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Windows - Interior Decorating - Window Treatments
Q. I have an 8 ft wide roller blind that has an unwound spring. I know how to rewind the spring, but I can't remember if the blind should be rolled up or unrolled completely before I rewind the spring and put the roller back into its brackets.

A. The safest way to rewind a large shade roller is to leave on its brackets. Pull the shade material down. Remove the roller and shade from the brackets and roll the material up onto the roller. Put the roller and shade back into the brackets and repeat the above until the spring has the necessary tension.

Q. Would the Hunter Douglas Silhouette or a honeycomb blind provide better heat retention/cold block than wood slat blinds?

A. Yes, and the triple honeycomb would be better than the double.

Q. I got some horizontal blinds installed recently with my new house and already the flipping cords are stuck on two of them. The cords I'm talking about are the ones where you pull on one to flip the blinds one way, and you pull on the other to flip them the other. They are barely flipping in one direction. How can I fix this?

A. The tilt control needs to be restrung. Remove the blind from the window, remove both end braces, slide the rod out of the tilt, remove the tilt from the blind, and rework the string. NOTE: Before doing this look and see if there are small clear clips on the first slat from the top. If they are missing, that might just be the problem.

Q. I need some advice on choosing a good company for plantation shutters for my new home. I have been told that the "faux wood" or vinyl ones will last longer than the wood ones. I need a good price as well. I have been told to steer away from companies that have their products made in China. What is considered a good price by the square foot for the faux wood shutters? I need a lot of shutters, enough to do about 30 windows and I am trying to keep the price as low as possible, but I do want a good product.

A. Wood typically will cost you more than a composite or faux shutter. Wood will last a long time if it is finished properly. The advantages of wood are the many different stain and wood species options you can have and an almost unlimited selection of frame styles can be custom made. Plus, I mean it's wood, how much more real can it get? The disadvantage is that you will pay more for wood.

Composite, Faux, Vinyl, PVC... those are just a few names. They do well in almost any climate; many are under warrantee and do not yellow or crack. Three whites are your usual choice of colors, and there are some wood tones out on the market, but I think they need to do some more R&D to make them look more authentic. If you like white, then these are a nice way to go.

As far as quality, there are many things to consider. Composites fall into three basic categories but there are many variations to each. Extruded hollow PVC, Solid or reinforced composite, and coated MDF. Your Chinese Shutters are coated MDF, and as long as you can keep the moisture out of them, you're ok. Don't put much attention into the comments about imported shutters because when you get down to it, just about every shutter made has some type of component on it from China or elsewhere. What you want to know is where they are fabricated, on-shore or offshore. On-shore is best, especially if you need repairs or replacement parts.

Q. I have a big window in my bedroom that looks right out onto the street- everyone who walks by or drives by my house, which is on the local school bus route, can see in. Now, I keep the curtains shut all the time because of this. Consequently, my room is very dark, and it is a pain. I would like horizontal blinds but have the feeling it will make my room look dark. How can I have privacy and allow light to come through the window?

A. Horizontal blinds will not make your room dark - only if they are dark wood blinds or room-darkening blinds. If you get light-filtering vinyl blinds, they will let light in even when they are closed.
Another option is sheer or any type of gauzy material. They will filter light but offer privacy during the day. There are some great sheer draperies available now, with multi-colored floral embroidery on them, or tone on tone patterns, etc. Your options for how they are hung from the rod are tie tops, metal rings, clips, tab tops, and sheered, etc.

There is also another soft blind option that is actually a fabric horizontal blind encased in a sheer fabric. When they are open, it is like looking through a sheer, and when they are closed, you cannot see through them at all but they still filter the light.
But what is important is to keep the color viewed from the outside the same. For example, if you decide on blue mini-blinds, spend a little extra and get the kind that are white on the backside, so they appear white from the street. Same with draperies - if possible, have them lined with white lining. If you go with colored sheers, just make sure they do not clash with your house color. You have more options than you realize. It would be worth your time to go into a window treatment or decorating store where blinds and shades are sold. They will be able to show you all the products available by all the major companies.

Q. I am having trouble 'stuffing' my balloon valances and making them look attractive. So far, I have only tried newspaper, which looks just like that: newspaper. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

A. Try tissue paper, plastic bags or even paper towels. They work better than newspaper, which is too thick and bulky. Don't overstuff them, just use enough for some poof and tuck the fabric ends in and turn the end openings toward the wall. When you look at the window straight on, the sides should sort of flare out a bit.

Q. We can only hang curtains from a traverse rod mounted from the ceiling. The previous owners hung those old pinch-pleated curtains, which is not our style. What type of curtain can I use with the old traverse rods? We would like to hang either panels or grommet styled curtains from this rod.

A. You can use traverse rods with most curtains and drapes, not just pinch-pleated curtains. I use traverse rods for my sheers that have rod pockets. I simply sewed hooks to my sheers and attached them to the traverse rods, which make it easy to open them and close them when desired. I have rods in front of them for my tab top curtains. If you wanted to hang something heavier from the rods and are concerned about the fabric being able to hold the weight with your hooks, you could always attach some curtain tape to the back of your curtains first. You will want to use curtains that have some header so that you will not see much of the hooks, but rod pocket headings are easy to find and many inexpensive curtains come with them.

Q. I'm moving into a new place which has beautiful big deep-set windows - eight of them, each 54" x 92". I'd like to put a roman blind in each one, both for the look, and for the option to really seal out the light when I want to. A friend thought these windows might be too large for roman blinds. Is this true? Should I use different materials in consideration of the size?

A. That particular brand has a maximum width of 120" and length of 96", well within your needs of 54 x 92.

Q. Since I have custom window treatments in one area, I want to make the other areas look equally nice, but without the price tag. I was at a fabric shop and I saw a pleat holder for swag. Is there a product made for pinch pleat draperies that will hold the pleats perfectly while hanging? Right now, I have the bottom of my Pottery Barn drapes straight pinned to the floor, which works, but I was wondering if there was a better way.

A. Good pinch pleated draperies will hang nicely because they're made with good weighty fabric and they're lined, and the weight of the bottom hem helps them to hang nice and straight. If you've got less than high quality drapes, they're made from lightweight fabric, or they're not lined, you can add weights to the bottom hem to help them hang better.

Q. We have vertical blinds made by Delmar and need to remove the vertical slats. Does anyone know how we can do that and be able to reinstall the slats without damage?

A. Try using a credit card and slide it into the groove that holds the vertical slat in place. Push both the slat and the card up until the slat releases, and then while keeping the credit card pushed up, pull the slat out.

Q. When we put up our vertical blinds on a sliding glass door, we never attached the pulley rope that draws the blinds to the side because it hangs too long. How do we shorten the rope inside the pulley so we can attach it to the wall?

A. There are two cords traversing the lead carrier to allow stacking. One cord goes through the carrier and directly back to the tilt control side. The other cord goes back through the neutral end, fully across the vertical, then down to the pulley. Normally the cord going to the control end is the one that needs shortening. Pull down on it where the knot is on the lead carrier and then tie a new knot thick enough to not pull through the lead carrier. If you want to shorten the loop 12 inches, you will need to tie the knot 24 inches higher up. Then test the cord and the vertical to make sure it fully traverses and tilts. Shortening the wrong cord fouls up the carrier positions on a center opening vertical blind, and the rod support carrier on a side draw.

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Windows - Interior Decorating - Window Treatments

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