Why and How to Use Floral Patterns

colorful floral patternFloral patterns have gotten a bad reputation for being girly, or gaudy. Labels that were earned by their over-use at various points in decorating history, and in colorways that are feminine, such as bright pinks and pastels.  The Victorian’s were notorious for over-use of florals, as were the classic revivalists of the 1950’s, the “hippies” of the 1970’s, and the trend-followers of the 1980s/90s.

There is also a misconception that “real men don’t do flowers”. Guess what – men DO like flowers! Whether they will admit it or not, they can appreciate florals (in at least small doses) and how they make a room feel.  The key to choosing a floral that everyone can live with is in choosing the right color and style of pattern, and using it with restraint.

People avoid using floral patterns because they’re worried about doing it wrong. How do you choose the right flower pattern?  Where do you use it?  How much floral is too much?  What kind of patterns do you pair it with?

Despite these misconceptions and fears, there are many reasons to use florals, and many ways to use them in any room to suit just about anyone:

  • Florals add a visual freshness to a room. Plants are often used to bring an earthy, organic, natural element to a room. When you don’t have a green thumb, a floral pattern can achieve the same result.william morris periwinkle & green scheme
  • Floral patterns provide you with a ready-made color scheme. Choose a floral pattern you love, then build your room around it, using the colors in the pattern for your furnishings, walls, carpets, accents, etc.
  • Florals are easy to mix with other patterns. You can pair florals with just about any other type of pattern, depending on the style of the floral.
  • Florals are natural stars of a room. They make a great centerpiece for a room, featured on one item or one wall. Allow them to guide the rest of the room, choosing all other patterns and colors based on a floral fabric, paper, carpet, or piece of art.stylized rose pattern in blues
  • Florals come in a huge variety of scales, styles, and colors. The variety of floral patterns available is mind boggling. This is one pattern that spans all decorating eras/styles, from Egyptian to American Colonial, to modern.
  • Flowers make us feel good. In fact, flowers have been proven to improve our moods. They inspire optimism, playfulness, and creativity; reduce pain, blood pressure, pulse rates, and fatigue. Plants and flowers have also been found to improve cognitive performance. Flowers make a space feel both fresh and cozy, comfortable, and welcoming.

Here are some tips for how to use floral patterns successfully:vintage-small floral-pattern-rose

  1. Start with a small dose – Just a pillow or two, artwork, a window valance or shade, or an area rug are good ways to discover your tolerance for flowers. By starting with a little, you can always add more.
  2. Go small scale – Smaller floral patterns are less likely to overwhelm a room. Be cautious of concentrated small patterns as they can make you dizzy when used over large areas. Use them with restraint, like on bed sheets or pillows.
  3. Go subtle rather than bold – Choose a softer colorway, such as muted blues, greens, or yellows/beiges. Softly colored patterns will give you the subtle impression of flowers without dominating the room.tropical floral pattern
  4. Use a tropical variety – This type of floral print is often mostly leaves with a less prominent flower.   The foliage reduces the “girly” factor and can make it more acceptable to those hesitant about florals.
  5. Try stylized rather than detailed – A stylized, artsy interpretation of flowers is perfect for modern themed rooms, and for people who “don’t like flowers.” Good examples of this are the craftsman/art nuevo and mid-century modern styles.
  6. Keep it simple – If you prefer a clean and minimal style but want to soften it, and outline or silhouette type of floral will add an organic feel while maintaining your uncluttered style.
  7. Maintain breathing room – Patterns with “breathing room” between the floral elements are less likely to overwhelm.
  8. Plan its partners carefully – One of the keys to success with a floral is to pair it with the right partners. Depending on your room style, stripes, plaids, geometrics, larger or smaller floral patterns, even animal prints can work. Then again, sometimes, matching them with solid color and texture is all that’s needed.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate a floral pattern into your décor. Start with your preferred style and colors, take your time finding the right pattern, and seek the help of a professional decorator it you’re unsure.  Remember that floral patterns are playful – even in a formal room – so have fun!


Coordinating Colors Throughout Your Home

You have probably experienced entering a home that seemed uncomfortably discordant, with a jarring transition from one room to the next. There are three primary causes for this: inconsistent decorating styles, drastic color jumps, or a lack of architectural detail.  Nine times out of ten, it will be an abrupt change in color scheme.  Perhaps pastels in one room, bright/saturated colors in another, dark/rich colors in the next, all neutrals in the next.  Colors evoke emotional responses.  When a home’s color schemes are chaotic, our emotions are too.

