The right window treatments can make or break the style of a room. Stylish window blinds have an architectural interest of their own, with horizontal or vertical lines that can combine with the window form to make a compelling yet affordable design statement. Their louvers and slats allow great control over the amount of natural light that enters a room, even when they are lowered. Blinds fall into two general categories.
Sometimes called Persian or Venetian, horizontal models are the most popular choice. They consist of stacked horizontal slats, also known as vanes or louvers, connected with a string or corded “ladder” that allows that slats to be rotated to nearly 180 degrees, offering users the ability to adjust the amount of light that enters a room in minute increments. The less space between each slat, the more the slats will overlap when rotated closed. Models where the cord holes are located at the back of the slats will close more tightly, a useful feature to consider when a blackout effect is desired. An attached cord is used to raise the unit, stacking the slats tightly. Valances are frequently used to hide the slats when the blind is drawn open.
Horizontal models are available with a nearly limitless number of colors, and finishes. Slat materials include metal, wood, vinyl and plastic. Sometimes decorative tape is attached to the laddered lift cords to add ornamentation. Some are treated with an “anti-static” treatment to help repel dust. Dusters are available that are specifically designed for cleaning the slats, constructed with a dust cloth-covered serrated “fingers” that enable the user to clean several rows of slats with one pass.
Vertical models are often chosen for sliding doors and patio doors, but they are good options for homes with tall, fixed windows as well.
They employ wide slats that are usually attached to a valance at the top, allowing the slats to hang free. Some styles include chained tabs attached at the free end to link the slats loosely together. Others have slats with weighted bottoms that allow people to pass through them without becoming tangled. The slats rotate to either side and stack together when pulled to one side. Vertical models are available in the same materials as horizontal blinds, and their wide width offer other decorative options as well. They can be covered with fabric or wallpaper to complement walls and window treatments.
The benefits of window coverings extend beyond decoration. In homes with drafty windows, up to 30 percent of the heating in a home can be lost through windows during cold winters. Blinds offer an additional layer of insulation for windows, helping to lower heating and cooling costs. They can reflect or deflect natural light inward or outward, as determined by the angle of the slats. They help block summer heat and help retain household heat in winter. As the slats can be tilted to almost any angle, they offer a measure of privacy as well.