The Skinny on Buying Roman Shades: Custom Vs. Standard

I love roman shades.  I use them on pretty much any & every window that needs privacy.  (Shutters are beautiful too but we'll get into those another time.)  There are so many different types and price points that I thought it might be helpful to break it down. 

1.  The main materials that can be used for roman shades are
 fabrics:

{A room by Steven Gambrel}


 and natural woven materials:


{Image Source unknown via Little Green Notebook}

2.  There are many cases when roman shades are beautiful/ functional on their own & should be used alone.  It offers a clean, simple look.  Here in the kitchen, is a kid-friendly solution (i.e. no food mess on curtains) with custom natural woven roman shades with privacy lining:


{Our breakfast nook, smith + noble tortoise shell bamboo waterfall shades}


 A client's living room (pictured "before" below) had a set of french doors on the left side and a double window on the right side.  When I first arrived, I knew we needed to fix the imbalance of having curtain panels on one side and not the other:


{Client Living Room Below}


Because the door wouldn't have been functional with curtain panels, and because I wanted balance, I used roman shades only (no curtains) on both sides.  I wish I had a better view of this room, (I still need to go back for finished photos)  but I had custom pleated balloon shades installed behind the newly added crown molding for a seamless casually elegant look:


{A client's living room.  My task was to keep all existing furnishings, artwork, etc. and update it.}

3.  I also love to layer roman shades with curtain panels. It's functional (panels can remain stationary and roman shades go up & down for privacy) and beautiful (You get 2 opportunities to add texture/ pattern to a room instead of just 1.)  It adds layers & creates a warmer look than curtains alone.  They can be mounted inside the window or outside the window. 

I often have them mounted above the window and outside of the trim ("outside mount") to allow as much of the window to show as possible and to give the illusion that the window continues higher than it really does which visually heightens the entire room.  (It makes smaller rooms feel more spacious and large-medium rooms feel grander.)  I did this in a client's living room here:

{A client's living room:  custom lined linen curtains & custom natural woven roman shades with privacy lining}

In my own living room, (below) I used non-custom cotton roman shades from Sears.  (The color I used was "natural" and it looks like a warm white.) I mounted them outside the widows (again, to give the illusion of larger windows and also to hide the window frames on my old 70s window) and I paired them with "custom" (I made them myself because I couldn't afford to have them made) unlined white linen curtains. (I went with unlined linen because I love how the light shines through & it's a natural, relaxed look.) 

{Our dining room}

Here (below) I used the same non-custom Sears roman shades in "white" in our family room with no curtains.  Because of our budget, in our house I try to use non-custom shades wherever I can.  The cost difference between custom and non-custom is amazing.  (Approx $30 for the noncustom Sears shades below and maybe around $150-$250 or so- depending upon fabric- for a custom version.) 



4.  Custom vs. Standard Fabric shades:  Let me be frank: you get what you pay for.  The ONLY reason I don't have custom shades on every window in my own home is because we can't spend money there right now.  I love the look of certain standard shade styles but there is a difference in quality.  Custom shades pull up & down smoothly & evenly, whereas I have to play with some of my my non-custom shades to get them to hang right & evenly.  (Sears' larger sizes - 48" and up I think) are much of a better quality than their smaller sizes.  They use a metal chain pulley system and go up and down smoothly but I've noticed there's a slight varience in the color of the fabrics between the large and small sizes--- arggg.  But the price was right.  My advice is to buy the best you can afford.  Consider the non-custom shades to give you the look you want and plan on upgrading in the future if you want/ need to.  Custom fabric shades are made to order so you you can use any fabric you like and the style selection is practically endless.  Use a local shades fabricator to get the exact fabric and style you need.  (If you don't have one, consider hiring a decorator/ designer to assist.  Calico Corners also makes custom shades.)  This typically costs more than going with a company like smith + noble who has a limited selection of fabrics to choose from. 

