Magazine article Sunset

Beyond the Basic Blind

Magazine article Sunset

Beyond the Basic Blind

Article excerpt

What you need to know before you shop

IMAGINE SHOPPING for horizontal window blinds with Gertrude Stein. She'd probably tell you that "a blind is a blind is a blind," and your outing would end in exasperation. But today blinds are more than simply blinds, and a little research can make the selection process easier on your blood pressure. Here's a brief buying guide.

As with most design-related issues involving your home, you must first determin what tasks you want performed, the effect you wish to achieve, and your budget. For example, do you want to block out an ugly house next door? Do you want the blind to disappear when raised to show off the design of the window? Is insulation important? Are you looking for sun control or filtered views?

Distinctions between blinds and shades aren't always clear. Horizontal slatted blinds generally stack, while a shade is usually continuous fabric on a roller. Slatted blinds--in addition to shielding or exposing the glass--provide flexibility in lighting and privacy. By tilting the slats at various angles, yo can adjust the amount of light entering a room, allow a partial view, or even dim a room completely.

But some window coverings have qualities of both blinds and shades. For example pleated shades have the horizontal look of blinds and stack like blinds, but they are made of continuous fabric like shades.

Prices vary greatly, depending on window size, product features and options, an where you live. For a standard 6- by 4-foot window, expect the suggested retail price of basic metal mini-blinds to be about $250, hybrid shade-blinds about $570. But the actual price may be much lower because of discounts--as much as 5 percent or more. Installation usually costs extra. The best advice is to shop around.

Blinds and shades are sold in a wide variety of places, from department stores to interior design showrooms to warehouse home improvement stores. To find outlets near you, look in the yellow pages under Miniblinds, Window Coverings, or Window Shades.


Metal miniblinds (aluminum with a baked enamel finish), the most popular type o horizontal blind, are used in offices as well as homes. The metal slats come in a wide spectrum of solid colors and in widths of 1/2, 1, 1 3/8, and 2 inches. Though the l-inch slat is the most common, wider slats are becoming increasingl popular. …

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