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Window Coverings

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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > House & Garden > Window Coverings


General Questions about Window Coverings Specific Types of Window Coverings

Replace ugly slat blinds with ... what?

April 2012

We are finally ready to deal with the ugly slat blinds that came with our house, but I have no idea how to go about it. Do I measure the windows and go buy curtains (at Target? where?) that fit? Is the hardware separate? Is it better to just go with a company like 3-Day Blinds? Is there one around here that people like? I am not sewing-enabled so can't make anything myself. My husband is handy and could install something. Although, we don't even really know what we want. Would appreciate any advice regarding a starting point to tackle this project! thanks!


Blinds.com! They are inexpensive, give lots of choices, and even had idiot-proof measuring tips, including video! It was the BEST! After I got our blinds, my SIL who is a ''house manager'' for an EXTREMELY wealthy family, said, ''I hope you used blinds.com!'' when I mentioned that we had just put in new blinds. Very gratifying! I know I may sound overly enthusiastic, but seriously; they were great.

P.S. I went to 3-Day Blinds before discovering blinds.com, and they could not have less helpful, and it really should be called 3-Week Blinds, based on waht they told me. Buyer beware for them. I love my blinds!


I used Justblinds.com. I was reserved about ordering anything I could not return online but it worked out well. They will send you samples, and if you prefer not to measure yourself, there are contracted workpeople in the area who can assist you for a fee.They can also hang the blinds for you. I found it to be a painless and fairly inexpensive answer to my window needs. I checked out Home Depot and found them sorely lacking. dana
For inexpensive options, try Ikea for curtains or orientalfurniture.com for inexpensive bamboo, cloth, or paper shades, which, at $15-$20 each, can look very nice, come in different colors or patterns, and include hardware. This could buy you time until you have a clearer idea of what else you might want. windows are important
We just finished doing window coverings for our whole house all at once. The first decision you will need to make is shades vs. curtains. We did a mix of both - curtains in the rooms that we wanted to look a little more ''decorated'' (e.g., DR/LR) and shades where we wanted to be sure of more privacy (kids' room, office) and didn't care so much about the look. Curtains are cheaper, but probably won't last as long. Easier to switch out though if you change your mind.

For windows with curtains, yes, the hardware is separate. In fact, you can go ahead and buy and install it now while you shop around for the exact curtain you want. Installation is mostly a matter of getting the curtain rod level, and the rest is simple drilling and screws. Then find the curtain. Measuring is pretty easy, because it's mostly the length measurement that will vary. Just decide how long you want it and go from there. There are just a few standard sizes. Yes, Target (and Target.com) does have a good number of curtains - we bought a couple of ours there. And many other online and brick-and-mortar stores will have them too.

Shades have the advantages of increased energy efficiency, greater privacy (you can make sure it covers every inch of the window), and permanence. We ended up going with Home Depot and used their installation services, which worked out well, but there are other companies where you can just buy them online and do the installation yourself if you feel confident. We did our ''main'' window in wooden shutters (expensive) and the rest in honeycomb shades, which provide a decent amount of insulation. We got the ''cordless'' and ''up-down'' options which mean that you can raise it from below (like a traditional blind) OR lower it from above if you just want to let in some light but still have privacy. And there are no dangling cords. We have been quite happy with the way they turned out.

I found this to be a somewhat overwhelming process given that window coverings weren't something I thought I cared much about (par for the course in homeownership I guess!) but if you take it one step or one window at a time it will be ok! good luck


The window coverings thing is overwhelming, isn't it? And if you have non-standard windows like we do it gets $$$. We own a 1922 craftsman which still has all of the original windows, complete with beautiful woodwork at the top. Here is what we did:

Bedroom - top down bottom up Roman Shades from the Shade Store - http://www.theshadestore.com/ They have a showroom on Fillmore so you can look and feel the materials. Somehow I gt at 25% coupon from them

Living Room - top down bottom up honeycomb blinds from Smith + Noble - http://www.smithandnoble.com/shades/honeycomb-shades/ We wanted extra insulation in that room, and while I don't love the look, Honeycomb does provide that. For how much these were, I am disappointed in how they are holding up. They are already really stretched out, and we've only had them a few months.

A less expensive option is American Blinds - http://www.americanblinds.com/ We got a bunch of woven wood shades from them which are very good looking. The finish on the top leave a bit to be desired, but who, other than me, notices?

