Present in homes, apartments, and offices around the world, custom window blinds are considered by many to be the most popular window treatment available – especially in the United States.
Their ease of use, effective light control, and affordability make them an easy option to consider for covering windows in almost any space. Nonetheless, interior designers and home-owners still encounter “option paralysis” when trying to choose the perfect blind for its intended space.
To help alleviate this frustration, we have assembled this Complete Guide to Custom Window Blinds, a resource that provides helpful information on many of the styles, features, and benefits of adding custom blinds to your living or working space.
What Are Window Blinds?
Depending on the area of the world in which you reside, the term “blinds” is often used to describe almost any type of window treatment – similar to southerners in the U.S. calling all soft drinks a “Coke”!
More traditionally, however, window blinds are a form of window covering that consists of several vertical or horizontal slats that are connected using a set of cords. Through manual or motorized adjustment, the position of these slats can be rotated to limit the amount of light that enters a room.
Window blinds are considered a “hard” window treatment based on the types of materials that are used in their construction, including wood, metal, plastic, and other composite materials.
The History of Window Blinds
Believe it or not, window “blinds” were first used thousands of years ago by several early civilizations for privacy and protection from the sun. Ancient Egyptians would string up reeds from the Nile river, and the ancient Chinese made use of bamboo – a material that is still used for modern blinds.
Centuries later the Persians introduced blinds to Europe, which popularized their usage and led to an expansion of construction and design styles. Their usage quickly spread throughout several major European cities including London, Paris, Venice, and Rome. Eventually, popular styles within specific cities were patented by designers and craftsmen, leading to many of the commonly named styles we reference today, such as Venetian blinds.
As the West was later colonized by the Europeans, their culture, language, and yes – interior design preferences – came with them. With the advance of technology and industrial production, blinds have become a common presence in almost every home in the United States and most of North America. Modern technologies have now allowed for the addition of convenient features like motorized control and timing systems.
Window Blind Features
One reason that blinds are so popular and still serve as one of the most common window covering options on the market today is due to the many different styles and customization options that home-owners have to choose from. Regardless of your home’s current decor, there is almost certainly a custom window blind available that will provide you with the right balance of style, function, and affordability.
Types and Materials
This style is often regarded as the “classic window blind”. Venetian blinds broadly reference many different styles of horizontal blinds, which can be made of a variety of materials including wood, metal, plastic, and other composites. The slats in Venetian blinds are held together using cords or cloth tape, and, depending on the unique style, can be adjusted using various methods either with a cord, rod, or by moving the window treatment itself.
In the United States, wood Venetian blinds are often referred to as wood or “wooden” blinds. Wood blinds offer a more natural appearance due to the use of rich hardwoods in their construction. Depending on the brand, you’ll find a large number of style and finish options available that allow you to customize your blinds to your liking. Products like Hunter Douglas’ Parkwood® Wood Blinds will provide your room with traditional style and timeless beauty thanks to their natural basswood grains.
COMPOSITE / FAUX-WOOD BLINDS
Composite blinds are constructed using man-made materials that offer a powerful combination of durability and style. Ideal for humid areas of the house like bathrooms and kitchens, faux-wood blinds are built to withstand the damaging effects of heat and moisture while also maintaining their classic style and appearance. Some brands even guarantee that there products will not warp, crack, fade, or peel, a commitment that Hunter Douglas offers on its Everwood® Alternative Wood Blinds series.
ALUMINUM / METAL BLINDS
One of the most affordable window treatment options you’ll find, metal blinds are a great solution for window coverings on a budget. They are often built using light-weight aluminum slats or “vanes”, and are available in a variety of thicknesses, and can be customized using all colors of the rainbow. Given their metal design, these blinds offer a sleek appearance that can be suitable for both traditional and modern room decor. If you’re considering purchasing metal blinds, consider Hunter Douglas’ Modern Precious Metals® series.
If you have wide windows or sliding doors to cover, you should certainly consider using vertical blinds – like Hunter Douglas’ Somner® series. As their name suggests, these blinds use wide vertical slats (instead of horizontal), and are ideal for covering wide areas. Their wider slats often block out more light than those found in horizontal styles, and their vertical direction also means they will collect less dust and make cleaning a breeze! Available in many different materials, fabrics, colors, and patterns, vertical blinds deliver unique aesthetics and dynamic flexibility.
