You'll find a shade is often the best solution for providing privacy in a practical and inexpensive way.

But to make the best use of them, there's lots of little details you need to make the right decisions for your windows.

Note: while in North America there is a distinction between blinds (which cut out light) and shades (which reduce light), in many countries both types are referred to as blinds.

If you are of a certain age (like me!) you may have memories of very plain, drab shades such as Venetian, which easily got dirty.

But don't be put off. There is so much more choice available today, in terms of color, texture and easy to use mechanisms.

Wide range of effects

Often you'll find that the most practical solution (or part of the solution) for your window is a shade of one form or another.

A window shade is a good alternatives to curtains or drapes for small windows, or where you have radiators or window seats to contend with.

For larger windows you can use a shade for each section. This is a very practical and modern way to treat windows. Because of the wide choice of fittings, textures and colors available today, you can achieve really great effects for your windows.

Here are some more advantages of shades

  • Shades can be as simple as a roller shade, or as complex as a fabric festoon.
  • You can use them on their own, or with other window treatments.
  • A difficult window can be dressed by using a combination of false curtains and shades - roman or gathered fabric shades add a touch of warmth and softness.
  • Because shades are moved by spring mechanisms or cord systems, you can set them at any position to adjust for variable lighting conditions.


venetian blind

A colored horizontal (Venetian) blind is fitted into the window recess of this kitchen.

One of the advantages of Venetian blinds is the wide range of color choice available. From soft creams to blend in with the decor to strong colors giving contrast, you can easily find the ideal choice for your situation.

Blinds fitted in this way are very practical. They are set back so they don't tend to get water and grease on them. Even if they do, they are easy to clean. Slats can be angled to control the amount of light in the room (very useful for a sunny window) and they can be raised up to give a clear view out of the window.


Won't using a window shade look a bit plain?

Perhaps you want to brighten up your window, but you don't want to go the whole way and have curtains or drapes fitted. Maybe you don't have very much room around the window, or you have to fit the shades inside the window recess.

Don't worry. There are many ways of using shades which will result in attractive finishes. There are two basic ways to achieve this.

  • Use a more complex fabric shade such as a Festoon or Austrian.
  • Use a rich or flamboyant fabric to give you the level of interest you're looking for.

By using either of these - or a combination of both - you can set them at any position to adjust for variable lighting conditions.


roman window shade

The door and window of this kitchen have Roman shades fitted.

The fabric chosen is a striped semi-sheer. The alternating colored brown stripes provide interest. Notice the dark brown vertical bands which have been added to the edges of each shade.

Further enhancement is achieved by the wider dark vertical bands inset on the window shade. This darker color balances with the kitchen work surfaces.


For some more general ideas on when to use them, go to this page about window shades then use your browser's back button to return here.

Here are the different types of shade you can use. Click on the links to find out more about them.


Roller. This is probably the simplest and most well known.

Roman. A more elegant and softer effect is given by this shade. It is made of a flat piece of fabric which is pulled up in straight folds.

Fabric. These are known by such names as Festoon, Austrian and Balloon, and are more elaborate than other types.

Venetian. Otherwise known as horizontal shades, they now come in a variety of slat sizes and finishes.

Vertical. Often dismissed as looking too much like "office shades", you can now buy these shades in very attractive materials and slat sizes.

Wooden. These are a very attractive way of bringing privacy and style to your windows.

Lace. You can bring the beauty of lace into your home.

Bamboo. Make the most of this natural material.

Pleated. Use this soft and modern style.


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