Real Estate

Designer's Corner: Trends In Window Options

Posted March 2, 2011

New Homes & Ideas

These days, you need a handbook to guide you through the maze of available window coverings– and windows. No worries; we’re here to help.

A decade or more ago, windows, and what you covered them with, were pretty basic. You could pick between A and B, and if you didn’t like that, well, tough.
Today there are so many choices that Dan Parlin, owner of Budget Blinds of the Western Triangle, wishes folks would just slow down and do a little research before they buy. The biggest mistake people make, he says, is assuming all products are created equal.

“There’s a lot of really low quality being made in bulk overseas that have hit the market to compete from a price standpoint,” says Parlin. “In our industry there isn’t a lot of brand recognition. It’s very confusing for customers.”

More mistakes…

About half of Parlin’s business still opts for traditional wide-slatted blinds, made of wood or composite material. Despite the name, Budget Blinds offers more than just blinds, including custom drapes, solar film, honeycomb shades and more. Gorland McBride works in sales and design at Blind & Shutter Warehouse of the Carolinas, Inc. in Raleigh. Like Parlin, she also sells a wide variety. Consumers are exploring all kinds of options; the problem is, they’re not going about it the right way.

“In today’s economic downturn, people tend to purchase products, especially blinds and shutters, from the lowest priced salesperson,” says McBride. “They don’t stop and ask how long the blind or shutter will last without yellowing, fading or warping. They don’t ask for a copy of the warranty. When something happens, they have no one to turn to.”

And there’s one more mistake customers make. When considering window coverings, they don’t think about the design and function of the room itself.

How do you outfit a window?

When we moved into our house 12 years ago, I made all of these blunders. I ordered the cheapest blinds I could find for all the empty windows. I didn’t ask questions, and I didn’t consider the function or design of either the room or the window covering. Worse, they were—and still are—metal. Which is so out, by the way.

McBride says my one-size-fits all approach wasn’t a good idea and, frankly, still isn’t. “It’s wise to choose the products based upon the functionality of each room,” she says. “Main rooms that are used for entertaining should be a focal point, and treatments can be more dramatic or of a higher-end product; whereas laundry rooms, play rooms and garages can have a more functional product.” Hmm. So my family room blinds probably should have been a little nicer than the blinds I bought for the kids’ playroom.

But this gets a little confusing. Should you really consider each and every room? Won’t different styles make a house seem disjointed? This is basically why both Parlin and McBride are skilled designers. Parlin gave me a few examples of how he looks at specific situations. For example, if exterior continuity is really important to someone, he might advise doing a wide-slatted blind on all the windows facing the street, like he did in his own home. But at the back of the house, he wanted an unobstructed view, so he opted for honeycomb shades, which stack tight and disappear under a valance or cornice board.

“A blind that’s got a bigger stack and has more strings wouldn’t have been a good option,” Parlin says. Yet it’s the perfect option for someone who covets privacy more than the view. If it’s light control you’re after, take a look at solar shades. This mesh-like shade will protect your furnishings and carpet—as will solar film on the windows—but still allow for a partial view. But if you don’t like folks looking in on you at night, opt for something else.

McBride says she’s seeing some clients opt for new products that will soften a window, such as Silhouettes (think soft blinds with a sheer facing) and Pirouettes (also soft but with a textured fabric and backed by sheer material). It’s like offering a blind and window treatment in one. “Both products with their sheer backing reduce glare and filter harmful UV rays, blocking up to 88 percent of the rays when vanes are open,” says McBride.

“This prevents floors, furniture and window treatments from fading.”...To read more log on here...NewHomesandIdeas.com

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