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A Look at Window Shades & Blinds through the Ages

A Look at Window Shades & Blinds through the Ages

We see window shades everyday of our lives. They are in our homes and the stores we shop in, and the other businesses we are frequent. We see them so often that we take them for granted, we may not even really notice whether they are there because we simply expect them to be hanging over windows. When did we start to use these items to cover our windows and why?

Many people say that the Roman shades came to be because of the Coliseum during the ancient Roman times. The Coliseum hosted all manners of exhibitions and games. It was naturally dusty in the area and the heavy traffic going to the Coliseum only added to the dust. The people who lived in close proximity to this arena started to hang damp clothes over their window openings to block out this dust.

The idea of using fabric to cover the openings and keep the dust outside grew popular and adjustments were made to the idea. Frames were constructed so that the pieces of fabric could be lifted using a series of pulleys or cords. We still use Roman shades today that are flat fabric pieces that lift using cords. Today at Ostanding you can have these items customized and created in unique designs.

Roman shades are not the only items that are in the category of the window blinds or window shades. There are several different types of window treatments that are in this category and each of these types has evolved over a long period of time to be what we are accustomed to seeing today.

Venetian blinds are a popular type of window treatment. You see them in offices, warehouses, stores and residential settings. These blinds are made up of a series of slats that are joined together by a ribbon or cord. When the cord is manipulated the slats are lifted and open up to allow light to shine into the room. You can generally move these slats as much as 180 degrees. You can allow a small amount of light to enter the room or you can open them up to allow a large amount of light to enter the room.

Venetian blinds generally are not raised and lowered because of the fact that you can manipulate the slats and increase or decrease the light. There is a possibility of lifting these items and lowering them, so there is a separate cord established that will gather the entire shade up and lift it to the top of the window opening or lower it down to cover the entire window opening. It is believed that these blinds were originally a product of Persia. Venice and Paris have always been credited for the invention of these items, but it is believed that the blinds were brought to Venice and Paris by Persian travelers.

The earliest patent application for the construction of these blinds was filed in 1760 by Gowin Knight. Then in 1769 Edward Beran filed a patent for them as well. These blinds were used in St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia.

In the 1950s, the Venetian blinds had wide slats as wide as two inches and they were often made from metal. There were fabric strips holding the metal slats together and being used to open and close them. These items were relatively noisy, but they did block the light and they provided privacy. They were rarely seen in residential dwellings.

In the 1980s, the blinds were to go under a drastic change. The slats were narrowed down to a size of one inch wide and the most frequently used materials to build the blinds were plastic and sometimes wood. Vinyl was a popular material to create the shades from. The results were blocked the light, but were quieter, lighter and they looked better. The new design became popular in homes and in business settings.

Burlington Venetian Blind Company holds the prestige’s honor of being the business that has had one of the largest orders for Venetian blinds. Burlington Venetian Blind Company from Burlington, Vermont was hired to supply all of the blinds for the windows in the Empire State Building in New York City. Other famous buildings in the United States have had Venetian blinds covering their windows. These buildings include Rockefeller Center’s RCA building in New York City. This building was completed in the 1930s and is most frequently referred to as the Radio City Building.

In the early years of the 1930s and the 1940s, you could often see the pull down shades that were made of an oil cloth and were on a rolling bar. The material was positioned so that it would roll up onto the bar when the bar was turned one direction and it would unroll from the bar when the bar was turned the opposite direction. These types of shades are often depicted as adorning the windows of seedy motel rooms in gangster movies and we have all watched Disney’s character Donald Duck fight with one of these types of shades.

Most residences that had this type of shade on their windows also treated their windows with billowy curtains or valances. The shades could filter the light from entering the room, but they were not really attractive to look at inside the room. The pretty fabrics that the curtains were made from would allow the windows to look more attractive and still allow the homeowner to use the shades. Today at Ostanding you can have these roller shades customized to suit your decor.

Window shades have been seen in movies and on television shows. You may even recall that Jeannie C Riley mentioned window shades in her hit recording of Harper Valley PTA. One of the lines in the song says, “Shouldn’t Widow Jones be told to keep her window shades completely down”? These items are familiar to us all.

In the 1960s, most people use curtains on their windows. They actually used curtains that were called draperies. The drapes were made of heavy fabrics in an attempt to block as much sunlight as possible from being able to enter the room. They were also used to stop people from being able to see into bedrooms, living rooms and dens. Roman shades were often made with a blackout material on the back of the fabric, so they could perform these actions as well as the draperies did.

The seventies brought with it a fascination with wooden slatted blinds. The wooden shades were very popular for a short period of time. They came in vertical or Venetian styles. They were aesthetically pleasing to look at and they added warmth to the interior of the room, but they did not last as long and were harder to clean than the other materials were. These problems caused the blinds to lose popularity points.

Vertical blinds work in the same way as Venetian blinds. They are constructed from slats that are sewn together using a cord, a strip of fabric or ribbon. The cords that hold the strips together control the way they sit, so you can open the blinds by tugging on the cord or you can close them. You can pull these blinds completely to one side of the window or the other to allow an unobstructed view.

Most of the times the vertical blinds are positioned over patio doors and large window openings. Smaller windows generally have the Venetian blinds on them. Many people also use the Roman shades on the larger windows or door openings. Roman shades lift from the top to the bottom and vertical blinds open from side to side.

