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How to choose the right window treatment for you! Blinds? Shades? or Shutters?

Whether you are purchasing a new home, building that dream home, remodeling, or simply updating the look and feel of your home, there is an inevitable decision to be made about the privacy of your home.

Your windows are....well, windows. They are portals between your private space, shared with your intimate friends and family, and the outside world. Now, most people are not exobitionists wanting for the random neighbor out for a stroll to be a viewing party of their happenings within their home.

For most people, privacy is a very high priority.

Now, privacy can be acheived with any of the options that are offered. Blinds, shades, shutters, and draperies can all be used individually or collectively to acheive whatever level of privacy and light control you desire for your personal space. What your specific needs and preferences are will determine which type of window treatment is best for you and your space.

If you are simply looking for a quick and easy solution to just cover your windows, then the most affordable and basic solution will be basic horizontal blinds.

What is a Blind

Blinds are faux wood ('fake wood") or real wood hoizontal slats strung with nylon cords. the functionality of blinds is limited to raising/lowering up/down and tilting back and forth. Blinds do a decent job of blocking light out, but without pairing them with a drapery, you will always be just shy of blackout with this type of window treatment. Blinds can also be upgraded with cloth tape to add a little design to what is otherwise a standard window treatment.

Now, if you are willing to spend a little more and want to focus more on the design of your space coupled with functionality, then the next step up would be a form of shade. Typically, just above blinds we see roller shades and cellular shades. These two types of shades have the potential to either be affordable for most people, or escalate the prices pretty high depending on the quality of fabric one chooses coupled with the control options available for each (chain controlled, cordless, or motorized).

What is a Roller Shade

A roller shade is a product that does exactly what its name says it does, it rolls. These shades are assembled by taking the fabric of your choice and rolling it around an aluminum tube matched with your control choice to create a window treament capable of covering your entire window or rolling competely up and out of sight and everything in between. Depending on your needs, the material chosen can either be a room darkening or light filtering style. Now, I say room darkening instead of blackout due to the fact that even though the material itself does not let any light through, there is always what is called a "halo effect" caused by the operational gaps between the trim work and the material itself. Roller shades do a decent job of darkening a room if that is what you desire, but again, without pairing it with a drapery, you will not be able to achieve a true blackout effect. Another great option from roller shades is that they can be used outdoors as well to convert that hot windy patio into a comfortable second living space suitable for cookouts or just a nice relaxing place to read.

What is a Cellular Shade

A cellular shade is a fabric shade that operates much like a roller shade in the way that it can cover your window or be drawn up and out of the way. The difference in this type of shade is that it does not roll, but instead it more folds like and accordian. When viewed from the side, the shade is formed into "cell" like what you would find in a bee hive honey comb, thus lending the name "honeycomb shade" as a popular secondary name for the cellular shade. Now, like the roller shades, cellular shades can range in price and quality depending on the choices of fabric and control options available. Cellular shades also have both light filtering and room darkening options. This type of shade does a better job of darkening rooms then roller shades simply because the gaps on the sides can be smaller then with roller shades due to manufacturing tolerances with the design of the actual shade itself. Just as with blinds and roller shades, cellular shades will not give a true blackout effect without a secondary window treament to cover the "halo effect" spoken about above. An additional feature that the cellular shades offer that roller shades and blinds do not is a feature called top down/bottom up. This feature allows you to lower the top portion of the shade down while the lower portion still covers part of the window. This option allows for you to maintain some privacy on the bottom portion of the window while letting in light from the top.

So far we have covered three types of window treatments, but there are a few more options out there. The next product we will discuss is going to be Roman shades. Roman shades are a more elegant type of window treatment that is used to really accent the desgin cues of any home. Roman shades fold up creating a decorative top treatment effect when not being used for privacy or light control. This type of window treatment can also be outfitted with the top down/bottom up feature. There are a couple different styles of Roman shades: Woven Wood Shades and Fabric Roman Shades.

What is a Woven Wood Shade

Woven wood shades are roman style shades that are made of reeds of different types of wood woven together to form the shade. This type of Roman shade carries with it a lot of character due to the characteristics that real wood has. You can get a variety of lights and darks within the same shade depending on your specific design.

What is a Fabric Roman Shade

Fabric Roman shades are made of a linen type of material rather then wooden materials used in woven woods. Using fabrics allows for more versatile color coordination within the design realm. Fabrics can also be found in many varieties of patterns to accomadate different tastes among homeowners.

Last but not least to be covered today, is going to be Plantation Shutters.

What is a Plantation Shutter

Shutters are an age old traditional window covering that has withstood the test of time. Despite the modernization of window treatments over the decades, shutters have been able to adapt to the ever changing standards of design within the window treatment world. Over the years we have seen the louver sizes progressively grow to wider widths (from 1 inch-2.5 inch-3.5 inch-4.5 inch-5.5 inch) This widening of the louvers has allowed for greater light control and visibility to accomadate the modernizing home designs. Not only have the louvers become wider, but the ability to build wider panels has made it possible to have a more clean look with unbroken views through the window. Another adaptation that has come about over time is the option to operate the shutters a feature called "hidden tilt" where in the past there was a "tilt rod" visible vertically in the middle of the shutter connecting all the louvers for even operation, there is now an option to hide the tilt rod behind the louvers and offset in order to open up the view even more. Planation shutters are considered a "hard treatment" in the window treatment world. This means that it is not simply an accessory like other options, but that it becomes part of the home like trim work. Being classified as a hard treatment means that shutters actually add equity to the home, so they are not just a purchase but an investment into the house. Shutters do a fantastic job at darkening rooms. There are no significant gaps around the panels, therefore, there is no halo effect. Though they are still not a true blackout option, the only light that will be visible is more of an ambient light rather then anything significant.

In conclusion, there are many different options available when needing to cover exposed windows either for privacy or just light control. This list that I have created is not exhaustive, but does a good job of laying the foundation for anyone venturing into the window treatment world. There are many more variations out there that can be discovered with the right guidance .....and budget of course.

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