Blinds are one of the most effective and stylish ways of dealing with privacy and shading your home.
Where drapes and curtains certainly have their appeal and work wonderfully if you’re only concerned with covering your windows to block out light or prevent neighbours and passers-by to get a good view of you lounging around in your pyjamas in front of the TV at night, blinds come in handy at quite a few more every-day situations.
Before we get into the advantages of blinds, however, let us have a look at what we’re actually talking about.
Since most people talk about both blinds and shades when referring to “blinds”, we decided to encompass both types of window dressings in this guide. To help you understand the difference and ask for the right thing when you set out to buy your favourites, here’s a short explanation of what is what:
- Blinds typically are some sort of slats that are connected together and can be moved up and down your window. The slats themselves can be made out of a variety of materials, may be covered with fabric, and can be tilted to control how much light they let into a room.
Usually, the up-and-down movement of the blinds is controlled by a cord affixed to one side of the blind, while the degree of the slat’s tilt can be adjusted by twisting a rod.
- Shades are made out of some sort of fabric but without any slats. Therefore, shades can cover your window by various degrees on the vertical level, but give you only a set degree of opacity that is determined by the shade’s fabric.
Now that we have discussed the basic makeup of blinds and shades, we have also introduced some of the most notable advantages of blinds compared to regular curtains.
The biggest advantage of blinds is that you can control the amount of light that enters a room. Whether you choose to drop your blinds over just the top few inches of your window to block out these few annoying rays of the setting sun that reflect on your screen, or you want the whole window covered but need to let in enough light to still be able to comfortably see without having to turn on the lights in the middle of the day, blinds give you total control about shading your home.
Another big plus of shades is the simple fact that they can be used in situations where classic curtains just don’t stand a chance of working. For example, if you have a beautiful skylight or roof-top windows, you will know that there’s no way a curtain will help you to keep the sun out during summer there. Blinds and (particularly) shades, however, have no problem whatsoever with these kind of circumstances.
Additionally, if you have large glass-fronts in your home, you will probably have first-hand experience with the difficulties of manoeuvring around curtains spanning a few metres or even the length of a whole room. And where you typically only have the choice between “all open” or “all closed” with curtains, using blinds on large glass-fronts allows you to partially shade the expanse and leave, for example, the door leading out onto the balcony open and easily accessible.
And finally, blinds are a stylish accessory that can add colour and drama to a room, or can make your home look classy, chic, modern, or comfortable in turn. Blinds are more versatile than curtains and deserve a much more prominent place in our collective awareness when it comes to room decorations and window dressing.
Vertical blinds are a progression of individual strips of fabric that are affixed horizontally above a window or door.
This is the version of blinds that is most similar to curtains in that they can only be moved sideways, not up and down.
Typically, vertical blinds are used for large windows, glass doors or glass fronts, but they can also be found in smaller sizes to fit normal sized windows.
Venetian blinds are the most popular style of blinds and probably the ones you are most familiar with.
They are made up of individual slats that can be made out of a number of different materials ranging from wood to aluminium. These slats can be lowered and raised to whichever height you need, and typically the slats can be tilted around their horizontal axis to allow more or less light to come into the room.
Mini blinds are essentially a smaller-sized version of Venetian blinds.
The notable difference is that for mini blinds, the slats are thinner, and typically are around 1” thick.
Otherwise, these blinds operate the same way their bigger siblings do.
Micro blinds are yet a step smaller than mini blinds.
With slats that come in at around 1/2”, this is as thin as you will get with blinds.
Just as the name suggests, this type of blinds are made out of individual panels of fabric.
The individual panels are secured to on or more tracks and can be slid along these to give shade and cover as needed.
Panel blinds are the best way to add a bit of individuality to any room. Since you basically put together your own pick of individual panels, you can go for bold colour blocking, throw in some patterned panels, or -as our example picture shows- can make your blinds a variation on a theme.
Roller (or rolling) shades are named after the way they can be moved up and down.
Where blinds typically get “stacked” together above your window when retracted all the way, these shades are rolled up around a cylinder suspended above the glass front.
Typically, most roller shades have the actual roll hidden behind a small panel of wood or cloth, or inside a kind of boy mounted above the window. Lately, some variants chose to incorporate the roll into the design and leave them visible.
