Window Blinds and Shades

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This information can clarify and help answer some questions about window shades and blinds.

Consider a house call: Because projects such as installing new blinds or shades throughout a house are a major investment, both for re-sale value and emotional satisfaction, you may want to make all your decisions yourself.

But working with a designer or even a consultant from your local home improvement center can help clarify your ideas and maybe keep them from mushrooming into an unnecessarily complicated or fussy project. These specialists work with the products and understand their value and limitations. They can add practical suggestions that will enhance your choices.

Personality Plus: Different types of window coverings convey different personalities, so you might think about using old-fashioned and comfortable drapes in a bedroom; efficient mini-blinds in a kitchen; warm wood blinds in an office or study and inviting vertical blinds over a sliding patio door. You can get ideas in any home magazine or consult a designer for help clarifying your needs for each room.

Mounts: Blinds or shades can be mounted either inside or outside of your window frame. An inside frame makes for a cleaner look because the blinds will be flush against the wall and also seals the opening better for insulation. An outside mounted blind or shade sticks out from the wall. Some window frames are too narrow to allow an inside mount, so make sure you have enough space for them.

Shade features: Shades and blinds come with a wide variety of special features. Take a look at the following list and see if any of these extras catch your eye. Top down/bottom up is how a blind opens. Top-down is when the top of the blind opens first and then moves down the window with the blind gathering at the bottom of the sill. Bottom-up is the more standard approach the blind opens first on the bottom and then moves up to the top of the sill.

Remote control is a popular option. Most shades are opened by pulling on a string. Remote controls take the manual work out of opening and closing windows by adding a motor to the shade.

Cord loops are another way of opening shades that are ideal for larger shades. The continuous loop eliminates the need to gather the cord when you open a shade. Cord loops tend to be more durable and stronger than a standard cord pull.

An extension bracket is a mounting that extends a blind past the frame of a window. You usually find this on outside mounts for vertical blinds.

Hold down clips are a nice little feature that keeps the blinds from flying around if the wind rises. Hold down clips are often used for doors.

Two (or more) blinds on one headrail are often used with multi-unit windows that have more than one window sitting side-by-side. Designers created this feature so that the individual blinds covering each window have a common valance. This gives the window treatment a unified look.

Valance is a piece of material that runs across the top of the headrail. It's a common feature in window treatments because it gives the blind or shade a finished look. Room darkening is a feature found on cellular shades that will completely black out all light from outside. The other common style with cellular shades is light-filtering. This screens out the harsh glare of the sun but still allows light to filter through. Privacy is a nice feature on mini blinds. It hides the holes normally found in the blinds so that no light comes through when the shades are closed. The slats even close tighter, which gives the blinds a very sleek look.

Taking off the shades: Generally, existing blinds and shades are fairly easy to remove, so it's a reasonable do-it-yourself job. However, many service professionals will provide this service for a small extra charge.

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