The Color Connection

Creating a color scheme that flows from room to room is not difficult. It all starts with choosing one color…perhaps your favorite color; perhaps a color chosen specifically to work with the other colors already in your home; perhaps one color already in your home that you really love.  If you thread that one color throughout your home, it will create a “connection” for the eye to follow as you pass from room to room, or look from one room into another.

whole house color scheme example

Photo credit: redheadedstepproject.com

How can one color be used in all your rooms yet still allow those rooms to have variety? The key is in variations on your connector color.  For instance, if yellow is your chosen color, lemon, French cream, wheat, harvest gold, and goldenrod are all yellows, yet their unique qualities make them compatible with different colors.  Variation can also be achieved by using different values of the same color, or in using the color in various ways and amounts in each room.

Let’s look at four different ways to make using one color (yellow) throughout your home successful:

Variation in Color – If you stay within the same color temperature (warm or cool), you can use different versions of your chosen color in each room and still maintain a visual connection.  For instance, you could use cream, lemon chiffon, wheat, straw, autumn gold, ochre, and antique gold….all warm varieties of the color that can work in different color schemes.  This is a good option when you are working with colors you already have in your home, because you simply need to select a variation on the “connector” color to suit each room’s scheme.

color and value scale imageVariation in Value – Choosing one color – let’s say straw yellow – and using it throughout your home in varying values (light to dark) is another option for creating a connection between rooms.  The name of the color will, of course, change with its value.  But they are still based on the same color. (Go to your paint store and look at their sample cards; those strips of one color in shades from light to dark and a name for each one.)  Base your value choices on the room’s decorating style, the feel you want to achieve, the other colors in the room, and where you will use the color.  Do you want your yellow to stand out as a pop of color or light amidst darker or subdued tones?  Does your room have mostly light value colors and need a darker tone to “ground” it?  Is the color going on a whole wall, or just a pillow?  Using varied values is a good option when you are working with existing color schemes, as you are only altering the value of the “connector” color you are adding.

Threading the same Color throughout – Perhaps the easiest way to connection your rooms, is by using the same color (without variation in value) throughout your home, though it does take more up-front thought if you are working with existing color schemes.  When your chosen color is paired with different colors in each room, you achieve both continuity and variety.  Again, using straw as an example, you might pair it with cranberry in the dining room; with sage green in the kitchen; with chocolate brown in the living room; with taupe in the entry; with coral in the bath; with navy blue, plum, and burnt orange in the bedrooms.  This option can be the addition of a color that works with your existing room color schemes, or it can be a starting point for a new home or a re-design project.

Variation in Quantity – Your chosen “connector” color doesn’t always need to be just an accent in each room.  It can also be used as the primary color, such as the wall color; as a secondary color in a smaller amount than your primary color, such as drapes; or as an accent in small “pops” of color that stand out against the room’s other colors, such as accessories like pillows or lamps.  It can even be used on the woodwork throughout your home.  To make the quantity method work, be sure to adjust your color to suit its use, or make sure your use suits the color’s value and intensity.  For instance, lemon yellow might be too intense to use on all your walls (or even one), but perfect for an accent or in a pattern.  This option is especially helpful when working with existing color schemes, because it gives you so much flexibility.

variations on yellowFinally, although it’s trickier to do successfully, you can also use Variation on a Color.  Each color varies in value, intensity, and temperature.  For instance, sage green is a cool to neutral, low intensity color that can be used in various values.  Pine green is a cool, low intensity, dark value color.  Each of these greens have a different variety of colors that they pair well with. Using different variations on a color allows you the most variety in your color schemes, but can look random and chaotic if you’re not careful….much like a patchwork scrap quilt.  Limiting the number of greens and keeping them in the same temperature makes for the most successful use of this option.

There are a couple additional ways to create visual “flow” in your home: maintaining the same color temperature (warm or cool) in all your rooms, and maintaining similar values and intensities in your color schemes. Combine these with choosing and “threading” a connector color throughout your home and you will create a smooth transition between your rooms.

Where a Decorating Project Starts

When you are approaching a decorating project, it’s a lot like a writer or artist facing the blank page or canvas. Where do you start?  You need an idea – inspiration: something that excites you and makes want to look at it and live with it every day.

Decorating projects often begin because you see a trend that “inspires” you, but don’t just follow a trend; find your own, unique inspiration. The stores and internet are filled with trendy items, which they are hoping you will buy every couple of years as the trends change.  But trends are over-done, short-lived, and usually look “staged”.  True inspiration is an ethereal thing, triggered by an emotional response to a sight, sound, smell, even a flavor or word – so take note of it when it appears!  Finding YOUR decorating inspiration comes from being aware of what you are drawn to and responding to, and somehow keeping track of these.

decorating sampleboardThe inspiration for your room could begin with a color, object, era, place, piece of furniture, artwork, or even your profession or hobby. You may find it in a store display, museum, book, magazine, while on a trip, on the Internet, shopping, or watching a movie.  Even the grocery store, a community event, or a walk through your neighborhood can be a source of inspiration.  The opportunities are endless, and different for everyone.  You need to find YOUR inspiration.  That’s where your decorating project begins!

