Everything You Could Want to Know About Roller Shades

Roller shades have been around since before the United States was even formed, but how much do you really know about them? These shades have been favored for generations for their classically sleek style and variety of fabric options. Their simplicity and ease of installation make them a popular choice for bedrooms, family rooms and offices; and blackout options make them perfect for home theaters or media rooms.

Whether you have had roller shades for years or are just now thinking about investing in some for your windows, this list of facts will get you fully informed about your favorite window treatment.

They first appeared in 17th Century Holland

Many believe that roller shades made their first appearance in 17th century Holland because by the eighteenth century, they were being widely used throughout Holland, France and England. They did not make their way to U.S. until around 1780, four years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

They used to be hand painted

Artist used to hand painted and stencil borders or scenic imagery onto the shade; that at the time were made of thin cloth or paper so that the décor could be seen by the inhabitants and people passing outside. They were mounted to the window frames and hand rolled when the home owners wanted to see out.

The spring roller was patented in 1855

The roller shade as we know it today truly started with the addition of the spring roller. People no longer had to awkwardly roll their shades up and mount them with hooks. A factory began mass producing spring rollers in 1858 and their popularity took off.

They come in four main types

Today roller shades are available in black-out, semi-opaque, sheer and semi-sheer. Blackout shades block 99 percent of outside light and can look flush to your window. Semi-opaque, sheer and semi-sheer shades let in varying levels of light depending on your choice of fabric, vinyl or woven wood.

They can save you money

The thick material that blackout roller shades are made of not only block 99 percent of outside light, they also help absorb the loss of heat and cooling air inside your home. This keeps the temperature in your home more consistent and lessens the amount of work your air conditioner will have to do.

They should be mounted so the fabric rolls back

Roller shades are most commonly mounted so that the standard roll is close to the window glass, with the fabric rolling back. This mounting option creates the most privacy and blocks the most light from seeping through your windows.

They have two types of lift systems

Blindster’s roller shades come standard with a cordless spring roller shade lift system. With this type of system, you just pull the bottom of the shade to release the spring and lower or lift your shade (think 50’s shades) They can also be upgraded with the clutch continuous loop lift cord system, which features a beaded nylon chain loop that you pull to lift and lower the shade.

Cassette valances can cover the lift system

For those that do not like the look of the roller on their windows, a valance can be added to cover the clutch continuous loop lift cord system. Blindster’s cassette valances are not available with the cordless spring roller shade lift system.

There is always a deduction made

When ordering your roller shades, keep in mind the factory will make a deduction to the measurement of the fabric to leave room for mechanisms to move properly.

They can be combined with curtains

Roller shades are so sleek that they pair perfectly with other window treatments like curtains or drapes. You can get the light filtering and privacy you want from your shades, while adding style and making your window appear larger using curtains.

They work perfectly on a door

Covering windows on a door requires a blind that stays as flush as possible. Roller shades are a great option for regular doors because they are easy to mount and they don’t add a lot of bulk.

They are inexpensive

Roller shades allow all the benefits of a more expensive window treatment without have to shell out the cash. You can still have tasteful décor, privacy and light reduction with money left over for your next home project.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Blinds

Whether you’re replacing the blinds and shades in your home or wondering which ones to install on the bare windows in your new home, buying window treatments is an often overlooked aspect of home décor and design. The blinds and shades you install can make a huge difference not only in the appearance of your windows, but also in your home’s overall ambience and lighting.

For some people, buying window treatments is a simple process—they purchase the first type that catches their eye and install them without a second thought, but they never feel truly satisfied with their decisions or the appearance of their windows. For others, purchasing window treatments can be an agonizing decision, and they may feel buyer’s remorse long after completing the process of measuring, ordering, and installing their new blinds or shades.

At Blindster, we want you to feel 100 percent confident when you place your order—and one of the best ways to do that is to take the time to determine exactly what you’re looking for in your new window treatments. Before placing your order with us, take the time to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you prefer blinds or shades?

When it comes to buying window treatments, this is the first question you should ask yourself, as your entire decision process will be influenced by this answer. Blinds and shades both have obvious pros and cons, and neither option is superior to the other. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference for each room in your home.

 

  • What’s your budget?

