Window Treatments 101: Roman Blinds

We recently kicked off the series “Window Treatments“, painting a bit of a historical background picture, just to set the scene for the future articles.

For those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere spring is making way for those hot summer days. Our interior lifestyle begins to swing with it, as we go about the business of creating cool spaces to rattle around in.

Speaking for myself, I find that the seasons definitely impact on my window treatments. In winter all I want to do is hibernate indoors, pull shut the heavy draped curtains to block out all consciousness of the bleak cold and wet weather. The “bear-effect“.

Sheer Voile Curtains
Sheer curtains are a must for summer!

In summer just as we strip away the layers of clothing, so I feel like I want to strip away the layers on the windows in order to create more of that feeling of “openness”. Light-weight sheer fabrics for curtains – unlined naturally – that hang from a silver metal pole, so that when the breeze comes up, it gently lifts the curtain and plays with it.

The other ‘”less is more” option in terms of dressing a window are blinds that are either fitted into the window recess or externally if on installed on a door opening.

Roman Blinds
Some pretty plain-fabric Roman Blinds - perfect in bathroom setup. Image via: Urbaneblinds.co.uk

The varieties of blinds available today are just amazing. Today I will open up one of the old favourites:

ROMAN BLINDS:   These are normally made using a fabric and they are lined with a plain white or cream fabric as a rule. However, that does not mean that you are restricted to plain fabric linings.  The only reason that a plain sateen fabric is used for lining is due to the fact that this is the fabric that will be visible from outside the house.  The rule of thumb is to have all the curtains lined with the same fabric to retain a coherent exterior view when the curtains or blinds are drawn. It does begin to look a bit like a patchwork quilt if there are a variety of fabrics seen from the outside.

The other purpose of a lining is that it protects the main fabric from dust and dirt that penetrates through open windows. It also serves to protect the front fabric from the fading that happens with exposure to ultra-violet light.

Roman Blinds
You will find a lot of easy DIY Roman Blind tutorials on the net. Like this one from the Adventures in Dressmaking blog.

I cannot possibly go into the details of how these blinds are put together in the workshop, as that is just not my thing. If that is where your interest lies, I would suggest that a good google session will help you out there.

Suffice to say that these blinds are drawn up and down by means of a group of string cords thread through plastic eyelets.

The Roman Blind can itself be treated in a decorative way – such a having different shapes at the bottom, which can also be finished (or trimmed as we call it in the trade) with a piping cord. This piping cord can be covered either using the same fabric, or a contrasting colour.

Rebated Curtain Rail
A rebated curtain rod / pole. The curtain rail or blind baton is then fixed into the recess. This is a neat and elegant way of dealing with those unsightly curtain rails.

For a good many years now, the top of the roman blind (which is attached to a wooden or metal baton) can have the added feature of a covered wooden pole (either in same or contrast fabric). Or it can be painted to work in with the main body of colour in the fabric. This wooden pole has a small rebate cut out in it, into which the top of the blind fits. Very neat.

I like this finish as it completes the picture somewhat, making the blind look as if it is falling from under the pole.

Roman Blinds
Choose a nice funky and simplistic fabric design for a contemporary Roman Blind. Avoid a busy or "cluttered" pattern. These pretty blinds are via JohnLewis.com

In the 1980’s and first half of the 1990’s when the Laura Ashley country style was very popular we saw the resurgence of this blind as a window treatment. Here in South Africa Biggie Best adopted the same décor style and roman blinds were everywhere to be found.

As the “less is more” style moved in, the younger generation were less inclined to adopt their mom’s country style. Today although roman blinds are still to be found, the popularity has dwindled – like most trends.

The advantage of the Roman Blind is that you can have the fabric of your choice made up to fit the window in a less fussy manner to that of a curtain. Certain windows like those in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, staircases, smaller and narrower windows are more suitable to blinds and this is where the roman blind can work well.

Sheer Roman Blinds
These stunning sheer Roman Blinds allows for privacy without loosing too much light. Image via Blinds by Bayliss

The disadvantage of Roman Blinds is that fabrics need to be washed.  That can be quite a little exercise when you have to take the blind down and then re-install. Invariably you will need the assistance of a professional curtain installer. Other disadvantages – when the eyelets perish and break – the cording system is affected.  You will find you have a wobbly and lopsided blind when drawn up.

Naturally as a decorator you work with the likes and dislikes of your client, but I have to admit that I have moved away from the Roman Blind window treatment. My preference now – “less fuss is best”.

Next time we will look at the rest of the wide variety of blinds as window treatments…

Images via:
Sheer Curtains: left  &  right
Bathroom Blinds: here
DIY Roman Blind: here
Curtain Pole: left  &  right
Funky Roman Blinds: here
Sheer Roman Blinds: here
  
Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Window Treatments 101: Roman Blinds

  1. Always have your fabrics (main and lining) treated with a stain repellent prior to having the blinds made up or afterwards; this makes it easier for spot cleaning.

    Avoid having Roman Blinds above a kitchen sink as they will inevitably get splashed and leave watermarks unless they are kept in a drawn position all the time. Consider dummy blinds in this case.

    Avoid a chain pulley system if the Roman Blinds are installed behind working curtains as it nearly always impossible to work the cording system rather opt for the conventional rope system.

    If using the rope system install two sets of cleats 20cm above each other as this will make it easier and look less cluttered than using just one cleat.

  2. This post is great. I’m working on my daughter’s bedroom and was planning roman shades. I do love them, but you are right — they can be trouble! Your blog is fabulous! I’m happy to have found it!

  3. Thank you for your gracious and kind words of encouragement.

    In terms of roman blinds for your daughter’s bedroom – in a young girls room there can be a definite advantage of using roman blinds for the window treatment. And that is – the fact that it has the depth of pattern, colour and texture, which other blinds don’t necessarily have. If you take the necessary precautions in terms of having the fabric treated before hand with a stain repellent coating and if you manage to draw the roman shades up and down each day with caution, then that can help to extend the life time. A regular once over with a vacuum cleaner can keep the dust from settling ( so to speak) on the fabric – this will cut down on the need to take it down to wash. A little extra conscious TLC could go a long way.

    all the best and enjoy the process of decorating your daughter’s bedroom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s