How do you capture the many sources of inspiration? Your Smartphone is great for keeping a photographic record of what inspires you, either random images that you love or items and rooms that grab your attention.  Collecting color samples, fabric swatches, brochures, and other representations of what you find appealing (make sure you keep track of where you found these) is important too.  When you can’t physically or visually capture ideas, a small notebook or a memo app on your Smartphone will allow you to jot down ideas on the run.  You will soon see a pattern develop in what you are drawn to, and that’s where your decorating plan should start.

Decorators and Designers use a “presentation board” to plan-out a project, and to present it to their client in a way that they can “see” how their room will look.  It brings together samples or photos of the paint, wood, flooring, fabrics, furniture, lighting, fixtures, cabinets, window treatments – all the elements they have chosen to decorate a room.  You can do the same on a bulletin board or piece of foam board. Pinterest is also a great tool, allowing you to create an “inspiration board” of images online.  This will be very helpful if you plan to use a decorator or designer for your project, as they will need a starting point from you; images that will guide them in what look you have in mind.

So, once you have your inspiration, where do you go from there? Base all your selections on your inspiration; it will guide the style of the room, and you can pull all your colors directly from that item.  Usually, the most expensive and long-lived items (furniture, carpet, wallpaper, cabinetry, and fixtures) are chosen first.  If you intend to use patterned wallpaper, drapes, or bedding, they should be chosen first, followed by those expensive and long-lived items that may remain the next time your room is re-decorated.  The final selections will include your paint, accessories, and solid-colored fabrics.  There are thousands of colors of paint and custom colors are now possible, so they are usually chosen last.

Whatever you choose for your inspiration – or if you need help finding that inspiration – working with an experienced Interior Decorator or Designer can help. Someone who is experienced in bringing personal inspirations to life can open your eyes to where your decorating project should start, and create a truly inspired room!

Energize Your Space with White

winterThe winter doldrums….why do we say that? Don’t we all admire a new coating of snow?  It’s clean, fresh and invigorating!  Sure, at first glance it’s just a mass of white; seemingly an endless blank canvas devoid of color.  But, fresh white snow is quite energizing and full of color when you really look at it!  And like snow, when white is used indoors, it has the same effect on us.

White, which is achromatic – a color without hue, contains the full spectrum of light. Maybe it’s because of this that we are energized by and draw optimism from it.  From a design point of view, white is a neutral – and, yes, a “blank canvas” – that acts as a support for other colors.  It also tends to take on the colors around it, lending it subtle to quite vibrant colors.

White offers the eye relief – a resting spot – when we are faced with many, bright or intense colors and patterns. And white adds a “clean”, fresh, and light feeling to a space, giving it an energy that lifts your mood.  There are, of course, pitfalls if it’s used indiscriminately: a sterile, stark, weightless, cold, or glaring feeling is possible.

So, how to use white in your interior? A design professional knows all the “rules” and a few tricks that make for a beautiful use of white.  Here are some tips you can use:

  • Make white the base – A background (walls, carpet, major Graber blinds white kitchen with orange accentsupholstered furniture) of white supports and accents your other colors, accessories, and furnishings. Choose these elements first, then the right version of white (warm or cool) to compliment them.  This is especially good for highlighting artwork or fine furniture.
  • White in a monochromatic scheme – White has a role in every monochromatic (single color) scheme as the lightest version of the color. Include white with just a tint of your chosen color to add energy and balance to the room.
  • Use white as an accent – Rich colors in your furnishings, floorswhite as an accent and walls are a great backdrop for accents of white, such as in drapes, pillows, throws, accessories, moldings, and artwork. This is a great way to bridge traditional architecture and modern design.
  • Make white interesting – To keep white from being boring or stark, use warmer, textured, or patterned versions and mix them. Look for white-on-white patterns and textures in fabrics, carpets, wallpapers, window treatments and accessories appropriate to your style.
  • Pair white with other neutrals – White used with other neutralwhite with other neutrals colors makes for a sophisticated and comfortable atmosphere. Neutrals may be basic browns and grays, or have hints of color (such as purple or green), and are enlivened with the addition of some variation on white.
  • Use white to let the light in – White window treatments (even if they are heavy drapes) “open up” windows and brighten your room. White blinds or shades under colored drapes will have the same brightening effect.
  • Give white the spotlight – An entirely white room, with just accents of color, make for bright and cheerful spaces ideal for sunrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. This is well-suited to minimalist, modern, or cottage-style spaces, depending on the materials and finishes used.
  • Add elegance with white – From minimal modern to gilt-edgedadd elegance with white traditional, or distressed shabby-chic, white lends these styles a kind of elegance (refinement and restraint) that the richest colors cannot achieve. White highlights quality materials and details, regardless of their age or condition.

