The Blinds Review.

The definitive guide to all things blinds & shades.

The Blinds Review cuts through the hassle of all the confusing data amongst the sea of window blinds websites. It's your one stop shop for expert reviews, relevant seasonal style guides and image galleries to help you make a decision...quick!

Hang It Up: Window Treatment Hardware Options Debunked

One of the main roadblocks for most people who want to add or change their current window treatments is installing the necessary hardware. Many people think they have to be a master carpenter in order to hang the rods, hold downs and other items necessary to hang curtains, blinds and shades - never mind the decorative additions, such as valances and head rails. However, this idea couldn’t be further from the truth. With a little bit of time, some basic knowledge and the proper tools, anyone can install blinds, shades, curtains and any other window treatments they desire.

Tools of the Trade

Assemble all your tools before you begin, so you know you have everything you’ll need to complete the installation. You’ll need these basic tools for hanging hardware:

·         Pencil - To mark off your measurements.

·         Level – To check for even placement.

·         Drill – Depending on your budget, you can use a manual, electric or cordless hand drill.

·         Driver or Bit – Your drill should have a ¼ inch driver, a slotted screwdriver bit or a Phillips head screwdriver.

·         Screws and Anchors – You will need wood screws and/or butterfly or toggle anchors for this project.

Measure, Measure and Measure Again

Before you install the hardware needed, make sure to measure carefully, and then mark where the hardware should go with a pencil. Use a level to ensure that the window treatment will sit evenly on the window. It is crucial to take your time during this step, checking, checking and checking again to make sure your measurements are perfect. If you discover your window treatment looks crooked on the window, it will be a very complicated procedure to fix the issue. 

Types of Window Treatments

The way you install the window treatment depends largely on the type, so here is the breakdown with installation tips for each:

·         Classic Curtains and Drapes – The classic window treatment and ever-popular staple, curtains and drapes hang from a rod or bar that you attach to the wood trim or wall with screws. Although most windows have a buck, a frame of wood placed underneath the drywall, if you’re trying to hang hardware on plaster drywall, or any other unsupported wall, use butterfly anchors, but avoid using the cheap plastic variety, which will eventually loosen and pull away from the wall or fall out.

·         Flexible Blinds – Vertical and horizontal window blinds are a versatile option, because not only do they go up or down, they can open from side to side, or from the top down. In addition, you can adjust the slats to let in more or less light. Blinds block bright light and heat yet allow light to enter the room, via a cord or chain that you pull; however, there are some new cordless varieties on the market now. Although blinds are a bit more complicated to hang, careful measuring is the key. You should position the hardware inside the window opening with two enclosed boxes at each end and a clip, or hook in the middle for support. Be sure to position the screw to fit into the window buck in the center for more strength and stability.

·         Valances and Head Rails – Valances commonly consist of a board with fabric attached that hangs over the window, but manufacturers are presenting new designs to the marketplace frequently. Valances and head rails decoratively cover unsightly bunched up curtains, rods or bars. A head rail is a narrow, boxlike case that extends across the top of a window blind. Position the hardware for your valance or head rail slightly higher than the blinds, curtains or drapes, and at least two to three inches wider to allow for movement of the window treatment. Use either butterfly or toggle anchors, which tighten against the back of the drywall and hold the window treatment in place securely. Be sure to check with a level to make certain you install your valance or head rail evenly across the window.

These instructions are general in nature, because most window treatments include their own specific mounting information, so make sure to read everything included with the hardware thoroughly before you begin. Set out all the necessary tools and put aside plenty of time to make your measurements and double check for evenness. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or visit their website for additional instructions or even videos. You can also do a search on YouTube for video instructions, but be sure to watch the entire thing before you start and be wary of less-than-professional directions. When you are finished, you’ll have stunning windows and can take pride in the fact that you installed them yourself.


Modern Window Blinds: Up, Down and All Around

Modern window blinds are not like their boring former counterparts of the past. Once created to hide the windows of a house, in contrast, today’s blinds actually draw attention to windows, using the beauty of natural light to enhance a space. Thanks to the variety of materials and styles, modern window blinds no longer blend in and disappear; instead, they make a bold statement, adding beauty and ambiance to your home.

·         Cut the Cord – Some people avoid using window blinds because of the cords, which can tangle or fray over time, but now there are motorized blinds that eliminate the need for cords. For children and pets, the cords can create a choking hazard, although there are plastic child protection systems available that separate the cord when something is caught in the loop. Cordless blinds are a safe option, but they also are quite pleasing to the eye, creating a modern, elegant look to any room. Motorized blinds can tilt the slats at the touch of a button and are fast and simple to install, too.

·         Block the Light – In an effort to produce blinds that completely block out the light, like classic roller shades, manufacturers have created innovative blind designs. You can now find blinds with lift cords that wrap around each slat, instead winding through numerous holes in them, dramatically reducing the amount of light entering the room. Another benefit to this design is that you can remove a single slat for easy cleaning, instead of having to take the entire blind down and wrestle it to another surface for washing.

·         Go Green - Window blinds are now available in natural materials and fibers that add insulation, saving on energy costs and usage. Going green doesn’t mean sacrificing variety, either. Eco-friendly blinds are available in a dizzying variety of colors and shades, so they will add beauty to any room while making you feel good about doing your part to save the planet.

