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ROOM DARKENING TECHNIQUES for WINDOWS

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Audio Video Room Darkening window coverings in Canada.

Spring break is over, and soon, summer hols will be here, along with the numerous demands made by kids, including a constant supply of food, TV, gaming and activity outside of the home. Of course, a popular way to keep kids entertained is to send them off to camp – wildlife camps, adventure camps, photography camps, bible camps, music camps, art camps, sport camps – you name, you got it! The word is ENTERPRISE!

The one thing I’ve resolved to do is to create a fabulous A/V experience. The summer in Saskatchewan this year will hopefully be better than the spring was, what with terrible roads (worse than those in 3rd world countries!), paramedic suicides, chicken farmer woes due to state restrictions imposed because of the avian flu in the US, petty thefts….! Going to the movies is not exactly cheap, but youngsters consider it their due, especially those with summer jobs. My son is quite the skinflint and saves every penny towards luxuries he won’t be able to afford once he’s in college. Well, more power to him! An understanding of economics at a young age is beneficial, considering our seesawing economy!

 

 

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But anyway, coming back to the A/V room cum study… the room got painted a bright yellow in a fit of enthusiasm in the aftermath of the long dreary winter! A large bow window that faces the strip of lawn flanked by pine trees faces east, so once the sun is at its peak, it gets horribly bright in there. A large room by any standard, the A/V equipment is surrounded by white Scandinavian book shelves and a tall, but narrow glass covered cabinet on either side, its inside spotlighted constantly to show off the precious crystal and mementoes collected from our travels. This only added to the brightness and overall dismay of anyone wanting to watch news, much less a movie!

So now I was landed with the task of getting the room up to speed for a glare-free movie watching experience! The curved bow windows caught every bit of the sun from every angle possible! And this excessive brightness was going to cause some serious warming indoors, especially as the windows are inoperable! We had white painted floorboards, and a white ceiling – the place was more sun room than A/V room. So how was I going to accomplish this? Seemed quite a task to me….but I’ve had enough of the complaints, and it was all my doing anyway!

Darkening the floor.

The first thing I was going to get done was to strip the floor boards – now, I’m not a handy person, quite inept at handling power tools, so I was going to outsource the job. The woodworkers would strip the hardwood, sand it and polish it off to retain its original oak color. And I had some neat white dhurries Id picked up from IKEA but hadn’t used yet – I could use these to relieve the fairly dark floor. Why was I doing all this? A dark floor absorbs light, unlike a light one that reflects it to cause one to flinch and squint at the glare the reflected light throws off.

Toning down the walls.

I liked the bright yellow I’d chosen, but to tone it down on the wall against which the equipment and shelves were placed, I decided to give it a sponge wash in a dull matt gold to give the wall a textured finish that would add to the multiplex effect I was striving for. The rest of the walls were stripped and painted in olive tones to absorb the light rather than reflect it! By now, my vision was taking shape, and I knew nobody could possibly complain now.

Managing Light.

I decided to go the whole hog to redo the room. But for the bow window, it would be the ideal, and I wasn’t about to restructure that! And I liked the view, and I could enjoy a cup of coffee while contemplating the view when I had the house to myself, or I could lounge around in the lazy boy with an excellent book with the trees as my background. I decided to do away with the wall-mount lights we’d had so far and got track lights fitted over the shelving. I got three large floor lamps for spot lighting as required, and had them placed strategically around my lazy boys and indoor plants. That done, I had to focus on how I wanted to cover the window. As I’d mentioned earlier, the window spans one wall of 40ft. All our rooms have huge bow windows to match the curved architecture. And these east facing windows have some drapes on them that doesn’t really do a great job of protection….we’re a traditional home, using traditional window covering. But as I’d taken all this trouble, I wanted something different, modern, trendy, quirky……

So, as a friend suggested online purchases was a good bet, lots of offers in store especially as the window is humungous, I went online and came away breathless at the variety that confronted me – shades, blinds, shutters, drapery. I studied the features and benefits of the various coverings as the work progressed and came away convinced that I should use either dual roller solar shades or the cellular shades. I finally decided on the blackout cellular shades for the following reasons –

1. The horizontal pleated panels are designed to form cells that trap insulating layer(s) of air – the structure resembles that of a honeycomb: they are single or double layered, generally. These layers block heat transfer from outside the window inwards in summer or vice versa in winter. In addition, they cancel any irritating exterior noise well enough to provide a comfortable and private ambiance.

2. They can be customized to large and oddly shaped windows, and come in a variety of colors that would help it blend in or provide a contrast.

3. They fabric comes in varying densities that make for light filtration, room darkening, and blackout; blackout cellular shades have a metalized plastic coating on the interiors of the cells that aid in blocking the sunlight 100%. In addition, blackout shades come equipped with side tracks that block every bit of the ambient light that seeks entry through the minutest of cracks and crannies.

4. They can be raised or lowered according to the view you want at a given point. They also come with the TDBU feature (top-down, bottom-up) which would allow for it to be lowered from the top, all the way down or to any level desired, or they can be raised from the bottom as per the convention; they can be activated both ways to provide optimum view and lighting.

5. And cheery on the pie! They can be automated and synchronized with the lighting and A/V equipment to provide a terrific movie viewing experience.

I decided on the automated CrystalPleat Blackout 3/8 inch Double-cell Cocoon Shades from Graber. I understand that motorization enables energy saving if it’s programmed to let in when optimal and block light at its zenith – this is possible as the motor is equipped with a light sensor. A dedicated remote or smartphone can be used to control the system to dim lights, lower the shades once the A/V equipment is powered on, for a fantastic home theater experience! No glare to complain of! And a totally duded room! Here’s to the summer hols!

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