Roman shades have wide expanses of flat material that appears to be a solid piece of cloth and vertical blinds are made up of slats. The vertical blinds are said to have been the brain child of Edward and Frederick Bopp of Kansas City Missouri. They are at least the first people on record to hold a patent for the creation of the vertical blind. They owned a company called Sun Vertical which they sold in the 1960s. They sold their patent for the vertical blind along with the company.

In the United States awnings that hand over the exterior portions of windows and shutters that hang on the exterior of the house are not considered to be window blinds, but in Britain awnings and exterior shutters are considered to be blinds. The reason behind this lies in the definition of the term blinds. A blinds obstructs the vision of someone and since the closing of shutters will obstruct the vision of anyone peering into the room, they are included in the blinds and shades category.

In Ancient Egypt, it is reported that the pharaohs had constructed the blinds from reeds. The reed blinds reduced the sunlight streaming into the room and this helped to keep the room cooler in the heat of summer. They also limited the ability for others to see into the bedchambers of the pharaohs.

Not all window blinds are operated manually. There are motorized versions of these items. Motorized blinds can be controlled by a switch on the wall or by a keypad control. People can use their personal computer to operate the window blinds. These motorized versions have no need for cords. They are perfect for placement on windows that are very difficult to get to.

Some blinds are built in as part of the window. You mostly see these blinds in institutions like hospitals. The Venetian style blinds are sandwiched between two panes of glass and the glass is built into a window frame. Having the blinds between the glasses eliminated some of the problems like people pulling the slats apart. Between the glass the blinds do not collect dust, so the institution does not have to worry about the cleaning of the items. These types of window blinds are very expensive and they must be installed by a professional.

Interior decorators use window shades and blinds to add to certain decors, and to protect certain items. The UV rays of the sun can cause fabrics that are exposed to them to fade over time. If the sun streams in a window and hits your carpet, over a period of time the carpet will become discolored in that portion of the room.

Shades can be placed on the window to filter the light of the sun. You will still get the brightness from the window so you can see better in the room, but you will not get fading and damage from exposure to sunlight. The shades are used by people who have things like antique Persian rugs hanging in rooms or expensive paintings hanging in rooms.

One of the most efficient blinds on the market is the roller blind. They can be customized to fit any window, big or small and they are the most frequently purchased blinds for residential and commercial use.

They are really easy to clean and you can choose between different fabrics and patterns. They do not accumulate as much dust as their plastic, vinyl and metal counterparts do. The only other blind that can really be customized is the Roman shade. The Roman shades are made from fabric and there are companies that make custom printed fabrics from the picture that their clients upload to their website.

If you are looking for a window blind that effectively blocks out all light and can work as an insulator in the winter months, then you will want to look into the Bali blinds. They are fantastic at blocking any drafts and they help save you money on your energy bill.

In the late eighties and early nineties, the mini blind became extremely popular. The mini blind is a type of Venetian blind that is made from PVC and aluminum. They are very light weight shades and they can be purchased in most common residential window sizes. The mini blind is offered in several different colors and is still used in most residences that have window blinds.

Vinyl blinds are a cheaper version of the Venetian blinds. They come in many different colors and they are generally water resistant and moisture resistant. They are not good alternatives for larger applications because they simply do not come in the larger sizes. They are inexpensive and this shows. They are not extremely attractive blinds and they simply do nothing to add anything to your décor. Most people that have these items in their home attempt to cover their existence with curtains.

If you live in an area that is subject to high winds you will want to buy vertical blinds for your large windows and door openings. The design of these blinds helps them to be able to withstand the higher wind gusts. You can buy these blinds that are operated manually or some that are motorized. You can also buy these items and set them on timers to open and close automatically at certain times of the day. This helps when you are out of town because people see that he blinds are opening and closing each day and they assume that there is someone inside the house performing these movements.

Wooden blinds are attractive to place in the home and some of these blinds are truly unique in their look. You can buy these items in their natural colors and you can purchase ones that have been painted. Oak wood is one of the popular types of wood used in the creation of these blinds. Oak will take many different stains and can have different appearances because of this.

The slats of wooden blinds are made in different sizes, but the most popular slat sizes are 25 mm, 35 mm and 50 mm. These blinds may be Venetian in style or they come in vertical styles as well. Many people do not realize there is even a roller shade that is created using wooden twigs. The twigs are laid out horizontally and then joined together with vertical threading like a Venetian blind would be. With the Venetian blind, the slats are flexible in more than one way, but when using the twigs the flexibility only exists vertically so the blinds can only be drawn up or lowered in the fashion of the roller blinds.

There are some safety issues with corded blinds. In the last few decades more than five hundred children have been strangled to death by corded blinds. Of these deaths fifty seven percent were from Venetian style blinds, while Roman shades, vertical blinds and draperies made up the remaining thirty seven point two percent.

To help prevent an accident such as this you can get retro-fit kits. If the blinds have the continuous loop system, the kind that vertical blinds have, you can use a wall cleat to anchor the cord to the wall so that children cannot easily become tangled in the dangling cord. Add cord stops to Venetian blinds so that the movement of the inner lift cords are restricted enough to prevent accidents from occurring with children and pets. 

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