Shuttered, shaded, draped or curtained, windows had been dressed and covered in pretty much the same ways for centuries.
The same, that is, until aluminum miniblinds came along. Minis - introduced by Levolor in the early 1970s - were followed first by vinyl vertical blinds and then, early in the '80s, by pleated synthetic fabric shades.Now, even though curtains are back in style, they are not about to displace the newer, more versatile window coverings. Curtains are likely to be used decoratively with pleated shades or blinds, providing light control.
Many of the innovative, versatile new window treatments were displayed recently at the World of Windows trade show at the Orange County Convention and Civic Center in Florida.
Among the products showcased by major American manufacturers were pleated shades that are part sheer, part blackout and can be lowered or raised to leave a window completely uncovered, covered to let in light but provide privacy or totally blacked out. There were motorized miniblinds and shades for skylights, greenhouse walls and windows in hard-to-reach places. The blinds can be operated by buttons on the wall or remote or voice control.
There were pleated shades installed at the bottom of the window frame so that they can be drawn up, allowing light to come in the top but at the same time giving privacy. There were energy-efficient, pleated shades with reflective or all-white backing, and gadgets to simplify opening and closing vertical blinds. There were pleated blinds with hidden cords and tapes. There also were wooden Venetian blinds in 2- and 3-inch widths to resemble plantation shutters.
And yes, there were curtains and draperies - yard goods even - in a variety of fabrics designed to dress up and coordinate with blinds and shades. Several manufacturers showed valances or swags - called toppers - to go with their products, one introduced fabric miniblinds with curtains to match, and others softened aluminum miniblinds by showing them with fabric laminated slats.
The newest of the new include these:
-Combination blackout and sheer, pleated shades. These shades are built on a three-rail system that allows the shade to be lowered to provide complete blackout, raised to let in filtered light, or partially raised. Duolight by Hunter Douglas combines the company's double-pleated Duette Eclipse blackout shade and the Duette Sheer Visuale. Graber's Sun Up-Sun Down, a single-layer pleated shade on a three-rail system, offers similar features.
-Translucent, textured fabric miniblinds. New from Hunter Douglas is Fabrette, a collection of fabric miniblinds available in 16 colors with matching overtreatments in various styles.
-Pleated blinds with hidden cords. Verosol's Finale is an opaque, pleated fabric shade with cords hidden behind the pleat, and Duette's Visuale by Hunter Douglas is the first sheer pleated shade with concealed cords.
-Textured, vinyl-clad aluminum verticals and miniblinds from Levolor.
-Pleated shades in fabrics and patterns that coordinate with vertical blinds, allowing use of verticals for doors and pleated shades for windows. Hunter Douglas introduced coordinated verticals and pleated shades along with decorative Shirr Delight top treatments.
Fabrics and colors are also getting attention. Pleated sheers in luxury fabrics such as jacquards, moire, satins, silk and lace have been created by several manufacturers, including Verosol, Bali, Del-Mar, Joanna and Graber.
New styles include wooden Venetians with 2- to 3-inch slats by Clopay and Graber, in a variety of finishes; aluminum blinds available in a midsize three-quarters-inch width; and pleated shades and blinds with hardware set at the bottom of the window frame to allow covering the window from the bottom up, popular for providing privacy.
Predominant new colors in both blinds and shades are deeper than the pastels of the recent past. A rich peach - almost a terra cotta - appeared in several collections. Hunter Douglas introduced its Historic Views collection, which consists largely of jewel tones - emerald, jade, garnet, among others.
Levolor is offering aluminum vertical blinds with marbleized finish, while Bali and LouverDrape have introduced pearlized finishes on aluminum miniblinds that coordinate with aluminum verticals.
Levolor is also highlighting new finishes for wooden Venetian blinds, including pickled pine and black lacquer.