Harness the energy of white in one of the many ways you can incorporate this color in your home, office or commercial space!

Kid & Pet Safe Style

Child with puppy huskyKids and pets both require that we look at our environment from a different perspective, with their curiosity and innocence in mind.  They just want to play and explore, and everything – EVERYTHING – has “fun” potential to them.  So, it’s up to us to look for the not-so-obvious items that can pose a danger and remove them from reach.

We use many tactics to “baby-proof” or “pet-proof” our homes.  However, dangling cords on window treatments are one of the top five dangers in a home for children between 7 months and 10 years of age.  These cords can result in strangulation and injury to children and pets, and a lifetime of pain and regret for their parents.

Infants can become tangled in cords while the sleep or play, but toddler through elementary age children are the most at-risk as they explore, learn to make things work, climb, jump, and become faster, more confident and more creative. Window blind cords can be intriguing to children; something to pull on, dance with, wrap around themselves or each other.  As for pets, they like to climb, tug, pounce on and roll around with things like cords.  And children and pets playing together compound the possibilities for injury.

Supervision is obviously the best prevention, but chances are you will be distracted or called away from your child or pet at some point. Therefore, the best solution is to eliminate cords all together.  Miller’s Interior Design supports the safety standards of the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) and, along with the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC), recommend cordless or motorized kid/pet- safe blinds to decrease the likelihood of injuries.

Graber cordless dual shadesHelping you create a beautiful home is secondary only to the safety of your family – be they children and/or pets – and you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. It is possible to have beautiful, quality window coverings that suit your style, address your light/heat control needs, and are also safe for young children and pets.  There are several options that don’t involve cords at all, such as cordless or motorized blinds and shades.

Graber, our favorite window treatment manufacturer, is committed to making their products safe for your family, and offers features on all its stylish blinds and shades that allow you to design without worry OR compromise. Graber’s features include:certified best for kids logo

  • tension pulleys and tie-down devises to keep continuous-loop pull cords taut
  • tassel ends on lift cords that reduce any risk of entanglement
  • cord stops on horizontal blinds that prevent internal cords from slipping through the louvers
  • cordless and motorized lift/tilt options

From November 1 – December 31, 2016, Graber is offering a free upgrade to Cordless Lift on their Cellular, Pleated, Roller, Solar, and Natural Shades (wood, faux wood, and composite blinds). Even if child and pet safety isn’t a concern in your home, this is a great time to upgrade to a window treatment that’s easier to adjust.

wcsc_safety_month_logo_lgIf replacing all the corded blinds and drapes in your home is not an option, consider only replacing those in the room(s) your children and/or pets are likely to be unsupervised in….such as where they sleep or play. And if even this is not possible, the Window Covering Safety Council offers free retrofit kits for older cord-operated blinds.  They are available at www.windowcoverings.org/how-to-retrofit/ or by calling 1-800-506-4636.  There are also other low and no-cost DIY options, like shortening cords, cutting continuous loop cords, installing cleats high on the window casing to wrap cords around, and keeping cribs, beds, playpens, and other furniture away from windows and cords.

Decorating our homes with children and pets in mind requires that we think beyond “pretty”. Our window treatment professionals can help you achieve pretty, practical, and safe!

Drapes in the Bathroom?!

drapes in the bathroomWhy not? There is a revival in creating luxurious bathrooms, which are being designed with more square footage, larger windows and more attention to details, comfort, quality materials and indulgences (like multiple shower heads).  Today, the bathroom is more than just a utilitarian space; it’s the room we start and end our days in, and a space we are spending more time relaxing and pampering ourselves in. There’s no reason why your bathroom windows shouldn’t get the same attention and effort as those in any other room of your house.

Along with this trend, we are using more and larger windows in the bath, which means we need to pay more attention to controlling light, heat gain/loss, and especially privacy. By the same token, these windows are now a major element of the bathroom that can’t be ignored – and we might even want to feature.  Modern fabrics make it easier than ever to dress bathroom windows, so drapes – alone or in combination with other treatments – are not only acceptable, but beautiful and practical in the bathroom.  The can solve light, heat and privacy issues, as well as add softness, color, pattern and texture to the room, which translates into comfort and luxury!

Windows are Important Again – There are many houses with that one tiny little window that tells every passer-by exactly where the bathroom is located.  The small, inconsequential window was a trend that (due to the attitudes of the day) began in the first half of the 20th century – and has not yet faded entirely.  What began as a modesty issue, somehow became an attitude that windows were unnecessary or unimportant in bathrooms.  Today, remodels of older buildings in particular still tend to include replacing an original, full-size window with a miniature version.  However, more and more, we are switching to using windows that look “right” on our house and “open up” the room.  Granted, short windows placed high on the wall are part of contemporary home design, and we even see some earlier buildings that were originally designed with small or high-placed windows in baths (and other rooms).  But, thankfully, taste and architecture once again determine our window types and sizes, giving us something to work with on the inside; a focal point in our room beyond just a tub, sink or toilet.