All of these folks will send you free samples. privacy intact


If you want to install blinds I would NOT recommend 3-Day Blinds. Terrible company to deal with. Check out Alcatraz Shades or Berkeley Shade Co. Both have been in business for many years and are real pros. Roger
Depends on where your slat blinds currently are. We have curtains in each of our 3 bedrooms and love them - they're pretty and add a nice design element to the rooms.

However, our living room is curved and has six windows, so we went with honeycomb shades for a more tailored, unfussy look. We got the top-down option so that we could retain privacy but still get the sunlight we wanted.

I love the look of the top-down shades in our living room... however, we bought ours from 3 Day Blinds 5 years ago, and 1 blind broke a year ago, while 2 others just recently kicked it. So I DO NOT recommend using 3 Day Blinds. They are very expensive and if you do a Yelp search, you'll see that they have very poor ratings from other customers, as well.

We just ordered new top-down honeycomb shades from Blinds.com, and while we have not received them yet, their website is easy to use and gives clear instructions on how to measure your windows to get the right fit. Also, the cost was way cheaper than 3 Day Blinds, and reviews on the company seem to be excellent. So maybe check them out, if you want to do shades.

As for our curtains, we bought simple, colorful curtains for our sons' room at Target - they were very cheap and have lasted for years, so we're happy. We have IKEA curtains in the remaining 2 bedrooms, and they're very nice, as well (though I wish the ones in the master bedroom were a bit heavier - they let in too much light in the morning - something to consider, as well).

IKEA has a good selection, but be aware that you will probably need to cut the curtains to size, as I believe IKEA only sells one (very long) length. They do provide an iron- on tape so that you can fold the curtains to the size you want, iron on the hemming tape, and then cut the excess away, but I have found that this only works in theory... our daughter's curtains were very thick and the hemming tape did not work on them, so I ended up having to take them to a seamstress. It was not cheap, but still worth it, I think, because the curtains are beautiful and high quality, and would have probably been 2x as expensive at Pottery Barn or wherever. Good luck, and have fun! Window Coverings Can Be Fun


I'm sure a dozen others will tell you the same thing: Go visit Alcatraz Shade Shop.

They're local. Really nice people. They know their stuff (wander through their shop and you can find shades from 50 years ago and 5 days ago - it's a real Berkeley treasure)

You can see, touch, try, and understand shade, curtain, and blind variations. They'll tell you how to measure your windows (or they'll measure and install).

They're at Telegraph and Alcatraz. Cliff


Window Treatments for Sliding Glass Door

April 2010

i'm trying to choose window treatments for our windows and glass doors and had decided on honeycomb cell shades for energy efficiency & appearance. however, now i am not so sure because- 1. i wasn't sold on verticals for sliding glass doors, but didn't know what else to do and 2. will likely be torn up easily by small kids. i still would like cell shades on the windows but would love alternative ideas for the doors. i thought about window panels (like at ikea) but again, my 2 yr old will definitely hang all over those. would it be weird to have cell shades and another type of window treatment in the same room? maybe just waiting till kids are older?


I have honeycomb blinds too on my windows and they are great - but expensive and delicate. A glass sliding door gets a lot of wear! my advice is go to Ikea or Target - buy some inexpensive long drapes - put them on rings with clips so they slide on the curtain rod. Presto. They work and if your kids get them dirty or something bizarre you won't have a fit as they were cheap. Save the fancy things for when your children are older! Sandy

Window Coverings for Rental House

Feb 2010

I am a renter in a cute rental house in Oakland. I figure that my family will be here for a while so I want to invest in some home improvements to make it more comfortable and appealing to me. First on the list is wall coverings. Like many rentals this house has the dreaded venetian blinds that are tattered and bent. You know the ones? The formal dining room and living room - where I'd like to start - each have lots of windows (covering 1 full wall each) that are not traditional sizes. I'd like to spend some money for attractive window coverings - but not go overboard since its not likely that I will be able to use them in future homes. I like the blinds that open from the bottom up (versus the pull down) to give some privacy but also sun light (house is a one story bungalow) - but I am open to other suggestions as well. Thanks for any suggestions about types of coverings and places to buy them inexpensively. Kate