Roman shades are a very traditional way of shading your window. They typically are made out of cotton, jute, or seagrass – materials that have been around for a long time.
What makes Roman shades so special is the way they retract. When drawn up, the individual planes of fabric fold up upon themselves, leaving you with a neatly folded stack of fabric on top of your window when fully retracted. This might sound strange, but it actually looks incredibly beautiful and very unique in real life.
Pleated shades are essentially made out of one single large piece of fabric or paper-like material that is pleated accordion-like to create “panels”.
This kind of shades looks equally great folded up as is does spread out fully.
Honeycomb shades, or Cellular shades as they are also called, are one step up from the classic plaited shades. Basically, this type of shades combines two plaited shades that are set back to back to create the name-giving honeycomb structure.
What speaks for using honeycomb shades the most is a very simple, highly economic factor: money. And by that, we don’t mean the money spent buying.
Due to their double layer structure that creates pockets of air between the two sheets of fabric, Honeycomb blinds come with a not inconsiderable insulation factor that helps to keep cold air out of and warmth inside your living spaces. This helps you save money for heating, and -when used consistently- not an inconsiderable amount of it!
This kind of blinds are more about shading a room than for a full black-out.
Since these shades are made out of light, sheer fabrics, they give an incredibly airy look to a room and work best in light, cozy rooms. For example, you can use sheer shades to block your neighbours from looking into your bedroom while still keeping it light-flooded and inviting.
Having large glass fronts in your home might look incredibly good, however, they do come with a big disadvantage – they let in a lot of light, and therefore heat.
Now, we understand that you don’t necessarily relish the idea of pulling shades down over the stunning glass front, ridding yourself of the gorgeous view, even if you have to swelter in the heat for that.
Solar shades are the perfect compromise for this problem! Similar to sunglasses, these blinds filter out some of the sun’s UV rays and heat, while still allowing you to enjoy the view uninhibited (if slightly dimmed).
Zebra blinds look exactly like their name suggests.
But while you might think at a first glance that this iconic monochrome look simply is the result of bold black slats used in a Venetian blinds-like setup, these blinds are actually shades.
The black-and-white design is the result of privacy granting black blocks of fabric interconnected with strips of sheer fabric. This makes Zebra blinds so incredibly good at keeping people from looking into your home without blocking out all or most of the light when they are down.
Skylight shades come in a variety of different styles.
Typically you can distinguish between blinds that run along tracks set onto your window frame, blinds that run along the window itself (allowing for the shade to open with the window, and thus not restricting airflow), and blinds that run over the whole of the window (typically sheets of fabric that can be drawn to cover the whole part of the wall the window is set into).
As for types, there are roller blinds, Venetian blinds, solar shades, sheer shades, and more to chose from.
Tie-up shades, too, do exactly what their name suggests.
These blinds are basically a sheet of fabric of your choice that are both mounted and tied up with two bands sewn onto the top of the fabric.
Since you always have your windows partially covered, even when the shades are tied up, this solution lends itself for windows in rooms you don’t mind being (partially) shaded all the time, like kitchen or bathroom windows for example.
Outdoor blinds are all types of blinds that are used for shading patios and terraces.
Typically, you will pick either opaque or sheer fabric shades, or go for solar shades to maintain the view but filter out UV rays and (a bit of) heat.
Generally speaking, you should not use indoor blinds or shades for outdoor locations since you need a more secure mounting and weather-proof fabrics to have long-lasting joy with your outdoor shades.
While not really a type of blinds, we feel that smart blinds deserve a spot in the top trends 2018 nevertheless.
Smart blinds can be any type of blinds or shade. What makes them “smart” is the fact that you can remote control them via your phone or pre-set motorisation. In other words, smart blinds are blinds that can lower, tilt, and draw up all “by themselves” using smart home technology.
And while exchanging already existing blinds and shades with smart blinds might cost a fortune and probably won’t be something you seriously think about, there is a cheaper, more approachable solution. Many of the standard shade and blind systems can be retrofitted with small electronics that turn your trusted blinds into super smart gadgets, allowing you to remotely control them individually or as a whole.