The Surprising Evolution of Roller Shades You Should Know

Blinds & Shades
Sunshine Drapery sliding glass doors window treatment
The first window shades were introduced in Holland in the seventieth century and then they became widely used in the eighteenth century in Holland, France and England. Roller shades finally made their appearance here in the United States in 1780 and they have progressed to the truly innovative designs of today.

Roller Shades Have Come a Long Way

Most people don't realize how long items have been around until they learn of the history of the products. Roller shades were the first instance of window treatments ever used and they have evolved with many improvements to today's products, which can be automated.

The First Windows in Existence

The first windows in existence didn't come equipped with any type of window coverings and they don't actually match a description of what we think of as modern windows. The first known windows were created in ancient times and they were simple slits in thick masonry walls that served the purpose of letting air and light inside as well as giving the inhabitants a view outside to alert them to their approaching enemies. This type of window was found in Egyptian, Near East, Roman, and Greek temples as well as in their fortresses and palaces. In the middle ages, windows were transformed into beautiful works of stained glass throughout Europe in the cathedrals--thus the name of cathedral windows. However, there were still no window treatments or coverings and it took a few hundred years before roller shades were invented.

Window Shades in America

Roller shades for windows began appearing in America in both homes and public buildings around 1780. The first shades were made of a translucent cloth or paper and the decorative designs could only be seen inside or outside of the building. In the early nineteenth century, roller shades were being painted all over the inside and outside with imaginative landscapes and romantic scenery. Towards the end of the century, these landscapes were replaced with stenciled borders that often had a medallion in the center of floral or scenic images. During the mid-nineteenth century, the primitive artistic scenery was replaced by copying, tracing, stencils or pounding to produce images of a much higher and more artistic quality.

The Birth of the Roller Shade

During the mid-nineteenth century, the spring roller was introduced as the first known instance of the roller shade. At first, window shades were mounted to the window frames using string loops and hooks that people used to roll it up by hand and fasten them rather awkwardly to a height they desired. With the need for simple roller shades to operate easily came everyone who was an inventor and ten patents for the spring roller was listed by 1855. However, it would take an additional three years before a spring roller factory in New York would start to produce roller shades. The original design was patented by the father, uncle, and brother of Stewart Hartshorn, who together with his father started the Stewart Hartshorn Company in New York.

Victorian Style and Drapes Took Over

In the late nineteenth century, the times were influenced by the Victorian style that was imported from England. This is when household objects with Victorian grandeur and perfection were mass-produced and the art of the painted window shades was significantly impacted. The shades that were standalone treatments for windows now became literally covered with heavy fabric draperies and many yards of swaging fabric and elaborate trim. Some shades with borders survived this era and some of the shades were then framed to use as artwork on the walls with the features of decorative garden foliage or European scenery.

Modern Roller Shades

The modern roller shades of today are very versatile as a window treatment that can fit any window size and shape that you may have. Custom built window shades are available in literally thousands of different designs to match your decor and style seamlessly. You can choose light and airy fabrics for a filtered light in a space or you can choose a thick fabric to make it room darkening or anywhere in between. Roller shades in solid colors can blend into a room as a minimalist style or you can choose something extremely bright and bold in prints or solids to make your windows a focal point in any room. One of the latest additions to historic roller shades is automation. If you have a smart home or smart business, you can add a motorized window treatment option to your roller shades to operate them with the touch of a button. You can control them with remote control, wall control or any smart device you may own. You can even program your smart shades to open and close at specific times of the day and night automatically. This enables you to have the utmost in energy efficiency all year round even if you're not at home. The program can close your roller shades to keep out the heat gain and the sun in the hottest of summer days as well as retain your heat in your home on the cold wintry days. When a product is a great item to start with, it will likely be updated throughout the years to improve it even more. This is the sign of something that you want in your home or business because it has withstood the test of time. Roller blinds are an excellent choice for all of your privacy, light, and energy-efficient needs in all of your windows.
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