Guide to Window Shades – Where to Shop and How to Select

Updated for 2023 – Do you have a window in need of help? Here’s mine. Up until two nights ago, my bed was in front of these drapes so you couldn’t see that they are about 5 inches too short. This is what they mean when they say “high water” drapes. So it was time to find new window treatments

Our neighborhood is so loud I thought we might sleep better if our heads are not right on top of the window. In addition I learned that it’s bad Feng Shui. What! I used to poo-poo my husband for commenting about Feng Shui but now I’m seeing that maybe he was right. See more about this in another post.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Blinds

Designers say that a finished window has both drapes (that don’t move) and blinds or shades (that do move).

Our neighborhood is so loud I thought we might sleep better if our heads were not right on top of the window. In addition, I learned that it’s bad Feng Shui. What! I used to poo-poo my husband for commenting about Feng Shui but now I’m seeing that maybe he was right. See more about this in another post.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Blinds

When it comes to choosing the right window treatments, designers say that a finished window has different types of window treatments, each serving a different purpose. The first is curtain panels (that don’t move) to provide color and texture. The second is blinds or shades (that do move) to provide privacy and control light.

1.) Space in the Window Sill – How much space is in your window sill? This will determine how you will mount your window blinds. If it’s less than 3/4 inches most blinds will say that they have to be mounted on the outside.

2.) Purpose – What do you want your window shades to do? There are many types of blinds. Some block the amount of light in a room for sleeping. This can include blackout shades or just light control. Blinds can also provide privacy if you live in a place where people can peer in your windows. Some blinds provide insulation from drafts and a degree of temperature control with the added benefit of decreasing energy costs.

3.) Material – Blinds can come in all types of material. It depends on the look you like and your budget. I knew that I didn’t want metal or aluminum blinds because they are dust traps and I’ve thrown away many of these. I’ve had and liked fabric, faux wood, and bamboo.

4.) Pattern/Color – There are many different colors and patterns. You can find roman shades, roller shades, or fabric panels to complement any interior design.

Pros & Cons of Different Materials

Bamboo – Bamboo shades are made of natural materials and offer a unique look. These wood shades are a good option if you are trying to add warmth to your room. They can also do a nice job of filtering light, without blocking it. The cons are that sometimes they can be challenging to move up and down. If you are looking for privacy, it will depend on how sheer they are.

These are the bamboo shades I hung in my dining room. As you can see they let in lots of natural light but they make it so that people can’t see directly in.

Vinyl – Advantages are they are inexpensive and they may be the best choice if you are looking for blackout curtains for a bedroom.

Faux Wood – Faux wood blinds or shutters give you classic style at a fraction of the cost of real wood blinds. The advantage of faux wood is that they can be opened and closed easily and provide nice light filtering. They are a great choice if you are looking for a window treatment that is easy to wipe down (when compared to metal blinds). They can be more expensive but there are pretty inexpensive ones at Home Depot, see pricing below.

Fabric – The advantage of fabric shades or curtains is that they add more warmth to the room. The fabric options can be more expensive and harder to clean if they can be cleaned at all.

Where to Buy

I’m going to assume that you don’t have unlimited funds for your blinds. I didn’t bother looking at the higher-end window treatment options because I knew that wasn’t an option for me.

In my last house, I splurged and bought custom Smith & Noble blinds. They were awesome, but one year later I moved. Not worth it if you are moving in the next five years!

Here are the places that I found the most selection at a reasonable price. To give you some idea about comparative pricing, I priced out my bedroom windows which are 33″x60″ minimum, see more about measuring below.

I choose every product I review. I may earn an affiliate commission if you buy from one of the product links, at no extra cost to you. This income supports this site. See the full disclosure.

Bed Bath & Beyond – I hate going into this store, but the online selection is good. I liked the Real Simple Cordless Roman Cellular Shades. The price for my size was $79.99.

Wayfair – Wayfair has a ton of options at pretty reasonable prices. I like these from Linen Avenue but I found something less expensive.

Overstock -Overstock had a brand that looked really good called Chicology. They had good reviews and the price for my size was $59.99. I found this same blind on Amazon for less, which is where I purchased it.

JC Penney – Based on a lot of reading, I heard that JC Penney had a good selection. They do have low prices, but nothing looked that great to me. To give you some basis for the price, my size roman shade was priced at $92 each. I liked the Madison Park Cordless Roman Shade.

Home Depot – I purchased these faux wood blinds for my glass doors in white. They were easy to install and pretty inexpensive,

How to Measure Your Window

Inside Mount – If you are going to mount your shades/blinds inside the window you will need three measurements – depth of window sill, width, and length. It’s best to allow room for error for an inside mount so be sure to subtract a 1/2 inch from the total to be sure that the blind will fit.

Here is an example of an inside-mount bamboo shade. As you can see from the photo, one of the disadvantages of an inside mount is that it does not block as much light. If you want to use this in a bedroom, just be aware that sunlight will be visible around the edges.

Outside Mount – Outside mount hangs above the top of the window. I’ve read that they should not hang on the window frame, but I don’t agree. I think if you have large frames around your window it can look strange to hang them on the wall above the top of a window. You will want to measure 1″ wider than your window opening on both sides. You will also need the length to be longer than the window itself to get full coverage.

Shades normally come with the hardware to mount inside or outside the window.

Do you have both drapes and shades?

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