The concept of window shades can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The Egyptians used wet strips of cloth to keep out the sun and wind, while the Chinese opted for bamboo as a window covering.
Window shades made of translucent cloth or paper first appeared in American homes and public buildings in the late 18th century.
As a teenage apprentice, Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted biblical scenes on window shades that were used instead of stained glass windows in churches in Latin America.
Types of Window Shades
Cellular Window Shades
Cellular window shades are excellent at helping to insulate your home. There are two different variants of cellular shades that you can choose to purchase. Single cell shades work perfectly to help keep the sun out and will give you plenty of privacy in your home.
Double cell shades are even better at insulating and they can also be used as blackout shades. You can get these types of window shades in many different styles. No matter what type of look you are going for in your home, you will be able to find the right cellular window shades to go along with it.
Roman Window Shades
Roman window shades are typically made out of a heavy fabric. This gives them a bit of a unique look, as they just have a completely different feel. If you want to add a touch of elegance to any room in your home, then these Roman window shades are a perfect way to achieve this.
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When you have these window shades pulled down, they hang down completely flat. Once you pull them up you will discover that they form these beautiful horizontal pleats. It really does look very nice and you will enjoy the look of it both ways.
These shades are very convenient to use and you will be able to purchase them at a fairly inexpensive price at most locations. These window shades are very versatile as well.
You will be able to purchase them in several different colors and you might even find some Roman window shades that feature a pattern. The most typical type of Roman window shade will definitely be a solid-colored style, though.
When you want to add a stylish new feature to any room, these shades are going to be the perfect option for you to consider.
Roller shades are becoming really popular because of how easy they are to use. You can simply roll these shades up without any sort of a hassle. This is great for people who want to be able to let some natural sunlight come into their homes.
They can be rolled up manually in most cases, as they most often feature a cord or a pulley of some sort. There are more sophisticated models of roller shades that are available, too. You can purchase roller shades that come with a remote control device.
This will roll up the window shade automatically with the push of a button. You can push the button again to roll it back down. Some people find this option to be preferable to the manual roller shades, but others will find the manual option to be easier.
These roller shades can be purchased at most major retailers in modern times. You will find plenty of different color options and styles to choose from. This makes them really good for anyone who wants to add a touch of color to a room.
These roller shades don’t cost too much money and you can fit them into your overall decor very simply. It should also be noted that many people like to add things, such as trim or tassels, onto these roller shades.
Some people have even chosen to paint designs on their roller shades to really give them a customized and personal feeling. This definitely isn’t necessary, but it can be appealing to anyone who wants to add their own flair to these shades.
No matter what your plans for these roller shades are, you will certainly be able to make great use of them in your home.
Balloon shades definitely have a unique look and they can be very charming. These types of window shades have rings on the back with cords running through them. You can pull the shades open and they will sort of balloon out and form these little puffs of fabric.
It can look really cute and it gives off a very traditional vibe, reminding you of something you might have seen in your grandmother’s home. Most of the time, you will find these balloon shades being made out of silky fabrics or something that is sheer.
This can give it a very nice look and it will look quite pretty in your home. One issue that some people have with these types of window shades is that they are too sheer for their liking. The style is very interesting, but it will be letting a lot of sunlight into your home and it won’t give you a lot of privacy.
You will find some people using these window shades to go over the top of something more solid. This allows them to enjoy the undeniable aesthetic appeal of these window shades without having to deal with the negatives of their sheer nature.
This isn’t always the most convenient way to go about things, though. You will want to consider your options before deciding to purchase these window shades, as you should be sure that these are right for you.
It would be smart to use these in your home in rooms where you want to have a significant amount of sunlight. Putting balloon shades in your kitchen or in a room where you are keeping plants that you want to have access to sunlight is very sensible.
It might not work out well in your living room or bedroom. It is really going to come down to your personal preference and your needs.
Another popular type of window shade that you will see in people’s home is tie-up shades. These window shades are very pretty and can be easily tied up to let in more sunlight whenever you desire.
This is a really simple design overall, as it is simply a fabric window shade that is hanging from a rod that is placed above your window. Sometimes people will use a mounting board to hang these tie-up shades instead of a rod, and the decision usually comes down to which option you find to be more aesthetically pleasing.
These window shades don’t use a cord or any type of roller, as you will simply be tying them up manually. You will find little ribbons or some sort of ties that are attached to the shade itself.