Hi Kate, I have just spent a ton of time researching cellular blinds, so I thought I'd share my findings. The cellular fabric style blinds/shades also provide extra insulation for your windows, so you might save $ on your heating bills too. The best quality for the price that I've found is at Lowes. They carry off the shelf Levolor brand in 2 neutral colors. You can have them cut in store to any size width between 18-60'' and they go up to 72'' long. They are called trim&go cellular shades. Here is a link to compare price of trim&go to custom Levolor. For example, custom 32'' wide x 72'' high runs about $106/panel, but only $41 for the trim&go. The trim&go are also cordless, which is great if you have kids or pets. However, you can't get the trim&go with the top down feature--you'd have to buy custom for that and there is an extra charge for that option. Here's a link w/ more detail. http://www.levolor.com/products/cellular-shades/

If you want to go the custom route, the home depot website is pretty user friendly. Some of the filters are a little weird with the results they generate. But lots of good instructions for how to measure. They have several brands to choose from and you can look at the in store sample books for fabric swatches, then order online free swatches of the ones you like the best. They also offer various promotions. Best of luck! jessica


I recently decided on levelor honeycomb shades, the ones that can be open either from the bottom or top. I didn't have alot of $ and checked out the ones at Home Depot. They could not be bothered with me, and I decided to try Justblinds.com. I requested samples twice, as I knew I wanted one white and the others green. There was no charge and they arrived within 3 days. I used one of their installers to take the measurements, although now I would do it myself. There was a $75.00 fee. I ended up getting one large shade plus 5 36x60 shades for a total of $477.00, plus install fees of $125.00. If you are handy you can also do this yourself, but I will say the installer is courteous, and professional and it's done in no time at all, under one hour. I am quite happy with them, especially the lower from the top feature as my home is on street level and now I get the light but retain my privacy.I normally prefer to purchase in an actual store, but I would use this company again. You can check out their website as sometimes they have discounts avail. sees the light
I'd recommend that you talk to Kristina Wolf 510-848-8773. Her website is www.kristinawolfdesign.com She's that great combo: imaginative & practical, and I love everything she's done that I have seen. Plus, she's fun to work with; great sense of humor & reassuringly professional and competent. (Window coverings can be nerve-wracking.) Laura
We've also struggled with our large and varied windows--we removed and washed our blinds and put them back up for now--that really helped. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and got the paper honeycomb blinds for my son's room with a 20% off coupon, very nice. They take returns, too, if something is not a good fit. I also got one Chinese paper shade for the kitchen from an online importer called Oriental Furniture. Remember if a window is a non-standard size, you can buy two blinds to cover the window. You need to keep the original window coverings for when you move or you may be charged by your landlord. Remember, anything installed in a rental (including wired-in fixtures) becomes the property of the landlord. fellow renter
Try Home Depot. We bought some inexpensive shades that you trim to size, and are happy with them, especially considering how cheap they were compared to custom shades. anon
I purchased blinds for my home on blinds.com on two separate occasions. They have a good range of quality and price and selecion of colors and styles. One was a bedroom so I chose the ''blackout'' style which is great for kids' naps. The other was for my home office and I'm very happy with both purchases. Makes the house warmer/cooler! I chose double-honeycomb blinds (not exctly what they call it) with the up/down function. They are very private and let in lots of light. I think I ended up with a Bali brand product both times. You need to measure yourself (& double check!)and they explain how to do that. My husband installed them. You can order swatches but I actually looked carefully at the selections at Home Depot and got quotes for both and the on-line was less. Home Depot will measure & install for a fee. good Luck! Happy & Private

Quick window treatments for privacy

April 2009

We have 4 large (85'' x 60'') south and west-facing windows for which we need window treatments. When time and budget allow, we will install drapes, but in the meantime, we need advice on how to get some privacy from the street and light filtration. Energy efficiency would be a big bonus. Needs include 1) we love natural light and would like to get it filtered into the house 2) avoid glare on television 3) provide some privacy from street traffic during day and night 4) allow us to look out and see outdoors, preferably when others cannot see in at the same time. Of course we would also like an eco-friendly and economical solution. It looks like neighbors have sheers or honeycombs or horizontal blinds. Any advice on sheers (types, brands, stores) or honeycombs or a solution we might have missed? Thoughts are appreciated. --The Inept Decorator anon


