October 5, 2017

Our Secrets for Rocking Roman Shades – Read This Before You Buy

The world of window coverings has its very own vocab, and it can seem like we’re speaking a foreign language once the selection process begins! Being familiar with the lingo makes conveying your wants and needs a much less stressful process, and we shared that lingo with you in our past post, Drapery 101. Starting there may be a great idea before you jump right into shades…

Okay, now that you’re a drapery expert, it’s time to graduate to another group of window treatments that our team specs time and time again – roman shades! So many selections, so little time, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…hehe. Keep scrolling for an overview of our favorite shade styles along with a few tips developed to help guide you through the selection process!

Schumacher Dream Weaver Mist Window Covering

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Sheer flat roman shades in Schumacher Dream Weaver Mist fabric.

Function First

First things first: what’s your goal? Are you trying to filter light, enhance privacy, or maybe you’re just looking for something pretty to spice up your naked window? You have countless options, but the first decision I generally make is centered on function.

Here are a few scenarios where we almost always opt for a roman shade in lieu of drapery:

  1. Lack of Real Estate – Roman shades are a fantastic solution for windows located in areas that don’t leave room for drapery panels, like over a bath tub or above a kitchen sink. Obviously, it wouldn’t be ideal to use long drapery in these types of spaces because they could easily end up wet or soiled. Romans can be lowered when privacy is desired, and they don’t interfere with countertops or block areas that need to be cleaned regularly.
Natural Roman Shade Window Coverings

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Natural Woven Shades by Hunter Douglas

Sheer flat roman shades in Schumacher Sophia Snow fabric

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Sheer flat roman shades in Schumacher Sophia Snow fabric

2. A Bossy Layout – Consider your furniture arrangement when deciding between shades or drapes. The sofa in our client’s study below had nowhere else to land except for the space against the wall, and that position makes opening and closing drapes an inconvenient process. Shades make more sense in this case, and because they’ll likely stay open, an added bonus is all of that natural light you’ll be seeing throughout the day.

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Roman Shade in Robert Allen Caltha White Wash fabric. Psssst! You can see a full tour of this MFI project here.

Expert Tip: The interaction between furnishings and secondary soft goods, like drapery, reinforces our belief that it’s best to design your space as a whole with a cohesive vision in mind. Trying to piecemeal a room together one element at a time can lead to costly add-ons when you decide to rework components down the road.

More On Function

(Yeah, it’s that important!) A decision you’ll need to make right off the bat is whether your shades will be stationary or fully operational. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-executed stationary shade – like the perfect lipstick, it may not be necessary, but it definitely helps pull everything together!

On the other hand, if your lifestyle requires a window covering that can open and close several times a day, it may be best to call on a professional. Our team relies on the knowledge and skill of local drapery workrooms to ensure windows are measured accurately and that the appropriate lift mechanisms are installed properly.

Suzanne Tucker Home St. Tropez Window Covering

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Roman shade in Suzanne Tucker St. Tropez Shell fabric

Arabel Essentials Collection - Patt Sanfor Airo

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Roman shade in Arabel Essentials Flint fabric

Now Comes Form

You’ve decided that your window needs a roman shade. Now what? Another round of options just popped up! You’ll quickly realize that the term “roman shade” encompasses a wide range of silhouettes and materials. Fabric shades are a wonderful way to lend softness and pattern to a room; while woven wood shades will layer in a warm, organic effect. Either way, it’s important to brush up on roman shade terminology to ensure the end result lives up to your grand vision.

Let’s kick things off with a nifty little shade guide and then we’ll highlight a few of our faves:

via Pinterest

  1. Tailored/Flat: We tend to gravitate towards tailored romans for their crisp, clean look. No fuss, no frills,  just a straightforward simplicity that makes us all swoon.

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Flat roman shade in Classic Cloth La Rochelle Cream fabric

Flat Roman Hunter Douglas Woven Shade in Burlap Sack Window Covering

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Flat roman shade in Hunter Douglas Burlap Sack fabric

2. Relaxed: When the mood calls for something a bit more casual, the aptly-named relaxed roman gets our vote. It’s easy, breezy, and oh-so-delightful in almost any solid or pattern, though we think this floral is pretty spectacular.

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Relaxed roman shade in Schumacher Bali Vine fabric

Kravet Sarah Richardson Birley White

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Relaxed roman shade in Kravet Birley White fabric

3. Tulip/Balloon: Occasionally, we can be convinced that a tulip (or balloon) roman is the way to go. For an extra helping of traditional elegance, their sumptuous installation practically overflows with fabric!

Schumacher Key Largo Check Zinc

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Tulip roman shade Schumacher Key Largo Check Zinc fabric

Shades Store

An up-close look of a Tulip Roman – via The Shade Store

The Finishing Touch

Congratulations! You’ve determined the shape and level of performance you need from your shade, and now you’ve reached the fun part – finishing touches!

Flat Roman Shade

Marie Flanigan Interiors – Flat roman shade

If you follow us, you know we’re huge fans of trim. Trim work is a distinct way to enrich and personalize your romans, and the proper selection will totally elevate your shade game!

The window treatments throughout this entire Traditional Home feature totally won me over!

And if those are too subtle for you, take a minute to soak in the lavish inspiration provided by Holland & Sherry. After seeing their bespoke, hand-embroidered accents, we think you’ll find a new appreciation for next-level trimmings.

Still searching for details related to the anatomy of a roman shade? The experts at Architectural Digest prepared a handy reference guide that dives into all the nitty-gritty details like linings and controls…it gets real.

Now, off you go – it’s time to throw some shade [roman shade that is]!


Join the Conversation

  1. Cindi Keller says:

    Informative, beautiful and most importantly, incredibly helpful. I always look forward to the education and inspiration you bring! Thank you.

  2. Victoria Straub says:

    Thank you Marie for the wonderful post! What are your thoughts about roman shades over plantation shutters? There are very few inspiration pictures that I can find. Our home is a Dutch Colonial with symmetrical front windows. Drapery panels are not ideal for all of the windows facing the street… and plantation shutters by themselves seem a little cold.

  3. I agree that there is an important correlation between fabric thickness and room lighting preference. Growing up, our homes were usually pretty dark. This is due to the fact that we often used blankets for drapes. As a result, the house was darker than my mom preferred it to be. Looking back, this would have been an easy fix as even though we couldn’t afford drapes, we still could have used sheets instead of blankets.

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