While the difference between value blinds or shades and high-end models may not seem like much for a single window covering, the cost of replacing all of your existing window treatments or installing them for the first time on bare windows in your new home can make those small differences much larger. As you begin your search for the perfect blinds or shades, it helps to have a budget in mind, whether it’s for just a single room or your entire home.

 

  • Do you prefer inside or outside mounted window coverings?

After you’ve decided which type of window treatment you wish to install, you have a second decision to make before you take your first measurements: whether you prefer inside or outside mounted window coverings. Inside mounts are the most traditional option and allow you to mount your blind or shade flush inside your window frame for a sleek and built-in look. However, if your window frame has minimal depth or if you wish to cover your window frame, an outside mount may be a better option, as it allows to you attach your window covering to your wall, your window frame, or your ceiling.

 

  • Do you have the tools and ability to accurately measure your windows?

Measuring small to medium-sized windows is a snap and requires little more than a tape measure and a small step ladder. However, measuring large windows that span a great distance across a room can be a tough task—especially if you’re trying to do it by yourself. Because providing accurate measurements is so vital when ordering new window treatments from Blindster, it’s important that you have the tools or the help necessary to measure your windows regardless of their size.

 

  • Do you have the tools to install your new window treatments?

In addition to getting accurate measurements of your windows, you also need the ability to install your new window treatments when they arrive. Installing shades and blinds or small to medium-sized windows is a straightforward process that generally doesn’t take more than around one hour per window, but installing window treatments on large windows or windows that aren’t easily accessible can be a much more difficult and time-consuming process. If you don’t have the tools or the ability to install your window treatments, ask for help from your friends, family, or neighbors—or consult a professional who can assist you.

 

  • Where will you install your new window coverings?

The rooms where you install your new window coverings can make a big difference when it comes to deciding which type of blinds or shades to purchase. Bedrooms, game rooms, home theaters, man caves, living rooms, and bathrooms are great places to install shades that enhance privacy and block out outside light, while rooms like kitchens, dining rooms, laundry rooms, and sunrooms are areas where you may prefer to preserve as much natural light as possible. The type of window treatment you install can make a big difference on the lightning and mood in each room in your home, so it can be helpful to buy window treatments on a room-by-room basis.

 

  • Which features are on your wish list?

All blinds and shades are designed to block out light and increase your privacy to varying degrees, but the variety of shades available through Blindster means that you have more options than ever to get the exact features and options that you want. Some of the features offered in modern window treatments include things like cordless operation, top-down/bottom-up operation, blackout and energy efficient materials, eco-friendly materials, child and pet-friendly lift mechanisms, and much more.

 

  • Do you have a favorite color or pattern?

For many of our customers, window treatment features take a backseat to style and design details like color, material, and pattern. We offer a huge assortment of window coverings that vary greatly in those three categories, which means you won’t have any trouble finding the blinds or shades that match or complement your home’s décor and style when navigating our large selection on our website.

 

  • Which optional components do you need?

Some of the items we ship to our customers aren’t included in standard orders and must be selected during the ordering process. These items include things like extension brackets, hold-down brackets, and headrail covers. Extension brackets provide extra clearance for outside mounts and allow your shades or blinds to fully cover your window, hold-down brackets keep your window coverings secure and held in place at all times, and headrail covers provide a decorative look and detail to the top of your window treatments.

How Cellular Shades are Made

DIY “Patchwork” Apron (no pattern)

I hate letting pretty fabrics go to waste. We have so many fabric options for shades that are constantly being replaced with new styles or trends, leaving tons of perfectly good scraps in the trash. For this week’s DIY project, I saved the fabric from the landfill by upcycling them into a pretty and functional apron!

Supplies:

  • Fabric scraps (cut into 3-inch squares or rectangles)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Solid colored lining fabric
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Scissors (jagged edge)

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Begin by gathering together scraps along the same color scheme (I chose blue) and a few (12-15) scraps of white fabric to be used as a trim and tie. Sewed together the white strips (wrong sides together) until you have a length of fabric that you can comfortably tie in a bow behind yourself.

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Because of how thin I wanted the trim to be, sewing the wrong sides together and then flipping it ride-side out seemed like a huge time sucker (it was, I tried). So make things a little easier on yourself, fold each long side of the fabric and iron it down, so you can easily sew a hem. Then set aside the trim.

