Q. What is meant by custom window coverings?
A. Custom window treatments are window coverings that are suited specifically to your windows. They are precisely measured, fabricated and installed to fit the size and style of your window and home. Q. Why are custom window coverings so expensive?
A. It's true that custom window coverings cost more than ready-made or made-to-measure products. But they add greater value to your home than any other type of product. They are specially designed for each particular window. Similar to the way that fine clothing reflects your unique personality, custom window coverings are the ultimate expression of your taste and style. And they don't have to be as expensive as you think. Many decorating products stores offer shop-at-home decorators who will come to your home, measure your window and suggest window coverings that enhance your existing color scheme and the architectural elements of the room. The results can be simply stunning. And since your home is your most important investment, the value of custom window coverings is in keeping with the cost. Q. Can I measure my windows myself?
A. Yes, you can, but it's not recommended. Most stores will not be held liable if your custom window coverings do not fit due to your imprecise measurements. Because the products are custom-made to your home's specifications, they cannot be returned. However, if you feel that you would rather measure yourself, be sure and use a sturdy, metal tape measure. Cloth tapes can stretch, and yard sticks are not long enough. Also, be sure to measure your windows at least twice and confirm your measurements with your spouse or a friend. Many independent retailers who offer shop-at-home services will measure your windows and give you an estimate for free. Still others will charge a fee, but will apply it to a subsequent purchase. Check with the individual store policy for measuring before doing it yourself. Q. I'm confused by the ads for mini-blinds at 60%, 70% and 80% off. How do I know I'm really getting the best price and value?
A. That's a good question! Newspaper ads can be very confusing, and remember that the greatest percentage off doesn't always guarantee the lowest price. When comparison shopping, be sure and look at the actual dollar amount you will be spending on the blind. Also, compare features and benefits of each product you consider. You want a product that will last long-not one that will lose its shape after a few tugs on the slats. You want a product that has tight closure to ensure good light and privacy control. You want a product that you can raise and lower easily. Also, be sure to take a close look at product guarantees-one of the most important attributes of a home decorating product. The finer window coverings have lifetime guarantees, whereas the lower-priced products may be guaranteed for only a year. Once you consider all of these factors, you will be able to make an informed decision. Q. There are so many new window coverings out there that I can't keep them straight. How can I ever make a decision?
A. It all comes down to the function, the look and the budget that you desire. Horizontal blinds provide excellent privacy and light control and work best on standard windows, such as those in a kitchen or laundry room. They are available in a multitude of colors. Vertical blinds likewise provide good privacy and light control, but are more suitable for large-scale windows or patio doors. They come in a virtually limitless array of fabrics as well as in easy-to-care-for vinyl. Pleated shades also offer excellent privacy and light control. They provide a soft touch at the window and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Cellular shades are a variation of pleated shades, with a honeycomb shape that provides added insulation. Draperies, of course, are a popular choice for living rooms and dining rooms. You can layer treatments-using a blind or shade for light control and a drapery for aesthetics-thus creating a truly customized look. Q. I've been reading about the danger of drapery and blind cords to young children. This concerns me, since I have a newborn baby. What can I do to eliminate the danger?
A. Window covering cords have been identified as one of the products most frequently associated with strangulation of children under 5. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Safety Council have joined with major manufacturers, importers and retailers across the United States to warn parents and caregivers about this danger. Entanglement in these cords and strangulation can occur when a child is left alone in a room for only a short period of time. Parents are advised to keep all window covering cords out of the reach of children. Never put a crib or young child's bed near a window with a dangling cord. And because young children climb, never put a chair, sofa, bench or even a bookcase near such a window. Do not knot or tie the cords together, since this creates a new loop in which a child could become entangled.
There are methods for eliminating the loop in two-corded horizontal blinds, pleated shades and cellular shades. When you purchase new window covering products, you'll find a warning tag that describes these methods. Or see your local retailer for advice on replacing the existing cords with safety tassels. Q. I have many different kinds of windows in my home-bay windows, arched windows, angled windows and skylights. What choices do you recommend for these types of windows?
A. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer window coverings that work well in these specialty shapes. Pleated shades and cellular shades look dramatic in an arched window or circular window. They also work well in a skylight, with a motorized control for easy raising and lowering. Horizontal and vertical blinds are good choices for angled windows, since they can be operated so easily in this unusual shape. Work with your independent retailer to determine which window covering is best suited to your unique window needs. Q. I like the look of fabric at a window, but I can't really afford it. Do you have any suggestions for a person on a budget?
A. Try a touch of fabric at the window! Use a valance to soften a horizontal or vertical blind. Drape some fabric over a wood pole to create an informal swag. Have stationary side panels to set off your blinds or shades. Use a swagholder to create your own rosettes. With a bit of imagination, you can make a little bit of fabric go a long way. Your local independent retailer will have a variety of suggestions for using fabric to its best advantage. Q. I don't want to do the same old thing on my windows. What can I do beyond the traditional pinch-pleated draperies?
A. The beauty of drapery hardware can allow you to be truly creative. Today's drapery hardware comes in a variety of finishes and styles. You can mix and match rods, rings and finials to create a one-of-a-kind look. Finial designs today run the gamut, from birds and scrolls to leafs and pineapples. Not only can you decorate your window, but you can show a little personality, too. Many independent retailers have an excellent selection. Q. I love the look of wood. What are my options?
A. You can go in any direction-from beautiful interior wood shutters to wood blinds in a variety of slat sizes. Many view shutters as a lifetime investment that enhances the value of their home. For a more economical choice, consider wood blinds. In wider slat sizes, they emulate the look of shutters for a fraction of the cost. There are also vinyl products that emulate the look of wood-both in shutters and blinds.
Ask your local retailers for answers to other questions or information.
Courtesy of the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association