·         For the Kids – Blinds and shades for children now come with their favorite characters, adding a fun, light element to the room. For added safety, they are available in cordless varieties, and you can get them in room darkening designs, too. Having a fun motif on the blinds will encourage kids to keep them down to enjoy them, which means they won’t be so tempted to play with them, wearing them out prematurely. Children’s blinds come in the mini blind variety, which can take a lot of abuse, are easy to raise and lower, and resist dust and warping.

·         Top, Bottom, Side to Side – Window blind manufacturers are keeping up with the times by thinking outside the box. In the past, there was one option for opening blinds, which was from the bottom up. However, now, you can purchase blinds that open from the top down, adding an extra layer of security and privacy to your home. In addition, vertical blinds open from side to side, which allows you to add the exact amount of natural light into the room. More options in window blinds makes much easier to find the perfect window treatment for every room in your house.

If you’ve tried windows blinds in the past and found it difficult to deal with the cord, the light they emit or cleaning them, it’s time to give them a second chance. Due to modern innovations, window blinds are making a big comeback and once again are an exciting window treatment staple.


With a Cherry on Top: Valances Offer Variety

A window valance is a window treatment that covers the uppermost part of a window, often hiding curtain or drapery hardware. You can hang a valance by itself, or combine it with other window treatments, like curtains, shades, blinds or draperies. For hundreds of years, people have used valances as a simple and inexpensive way to add creative elegance and classic charm to any window in the home. Although no one knows the exact origins of the valance, many believe they started making them in Valence, a small French city known for exquisite cloth making, sometime between 1400 and 1450.

Valances have come a long way since their inception, with many modern designs available today that pull the look of window treatments together in a stunning way. The choices are many, from wooden to fabric and more – and in fact, many window treatments made today even come with their own matching valances. If valances confuse you, here is exactly what you need to know to help you decide on the perfect valance for every room of your home.

Select a Style

Although the names vary somewhat and manufacturers introduce new styles regularly, there are seven basic types of valances available today, include the following:

tailoredvalance.jpg

1.    Tailored Valance – The most basic style of valance, the tailored valance is rectangular and rests on top of the window. The fabric that covers the curtain rod has pleats, which adds more texture and shape to the look. Tailored valances are a classic choice for kitchens.

ruffledvalance.jpg

2.    Ruffled Valance – The ruffled valance is a bit more ornate than the tailored valance. In addition to the pleating, ruffled fabric displays above the rod and the overall design has slightly angled drapes beneath the rod that provides extra layers of fabric down the sides of the window. Ruffled valances add stylish ambiance to any room.

balloonvalance.jpg

3.    Balloon Valance – The balloon valance is similar in basic design to tailored and ruffled valances; however, the fabric beneath the rod is puffs out. The balloon valance adds dimension to a plain window and is suited perfectly for bedrooms due to its softer look. Balloon valances are often made of lightweight cotton fabric.

tieupvalance.jpg

4.    Tie-up Valance – An interesting blend of other valance types, the tie-up valance has ties along the midsection and angled sides like the ruffled valance; however, the fabric covering the rod is flat and has clean lines. When tied up, the fabric beneath the rod appears puffed like a balloon valance. The tie-up valance offers a versatile blend of the other styles to give your window a dynamic appearance.

swagvalance.jpg

5.    Swag or Scarf Valance – Swag valances add interest, because they hang across the brackets and then drape over the top of the window with tails hanging down on each side. A scarf valance, on the other hand, is usually made of a lightweight or sheer fabric.

Play with Patterns and Textures

Valances come in many patterns and solid colors, as well as textures, so you can have fun mixing and matching them for each room of your home. Here are some interesting examples that will inspire you:

·         Compliment Your Walls – If a room has wallpaper in a floral pattern or stripes, using a valance in a solid, coordinating color with pleats will create the illusion of vertical stripes, adding an interesting dimension to your window. If you have walls that are a solid color, adding a striped or patterned valance will frame your windows with color, adding contrast to a boring room.

·         Accent Blinds and Shades – In rooms where there are blinds or shades over the windows, choose a valance that compliments the colors and textures already in place. Obviously, white or eggshell-colored blinds or shades are much easier to match, but what if your blinds are wooden or faux wood? Choose a valance with an accenting color, such as green or blue to add contrast and draw attention to your windows, depending on the overall color palette of the room itself. In kitchens, you can match your valances with the countertops and cabinets to create a pulled together look.

·         Enhance Large or Tall Windows – Large or tall windows provide an open feel to a room that a valance can enhance if you choose one that is the proper size. An over sized window will overwhelm a small or tailored valance, so go for a valance with solid colors and lots of style, such as a swag or scarf valance that hangs down to the floor. By adding layers, you can soften the look of a large window. Big windows often require custom window treatments, so it makes sense to order valances at the same time to achieve a smart, coordinated look.

Valances are an affordable way to add beauty to any home and are an easy way to update the look of a room quickly and easily. They can be as simple as a strip of fabric draped over a rod, or as complicated as a tailored valance with pleats – the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same – stunningly beautiful and classically elegant.