These are meant to be used to tie it up. You get to decide how high to tie it up, so there is some customization with how you decide to let these window shades hang.
Some people might find this to be cumbersome if they are used to simple roller options or opening their window shades with a cord. This will definitely take longer to open up and tie things up properly.
You will need to hold everything in place while you are tying, and this isn’t difficult, but it may not be convenient for everyone. If you want to be able to do everything quicker, then you will likely prefer one of the other window shade options that are represented in this list.
These window shades are really appealing, though. They can help to provide your home with an elegant look that is a throwback to older styles. People who like the traditional style of decoration tend to gravitate towards these tie-up window shades.
You can create a gorgeous environment in your home with these at the center of everything, so consider your desires before making an ultimate decision.
Skylight Window Shades
If you have a skylight in your home, then you may want to consider purchasing window shades for it. This can add a lot of style to the presentation of your skylight and it will make it easier to keep the sun out of your room when you aren’t in the mood for things to be too bright.
There are window shades on the market that are specifically designed for skylights. These window shades won’t be too difficult to install and you will be able to make use of them quite easily.
There are a few different styles of skylight window shades that you will be able to choose from. You will find more typical roller-style window shades that have been modified to work well with a skylight.
These are really easy to install and you will use them in the same way that you do normal roller shades. This is a very affordable way to get a good window shade for your skylight.
You can also choose to get something that is a little more in depth. There are skylight window shades on the market that are made in the cellular style that are completely motorized. This is going to be your best bet if your skylight is very high up.
People with vaulted ceilings will definitely want to install these window shades in their skylight, as it will be the most convenient option.
Solar Window Shades
Solar window shades are somewhat similar to the cellular window shades mentioned above, but they are distinct from them in many ways.
These solar window shades are designed to reduce the sunlight that is coming into your home. People use these shades both indoors and outdoors to protect themselves from the sun’s rays. This helps to keep your furniture from fading and it can also just make things more pleasant.
This differs from something like a cellular window shade because it is designed to reduce sunlight, rather than eliminate it. You will still have sunlight coming through, it will just be significantly less potent.
Being more protected from harmful UV rays is a good thing. This window shade is made out of a durable woven polyethylene and it feels lightweight, despite its strength.
One problem with these solar window shades is that they aren’t as stylish as many of the other types that you have to choose from. If you are the type of person who wants to create a living space that is as beautiful as it can be, then these shades might not be for you.
They look nice, but they aren’t going to fit in with all decor styles. You won’t find as many options with solar window shades as you do with other types, so you will have to take that into consideration before making a purchase.
Shades can make a difference to an outdoor patio or verandah, especially in extreme weather conditions. Outdoor shades can be made from a variety of materials. The most common are plastic or polyurethane, bamboo or woven wood, or fabric. You can choose a variety of colors for each material.
Outdoor shades are often of the roller variety, so they can be dropped or rolled up out of the way as necessary. If your outdoor area has a softer feel, you may opt for loosely hanging outdoor shades.
The effect of any type of outdoor shade is that they offer protection from wind and rain. They also protect outdoor furniture from the sun.
Paper Temporary shades
Temporary paper shades are like emergency shades. They cover your windows until you install more permanent shades. You can literally use any type of paper as a shade in a real emergency. Taping brown paper across a window can be a very makeshift method.
Slightly more permanent paper shades come in the form of a sheet of paper that has been folded repeatedly like a concertina. The sheets can be cut to fit your window. There is an adhesive strip across the top for you to hang the shade.
Temporary paper shades will keep the sun out of the room. They will also not weather well, hence they will need to be replaced.
Pleated shades consist of a material folded into regular, narrow zig-zags or pleats. When they are pulled up, the layers all fold into each other, creating a narrow vertical stack. When they are pulled down, the shades fall into one solid piece of fabric.
The horizontal lines mark the folds of the pleats. The shades are operated by pulling cords that pick up or lower each pleat, so it is a smooth operation. They won’t offer much insulation, but do block out the light.
These shades are made from a non-woven polyester fabric. This pleats very neatly and is not too thick, so that the stacks will be as short as possible when the shade is drawn up. They are adaptable and easy to use in any room in your home. You can match the color and feel of the fabric to suit your décor.
Sheer shades are created from fabric vanes (thin, horizontal lengths of plastic) that are joined by a thin, sheer fabric. They can be pulled up and down with a cord system. When the shades are up, the vanes stack one under the other and the fabric folds into the gaps.