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Organize a pile of blue themed scraps, making sure to alternate patterns. Sew the blue scraps together (wrong sides facing each other) until it’s long enough to cover the front of your body. It took about 6-7 squares for mine. Make about 6-8 patchwork strips (depending on how long you want it) and then sew the long-sides together to create a sort-of patchwork square. Cut the uneven edges away and round out the bottom corners.

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Then pin the top of the wrong side of the square to the wrong side of the white trim/tie so that the tying fabric is even on both sides. Sew the two together. Before adding the lining fabric, iron down each seam and cut away any excess.

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Pin the lining around the edge of the patchwork square wrong side up. Cut out the lining, using your square as a pattern.

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Leave the pins in and sew them together, leaving three inches un-sewn for turning.

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Turn your apron ride-side out and close your seam. Iron out any wrinkles or bubbles. Tie your apron behind your back and get ready to bake!

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Essential Gadgets for Modernizing Your Home

Consumer technology has come a long way in the past two decades. In 1995, it wasn’t uncommon for homes to have just a single television set, a corded landline phone, and no computers. But in 2015, the functions of televisions, phones, and computers are quickly blending together into all-in-one smartphones and tablets.

Of course, those items are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the technological revolution that has occurred in people’s living rooms during the past 20 years. “Smart homes” previously existed only in the realm of science fiction (shout out to Disney Channel’s Smart House), but recent advances in consumer tech, combined with ubiquitous home networking, have made such homes a reality for many homeowners.

While having a home that anticipates your every move and accommodates your every whim may be a few decades off, converting your home into a high-tech wonderland is cheaper and easier than ever.

Check out Blindster’s list of the essential gadgets that will tomorrow-proof your home and make you feel like you’re truly living in the future:

  • Dual-band wireless router

Wireless networks have been commonplace in homes for more than a decade, but only in recent years have they started bursting at the seams due to ever-increasing amounts of data being transmitted. It wasn’t that long ago when wireless networks were primarily used to connect laptops and desktops to the Internet, but now they connect everything from televisions and Blu-ray players to cable boxes and smartphones.

 

Needless to say, all of those extra devices put a significant strain on most wireless networks. Dual-band wireless routers are designed to double the amount of bandwidth and range on a home wireless network, meaning they can handle a significant larger amount of gadgets all connected at the same time. Such robust routers are a must-have item for families with multiple internet-capable devices, and they also serve as the central hub for every other “smart” device in the home.

 

  • Smart thermostat

Smart thermostats are one of those gadgets that most homeowners never realized they need— until they get one in their home.

 

In addition to being programmable, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely via your smartphone or computer, can automatically adjust themselves based on indoor humidity, can adjust the temperature in your home based on your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, and can provide you with detailed information regarding your home’s average temperature and energy usage, making them ideal for both techies and homeowners who want to be more eco-friendly.

 

  • Smart door locks

Ever wished you could operate your front door lock remotely the same way you lock and unlock your car door? If you’ve ever carried an arm load of groceries to the front door and had to fuss with your keys just to get inside, the answer is almost certainly yes. I mean who actually wants to make two trips?

 

In addition to providing keyless entry, smart door locks can also be operated via fingerprints, smartphones, smartwatches and voice recognition. Many models also have 24/7 tech support, which means a quick phone call is the difference between being locked out of your home for hours and being safely indoors within minutes.

 

And if you’re less than trusting of high-tech locks, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that these locks use proprietary wireless technology, making them far more secure than other wireless devices. Finally, should your home experience a power outage, smart locks can still be operated the old fashion way—with a standard key and deadbolt.

 

  • Battery backup systems

Having a home full of high-tech gadgets won’t do you much good if you experience a power outage. Because more and more devices have internal memory and storage, including DVRs, routers, modems, and even smart thermostats, losing power even briefly can cause a major headache, as you may have to spend hours reconfiguring lost settings, reentering passwords, and dealing with tech support.

 

To save yourself some hassle, consider purchasing a battery backup system and plug all of your most important gadgets into it, including all of your home networking items and any home office equipment. Battery backup systems provide a wide range of emergency power, which can range from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the cost and size of the device. Even in a worst case scenario where you lose power for several hours, having a battery backup system gives you enough time to save your data and properly shut down your devices to avoid potential damage.

