These are basically two types of window treatments, although they come in a wide variety of styles and with lots of options.
Blinds are “hard” window treatments with slats or vanes made of wood, composite, vinyl or aluminum. They can be horizontal or vertical. Shutters are a gorgeous alternative but function in much the same way.
Shades are “soft” window coverings made of fabric, vinyl, woven woods or grasses.
When deciding between the two and selecting any type of window treatment you need to consider these factors:
Privacy & Light Control
How will you use the room? Bedrooms and bathrooms have an obvious need for privacy and light control, as well as rooms where you’ll watch TV or work at a computer. Blinds provide the most flexibility with privacy & light control because they can be raised or lowered, as well as tilted open or closed depending upon the amount of privacy/light you desire. With shades, privacy & light control is mainly achieved by raising or lowering the shade, but also depends on the type and color of material you choose. Shade materials range from sheer to light filtering to completely light blocking. (Note that darker fabrics block more light, as the Hunter Douglas Vignette roman shade pictured above demonstrates.)
Climate & Natural Light
The right window treatment can actually increase your home’s energy efficiency. Western and Southern facing rooms receive strong warm light, plus homes in Southern climates or anywhere in the summer require stronger light & heat control. Energy-efficient window treatments like cellular/honeycomb shades (shown here from Graber) trap hot or cold air at the window. In a Northern climate, during the winter months or in a North-facing room, you might want to allow more light in to take advantage of the sun’s radiant heat. Moreover, UV light can damage, fade or darken beautiful hardwood floors and fine furnishings. In these rooms, you may want to consider window shades specifically made to block UV light.
Architectural Details & Room Decor
Great architectural details, like the bay window (pictured right), take center stage with coordinating wood shutters or blinds. The clean, tailored lines of shutters and blinds also complement contemporary, classic and masculine interiors. If you’re going for a more feminine, romantic look you would opt for a soft window shade or drapery.
Also, consider the mix of materials in your room’s decor. Ideally, you want to achieve a balance between hard materials like wood, tile & stone, metal and soft materials like fabric. For example, if your room has porcelain tile on the floor, wood and metal tables with leather furniture, the softness & texture of a roman shade will help balance the decor.
Your Lovely Views
If you’re blessed with gorgeous views outside, you’ll want shades that completely retract into the headrail or blinds/shutters with larger slats (2′” or more) that preserve more of the view outside when open. One gorgeous option is the Hunter Douglas’ Silhouette window shading (pictured left) which does both!
Cleaning & Maintenance
In general, blinds and shutters are easier to clean than shades. You simply dust or wipe down the slats. Some blinds even feature removable slats! Shades are a little trickier and are usually just spot-cleaned as needed. Some fabric shades can be removed and cleaned in the bathtub with mild soap and water. Our sales consultants will provide you with each manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and care tips.
Key Takeaway: There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for window treatments. Our design consultants are window treatment experts and will help you navigate all the options to find the perfect blinds or shades for your home and family.