The stacks are quite compressed, so the shades don’t impact on the window when they are up. When they are down, sheer shades filter the light coming into a room.
This can give your room a soft look. It is also valuable in reducing the amount of direct sun hitting the furniture and carpet, which will eventually fade the fabric.
Exterior shutters are one of the oldest types of window shades, but they are also impractical on most houses now. The modern alternative is to use shutter shades that hang down over the window, inside. The shades are made in a variety of materials, such as wood, PVC, aluminum or even glass.
The shutters are in the form of a series of horizontal strips of uniform length and width threaded through vertical supports that run at the ends and in the middle of each length of shutter.
The horizontal slats can rotate, which opens or closes the shade. They are lifted or lowered by a series of cords. Installing shutter shades in your home will give it a classic, retro look. They will go with any décor and become a signature feature in your home.
Woven Wood shades
Woven wood shades are flat sheets of woven natural wood fibers. The ‘threads’ can be very fine, or relatively thick. The shades themselves can range in weave from being very tight to quite loose. The looser the weave, the more light will come in.
If you go for a tight weave, you can be assured that little light will get into your room. Because of the natural materials, these shades will give the illusion of your room being cool, even on a hot day.
The woven sheets complement any décor. Your room will keep its attractiveness with these shades. You can use them as a background window cover, while adding some foreground.
Single Cell Window Shades
Single cell window shades are pretty much the most common type of window shade that you will see people putting in their homes. These window shades can look really nice in just about any setting.
Combine that with the fact that these shades are incredibly practical and you will understand why they are so prevalent. Many people have taken to using these window shades to help give them the privacy that they need in their homes.
Some window shades feel a bit too sheer or let in too much light. These single cell window shades do not have that problem. They do a good job of keeping the sun out of whatever room you have put these in.
People won’t be able to see inside of your home when you have window shades such as these installed. When you do want to look outside, they are really easy to pull up, so you will be able to enjoy some sunlight when you want to.
These window shades are used to help keep homes cool during the hottest months of the summer too. Blocking out a significant amount of sunlight is going to help keep your home cooler.
If you use a different type of window shade, then you aren’t going to have nearly as good of results. This can wind up saving you a bit of money on your energy bills in the long run, so it’s definitely worth looking into it.
Double Cell Window Shades
Double cell window shades work in much the same way as single cell window shades. The big difference is that they have an extra layer of protection.
This allows for the insulation to be much greater and it will keep out even more sunlight. This makes them popular among people who work third shift jobs, as it allows them to sleep without being bothered by the sunlight.
These window shades are used for much more than just blocking out sunlight, though. They are great at helping to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
You see, the design of these works to trap the air in your home, rather than letting it seep through the windows. Your air conditioning is going to be able to cool your home more easily in the summer and your heat isn’t going to escape during the cold winter months.
Being able to be more comfortable during the coldest and hottest months of the year is certainly a boon. You can enjoy window shades such as these in your home at a reasonable price as well.
They come in many different colors and styles, so you aren’t sacrificing aesthetic appeal for functionality. When you purchase window shades such as these, your life is going to be that much more pleasant.
Cordless Cellular Window Shades
Cordless cellular window shades provide you with all of the amazing benefits of the other types of cellular window shades. This means that you can keep the sunlight out of your home and enjoy more privacy. You’ll stay cooler during the hottest months and will just feel more comfortable overall.
Bamboo Window Shades
For the most part, bamboo window shades are usually designed in the Roman style. They hang normally and then give you a more pleated look when raised. This type of window shade can help to keep a room from being too bright while still providing a touch of charm.
Remote Control Motorized Window Shades
Motorized window shades are one of the most convenient styles that you can purchase. You don’t have to worry about dealing with cords or tying anything up. You can simply press a button and the shade will either rise or descend.
Modern motorized window shades are made to last, so you can count on using them for a long time. Much like the skylight window shades mentioned earlier, having the remote control option is a convenient feature.
Best Type of Window Shades for Various Rooms
Tie-up Shades — Best for the Bedroom
Tie-up shades are made of fabric and hang from a mounting board or a rod. You can lift them by hand to the required height and tie them with ribbons rather than using cords or rollers.
Their adjustability makes them a suitable option for the bedroom, giving you complete control of the amount of natural light in the room.
Their construction is relatively simple, making them more affordable and durable. They match well with most decorative designs, mainly traditional and glamorous looks. You can easily decorate them with patterns to personalize your sleeping area better since most of their fabric is visible.
