Window treatments are one of the finishing touches on a room that can have a dramatic impact on its final appearance. Not only are they an opportunity inject your own personal style into your home, they also serve several practical purposes. You’ll use them to control the natural light in the room, create privacy and they can even help insulate your home. But, what’s the best way to achieve the look and the function you want? Blinds? Curtains? Both? What’s the difference anyway? And what different types of each are out there?


Let’s start with the definitions:

are typically defined as window coverings that can be raised and lowered and have either vertical or horizontal slats that can be adjusted to allow varying amounts of light to enter through them.




shadesA variation on the blind is the shade, which can be raised or lowered, but not adjusted to change the light coming through.





curtainsCurtains, on the other hand, are fabric that is hemmed to hang from a rod above the window.  They are typically drawn, or closed, by pulling them across the front of the window.





Now let’s delve into the different types of each and how to select the best ones for you.

Vertical Blinds

vertical_blindsCommonly use to cover floor-to-ceiling windows or patio doors, vertical blinds can have a dramatic impact on a room when drawn across the window, yet they become relatively inconspicuous when you want to let the light stream in. Homeowners can control the amount of light that coms through them by opening and closing the slats to different degrees. Vertical blinds allow for complete control of privacy and light and can be made of a variety of materials, with vinyl, fabric-covered plastic and wood or faux wood being the most common.


Horizontal Blinds

venetian-blindsWith slats that run across the window, as opposed to up and down, horizontal blinds are commonly used on smaller windows than their vertical counterparts. Also, the width of the slat is typically less than that of vertical blinds. More commonly made from vinyl, wood, faux wood or aluminum than fabric, horizontal blinds tuck discretely out of place when open at the top of the window. With both vertical and horizontal blinds, take maintenance and durability into consideration. Known to collect dust, blinds must be cleaned. Wood, faux, wood, vinyl and aluminum can be wiped down, however, fabric should be vacuumed. In addition, the individual slats and the strings and hardware used to control them can be somewhat delicate.




Roller Shadesroller_blinds

As their name indicates, roller shades are made from a single piece of material, typically fabric or vinyl, that rolls out of the way at the top of the window when open. Roller blinds have come along way since the white vinyl versions in your grandmother’s house. Today, they are made in an array of colours and styles that can either completely block out the sun or let a little light thorough while providing privacy.




Roman Shades

roman_shadesAlso made from a single piece of fabric, Roman shades tuck out of the way by folding along a set of horizontal folds. This folding gives Roman shades a depth and dimension that other, more flat shades do not offer, without occupying the space surrounding the window like a curtain does.




Pleated Shades

pleated_shadesWith more folds than their Roman counterparts, pleated shades are also made of a single piece of fabric, but all the extra folds almost give them the look of slats when they are closed to cover the window. When they are open and tucked out of the way, they take up minimal space.




Cellular Shades

honeycomb_shades1Made from fabric formed into honeycomb-shaped compartments, cellular shades not only look good, but they act just like the insulation in your home, trapping air between the window and the shade. In winter, this keeps cold air from penetrating your home and in the summer, it helps retain cooler air.





lined_curtainsWhen it comes to style, there are, literally, hundreds of options in curtains. There’s not only colours, patterns and textures to consider, but what about length? Should my curtains touch the floor or stop at the window sill? Should my curtains cover the edges of my windows when they are open or should I extend the curtain rod past either side of the window so that they can be pushed completely aside? (This will make the window look bigger too!) Should I tie my curtains back or just move them to the side?

Only you can answer these questions, though you might want to enlist the help of designer with these issues. Let’s get you started down the road with a quick look at function though. Your first decision will be lined or unlined curtains.




Lined Curtainslined_curtains3

Only curtains made of a lined material will completely block out the sun and provide total privacy. A thick, lined fabric will also provide a level of insulation and warmth.





Unlined Curtains

sheer_curtainsIf however, your curtains are more for style, or simply to provide a level of light filtering rather than a black out or total privacy, then an unlined curtain will work perfectly. Perhaps, you’re planning to pair your curtains with blinds or shades that will provide privacy and light blocking you need. In that case, you can select an unlined or even sheer curtains.







Whether you opt for blinds, curtains or a combination of the two, your window treatments are an opportunity to control the natural light in your house, create the required privacy and personalize your space. Trust your own sense of style to narrow down the choices and come up with a solution that’s unique to your home.


Want to read more?

Real Simple: Your Guide to Curtains and Window Treatments