 

  • Smart washer and dryer

Since their introduction to the consumer market many decades ago, electronic washers and dryers saw little innovation over the ensuing years. But in recent years, these devices have become the beneficiaries of the tech revolution that’s changing virtually every electronic item in modern homes.

 

Smart washers and dryers have one major benefit over traditional washers and dryers—they can send alerts to your smartphone, tablet, or email when your clothes are clean and dry. If you live in a multi-story home and your laundry room is on another level or in the basement, it may be difficult to hear a standard buzzer or alarm when your clothes are ready. But a digital alert means you’ll not only know when your laundry is ready to be moved over or collected, you’ll also get a reminder.

 

In addition to their internet connectivity, smart washers and dryers are often highly energy efficient and boast features like storage areas for detergent and fabric softener, advanced controls to prevent clothes from shrinking or fading, and improved cleaning/faster drying capabilities.

DIY “Driftwood” Mirror From Upcycled Blind Slats

Every time I leave the beach, I always want to take a little piece of it with me. I end up carrying home jars of sand, broken sea shells and beached sand dollars in my pockets. I guess you could say I’m a little obsessed with the fresh salty sea air and the sound of waves crashing to the shore. In an attempt to bring a bit of the coastal atmosphere to my home décor, this week’s upcycled DIY project is a large Driftwood Mirror created with sample wood blind slats.

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You will need:

Mirror with Frame (any size)

Sample Wood Blind Slats (about 12 in. long wood pieces)

Small Paint Brushes

Chalk Paint (we used Waverly Paint in Mineral)

Wood Glue

Antiquing Wax

Hot Glue Gun

Extra Glue Sticks

Rustic Rope

Small Weights (or possibly a clamp)

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We had a lot of sample slats lying around the office but I went with the real wood because of their lovely texture and chalk paint goes onto wood so smoothly. I began with wiping down all of the slats to remove any dust or dirt before painting. After measuring the mirror, I estimated I would need about 40 slats to create my border. I painted one side of each slat (no one will see the back, save your paint and time) and let them dry for a full day.

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The next day I created an antique, rustic look on each slat by brushing them with dark antiquing wax. I poured a small amount of wax onto a paper plate and used a cheese cloth to apply the wax, dabbing any excess on the plate before touching the wood. You can apply as much wax as you want, I took a sort of haphazard, minimalist approach for mine. After I finished antiquing all of my slats, I let the wax dry for another full day before working with them again.

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On the third day, it’s gluing time! My mirror’s frame had an uneven surface, so once I applied glue to the back of the slat and placed it on the frame, I used a weighted object to press them together. I just grabbed things out of the pantry (cans, jars of Nutella, you name it…) that would work. I went around the mirror, arranging the slats in a way I liked and letting the glue dry before removing the “weights”.

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Once the glue was dry and I could look at my handiwork, I realized it needed a finishing touch. I had some rope left over from another project, so I decided to use it to make a little border around the mirror. With just a hot glue gun and a little dexterity I created a simple accent with the rope that tied (pun intended) the whole thing together.

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I hung my mirror near the only window in my bedroom to help reflect light into the room. I love how it turned out and the whole thing only cost $30 to make!

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Window Coverings Dictionary

Almost everyone is familiar with the differences between shades and blinds, but beyond that, the world of window coverings may be a bit of a mystery for many homeowners. While being able to name the individual components of shades and blinds isn’t something most people set out to learn, it is knowledge that comes in handy when ordering new window coverings or determining which type of window coverings work best in your home.

Check out Blindster’s glossary of common terms below for a crash course in Window Coverings 101 and to feel like a pro when you place your next order:

  • Blackout

Shades that are designated as blackout shades provide maximum privacy and sunlight/glare reduction. These shades are ideal for bedrooms, home offices, and home theaters where privacy and light control are most vital.

 

  • Bottom Rail

Blinds have both a headrail and a bottom rail. The bottom rail is weighted and secures the cords that allow the blind to be raised and lowered. Bottom rails are made from materials like wood, faux wood, and aluminum depending on the styling of the blinds.