Solar Shades — Best for Kitchen
Solar shades, also called window sunglasses, are a good choice for modern kitchens due to their opaque design. They are made from a woven screen-like mesh, which filters out harsh UV rays, and helps keep your kitchen cooler.
You can choose the degree of openness you need depending on the light you want in the kitchen. For instance, if you go for 14% openness, 84% of the UVA and UVB sunrays are blocked.
Solar shades go perfectly with a kitchen window over a sink, as they are easy to clean with a dry cloth. Although light-colored solar shades match better with kitchen décor and are more energy efficient, dark-colored options are easier on your eyes and better reduce glare.
These shades offer much privacy when it’s sunny, though they may turn almost transparent when it’s dark, with the light on inside the kitchen. You may therefore prefer to have some curtains on at night.
Woven Wood Shades — Best for Bathrooms
Although they can be vulnerable to moisture ruin, Woven Wood Shades make perfect windows for bathrooms. They add a rustic touch and texture to the bathroom spaces that often have a neutral background.
They are a good choice for bathrooms because you can leave them fully lowered and allow natural light into the space. You can always use an exhaust fan after taking a shower to facilitate the shades to dry thoroughly and avoid mildew and moisture damage.
Cellular Shades — Best for the Living Room
Cellular shades are an ideal shade treatment for your living room, mainly due to their superior energy efficiency and style. Most of their designs add a layer of insulation to the living room windows, reducing energy usage and improving comfort.
Their adverse colors, patterns, and textures make them an excellent choice for multiple living space décor and tastes. For the best results, you can pair a room-darkening panel with a light-filtering shade to create an even blend of the two qualities.
Vertical Shades — Best for Sliding Patio Door
Vertical blinds and shades are the most suitable shade options for sliding patio doors since they offer adequate privacy solutions for rooms with sliding doors. Vertical shades are constructed with vanes or slats that overlap slightly.
You can adjust the slats with a wand, cord or remote and, therefore, easily adjust the amount of light getting into your space. In addition, vertical shade slats lie perfectly against each other, leaving a clear area to walk through.
Roman Shades — Best for French Doors
The stylish folds of Roman shades match well with the clean lines of the French door designs. The amount of fabric offers a significant light-blocking quality to the doors though they also have extra room darkening lines if you live in a sunny area.
You can use a cord cleat to prevent strings from getting caught or spreading out when opening or closing the door, especially if you have a corded lift. Also, using Velcro at the bottom can help control the shade from swinging if you don’t have hold-down brackets.
Roller Shades — Best for Blackout
Roller shades are an excellent blackout option due to their complete cover-up of the window space. Other types of shades, like vertical and wood blinds, can’t entirely keep the light out and don’t give you complete control over the amount of light in the room.
Cellular shades are also effective for blackout since they are made of single, continuous pieces of creased fabric, enabling them to fold completely when you close them. Roller shades fit in the window casement and operate with a pulley system, allowing them to roll up and down, usually with a cord, and shut completely.
Bamboo Woven Shades — Best for Dining Rooms
Bamboo woven shades are an excellent option to complement your dining room décor. They are made using natural bamboo and are great for eco-conscious homeowners aiming to add sustainable touch options to their living spaces.
The cordless shade options make bamboo woven shades safe for homes with pets and children, as they eradicate choking accidents. They offer you a range of colors to choose from and bring out the best match for your living area setting and furniture.
If you’ve done any shopping around for window treatments, then you’ve seen Levolor on the lists. The company specializes in window treatments, and its products are available through a variety of notable brick-and-mortar and online retailers.
There are cheaper options out there, but the minor price jump is more than worth the upgrade in quality. Levolor even has an app for their motorized shades, letting you link yet another household item to your smartphone.
The limited lifetime warranty is solid, and customers tend to be satisfied with the product.
Bali Blinds is another manufacturer of blinds, shades, and curtains that sells through retail partners found in many neighborhoods. The price and quality are close matches for Levolor blinds, usually coming in just under its major competitor on both marks.
That said, Bali Blinds does have a wider range of designs and colors without requesting a custom curtain. When shopping at a home improvement store, finding the two manufacturers’ products side-by-side will be common, letting you get a first-hand look at the differences between the two.
While Levolor and Bali Blinds have shades that strike a strong balance of price, style, and function, the offerings from Hunter Douglas venture into the ritzy.