5.  Custom vs. Standard Natural Woven Shades:  If you simply want the look and won't be using them often (in a space where you don't really need the privacy) I recommend the non-custom shades for a great look without the expense.  In our toddler's room we went with the non-custom unlined natural woven shades from Home Depot (for around $40) because he's so short anyone looking in wouldn't be able to see him anyway when he's not dressed.  (And of course because these shades would have been close to $400 if they were custom.)  The shades are also over the bed & so would be a pain to open & close whether they were custom or non-custom, but I love the look of these Home Depot shades for anyone who wants "the look" without the functionality & privacy needs:


{Our toddler's bedroom}

Again, you get what you pay for.  If you need high-quality. smooth & easily operables shades, then you will need to pay more. 

6. Tips for non-custom natural woven or "matchstick" shades:  Most non-custom companies sell their natural woven shades unlined.  A few have liners you can purchase and add on separately.  You could also attempt adding your own lining if you're crafty.  The unlined shades significantly darken the room and filter the light but at night they're virtually see-through from the outside when your interior lights are on.  Just google "natural woven roman shades"/ 'matchstick shades" and a bunch of options will pop up.  (Target, Home Depot, Sears all have them online.)

7. Tips for Custom natural woven roman shades:  I love smith + noble's selection of natural woven roman shades.   Different materials vary in prices.  There are a lot of other amazing brands out there but I simply used smith + noble first and loved theirs.  I've heard great things about many other companies and will surely be trying some out in the future.

The decision to go with fabric shades or natural woven shades depends upon the feeling you want your space to have.   Go here to check out some different styles of fabric roman shades.   

I hope this helps & good luck!!

46 comments:

Heidi said...

Since my little one is heading toward her big girl bed, is the bed in your toddler room a "toddler bed" or is it a converted crib? I like that it has sides and a back.

K said...

CPSC has recalled LOTS of brands of roman shades lately so parents should be careful when selecting them. We've found the cordless ones from JCPenney are reasonable source for non-custom ones.

Naomi said...

great tips!! I usually am an inside-mount girl, but now your making me consider outside mount!
Right now I'm planning wood shades (with tops-down feature) and am debating between Smith and Noble and the Shade Store.

Maria Killam said...

Excellent post Lauren!! Love the step by step!

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

Great post and always a pleasure to peek into your home. I would second what K above said...remember to cut the cord and perhaps have a cleat HIGH above wher a toddler could get into it!

Tammy@InStitches said...

Great post, romans are one of my favorite ways to cover a window too. I have 8 custom romans and 3 ready made bamboo shades in my house. All the bedrooms have blackout lining on them.

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

Great post! And I, too, always love a peek into your home. For those worried about the cords and little ones, I've found "Blind Winders" to be really practical--link below. They sortof retract like a tape measure. Of course, ignore my blog post today with my woven shades...I only installed the winders in the rooms where my daughter spends time. And I've got the living room and dining room gated off.

http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=381&cmSource=Search

Julie said...

I really love the look of roman shades, but we recently returned many pre-made fabric shades that we had ordered. We want our shades to be usable and we were constantly having problems lowering and raising them. Too much trouble. Your post makes me wonder if we would be happy with custom shades-- minus the expense, of course.

harmony said...

I have used the target woven shades and love them. To make them more custom I bought double folded wide bias tape in black and glued it to the sides and bottom. I put them up and down every day and they worked great. Just be sure to wind up the cord on the hardware they give you that you mount inside the window frame. What a great blog. Glad I stumbled here.

Vintage Sassy said...

Hi Lauren,
I love roman shades. I put them in my living room and dining room, purchased mine from Bed, Bath & Beyond on sale and I also just recently added linen window panels. I also have bamboo roman shades in the kitchen. I didn't like that you could see through it at night so I hung a funky curtain panel from Pier 1 that I can just close at night. I am loving the layered look. This was a great post.

LeAnn

LindsB said...

