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Shades vs Drapes

Hunter Douglas Carole Fabrics™ Custom Drapes layered near Anaheim and Rancho Santa Margarita, California (CA)

Trying to decide between shades and drapes for your windows, but not sure where to start? While personal preference is essential, the needs of your space and the space in general are also important things to keep in mind.

To help you make the best decision, here’s a quick overview of each.

Types of Window Shades

When it comes to shades, you’ll find an assortment of styles to choose from, including cellular, roller, Roman, sheer and woven wood shades.

Shades are incredibly versatile, as they work well in any room, complementing a host of design aesthetics from traditional to contemporary. You can also often find shades custom made to accommodate specialty shapes, such as arches, angles and sidelights. For example, Duette® Honeycomb Shades are available in all of those specialty shapes, plus circles, hexagons, skylights and more!

Some general pointers to take into account when considering shades:

  • Shades are ideal when you have limited space on the other side of the window, such as a window next to a wall, cabinet or door.
  • Shades are perfect for extremely narrow windows where you’d like coverage for privacy or light control, but you don’t want to overwhelm the window with drapery fabric.
  • Shades are a better option than drapes for bay windows that have a seat or a ledge below them.

Living room featuring floor to ceiling windows with shades pulled nearly all the way down. Duette® Shades in Elan Julep

Custom Drapes

Drapes are often constructed from thick fabrics such as silk or velvet, and are frequently lined. They’re available in a variety of solid colors, patterns, and prints, as well as pleating selections, such as the pleated, non-pleated and Ripplefold™ styles from Carole Fabrics.

Because drapes are usually floor length or longer (sometimes they puddle slightly on the floor), they can lend a more formal feel to a room. And while drapes work well in many rooms, their overall style may not be the best fit for bathrooms, kitchens or finished basements.

Things to take into account when considering drapes:

  • Drapes are a good option for large, tall windows that have a lot of wall space on either side.
  • Drapes help block light gaps at the sides of inside-mounted shades.
  • Drapes made of heavier fabrics help absorb sound.

Living room featuring large windows with top to floor drapery. Hunter Douglas Carole Fabrics™ Custom Drapes

Shades and Drapes Together

If you’re still undecided about whether to choose shades or drapes, you might also consider using them together. Layering shades and drapes fully dresses a window while creating a feeling of depth. Plus, you can have the best of both design worlds—a vibrant pattern for one and a complementary, solid color for the other.

If you do opt for layering shades and drapes, choose your shade first, based on the needs of your space. For example, are you looking for a style that’s light enhancing, such as Silhouette® Window Shadings? Or maybe you want to boost energy efficiency? Or perhaps you’d like a shade that you can open from the top-down, as well as from the bottom-up?

Of course, figuring out what shade is ideal—and then pairing that with drapes— can also be a bit overwhelming. And that’s where a window treatment expert can help.  A window treatment expert will collaborate with you to determine the best shade for your needs, as well as offer advice on fabrics and colors. She will also ensure your shades and drapes fit your windows exactly—for a combination you’re sure to love.

Living room featuring a large window with drapes and shades in front of accent chairs and an end table.s Hunter Douglas Carole Fabrics™ Custom Drapes

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