You’ll pay more to cover each window, and Hunter Douglas’s retail partners tend to be interior decorating services and specialty stores rather than home improvement and general stores. Expect to fend off upsell attempts from overzealous architects.
The functionality in the blinds isn’t any greater. If you notice similarities with Levolor, that might be because Hunter Douglas purchased the company in 2016. The stylistic choices and customization options do go up for Hunter Douglas, along with the expectation of a higher renovation budget.
The Shade Store
When money is no concern, the Shade Store can offer your windows the most refined and delicate dressing. Any home with unique or large windows could benefit from their masterful work, but the cost per window quickly pushes to a four-figure value.
The customization tools on their website are robust and help to see the exact price for complex builds without having to talk to a design consultant.
Not every shade needs to be the best quality, such as when a tenant needs a minimally destructive way to reduce the light from a window. For a quick and cheap solution, there’s Redi Shade.
Slicing through the plastic to fit the window might seem odd at first, but the installation is practically done after that. Don’t expect the shade to last a long time, and don’t choose them if you’re looking for a true blackout curtain.
Where to Buy Window Shades
The Shade Store
As the name implies, The Shade Store is your one-stop shop for window shades. This online retailer has higher prices than some others, but they also offer a lot more custom options, too.
Whether you have oversized windows, or your windows are unusually shaped, you’ll find a set of window shades here that will fit perfectly. Many other stores can’t provide the flexibility and versatility that The Shade Store can.
In addition to the customizable options, you can get a free consultation, a free quote, and as many samples as you need at no charge. There are well over 1,000 different material options to choose from, ranging from thick drape styles to lightweight, light-filtering shades.
The Shade Store also has brick-and-mortar locations, so you can also request an in-person consultation if there’s a location near you. Video chat is also available, as well as professional installation.
Bed Bath & Beyond
Bed Bath & Beyond is a massive retailer with both online and brick-and-mortar locations throughout the country. This home goods store sells everything from small kitchen appliances and glassware to bedding, towels, and yes — window shades.
In fact, they have quite an impressive selection of both shades and blinds, including cordless Roman shades in a range of sizes, colors and materials. Bed Bath & Beyond doesn’t offer customizable shades, but there are over 330 options to choose from, so you’re likely to find something that fits your windows.
The company does not offer installation, but you can get 20% off on your window shade purchase if you’re a member of their Beyond+ regards program.
Although their name is Blinds.com, this online retailer also sells a range of window shades, too. Check out their massive selection including wood, faux wood, roller shades, cellular, mini blinds, Roman shades, vertical blinds and more.
The pricing at Blinds.com is fairly reasonable and they also offer free shipping. They only offer a few samples of select products, so you won’t get the opportunity to look at or touch everything you’re interested in unless you choose styles that send out samples.
Blinds.com offers free virtual design consultations, which is extremely helpful if you’re having a tough time choosing the right window shades. You can also return anything you don’t love within 30 days, free of charge.
Another perk is that if you happen to make a measuring mistake, Blinds.com will fix it and recut and send the new blinds to you free of charge. The company also works with The Home Depot, so you can request someone to come to your home and measure for free before you make a purchase.
West Elm is a high-end retailer that specializes in mid-century modern designs. Part of the Pottery Barn family of brands, this store might not have as many options as some other stores, but its selection of window shades is perfect for contemporary spaces.
If you’re looking for something simple and chic, you’ll likely find it at West Elm. There are no custom options, but most of the in-stock shades are available in a variety of lengths and widths, and they’re usually neutral, so they go with virtually anything.
If you’re confident about your window measurements and you want something clean and modern, then West Elm is a great choice. They don’t offer measurements or installation for window shades and blinds, but they do offer free design services.
The design service can help you determine which shades work best in your space, and the company also partners with Porch to set you up with an installer if you choose.
Amazon is without a doubt the world’s largest e-tailer, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find plenty of options for shades. Just make sure that you read customer reviews and check your measurements carefully before placing an order, since many sellers may not provide the highest quality materials.
As you may guess, there are no consultations or measuring provided by Amazon, so it’s up to you to ensure that you’re getting the right size. However, you’ll find a ton of different shade styles, colors, and materials, and many are offered at great prices.
Look for fabric shades, cellular shades, window cling, blinds of all types, and much more. Amazon also offers a variety of curtains in a myriad of colorful styles and other window coverings, too.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll also get free two-day shipping and free returns to sweeten the deal.