Roman Shades and the Well-Dressed Window

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If you're looking for an alternative between dressy draperies and the ultra-modern look of blinds or shades, then roman shades may be just the thing for you. Clean and tailored, Roman shades aren't at all fussy, yet you can dress them up or down according to your taste simply through your choice of fabric, color and pattern. That's a versatile window covering! In case you're not completely familiar with roman shades, they're fabric shades that operate like blinds, with a cord. However, instead of rolling up, they "fold" up. The result is a dressier version of a blind with the bonus of the seemingly limitless fabric choices and patterns available in a pair of draperies. Like blinds, they're custom-fit to your windows for a neat, professional look. There are actually three basic types of Roman shades:

  • constructed
  • unconstructed
  • relaxed

Constructed Roman Shades

A constructed roman shade is flat, with fabric panels sewn together with back bars or slats every 6 to 8 inches or so. These reinforce the fabric, making it fold up in neat pleats when opened. They work well in both modern and traditional settings, and because you can choose patterned or plain versions, they'll fit in beautifully in any room in the house.

Unconstructed Roman Shades

Similar to constructed roman shades, but without the panels, unconstructed romans are just one piece of fabric. This makes them especially amenable to patterned fabric, since there are no seams to interfere or interrupt the pattern.

Relaxed Roman Shades

Just as their name implies, these roman shades are loose, and gently bowed when raised. Sometimes called soft or London shades, they work best on windows under 54" wide, due to their lack of construction. There are also several variations of the three basics described here such as:
  • balloon shades - decorative and perfect for traditional interiors
  • butterfly shades - delicate and wispy, like their namesake
  • tucked shades - uniform folds make them calm -- almost zen-like
  • Austrian shades - formal and traditional with ruched gathers and scalloping
  • waterfall (soft fold) shades - permanent folds, whether raised or lowered, are what distinguish these from other romans.
  • faux - stationery (like a valance)
That makes roman shades a pretty darned versatile, design-friendly window treatment for any room and any design aesthetic imaginable. Their fabric can be matched to drapes for different applications within the same room. For example, roman shades may not be the best choice for a door, but work great on the windows in the same room. Just match the drapes to the roman shades and you can use both, seamlessly. You can also use them as a bottom layer on a window and top them with drapes, for a more opulent look, if you prefer. Another consideration in how roman shades will look in a room has to do with your choice of fabric. Just like draperies, luxurious fabrics will work well with traditional and formal decor, all the way down to homespun fabrics for a rustic or farmhouse feeling. You can even get woven wood roman shades, for an all-around neutral look that looks great anywhere you'd use a traditional woven wood blind. A true design workhorse, roman blinds are a great alternative to traditional curtains, drapes or blinds. They're adaptable and easy-going and like your favorite pair of blue jeans, they can be dressy and chic or casual and comfortable to suit your individual style and tastes. Do be sure to have your windows measured by a professional, and then have your new roman shades professionally installed for a custom fit and maximum appeal. (Buying them "off the shelf" at your local department store and installing them yourself can result in a DIY look, rather than the "made for your windows" custom look you're really after!) In Illinois and Missouri, Sunshine Drapery & Interior Design is the place to go for top-quality roman shades. You'll find endless choices in fabric, knowledgeable professionals, and all the design help you need!
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