Form and Function

The blinds or shades you choose should support each room's use as well as add to its beauty.

Every room in your home serves a different function so it is important to choose the best blinds.The blinds you choose, whether wood blinds or cellular shades, should support each room's use as well as add to its beauty. Just as you wouldn't use a French glass door for your bathroom, you wouldn't use a silk blind over your kitchen sink. To help you decide which style, shape, size, material and color might best suit a particular room,we've gathered some tips and recommendations when choosing window blinds and shades for your house.

Privacy

Consider how much privacy you want your shade or blind to provide in a given room. If others can see into your bedroom or bathroom window, avoid using sheer shades or shades which don't cover the entire window. On the other hand, if your bedroom or bathroom faces woods, mountains or private grounds of any type, you may wish to consider blinds that are sheer or even mid-length. Don't forget to consider how much light blocking you want to have in your bedrooms. Unlike most bathrooms and bedrooms, kitchens don't require privacy, but other factors such as ease of care become considerations.

Light Filtering & Blocking / Controlling the Light - horizontal and vertical blinds both allow premium control over how much light and the angle it enters your room. Tilt the slats to redirect the light. One direction blocks the sun's glare while permitting a view to the outside while the other direction allows the sun in. Control the degree of light by how open or closed you make the slats. Both horizontal and vertical blinds can be left fully closed to block all light or retracted to provide an unobstructed view.

Filtering the Light - you may wish to cut down on the light without totally darkening a room. Consider cellular shades or Venetian blinds as a way to soften light without eliminating it completely.

Blackout / Room Darkening shades - If you need to completely darken a room during the day, consider blackout or room darkening shades. These are perfect for rooms where children nap or TV/Projection rooms. Many offices use blackout shades for presentation rooms. Blackout shades do not mean sacrificing a room's appearance, however. Many elegant cellular and Venetian blinds are specifically designed to blackout or darken rooms.

Energy Efficiency

Cut your energy bills with energy efficient blinds. The proper shades or blinds can reduce your bills by retaining heat in the winter and blocking the sun from heating your interior in the summer. And when you're talking about a home with dozens of windows, the savings add up. Energy efficiency doesn't mean having dull or boring shades and blinds, not with our wide selection of energy efficient shades and blinds. Heavier fabrics will prevent more loss than lighter fabrics. The most energy efficient shades are cellular.

Cellular Shades - cellular shades come in single, double and double-lined fabric layers of "honeycomb" cells. Static air, the air trapped in the cells, acts as insulation. More layers provide a greater cushion of air between your window and your interior, decreasing the loss of heat in winter and air conditioning in summer up to 62%. For larger windows, choose larger cells to create a more efficient barrier.

Décor

Choosing window blinds and shades to match your décor is not as complex as some first believe.

A Room's "Period" or Motif. A colonial style room invites wooden blinds. A nautical bathroom or kitchen can benefit from canvas shades (but consider the care of the material before using certain fabrics in high splash zones).

Color often becomes the prime concern when choosing window blinds and shades.

Classic, Romantic, Sleek, Modern: What's your style? The finish on a shade or blinds can add to the décor. Shiny finishes (metallic) gives a sleek look while natural fabrics (raw silk, cotton, linen) give a casual feel. Bamboo blinds and woven wood shades can give a sense of warmth to a room.

Type of Window

What type of window do you have and how often you open it? Some windows open in, out or up. The hardware on casement windows can get caught between slats while windows prone to a lot of moisture or condensation can make a fabric window subject to mildew.

Window Orientation

West Facing Windows - allow in the fierce afternoon sun. Consider using horizontal or vertical blinds to protect fabrics and furniture.

South Facing Windows - offer hot, lazy light year round. Consider using horizontal or vertical blinds to protect fabrics and furniture.

North Facing Windows - offer clear, consistent light and the coldest exposure. Consider energy efficient shades such as cellular shades.

East Facing Windows - catch the warm, bright morning light. Consider horizontal or vertical blinds to block out UV rays.

Color

Changing room size through color. You've probably heard it a million times: Light colors make a room appear larger while dark colors give the room a smaller or crowded look. Do you need to "open" the space a bit, or can you use a bold or dark color without creating a closed-in feel? On a similar note, keeping the color contrast to a minimum between the shade and the walls will visually expand a room.

Colors affect mood. Light or bright colors are more uplifting while darker colors can create a somber feel. Contrast between the shade and wall color can add warmth to a room as well. If your mood has already been "set" by your other furnishings in the room, you may wish to compliment the present color scheme. But if you want to attract attention to your window, making it a highlight or focal point in the room, go bold with a contrasting color.

Which colors are best? There are no right or wrong colors. Neutrals and pastels provide a calming effect and won't "fight" with other bold or dramatic furnishings. Bold, strong colors and patterns draw attention and add drama to a room. Play with different color samples until you find the perfect color for the desired effect.

Slat or Pleat Size

Does slat or pleat size matter? Slat size depends on the size of the window and how much see-through space you desire. To maximize the see-through space when your blinds are open but not retracted, use larger slats, such as 2" instead of 1" or ½". Since there is no see-through space for shades, base your pleat size on the size of the window. If you are looking for a wide slat, check out our 2.5" wood blinds and faux wood blinds.

For smaller windows and French doors, we recommend a smaller slat or pleat size. Larger slats or pleats may overwhelm a small window. On the other hand, smaller slats or pleats may make a larger window look overly busy and improperly "dressed." Ultimately, choose the slat or pleat size based on your preferences and the "look" you wish to create. Order free samples of small and large slats and pleats for the window you are outfitting.

Material

Deciding which material is best for a window may be an easier choice than you had first expected. Wood blinds, faux wood blinds, bamboo shades, vinyl blinds, cellular shades, or aluminum mini blinds. Consider where your window is located. Is the area humid, a splash zone or near a work-space? For high humid areas, wood is not ideal, but aux wood - which is warp resistant - provides the warmth and look of wood. Will the window blind or shade have to endure grease-splatter from stovetop cooking? Then consider vinyl, aluminum or faux wood instead of a fabric.

Once you consider which factors could affect your ability to keep a blind or shade looking clean, you'll have a good idea of which material is best for your window.

Care

Not all window blinds and shades are ideal for high splash zones, such as a kitchen or bathroom. Wood, faux wood, vinyl and aluminum blinds are ideal for a kitchen as they are easy to clean, usually with a simple wipe of a cloth or duster. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure the best results when cleaning your blinds. See How to Clean Window Blinds and Shades for an overview of how aluminum blinds, wood blinds, and cellular shades are typically cared for.

Safety

Never use shades or blinds with long pull cords within the reach of young children. All blinds purchased after 2001 meet current child safety regulations. Should you own a blind created prior to 2001, from any manufacturer, you can receive a free window blind retrofit kit from the Window Covering Safety Council. To learn more, read "Install Child-Safe Window Blind Cords".