Decorating & Design

January 14, 2009

Window Shades

Fabric shades can be used on almost any type of window but they are particularly useful where a window does not have much space around it. As an alternative to drapery, shades cover the area between soffit and sill.

Shades require less fabric than drapery and are therefore a more economical choice. A variety of headings are also possible with most styles of shades.

Shades tend to be good insulators as they hug the entire window closely. They can be hung either inside or outside the window recess and are attached to a wooden batten at the top. Drawing up or down is achieved by cords fed through rings at the back of the shade. Here is a rundown of some basic shade styles:


Practical and simple, roman shades are a popular window covering. Functional and easy-to-use, they are ideal in modern or contemporary interiors. When drawn down, romans lie completely flat but stack into neat horizontal folds when raised. Their practicality makes them appropriate in all areas of the home especially kitchens and living rooms. Of all shades, romans let in the most light.


The simplest of all shades, rollers unwind from a roller mounted at the top of a window. They can be used on their own or in conjunction with other coverings where privacy is required.


London shades curve at the bottom when raised. This covering should be reserved for small to average size windows because when raised, london shades will cover most of the window. They are most appropriate in rooms in which a view and natural light are not important.


Balloon shades are a hybrid. They bring together the privacy provided by shades with the fullness of drapes. Fabric is gathered to balloon at the bottom edge in a variety of ways. This type of shade will cover about one-third to one-half of a window at all times, so use only where light and view are unimportant. Fabrics that gather well are most suitable. While not particularly fashionable at the moment, balloon shades look most at home in traditional bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms.


Festoon shades are similar to roman shades except they use more fabric and are permanently gathered horizontally for their entire height, whether raised or lowered. The bottom edge is scalloped even when completely down. Festoons are a more decorative covering that work well in bedrooms.


Similar to festoon shades except that they lie flat when completely lowered and gather into elegant folds when raised. Austrian shades work best in a light fabric that folds well.