Roller Shades

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Ah, the humble roller shade. Once found in every grade-school classroom across the country, these grand-old-ladies of home decoration would often noisily announce themselves with a distinctive, "flap, flap, flap," when you were trying to bring them down or raise them up. It was often hard to position them just-so, since the slightest wrong movement would send them flapping up into the heights. When the mini-blind invasion hit in the late '70s, roller shades were the great casualty, as millions of homeowners upgraded their window dressings and tossed the old, reliable (if slightly fussy) darlings into the trash.

Personally, I always liked roller shades. They had a sweet nostalgia to them. And, they really worked at blocking light--much better, in fact, than mini-blinds, which, with their hundreds of tiny slats, always let at least a bit of sunlight through.

Raising the Shade

Well, they're back. And they're better than ever. New technology doesn't work via the once-standard elastic cord, but rather through a chain within the workings, making raising, lowering, and specific positioning much easier than in the past. Plus, the materials in contemporary roller shades are highly energy efficient, and can absorb much more heat than many other window treatments. Many of these energy-absorbing materials are excellent sound absorbers as well, buffering noise like neighbors' conversations, roaring engines, across the street party music, and the neighborhood lawnmower guys on Tuesday mornings at 6:00 a.m.

If you appreciate the charm of pre-WWII furnishings, you may be surprised how perfectly roller shades work within this aesthetic. Decorative tassels are still available, which add convenience and charm. Excellent rooms in which to consider roller shades would include television rooms (no more glare from the blinds), sleeping rooms, and anywhere total privacy is desired.

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