Drapes Make Windows a Feature – Take the opportunity to highlight a window’s size, shape, or architectural trim with drapes.  They can help you emphasize a window’s height, celebrate a bank of windows, add interest to a window wall without moldings, bring focus to an arched top, and accent a leaded or stained glass panel or even the interest of a multi-pane window’s mullions.  To make a really big impact, cover the entire wall with drapes from ceiling to floor – even if it only has one window.  This is especially dramatic if you use a boldly colored or patterned fabric.  Find one that you love and design the rest of the room around it!

Drapes to Correct Odd Windows – For unimpressive or problem windows, drapes can correct their shortcomings.  If your window is small or oddly placed, use drapes (alone or with other treatments) to improve its proportions or help balance its placement.  Make a window seem taller by using drapes and a valance placed above the window to add height.  Drapes that start at the edge and extend beyond the window add width.  Drapes or café curtains with faux shutters below a window can extend its length.  Drapes are the ultimate corrector of window issues!

Drapes to Soften the Room – Bathrooms are (out of necessity) made of many hard surfaces: tile, vinyl, porcelain, stone, acrylic, mirrors, metal, and glass.  A drape’s volume and fabric texture soften these hard, sleek and reflective materials.  When they cover the window trim, those sharp corners are camouflaged, making the eye focus on the softness of the fabric instead.  Drapes are especially effective at softening when the fabric is gathered, draped and puffed, but for a modern style room a textured or sheer fabric can achieve the same goal.  In fact, the more spare and modern the room’s design, the more impact a little fabric has.

Drapes as a Design Element – Your window treatment is just one element of your overall room design – but a rather important one since the rest of the room tends to be dominated by fixtures and cabinetry.  It works with the finishes, colors, hardware and other elements to define your room’s style.  Drapes are a versatile option as they work in a variety of room styles (depending on your design and fabric choices) and can work alone, or layered with other treatments.  The elements of design include color, pattern, texture, line, and volume.  Color is the first thing we notice, and it affects our mood as well as the visual “weight” of the drape.  Pattern is a strong element that varies from subtle to bold and determines the room’s “attitude”.  Texture adds a warmth and tactile element in this room that is full of smooth, hard surfaces.  Volume, achieved by the fullness in a drape, adds dimension and extra softness.  A drape’s style sets the tone for the room’s character: formal, masculine, whimsical, romantic, etc.  Choose your drape’s design and fabric to support room’s style.

Drapes Support Style – Window treatments have always been important to interior design and establishing a room’s style, by virtue of their design, fabric type, color and pattern.  Shirring drapes onto a rod can be either casual or romantic; pinch pleats are tailored and modern; grommets set into the top of the drape and threaded over a rod is modern and industrial; and extra fullness and swags are formal and elegant.  Examples of your fabric type supporting a room’s style include burlap or unbleached muslin for rustic or Colonial style rooms, to the extreme opposite of silk or velvet with elaborate trims for formal opulence in historic or traditional style rooms.  As for color’s affect, a subdued color that is similar or contrasting with your wall color is calming and sophisticated; matching your fabric to your wall color blends your window into your wall and makes a room feel fresh and expansive; a bold floral or geometric pattern will give you a pop of color and interest – subtle or explosive – in an otherwise neutral room; a woven natural material will add an earthy element for otherwise starkly modern rooms.

The practicalities – Although a bathroom is a space where cleaners and moisture must be contended with, there are lots of fabric and design options available, including many both beautiful and practical ones that you can throw into the washer and dryer as needed.  Keep hems off the floor, use fabrics that are stain-resistant, moisture and mildew-resistant, and easy to launder.  If you are dressing a powder room window, or your window is less likely to get splashed, feel free to go for a more elaborate drape or fabric and even add trims.  For the family bath – especially if you have children – you will need to be much more practical about fabric and design.  But being practical doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful drape; be practical where you need to and get creative where you can!

Affordable Luxury – One of the best things about drapes – particularly when you have just one window – is that they can be easily replaced at a reasonable cost as needed, or to suit a change in taste. You can even switch them out seasonally without breaking the bank.

So, are drapes suitable for bathroom windows? Absolutely!  Go take a look at your bathroom windows and imagine how you can transform the room with drapes!

Romans Set the Stage

Graber Romad ShadesYour rooms are a “stage” for your life or business.  Having the right setting – the room’s decorating elements – supports the “performances” of those living or working in the space.  This setting consists of your walls, floors, furniture, lighting, accessories, and window coverings.  They affect your mood and comfort, as well as your use of that room; the décor has to suit the room’s purpose and the way you live or work.