Shapes and Sizes
While many assume that blinds are only suitable for square/rectangular windows, the truth is that they can be fit to a wide variety of specialty shaped windows including:
- Corner windows
- Circle windows
- Oval windows
- French doors
- Sliding doors
- + More
If you are considering adding blinds to a custom-shaped window, we strongly recommend hiring a professional custom window blinds installer to complete your project to ensure the perfect fit, and to prevent any unwanted damage to your windows or blinds.
In the past, parents had frequent safety concerns about adding blinds to their home, fearing that their children may suffer an injury related to the long cords that were incorporated into the product’s design. Luckily, respected window treatment companies like Hunter Douglas and Graber have made design changes and added many optional features to alleviate many of these concerns, again making window blinds a safe and reliable window treatment for parents and pet-owners to consider. Some of these new safety features include:
- Cordless operating systems
- Motorized operating systems
- Wand controls
- Retractable lift cords
- Cord tensioners
- + More
If safety is a prominent concern for you, speak to a certified Hunter Douglas dealer about the safest window treatment options available.
The days of blind customization being limited to “white” and “off-white” are over! With more and more home-owners choosing unique decor for their homes, the need for customizable window blinds has greatly expanded in recent years. To meet this need, big name blind brands are routinely rolling out new features and selections for their customers including:
- Custom colors
- Special finishes and textures
- Motorized operating systems
- Wand and cord controls
- Varying slat sizes
- Window cornices
- + More
Custom Blind Benefits
By treating your windows with custom window blinds you’ll enjoy several obvious, and not-so-obvious benefits they provide!
No one likes a naked window, and those sheets you have hanging just aren’t cutting it! Adding blinds to your windows can be an effective way to tie together different areas of your room, giving your living space a more complete appearance that is both inviting and comforting. Beyond completeness, custom blinds can add to your room’s decor depending on the customization options you choose. Your choice of materials, colors, finishes, and style can have a dramatic impact on your room’s overall appearance.
Generally speaking, blinds are considered to be one of the most cost-effective window treatment solutions available, making them the perfect choice for designing on a budget!
Put your mind at ease and block the view of your nosy neighbors once and for all. With their simple operation and near-total closure, establishing privacy inside your home is as easy as pulling a cord, twisting a wand, or saying the magic words (with a voice-operated control system).
Lower Energy Bills
The cost of adding new blinds can be significantly offset by the savings they produce on your long-term energy bills. Even when only partially closed, window blinds can effectively reflect the sun’s damaging UV rays and heat back outside, which keeps your home cooler, and your energy bills lower.
Overall, the majority of the maintenance work needed for blinds is limited to routine cleaning with a dusting cloth or vacuum cleaner. If keeping maintenance to a minimum is important to you, consider going with metal blinds as they are the easiest to clean.
Cost Expectations for New Blinds
As we’ve already mentioned, blinds tend to be a more budget-friendly alternative to other window treatments like plantation shutters due to the materials used in their construction and the reduced prep work required for installation.
While every window treatment project is unique and your final cost will be dramatically impacted by your customization choices, you can expect to spend between $60-$300 adding new blinds to an average-sized window.
Schedule an in-home design consultation with a window treatment specialist to see which styles and materials will best fit within your budget.
Measurements and Installation
When it comes to adding new blinds to your windows, taking accurate measurements is a critical step in the process. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that you hire a professional blinds installer to ensure that your new blinds fit perfectly come installation day.
This is especially true for custom-shaped windows like arches and ovals, where taking accurate measurements and installing the blinds can be much more difficult.
By partnering with a window treatment specialist you’ll rest easier knowing that one of your home’s most important features – your windows – will not be damaged during the process. An experienced specialist will know all of the ins and outs of installing your blinds correctly the first time, including proper inside/outside mount measurement, bracket, headrail, and valance installation, and tips for maintaining your new blinds over the long-term.
It’s Time to Start Shopping!
While resources like this guide are helpful at answering important upfront questions, the reality is that finding the right set of blinds for your home or office is going to require some “in-the-field” legwork!
A good place to begin your product search would be over at our blinds catalog, where you’ll find descriptions, images, and videos for several popular blind treatments.
Be sure to limit your search to the more respected brands in the industry like Hunter Douglas and Graber. These companies have withstood the tests of time by ensuring their products are manufactured with an emphasis on quality.
If you’re a local Kansas City resident, give Custom Shutters by Doyle a call at (816) 587-1990, and we’d be happy to help you explore all of your potential options!