Can your window shades raise and lower themselves?
If it's been a while since you've thought about new window shades, you'll probably be surprised by the current options for privacy and heat/light control. Choices are light years beyond the long-familiar opaque roller shades, though even those are now available in trend-setting fabrics and degrees of transparency.
Window shade options
- Brands: The competition between well-known brands like Hunter-Douglas, Levolor, Bali, Soliel, Smith + Noble and others has spawned enough choices to keep you exploring for two or three days. Deciding between everything you've researched requires bringing sample fabrics home, as store lighting is almost never the same as that in a particular room of your home.
- Styles: Options include roller shades, pleated shades, single and double honeycomb shades, single and double sheer styles with integral movable fabric vanes, Roman shades of many styles, soft fabric shades from balloon-style to Roman and others, sun control shades, and more. Many styles are available in the same fabric and opacity choices for windows that need traversable vertical treatments. Shades (sometimes stationary) are also available for unusually-shaped windows from arched or circular to trapezoidal.
- Operational options: The long-familiar spring-loaded tug-and-roll system is available in several styles, but new methods of raising and lowering shades are among their most desirable trends. This includes several variations on the hand cord, from cords that stop or move depending on cord angle, to looped cords, to shades that obey your commands with simple up or down pressures on a slender bottom bar. Some shades can be both lowered from the top and raised from the bottom, an appropriate feature for rooms needing a light-admitting top fabric and a light-blocking night fabric. Then there are remote control units, either hand-held or as an electric wall control, that raise or lower individual or groups of shades with push-button ease. Some are programmable or sun-sensor activated. High windows make automated controls a necessary convenience.
- Materials and colors: Shade materials range from sheer, delicate-looking tough synthetics, to drapery fabrics, to jute, grass, and other natural fibers woven into cloth-like fabrics. Materials may be colorfully patterned or solid-colored, have an embroidered-vine look, feature woven-in stripes, slubs, lacy or abstract patterns and textures, and come in varying degrees of opacity from very sheer to opaque. Your budget-constraints are your only limitations.
Prices and sources
Prices may vary considerably depending on the options you choose and the pricing policies of suppliers. Since this is a major investment, it is advantageous to get bids from three local suppliers. They will often measure your windows at no charge, which means measuring mistakes are less likely and also not chargeable to the customer.
To give you some idea of prices for inside-mounted window shades on a 3-foot-wide-by-4-foot-high window, a 3/4" single-cell, honeycomb-pleated shade starts at about $125. A 2-inch-deep, double-sheer, fabric, vaned shade starts at about $250 or more. Adding a remote lift system roughly doubles the price on smaller windows, but is a smaller percentage of cost on larger windows. Narrow down your options by visiting local showrooms, then simplify your search for a local pro by filling out the information on this web page. Energy-efficient shades may qualify for a federal tax credit up to $500 through 2011.