Window coverings can be one of the most difficult elements to select (along with paint color, which we’ll talk about another time).  You select carpet by feel, furniture by what is most comfortable, and accessories as they catch your eye – but what is the best window treatment for your room?  This choice depends on window type, the room’s purpose, the style you are seeking to create, your lifestyle, and issues such as privacy, light control, security, and heat gain/loss.

Roman shades are, perhaps, the ultimate window covering, because they meet so many needs all in one solution and are so versatile.  There is also enormous variety in Roman Shades; options that add color, pattern or texture to your room, or are subtle enough to fade into the background.  The variety of styles possible with roman shades ranges from old-time rustic to opulent formality.

Here are some of the variations on Roman Shades:

Flat Romans are essentially a flat, lined piece of fabric with back bars for lifting the shade evenly in neat folds.  Linings can range from sheer or muslin to blackout or insulating fabrics.  They can be embellished a little or a lot, with accent fabrics, ribbon, braids, fringes, tassels, embroidery, etc.  This casual style shade best suits a primitive, colonial, or rustic décor, though it also works in traditional or modern spaces.  They are also a softer, “warmer” feeling alternative to horizontal or cellular blinds.

Pleated Romans are similar but with folds sewn across the fabric at consistent intervals, giving a pleated look even when lowered.  This style of roman has an Asian or modern feel and, due to the tailored look, works as well in offices as it does homes.  The pleats require careful fabric selection.balloon shade

Looped Romans are the softer version, using small rings in place of back bars to raise the shade, and giving a relaxed and slightly bowed fold when raised.  These are great for casual spaces, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, or home offices.

Balloon Romans are a more elaborate version, utilizing inverted box pleats or shirring the width of the shade onto a rod to give volume to the fabric.  This extra volume and the use of loops rather than back bars allow the fabric to “balloon” softly.  Like other roman shades, the fabric is raised in folds but with a softer profile.  Pleats give a more tailored effect, while shirring gives a more feminine or casual look.  This also largely depends on the fabric chosen.  Balloon Romans are great for bedrooms (especially little girls’ rooms), powder rooms, formal living areas, and very formal retail and office spaces.

Butterfly Romans closely resemble Balloon Romans, but lack the inverted pleats, and are often used with softer fabrics, such as sheer/semi-sheer, or lightweight cotton or silk.  This is the softest of the roman shades and works well in either informal or semi-formal rooms, but less so in office or commercial spaces.

Faux Romans are stationary shades that give the appearance of roman shades in a raised position.  These are generally constructed to a length of either one-third or one-quarter the window height and used in cases where decoration is the only need.  This is a less expensive option, as less fabric is required for its construction, and no operational hardware is needed.  They are an excellent choice for young children’s bedrooms, play rooms, family rooms, kitchens, entries, libraries, home and business offices, and many other spaces.

Graber natural roman shadesThere are many more variations on roman shades (even variations on variations) and a good designer can create the perfect design for your room.  Fabric choices – from woven natural materials to sheers or brocades – make an enormous difference in the style, and a wide variety of trims can be added to further customize them.  You also have options like incorporated valances, top-down operation, motorized controls, and more.

Roman shades are a great choice for setting the stage of your room’s décor.  They can stand alone, or act as a great first layer under drapes.  For a coordinated look, use the same fabric on your Romans as the other window treatments in a room.  These shades suit many decorating styles, room types, and lifestyles.   Maybe Roman Shades are perfect for setting the stage in your room!


The Window Film Solution

windows without window film

Without window film…

Summer heat is beginning to return and we are starting to remember why we need to protect ourselves and our homes or businesses from the sun.  Despite the heat, we still love our windows and glass doors; in fact they are necessary to our quality of life and to the visibility of our businesses.  But with all that glass, we are exposed; exposed to damage, danger, discomfort, and health risks.

We’ve talked before of the damage to our interior and exterior furnishings and finishes, heat gain, and glare.  But there are other much more serious risks to be concerned with.  Glass is a fragile thing and our windows also expose us to break-ins, unintentional impacts, airborne debris during disasters, and even the risk of skin cancer.

Traditional window treatments are all effective (to some extent) at reducing glare, fading and heat gain.  However, consider that even when the sky is cloudy, we are still exposed to UBA and UVB rays.  We rarely close our window coverings on a cloudy day – there seems to be no need – so these types of treatments are not the best solution.

windows with window film

with Madico window film.

And, obviously, drapes, blinds, and shades cannot address the safety and security concerns we have mentioned.  The most effective protection and affordable solution is window film.  While it cannot prevent window damage or break-ins, it will reduce the damage and dangers of these events and can address multiple concerns in one product. 

