Blackout Roller Shades – A Versatile and Economical Window Dressing.
A window dressing theme for my living cum dining area keeps popping into my mind. Two sets of large bay windows have languished unadorned for a couple of years now as they are north facing, and aren’t exposed to the intense sun. We have had the double glazed glass of the windows treated with protective sun film, but as this repetitive image flits through my minds-cape, I realize that I need to use a supremely beautiful window dressing for these bay windows. Maple leaves drifting through the air… embossed on my windows in all the glory of their vibrant, scintillating colors, straight, curled, crushed or torn … the image is now fixed in my head, and I will have this image superimposed on my bay windows! But how?
Pouring over the endless data available in cyberspace, I arrive at an option I think is viable for me. Living in sunny California affords me the luxury of leaving my windows uncovered during the winter months, so I decide on the lightweight and superbly neat Blackout Roller Shades.
Going by history, I seem to have made an excellent choice as Blackout Roller Shades or Swedish Shades as they were known, have been in existence, albeit in crude forms, since the 1800’s. They were used extensively in France, England, and Holland, well before the era of ‘drapes’. Hung on windows with a wooden pole, a swathe of linen was hand rolled and secured with a buttoned loop or clothes pins – that did the trick when light and air needed to be let in. Later, people painted tapestry designs, and biblical scenes onto them to create the ‘windows are the soul of the home’ impression. The famed Pierre-Auguste Renoir started out by painting window shades! This was followed by more simplistic designs like painted bands or scrolled edges, giving way to modernization by operating them with strings and hooks. Consumer needs today have led to technological innovations in working these shades – from spring assisted and chain drive systems to motorized controls; they are constructed out of cloth, canvas or PVC. Of course, the advent of electricity with the industrial revolution changed life as it was previously known.
By definition, roller blinds are a sleek and simple form of window covering, made out of stiffened fabric or PVC reinforced with plastic or wood at the ends. They retract or pull down over a slender spring-loaded cylinder mounted atop windows.
The advantages of Roller Blinds are many:
1. The Price Factor – available in various styles and designs, unencumbered by rolls of fabric, roller blinds are a comparatively affordable solution to block unwanted sunlight and to maintain the desired level of privacy.
2. Ease of Use & Energy Efficiency– mostly constructed out of lightweight fabrics, roller shades are extremely easy to manage and control. In summer, they can be kept lowered to block the heat of the sun, and shield interior elements from fading; keep them slightly raised with open windows to let fresh air in. In winter, when the sun is out, raise them to let the sun heat up your room; keep them lowered when there’s no sun, or to retain heat at night. Roller shades are provided with side tracks that aids in insulating a room by blocking hot/cold air that seeps around the edges of blinds.
3. The decor element – these shades are available in block colors for ease of matching, as well as in various foliage and floral prints, animal prints, checks and stripes in eclectic colors. Because they are made of single panel widths, roller shades are easy to customize, should you want to have them hand painted or screen printed to your choice of patterns.
4. Unobstructed view – roller shades retract silently and efficiently out of the way into their headers to make for an unobstructed view of the outdoors.
Automated blinds are all the rage in this era of global warming and energy efficiency – prepped with timers, roller blinds can roll up or down at a preset time. Another option is to get them fitted with light sensors that adjust the shades depending on the intensity of the sun – this makes for superb energy efficiency to the tune of 30% savings on power bills. Is that green or what?! With summer temperatures on the rise, God knows we need this!
Constant innovation makes these blinds even more interesting – today, blackout roller shades come with a reflective coating that reduces solar heat gain and reflects UV rays effectively, causing no harm to inhabitants and interior features, while controlling the amount of heat entering a home.
My living cum dining space has walls painted a cozy cornflower yellow, with the bay windows trimmed with white-painted wood. Our furniture is matched, made of maple wood and white upholstery. I’ve decided on exquisitely refined looking PVC roller blinds in a pale yellow, and believe it or not, with a maple leaf print in their various fall colors and shapes! Just the thing I had in mind! My bay windows look smart and very, very modern, while affording me a view of the outside when I want it, and the room darkening shades gives me all the protection I desire, all the while saving me loads on my power bills! One thing is clear! If I hadn’t got just the pattern I was looking for, I’d have got my daughter, a fine arts professional, to paint me my maple leaves on the shades! Every time the shades are lowered, it’s like taking a walk through a Canadian park in the fall! Should they need cleaning, all that would be necessary is to give them a wipe with a damp cloth, or vacuum them with the fabric brush option. Up top people!