creative Commons

About the Author

Harvey Helms has worked in interior design for 30 years. He uses fixtures such as window shades in the Woodland, TX area projects he works on for his clients.

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