 

  • Bottom-Up/Top-Down

This term describes shades that are capable of being raised or lowered from both the top and bottom. These shades are highly versatile and allow homeowners to raise the bottom of the shade for a traditional appearance or lower the top to let in light while maintaining their privacy.

 

  • Continuous Cord Loop

This term describes an option for shades which are operated using a cord loop—often a metallic or beaded chain—that allows for smooth raising and lowering of the shades. Continuous cord loop options are popular options for large and heavy shades, as the raising and lowering mechanism makes it much easier to change the height of these shades.

 

  • Cord Cleat

Cord cleats are one of the most important components that all homeowners should install with their blinds or shades. These small brackets attach to the wall near the headrail and provide room to secure the lift cord, placing it safely out of the reach of small children and animals. Cord cleats are essential for all homeowners with pets or small children, as they dramatically reduce the risk of strangulation or other injuries.

 

  • Cordless

Many shades and blinds can operated without cords by simply pulling on the bottom and allowing the window covering to reach the desired height. In addition to being incredibly simple and easy to operate, this option is also safe for small children and pets and provides a sleeker appearance due to the lack of a lift cord.

 

  • Eco-friendly

Blinds and shades that are considered eco-friendly generally include window coverings that are manufactured using natural materials and window coverings that help insulate homes and reduce energy costs.

 

  • Extension brackets

These optional components provide extra clearance for shades and blinds that are installed outside of window frames. Extension brackets are typically used when window coverings must extend over or beyond window sills.

 

  • Flush mount

When a blind or shade is mounted inside a window frame and no parts of the headrail protrude out, the installation is considered a flush mount. These mounts provide a sleek and built-in appearance for windows while also maximizing light control.

 

  • Headrail

The headrail is the long encasement that extends the full length of a shade or blind and houses all of the mechanical components used to lift or lower the window covering. Headrails can be mounted either directly inside the window frame for inside mounts or on the wall or ceiling adjacent to a window for outside mounts.

 

  • Hold Down Brackets

Hold down brackets are optional components that hold shades or blinds in place and prevent them from moving or swaying. These components are ideal when window coverings are installed on or near frequently opened windows and doors.

 

  • Inside Mount

The most common method of mounting window coverings, inside mounts refer to installations that are flush with the inner part of a window frame. Inside mounts provide a sleek and built-in appearance to blinds and shades while also reducing light leakage. In addition, inside mounts also preserve the appearance of details on window frames.

 

  • Lift cord

Lift cords are used to raise and lower blinds. The vast majority of blinds feature lift cords on the right side, but certain types of blinds offer the option of installing lift cords on the left side for easier access. Lift cords should always be placed out of reach using a cord cleat in homes with small children and pets.

 

  • Outside Mount

A less common option for mounting window coverings, outside mounts refer to installations that are completely outside of the window frame with the headrail mounted on the wall or ceiling. Outside mounts are ideal solutions for windows with extremely shallow window frames or for homeowners who wish to cover unattractive windows and window frames. Because this option is susceptible to light leaks, Blindster recommends adding additional width (around 3” total) to orders.

 

  • Route Hole

Route holes are small holes in the slats of horizontal blinds that provide spaces to attach the lift cords.

 

  • Routeless

Although route holes don’t allow significant amounts of light into rooms, many homeowners prefer their blinds to be completely solid and provide as much privacy as possible. Instead of using route holes, routeless blinds use small notches for attaching the lift cords.

 

  • Valance

Valances are decorative pieces that cover the headrails on blinds and shades. These components vary from standard pieces to decorative pieces that can provide a more luxurious appearance to window coverings.

 

  • Wand

A wand is a long cylindrical object found on blinds that controls the orientation of the slats. These components are typically made of plastic or wood and allow for easy operation of the slats to maximize control of lighting and privacy. Wands can be placed on either the left or right side of most blinds.

Window Treatment Trends for 2015

With 2016 rapidly approaching, it’s time to take stock of some of the most popular trends that occurred in 2015. During the past year, the tech world saw the emergence and popularization of new innovations like wireless charging for electronic devices, improved and more efficient versions of electric and self-driving cars, and the release of new smart appliances that can be controlled remotely via the Internet.