I wish I had lots of extra spending money for custom shades- it would really make a difference in my apartment. But, like you, its not in the cards now so I do the best with what I have or what I can make/afford. BUT, it is REALLY hard to find the right 108" curtain panels and rods to go on curved windows. My family room curtains are a little make-shift, but I could not afford the $400 custom rod it would have taken to fit the curved window just right. I swear I'm never moving to a place with curved windows again :)

listsinmypocket said...

Where can you get the liners to add on to unlined natural shades? Thanks! :)
-Lisa

listsinmypocket said...

Where can you get the liners to add on to unlined natural shades? Thanks! :)
-Lisa

Living It At Home said...

I luv, luv, luv, roman shades. I had some custom made for our living room and boy did that cost a pretty penny! I love them though. They are non-functioning linen shades. We really don't need the privacy, just the look. (you can see them on my sidebar "Living Room, Before and After".

I only want to decorate with roman shades. Your post really was helpful. I have to get on the ball! I only have the cheapy plastic roller shades on my upstairs window... Yucko!

~jamilyn

Angie said...

I, too, love Roman shades. I had Hunter Douglas bamboo ones installed in our family room and paid a pretty penny, but they're definitely worth it since we open and close them almost everyday......thanks for the tip on outside mount--I'm tackling our dining and formal living rooms next.

The Boese Family said...

Great post! And if you're at all handy with a seing machine, roman shades are pretty easy to make yourself. I just finished some for my kitchen and was surprised by how well they turned out.

The Boese Family said...

Whoops! That's "sewing machine". :)

Jennifer said...

I love the skirt on your table! and the stacks of books. I can't wait to have a breakfast room table so I can do the same in my dining room.

Jennifer said...

I love the skirt on your table! and the stacks of books. I can't wait to have a breakfast room table so I can do the same in my dining room.

Cristin said...

Custom window treatments (like upholstery) are expensive, but can we well worth it in the long run as you pointed out. Lovely post!

xo,
c

Love Where You LIve said...

Cute tyke's room! Love the striped rug and pattern curtain. We put up flat Roman shades in our beach cottage. I wanted something simple and certainly didn't want to pay custom for such a casual place. Bed, Bath and Beyond sell these off white (and other neutral hues) in a variety of sizes, 'cause, of course, our 26 windows were odd sizes. Another tip: Home Depot sells flat shades. Not Roman. But they will cut to size. I know someone who painted the vinyl for a creative and one-of-a-kind look. Guess you could also apply wallpaper to it for a "look." Hope you're doing well, Lauren! cheers, -susan

Kathysue said...

Lauren what a great post, full of helpful information!!

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

Thank you so much for this information. I was planning on purchasing non-custom shades for my kitchen. I'll think twice after reading this.

ashlina said...

oh wow. super great ideas. what would we do without you?!?

Barbie said...

Sweet post Lauren! I love roman shades too. Don't know if it's been mentioned yet, but one money-saving tip I've done myself is using a saw--we used a miter maw--to shorten a natural woven shade (on the non-operating side of course). There's a slight roughness to the side that's cut, but nothing much really. It beats paying for custom when budget is tight!

Alison from MyDesignDreams said...

Lauren... first off, I love the look of the shades in your kitchen. I desperately wish I could do woven roman shades (or fabric roman shades) with curtains over them... but all of the windows in our house are old style inside-opening casement windows (most are doubles, which means each side is about 12-15"wide). What do I do?? Right now in our living room I have sheer fabric bunched on two small poles (top and bottom) so it creates some sense of privacy, but you can still open the windows because the covering stays with the window. Unfortunately, it's more of the "shabby chic" look and I am more of a modern/traditional style.. I have yet to figure out how I can make them look sharp and still leave them functional. Any thoughts?


www.mydesigndreams.com

DustyLu said...

Great tips! Thank you for sharing! Your style is amazing. ! ~lulu

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Lauren,
Super good information here!!!

I'm with you...roman shades/and or panels are my favorites!
xo,
~Rebecca

Amy Skehan said...

Lauren-thanks for the helpful hints and ideas! I love Roman shades and particularly the woven shades. They are perfect for spring.
http://livinginbeautyandcomfort.blogspot.com/

Twosinks said...

