Window Shade

A window shade can be used in any number of window covering styles and window treatments. Different fabrics and treatments give it different looks and purposes to suit your needs.

Few window treatments are as versatile and popular as the window shade. Its simple design and elegant appearance look perfect in any decor. Yet the humble window shade also comes in sophisticated decorating solutions that will please any homeowner and fit any budget.

A window shade's function is to provide shade to a room. A window shade basically goes up and down, cutting off different proportions of the sunlight trying to enter a room. The manner in which a window shade goes up and down is the first key difference between products.

The classic roll-up or roller window shade goes up and down by winding itself on a horizontal axle secured at the top of the window opening. This axle is spring-loaded in the traditional roller window shade design. When the window shade is pulled down, energy is stored in the axle's spring. When the shade is tugged just right, the spring is released and pulls the window shade up. The trickiness of tugging at just the right angle and strength has given rise to many a comedy routine in which the window shade escapes the user's hand and flaps wildly around the axle. It's only funny in the movies, though. Many consumers now opt for the loop clutch roll-up mechanism on their roller window shades. This is a continuos loop of metal or plastic beads that engage a clutch mechanism that raises and lowers the window shade. It’s much easier and reliable than the spring-loaded axle, although one does have to stand on one particular side of the window shade in order to raise or lower it.

The Roman window shade is another very popular style. In a Roman window shade, horizontal ribs spaced eight inches or so apart are sewn onto the back of the window shade fabric. Loops or eyelets are attached to these ribs. Drawstrings run from the bottom rib up through the loops and to a drawstring gathering mechanism at the top. When the strings are pulled, the bottom rib rises and subsequent ribs fold neatly atop each other. The Roman window shade is a sleek, bold design that looks good in striped fabrics.

Then there are sheer window shades, which share many elements with blinds. A sheer window shade consists of two layers of sheer, elastic fabric sandwiched around horizontal vanes or slats. Sheer window shades raise and lower just like blinds. When the vanes are open, the sheer layers provide some privacy and light filtering. The vanes can be closed to darken the room more, just like blinds. Sheer window shade vanes can be light-filtering fabric or room-darkening vinyl.

A window shade can be made of almost any kind of materials, from sheer, delicate lace to densely woven strips of bamboo. It all depends on the kind of light-filtering effect that you wish to achieve and the decor of the rest of the room. Many people like the rustic look of bamboo, while others enjoy the frilly, airy look of lace or dotted Swiss fabrics. Whatever your preferences, there's a window shade that's right for your home.