Trends in 2015 weren’t just limited to the tech industry, as home décor continued to change and evolve over the course of the year. One aspect of home design that saw major changes is window treatments. Now that consumers and homeowners have more options than ever when it comes to buying window treatments and window coverings, many new trends have emerged that are well on their way to becoming even more popular throughout the foreseeable future.

Here are some of Blindster’s top window treatment trends so far in 2015:

calming edit

 

 

As people’s lives get busier and more connected, the need to de-stress and relax—especially at home—becomes more and more important. One of the most effective ways to achieve calmness and relaxation is by decorating your home in colors designed to create feelings of peacefulness and serenity. It’s no surprise that window coverings that feature calming colors, such as blues, grays, and greens, are becoming more and more popular. Simple patterns and matte finishes are also in high demand, with many homeowners preferring a “less is more” approach when it comes to home design in 2015.

privacy edit

 

Privacy—both in a physical and digital sense—was at the forefront of everyone’s attention in 2015. There were numerous how-to articles and guides published in 2015 to help homeowner’s increase their privacy online, but it’s important to feel safe and secure in your own home as well. Window treatments designed to enhance privacy have been trending in 2015 due to these concerns, and they’re highly effective at making every room in your home a place where you can comfortably relax and decompress after a long day. In addition, privacy shades are also in high demand among homeowners who live in neighborhoods where houses are built closely together or among apartment owners where windows and individual units may be in extremely close proximity.

natural shade edit

 

The recent push for businesses, governments, and families to “go green” has never been stronger or more popular than in 2015. A big part of this push has caused many people to reexamine things in their daily lives that they take for granted, such as the food they eat, the clothes they wear, and the cars they drive. One aspect of the eco-friendly movement that’s gaining traction is natural shades made from organic materials like wood and bamboo. These shades are manufactured using processes that help preserve the environment while also bringing a touch of natural beauty and charm to homes. In addition to their eco-friendly manufacturing process, natural shades are also highly effective at blocking out sunlight and increasing privacy—and their natural wood grain patterns can bring a unique elegance to your windows.

exterior edit

 

More and more homeowners are turning to eco-friendly solutions for the heat, intense sunlight, and glare that are constant factors during the spring and summer in their outdoor areas. Rather than cranking up the air conditioner or running multiple fans, they’re installing exterior shades to help block out the sun’s harmful rays, which in turn protects their furniture, their skin, and even their eyes—while also significantly reducing the ambient temperature. In addition to keeping outdoor areas cool and glare-free, exterior shades also increase privacy while maintaining a clear view of the outdoors. These shades are highly versatile and can be installed in homes in a variety of locations and climates, as they’re designed to withstand years of heavy rainfall, high winds, constant heat and sun exposure, and more.

child friendly edit

 

When most homeowners make a list of potential dangers around the house for small children or pets, their window treatments rarely make the cut. Unfortunately, traditional cords for many older shades and blinds pose significant risks to small children and animals. In recent years, window treatment manufacturers have focused more and more on creating products that have built-in safety designs that help reduce the risk that shades and blinds can pose. At Blindster, we’re dedicated to making sure our products are as safe as possible for all members of your family—and that’s why we offer free cord cleats with all blind or shade purchases.

sheer shades edit

 

As part of the eco-friendly movement, many homeowners are attempting to reduce their dependence on artificial lighting and air conditioning by allowing natural sunlight to both light and warm their homes. One of the best options for taking full advantage of the light and warmth of the sun is to install sheer shades on your windows. These window coverings provide privacy, while still allowing as much sunlight as possible into your home. Sheer shades are perfect for homeowners who live in cold climates or in areas of the country with mild summers, as the warm sunlight can help regulate the home’s temperature and reduce the need to run the air conditioner or furnace.

topdown edit

Versatility is a major selling point for home furnishings and design in 2015, and there’s no window treatment that offers more versatility and options than top-down/bottom-up shades. By allowing homeowners the opportunity to change the height and orientation of their shades from both the bottom and the top, these window coverings give you the ultimate control over every window in your home. Raise the shades from the bottom for a traditional look, or leave the bottom closed and with the top lowered to let in sunlight while also preserving your privacy. In rooms with multiple windows, you can change the height of the top and bottom of every shade, which can turn your windows into a conversation piece while dramatically enhancing the lighting at all hours of the day.