Compared to high end wooden blinds or remote controlled shades, plain roller shades are a fraction of the cost! They look better than curtains by a long shot! But the turn-offs are real, too: that mechanical roller, sticking out like a store thumb; the plastic-y fabric you wish were more like actual linen; sterile colors and bad patterns only, apparently. It’s hard to decide if they’ll look frumpish or nice (or how to steer them towards the latter) but our designers and installers at East End Blinds manage it. It is common to use roller shades in projects with modern or contemporary detailing because of their clean, discreet look. They’re an especially good complement to windows that have deep jambs, and in situations where windows are detailed without trims or casings.

Mount them inside the jamb

Our design team ensures that blinds are installed within the jamb, rather than mounted to the wall above the window. It’s a far more discreet, streamlined look—like they’re actually supposed to go there rather than having been tacked on by a novice with a hammer.

Living room in Brooklyn by Space Exploration.
White roller blinds are nearly invisible when rolled up.

Photo: Courtesy of Space Exploration Design

Disguise the mechanism

When you’re shopping for roller shades, you’ll likely notice an option for an “integrated valence,” which is basically a metal or upholstered box at the top that hides the roller. While these are useful, matching them to the color of the shade, to conceal the shade and its mechanism from view is key. An even better option is to have a custom valence built to look like the surrounding wall. East End Blinds can do this all!

When we can, we’ll call for an integrated valence to be built flush with the surrounding walls so the roller shades are completed concealed when not in use. In ideal situations (usually only if we are designing a house from scratch), we’ll detail a dedicated shade pocket above the window, flush with the surrounding wall.

Choose a “reverse” roll

If you can’t manage a valance box, at least choose for the shade to come down over the front of the roller, mostly obscuring it, rather than from underneath, which will make it more pronounced.

pLarge glowy roller blinds in another residency by Space Exploration.p
Large, glowy roller blinds in another residency by Space Exploration.

Select the right transparency

Not all roller shades are created equal—in terms of opacity at least. When we are helping clients choose roller shades, we make sure to show them a range of opacities, usually in the three to ten percent range. If you’re not working with a designer, swing by the store to see the options for yourself—blackout might be best for a kids’ room, but otherwise you’re probably opting for a glowy, diffused effect. It’s important to understand the different levels of light transmission that these shades allow and what that means for privacy and for filtering the view beyond the window.

Dining room in Annie Schlechter's Manhattan apartment.
Pink roller shades—very transparent, rolled over rather than under—in Annie Schlechter’s amazing NYC home.

Photo: © 2017 Annie Schlechter, from New York: Behind Closed Doors by Polly Devlin. Pastel color drawings on the wall by Russell Maret; photograph of *A Bus Stop in * by Dylan Chandler; ELEVEN ELEVEN ELEVEN by Marianna Kennedy.

Pick a good color

Some people think this decision is mostly about how the shades themselves will complement the color scheme of the room when they are in use, but it’s also very important to consider how the color of the shade will impact the color of the light filtering through it, which will affect how you see other objects in the room. As always, white is not just white; it can be tinged with gold or clean and blue.

Contact us and let’s talk about your project!