A few years ago a bought a house that needed lots of large windows covered. Check out Ikea. They have cool sheers, and heavier drapes (I do double rods on most of my windows). You will need to hem them, but that does mean they will fit any sized window. We also needed drapes to cover a wall of windows in a bedroom - I discovered that JC Penny has a great selection of good quality drapes, at a fraction of the PB price. anon
Costco (yes Costco) has a window treatment/design company that I worked with to cover the majority of our windows. It is definitely an investment but really a detail that, if done on the cheap, probably will need to be redone in 5 years. We have beautiful drapes in our front room and a variety of shades in our bedrooms and office. There is a design consultant that comes to your home and an installer who installs the custom window coverings. I believe the Costco designer said their prices were competitive if not better than Smith and Noble's. We did have one large fabric roman shade installed by Smith and Noble because they had a special where the designer fee was free. The quality of that shade seems equally good. It was a custom shade too, the material and dimensions would fit your window precisely and you can choose the hardware for the window treatment that you like. With both companies, having the designer come to my home was the biggest plus ever. They were able to guide me through the pluses and negatives of different window treatments, there are just so many choices. What you are drawn to may not fit the makings of your space. And they offered simple but effective design advice. For example, I thought I'd put different window coverings in the bedrooms that face the street. My designer suggested we choose one window covering that would work in both rooms so the view from the street would be more harmonious. Who would have thought? Not me, but it looks simple and great from outside too, which I wasn't even considering. And then once you choose your window covering, there are thousands of colors and textures to work through, and depending on your personal style, the designer can help guide you through all of that. With both designers, we were able to talk, make decisions and close the sale in about 2 hours. I hope to keep these window coverings for a good 20 years! They are simple but really make the rooms they are in. I didn't see your original post - I hope this information is helpful. Anon
We have honeycomb shades in some of our windows and really like them. They help keep heat in/out, provide great privacy, open completely when you want windows ''open'' and are affordable. We got ours at blinds.com because the prices were better than in local stores. (I didn't compare with Costco prices though). We were able to get name brand (Hunter Douglas) with upgrades for less than a cheaper model would have been at a store. Now we're looking into ordering some for the kid's bedroom and are getting a cheaper brand to economize.

You did say you wanted to allow light in but provide privacy during the day though and I wouldn't say the honeycombs we have are very good for that. But there is a style of honeycomb shades called Day/Night that basically have 2 parts, a sheer shade for daytime privacy but allows light in, and another part for nighttime that provides more privacy and light filtering.

When we were first considering honeycombs we went to Alcatraz Shade Shop to see the floor models and figure out what the different styles/features/etc were. Then we ordered color samples from blinds.com and made our decision. Good luck. Chris


Someone to install affordable window coverings

Feb 2009

I need to replace the window coverings in my family room and kitchen. It is a very high traffic area. I would like recommendations on an individual/company that provides great quality and especially AFFORDABLE window coverings. It is frightening how expensive they can be! anon


This review was posted on Yelp and I was asked to share it with your community. It was summer 2008, I met designer Victoria Bochat and invited her to come to my home for a consultation that would help me change the appearance of several rooms and revitalize dated dC)cor. We immediately hit it off. She asked me to tell her about my preferences and had me compile a folder of pictures of designs, colors and styles that I liked. >From the very first it was apparent that she was eager to make my home unique and fresh and up to date. Victoria worked efficiently and creatively within the budget I set for her. She assembled a wide range of resources for carpeting, paint, fabric, furniture and accessories that created a unique look . Her affiliation with Studio D offered designer discounts for classic, contemporary and affordable furnishings that were perfect for me. She brought creativity to the project in many different ways that I could never have imagined What a wonderful experience. Victoria has amazing insight. I would not dream of doing another design project without consulting her. Her intuitive eye brought my home together, mixing existing with a more stylish and contemporary look. Her influence can be seen in my beautiful and elegant living room. It deserves to be on the cover of ELLE DC)cor. I love the new look of my home. Thank you Victoria Her number is (510) 326 9682 Victoriabochatinteriors@gmail.com Judi
For window covering (and interior design in general), Barbara Eddy was fantastic. Her business is ''Superior Interiors.'' She brought a van load of possibilities to our home and helped us to narrow the choices by color, price, etc. She has fabulous taste and a great sense of design. She helped us replace old window coverings in several rooms and also re-designed a bedroom and den--complete with upholstery fabric, soft fabrics and carpeting. She is very easy to work with and has great vision about interior design. She took care of ordering everything and hung the window coverings herself. Also, her prices are very fair and she carries a variety of companies that will fit different budgets. I can't recommend her enough. We (and many people we know) have worked with her for years. She can be reached at: (510-787-3800) barbarae@sinewave.com hbs129@mac.com
I just had a large roman shade installed by Smith and Noble. They have a special going right now 20% off window coverings and the designer came to our home free of charge with ideas and samples (very helpful, I am design challenged but want a nice home environment for my family). I think that special goes through Feb 15. It was a bit pricey but I plan to have this shade for many years. I have also had Costco's designers and installers do our large front window covering and bedroom window shades. Reasonable but still a bit painful on the pocketbook, but the service was great. For even lower budget, try Ikea, they might have something you can work into your space. Or Target or Pottery Barn. The new shade I just had installed makes the room so much warmer and cozier. Happy designing
I would like to recommend Holly Webster (holliswebster@yahoo.com) for window coverings. She recently did two sewing projects for me and they both look great! She made roman shades for our bathroom and beautiful lined curtains for our bedroom. Her prices seems very reasonable for custom work and she is very nice pleasant to work with. In both cases, I picked the fabric at Joann's during one of their frequent 50% off decorator fabric sales. The new El Cerrito store has a great selection. Holly came out to measure and told me how much to buy (there were patterns to match on each). She also gave me great suggestions on what type of fabric would provide the level or light/privacy I needed and since she did the measuring, they fit perfectly. Feel free to email me with questions. kb