Window films have gotten a bad reputation in the past due to bubbling, cracking, and pealing.  But this product has benefitted from many years of new technology, which has solved these issues and now offers us new options.  When professionally installed, a quality window film can:

  • Block up to 86% of the sun’s heat
  • Reduce interior heat loss through windows during the winter
  • Reduce the load on a building’s HVAC system
  • Prevent glass from shattering – deterring an intruder, or at least delaying their entrance
  • Prevent glass shards from becoming airborne during a disaster
  • Block up to 99% of the sun’s UV rays
  • Prevent fading of furnishings and interior finishes
  • Significantly reduce the risk of skin damage and cancer
  • Reduce glare and eye fatigue, resulting in higher productivity
  • Improve a building’s appearance by eliminating the visibility of interior “clutter”
  • Protect windows from graffiti damage
  • Delay seal failure on dual-pane, insulated glass windows

Window film also costs less than replacement of vandalized windows, can save thousands in sun or glass breakage damage to interior furnishings and finishes, and can make a building look as though it has received a facelift at a fraction of the cost.  And, because of its energy conservation qualities, window film can help your building earn credits toward LEED certification, and may qualify you/your business for tax credits.

Window film is an effective, affordable, long-lived, and comprehensive solution.  It pairs well with drapes; is practical for high-moisture and/or dirt-prone environments; is a great first solution for windows when moving into a new space; and is an easier and less costly option for “covering” very large windows.

Whatever concerns your windows pose, we use Madico SUN-GARD®, Sunscape®, and Safetyshield ® films to address those issues.  There are many new options in window film appropriate to both residential and commercial buildings – even historic structures.  Some of these include metalized, colored, fully reflective, matte or opaque finishes (for privacy and light diffusion), blackout, and scratch resistance. 

Contact us for guidance on the best window film product to meet your specific needs.

Don’t Hate the Sun!

Most of us love the sun, but the heat, glare, and UV rays that come with it can be a problem. While we’re soaking up the warmth and trying to add some color to our winter-paled skin, we forget that in another month or two we’re going to be trying to seek protection from the sun, noticing sun damage to our furnishings, and trying to keep our homes and offices cooler to lower those air conditioning bills.  But there’s no reason to hate the sun this summer, because Graber can help you control all that lovely sunshine!

Outdoor Comfort – We can’t wait to get outside in the spring, but how many times has the sun chased you in from your porch, gazebo, or deck in the heat of the summer?  Get more out of your outdoor spaces by blocking or reducing the sun in these areas with Graber’s Graber Exterior Solar ShadesExterior Solar Shades.  They can be installed on porches, gazebos, and other yard/garden structures, cooling and reducing glare while still allowing you a view of your yard.

Heat Gain – Reduce the heat gain inside your home with Graber’s LightWeaves® Solar Shade, in fabrics from sheer to blackout, depending on the level of light control or privacy you need.  The ultimate heat control product from Graber is the Exterior Solar Shade, installed outside to prevent the heat and UV rays from even reaching your windows.  This is a great solution for sunrooms and large windows facing south or west.  A remote motorized lift can be added to both interior and exterior shades to make adjustment effortless.

Graber Solar Shades with DrapesUV Damage – Maybe you’ve noticed that your interiors – drapes, furnishings and even floors – are showing signs of sun damage.  The sun’s UV rays are hard on these materials, resulting in fading, discoloration, drying, and even physical damage to wood, wood finishes, linoleum, fabrics and other surfaces.  This can mean expensive replacement of these items long before their life expectancy is up.  UV damage is not limited to rooms with direct sunlight exposure, and is often not noticed until you move furniture or lift an area rug….or close drapes to find they have become striped from fading.  Graber’s roller Solar Shades are a simple solution to protect your interiors and can be installed under your drapes.

glare reducing Graber Solar ShadesGlare – When windows are the source of glare on computer or television screens (at home or in the office) Solar Shades are an excellent solution.  Bright sunlight can also be hard on your eyes and make it difficult to see your work or converse with others.  Depending on the density of weave you choose, you can maintain a view and soften light entering the room, or you can significantly reduce the light while maintaining a view.  These features solve the glare issue while maintaining a more pleasant and comfortable environment, especially important in an office where workers’ mood and productivity can suffer from lack of natural light and view.

Graber LightWeaves Solar ShadesView – Speaking of view, it is possible to enjoy your window’s view while eliminating the heat, glare, and UV issues we’ve talked about.  It’s also possible to maintain privacy without forfeiting the view.  Graber’s LightWeaves® Solar Shade fabric weaves come in a range of densities, from 1% to 3%, 5%, and 10% openness, allowing you to choose the level that best meets your needs for both protection and light/view.  The less dense weave (10%) in a dark fabric will allow a nearly clear view and still block much of the light.  Light colored sheer and translucent fabrics diffuse light and soften the view.  Denser, room darkening fabrics dim a room significantly, and blackout fabrics completely block the light (along with the view).