Another advantage of custom is you can decide which side you want the cord on. This is most important when you are using the shades without side panels. I have Lowes bamboo shades on the windows on either side of my fireplace and it drives my crazy that the cords are not both to the outside!

Chic Coles said...

My mom loves roman shades, as do I. They look so clean and crisp in a room!

Donna said...

I used standard roman shades from JC Penney on my french doors. They were doubkle (sheer underneath and solid on top). They were the perfect size and color and were under $40.00 each. I think roman shades are an excellent solution to what to do with french doors!

Paige Bartholomew said...

Question: I have narrow windows (side lights) on all the front windows in my house. The side light windows are about 15 inches wide. All the pre-made roman shades I've been able to find at places like Home Depot and Sears are 24 inches at the narrowest. I bought one recently to try out and the overlap was about 4 inches on either side of the window. To me it looked funny, but you have exterior-mounted shades shown in your post... so I'm wondering how much overlap I should allow over the wall? I need the inexpensive roman shades, and cannot afford custom. Does anyone have any other ideas for me (has anyone ever cut the wider shades to fit with any success)?

Thanks!
Paige

Ashlee Brooke said...

The perfect post!! Thank you so much, as I have been contemplating on whether or not to hang natural roman shades in my bathroom. Thank you again for the advice!
Ashlee

SogniSorrisi said...

I love Roman shades, especially in bathrooms and kitchen cooking areas.

Debe said...

Great timing...I have a Smith & Noble woven wood in my breakfast room for about 14 years, love it. The cord quit working and they replaced it, no charge. Just ordered two more from them for our bedroom. Quite a change from my 15year old custom drapes with fringed valance. I am wrestling now with the linen panels for the sides. Having trouble finding the ones I want and can't decide on the top, shirred or pleated w/rings. Ballards has some but maybe I should make them. Love your unlined ones, good point about letting more light in... Your pics of yours are helping me reach a decision..thanks.

Kristine at The Painted Hive said...

Hi Lauren

Just wanted to write a quick comment and let you know I've given you a Sunshine Award on my blog. Not sure if you go in for that type of thing, though someone gave one to me and I thought it only fair to pass it on by acknowledging the blogs who have inspired me. Your blog is perfection and certainly motivated the conception of my own!
Feel free to check out the post on my site. If anything, hopefully it may direct a few new followers your way - though I doubt it because the whole blog world already knows about you, and deservedly so!

Warmest regards
Kristine
http://thepaintedhive.blogspot.com

lauren @ gathering moss said...

i used cheap black-out liners from target to line my home depot bamboo shades myself - worked like a charm! http://stonesgatheringmoss.blogspot.com/2009/11/diy-lined-bamboo-shades.html

red ticking said...

window treatments are daunting to me... however, happy shades like these aren't.... great post! have a great weekend xx

Maya said...

I love your bamboo shades, and have similar ones. They are heavy though and the cord (twine) broke after 6 month of use. Now, they just stay up.

Megan said...

Ohhh I'm finding this so inspirational given I've been in such a window treatment funk! Thanks!

Tina said...

What fabulous tips Lauren, thank you so much for sharing. I have some natural linen fabric that I would love to make into roman blinds. Wishing you a wonderful week as always ~ Tina x

The Gimlet Eye said...

I recently posted about adding my tortoisey blinds to our bedroom windows from overstalk/overstock. They have a TON of "custom" sizes for great prices...and, of course, 2.00 shipping!

GREAT post...happy Spring Break!

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

wonderful tips...yes,roman shades + curtain panels does give it extra texture & appeal...I can just imagine it in a bay seating area...lovely!

Tiina said...

your home is so beautiful!

ppreston58 said...

This is a helpful guide! Just moved into a new home and we have been thinking about renovations and interior revamps. Your tips are very helpful. I have also been looking for woven shades and although I have not found any just like yours, I am referring to http://curtainchannel.com/woven-shades-buying-guide.html for other designs. Thanks, once again!