Sliding glass door - alternative to vertical blinds

July 2004

Does anyone have a recommendation for an alternative to vertical blinds (those long, plastic blinds that slide back and forth across the window) for a sliding glass door? We currently have vertical blinds, but only on this one window/door (as we needed privacy, but couldn't think of anything else), and I don't like the look of them, especially when closed. Any ideas? Thanks! Molly


I saw these great vertical type panels in the Smith and Noble catalog. You can also coordinate roller shades with these. I have not used them but thought they looked really nice and a nice update to vertical blinds. . You could also do a blind that is mounted above the window. Many blinds can be done as a two on one head rail so you can mount two. Another option is to do simple panels made of fabric that can be pulled off the door and then closed for privacy. Anon
Check out www.smithandnoble.com and search for ''patio''. They have something called window panels that's a little different from vertical blinds. I've used this company before for window shades and found them very easy and friendly to work with. Good luck. Ruth

Best window covering for insulation

April 2004

My son's bedroom gets full southern exposure throughout the day. On warm days it becomes like an oven. We can't open the windows due to his bad allergies so we are looking into the best window coverings to block the heat. We have a regular pleated shade over the window and denim panels on a rod outside of the window. Do the triple cell shades really help or am I better off trying something else? Baking in the Hills


I have the cellular shades and they're mediocre, and have mildewed quite a bit. They were also expensive. If you are a sewer, check out Warm Window quilted channel fabric (available at Joanne's). Sewing instructions are available here: http://www.warmcompany.com/wwpage.html Also Singer's ''Sewing for the Home'' book has instructions for Roman Shade (the style you want). good luck
Your best bet is if you can keep the heat OUTSIDE the window. You could try an exterior (movable?) exterior shade. I would also strongly recommend window shading film. There are companies which will come out and apply the film. Look in the yellow pages under ''Window tinting.'' I am an architect and have clients who have done this with great results. Last time I checked into it a couple of years ago, there are both clear and tinted films available - the clear being more costly. I think they were on the range of $5 - $10/sf of glass installed. They also give the bonus of keeping the glass intact in case of an earthquake. Good luck! Anon
In addition to window coverings, you can buy tinted window film at the hardware store. It keeps the room somewhat cooler, is inexpensive, and is not difficult to install. You apply it on the interior. I believe you can also get professionally installed window tinting. David in Berkeley
I am surprised that you are having trouble with south windows. Usually, south windows are wonderful because when the sun is low in the sky in winter, the light warms the room, but when the sun is high overhead in the summer, little sun gets into the room. The bay area had an early heat wave this year, which may have been a problem for you, but I doubt that the sun will be an ongoing problem. I think the best insulating shades are the ones made of quilted fabric that can be attached to the window frame at the sides. It will make a huge roll and darken the room, so that is not necessarily what you want. It is also helpful to open windows when it is cool at night, and close them during the day when it is warm. If pollens are a problem, I recommend get an air cleaner with a fan to take the pollens out of the air. sunsolsal
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