What are Roman blinds? Buying guide and style advice

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Roman blinds have become a common choice as window coverings for homes and offices. This is because they are stylish, elegant, and affordable as well. The most appealing part about these blinds is their simple design that fits so well in most interior design plans. Also, they come in a plethora of materials and can be customized to fit your windows.

But what, exactly, are Roman blinds?

To some people, this might seem like a basic question but it’s critical that you have a good understanding of the different types of blinds when choosing the right window coverings for your home or office.

At Excell Blinds, we understand this and that’s why we take our time to educate and help you make informed decisions when it comes to dressing your windows.

What are Roman blinds?

Roman blinds are window coverings that lie flat and straight when closed and are designed to pleat when you raise them. You manoeuvre them using strings that move across the slats through a fabric. So when you pull on the strings, the blind folds as the slats form into organised pleats.

These blinds have a long history, tracing their way back through the centuries all the way to ancient Rome. These blinds were designed to stop the influx of dust into the travel carriages and homes of the Romans. They also helped offer privacy and protection from the sunshine. Initially, these blinds were mere dampened pieces of cloth. With time, Romans made them beautiful and decorative, and they also added a drawstring that made operating them easier and quicker.

Present-day Roman blind designs have improved and streamlined this window covering, but they still retain the original concept.

Modern Roman blinds

Modern Roman blinds use all kinds of fabric and materials to provide a sleek appearance. When open, the blinds are arranged in neat folds stacking on top of each other. Inside the fabric are usually flat pieces of metal, plastic or wood. The cords that make the Roman blinds operate are spaced evenly to make the folding and unfolding as horizontal and smooth as possible.

The top part of the blind is a headrail where the strings hook in at one end. When you tug on the strings, the blind operates the same way a pulley system works. Each rod within the blind raises up to meet the next, then the two join to meet the next, and so on until the blind is completely raised. The dowels (another name for the rods in the fabric) lie at calculated intervals that ensure the blind looks good whether you open it fully, leave it halfway up, or unroll it the whole way.

Unless you are looking for a special design, the dowels used within the fabric are always concealed. Because the construction is simple and neat, it allows for the use of different fabrics, including highly textured and weighty fabrics. The fact that these blinds allow a variety of materials and designs is what makes them well known all around the world.

Even better, Roman blinds can be motorized so they use batteries and electricity to enable you to operate them remotely. 

What fabric choices do I have for Roman blinds?

As mentioned, Roman blinds accommodate a wide range of fabrics, whether lightweight, medium weight, or heavyweight. You can make Roman blinds from any quality curtain material capable of fitting into your colour scheme and interior design.

Lightweight fabrics provide some of the sleekest and sharpest-looking Roman blinds. They are less bulky and could be made translucent to allow light through while still preventing people looking into your home. Great examples are taffeta fabric and faux silk.

Medium weight fabrics offer a wide range of colours and patterns that you can use to beautify your spaces. This weight won’t be easily blown around, especially if the slats integrate metal sheets. You can also expect a long life out of such materials. Examples are woven cotton, printed poly cotton, damasks, jacquards, linen, and a mix of linen with other fabrics.

Heavyweight fabrics shouldn’t be overlooked for Roman blinds. They provide a robust appearance suited for large windows. For heavy fabrics to be used on Roman blinds, the manufacturer needs to understand what they are doing to achieve sharp and crisp folds when the blind is raised. Some of the materials that can work well on these blinds include wool fabrics, chenille, and velvet.

Benefits of Roman blinds

Roman blinds have become a common window covering even after several centuries in the world of design. There are reasons they have been around for this long. Here’s a list of a few.

  • They look classy and timeless
  • They come in a wide range of fabrics
  • You can choose blackout materials that enhance privacy and block light completely
  • There are motorized options available for easy operation
  • Roman blinds accommodate a range of budgets because they can be made using any material
  • They improve the insulation of the space in which you use them

Where to use Roman blinds

Roman blinds are one of the most versatile window treatments in the market today. You can use them in virtually any environment, including damp environments like kitchens and bathrooms.

This is possible for two reasons.

First, there’s a chance for the manufactures to use special fabric to make these blinds. Laminated materials and fabrics that are resistant to moisture work perfectly even in the presence of water splashes.

But most of the time regular Roman blinds are made using regular fabrics that are not resistant to moisture. In this case, how you install them counts a great deal. You should place them outside the recess to allow airflow around the blind as well as keep it away from wet surfaces like glass and tiles.

Even in places that are difficult to dress like bay windows, Roman blinds still provide style, privacy, and light regulation. But we advise you to ask for expert help to effectively handle such tricky spaces. A professional will be able to consider the angles and corners of your bay window to get the fittings right.

With proper consideration of the materials, Roman blinds can make any room look contemporary and sophisticated. Over centuries, they have been used in living rooms, bedrooms, children’s rooms, dining rooms, and even offices.

Should I choose inside or outside Roman blinds for my window?

Once you’ve come to the decision that Roman blinds are the best fit for your windows, you’ll need to decide whether you should fit them on the outside or inside of the window recess. Personal taste will be a major help when it comes to determining this. But there’s also a range of factors you should consider.

Small window

If your window is the sole source of light in a room, you want to make the most of it. You shouldn’t be completely obstructing the only light source. In this case, install them outside and above the window recess to let in light even when the blind is down. Also, you should install the Roman blind high above the window.

Architectural designs

Depending on the architectural details of your home, you may want to install Roman blinds inside or outside the window. If there are architectural embellishments on the inside of the window recess, you may want to install your blind on the outside. Mouldings featured on the recess can also suggest you are better off installing the blinds outside and high above the mouldings.

Cleaning and maintaining Roman blinds

Roman blinds come in a range of materials including linen, suede, silk, and cotton, among others. Once you’ve installed them on your windows, they will inevitably become dirty over time. This will require you to clean and maintain them. Some of the tips you can use here include:

Brushing and vacuuming every week

Because Roman blinds use fabrics, the best way to address dirt issues is by vacuuming them regularly (ideally, weekly). This ensures that dust doesn’t settle into the folds of the blind. If you don’t do this, your blind will gradually fade and dull. So focus on the edges and bottom parts, and open the blind as you brush and vacuum. The brushing and vacuuming should be gentle so as not to damage the embroidery.

Spot cleaning

Addressing stains the moment they occur is important with Roman blinds owing to the material used to make them. Use a damp piece of cloth to remove dirt and get specialized cleaners if necessary to get rid of any stubborn stains.

Dry cleaning

If your fabric won’t respond well to water, dry cleaning is the best option. You can do this by yourself or get a professional dry cleaning service to deal with a delicate fabric. If this isn’t an option for you, try steam cleaning. This method requires a steamer on a controlled measure to avoid scalding the fabric.

What are Roman blinds? A summary

Roman blinds are an elegant window treatment option with a wide range of fabric choices available. You can use them in any room as long as you think about their purpose and get proper measurements. Invite professionals to advise you on the best options for your home and install them properly.