Graber Dual Roller and Solar ShadesA Layered Solution – When privacy or minimal light control is needed all of the time, or less light control is needed in the morning and more in the afternoon, layer your shades.  Graber’s Dual Shades offer two layers – or levels – of protection with a highly reflective (white) shade closer to the window and a roller shade facing the room to provide additional light control, privacy, or insulation as needed, giving you more flexibility in addressing multiple issues or changing conditions.

Graber has the options to conquer your sun control issues.   Visit our showroom or call us for an in-home/office consultation to find the right solar product for your needs, so you can “Love the Sun” this summer!

The Many Shades of Style

Graber cellular shades with linersThere are so many styles of décor – from rustic to minimalist. Just about every generation and every culture is defined by a style.  And there are now many types of window shades that can help bring a chosen style to your rooms.  We love the versatility of Graber’s products and how well they coordinate to create beautiful rooms.

Cellular Shades – This window treatment is great for allowing diffused light in a room while providing privacy and reducing heat loss.  Another bonus of these shades is their ability to absorb sound.  As for style, they have a clean, modern look with a soft texture, making them great on their own, or as a backdrop for additional layers.  But don’t box them into modern rooms; they work in any style and any type of room, from office to exercise room or dining room.  One of the stand-out uses of this style of shade is how well they fit odd shaped windows.

Pleated Shades – Though slightly less effective in respect to reducing heat loss and Graber pleated shades with linersabsorbing sound, these are a great option where light control and/or privacy are the primary need.  They are a little more modern in style than cellular, good for modern and minimalist styles.  However, they also work for traditional style rooms when combined with other layers for additional softness, color, pattern, and detail.  Pleated shades are a good choice for bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, workout rooms and offices.

Graber Natural Shades Woven Drapes and Roman ShadesNatural Drapes – This vertical version of the shade is great for adding a natural element to your large windows or patio doors.  The textured panel is softer than the other styles of shades, because it mimics a drapery panel, but no one will mistake them for a traditional drape.  Made with bamboo, jute, and grasses, they have a unique style that’s a combination of relaxed and refined.  Use them to add drapes to a masculine room, or to add a natural textured element to a modern style room dominated by smooth, hard surfaces.  Combine them with a cornice in the same material, fabric, wood, or other material to customize their appearance.  Add a liner when more light control is needed, such as in a media room.

Natural Shades – When you have windows as well as patio doors in a room, Graber’s Natural Shades pair perfectly with their Natural Drapes and Natural Sliding Panels.  The natural materials add texture and especially suit casual, beach-y, rustic or Asian room styles.  They can also balance a room that leans toward formal, feminine, or stark, such as an all white room or one with a strong floral pattern.   Some of our favorite rooms to use them in include sunrooms, bedrooms, powder rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens and executive offices.  Constructed as a Roman shade, roller shade or sliding panels, liners can be added for additional light control.  Combine them with fabric drapes, valances or cornices if a softer layer, more color or pattern are desired.

Graber Roller Shades with Soft DraperyRoller Shades – A modern take on an old treatment, the simplicity of these shades transforms with the fabrics that are used.  They can look at home in any room, and equally suit historic and modern architecture.  There is an extensive variety of solid, patterned, and textured fabrics and colors available, with varying levels of transparency, from sheer to blackout.  They can also be customized by adding a scalloped hem or decorative trims at the factory, or even embroidered or painted designs after purchase, for a unique designer look.  Graber’s Roman Shades and Sliding Panels are available in many of the same fabrics, making it easy to coordinate all the window and door treatments in your room.

Graber Roman Shades with Soft DraperyRoman Shades – This classic window treatment works in just about any room, depending on the fabric you choose, which can take the style from casual to tailored, or even elegant.  There are also variations – looped, flat, seamless, pleated and balloon – that can change the style of this blind.  Customize them by adding decorative trims, banding of a contrasting fabric, etc.  The balloon variation is best suited to romantic, elegant, and dramatic decors, or “princess” rooms.  Installation is typically within the window opening, but when installed above the window and close to the ceiling, they add to the height and drama of the windows and room.  Excellent at absorbing sound, controlling light, and reducing heat loss, they can be combined with other layers, such as cornices, drapes and shutters.

Graber roller shades with sliding panelsSliding Panels – This newer type of shade is a variation on the slimmer vertical blinds, which can look busy on large expanses of windows.  These panels work on either windows or patio doors, have a simple and modern style, and coordinate with Graber’s other shade types.  They also work in rustic or traditional style rooms with the right material choices.  The fabric options include woven natural materials, solid colors, and subtle to bold patterns.  Layer them with drapes for a softer look, or top them off with cornices of fabric, wood, or the same material as the panels.

With great style, fabrics and colors, Graber’s window solutions make it easy to coordinate all the windows and glass doors in your home with your decorating style. Pick your room style, pick your shade, love your room!

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