2″ metal horizontal blinds: The perfect window treatment for midcentury home

hunter douglas 2 inch metal blindWhen I went to order window treatments for my kitchen, Colleen from my local hardware store took one look and recommended 2″ aluminum blinds. “It’s what we rip out of every other 50s home,” she reassured.

We chose from the Hunter Douglas “Macro” line. These horizontal blinds are PERFECT, and from my reading of scores of mid-century magazines, I know that “venetians,” as they called these then, are totally authentic. About two years ago – when I originally ran this post — I even saw that Hunter Douglas has come out with a new color palette with circa 50s colors. I chose a soft neutral metallic, as my window is quite large, and I didn’t want the shade to overpower the room.

metal window blinds

Click on this image to enlarge it, and you can see: I ordered three separate blinds for my three-piece window. The two narrower blinds at either end each cover a casement. The center blind covers the picture window. I wanted the option to open each blind on its own. Plus, one blind as wide as the entire window installation would have been ginormously wide and heavy; something to avoid if you can, I think…. Also: You can typically order multiple blinds all on “one rail” at the top. I did not see the need for this — I simply butted each blind next to the other, and this worked fine for me.

Other tips: I ordered “traditional” slat styling – that is, I wanted the holes in the middle of the blind to show. The alternative “De-Light” option offers a design with no cord holes, the cord run outside the blind. De-Light is just an option, so you can get the old way too.  The old way — that’s what I wanted! I WANTED to see the cord holes.

Also, I chose the “wand” rather than the cord to adjust the slats horizontally. Finally, you get a self-colored valance free as part of the order. Go for it. However, I later added a fabric valence that I made myself.

Lastly, on logistics, I have a few pieces of advice from my experience:
  • I find that Hunter Douglas’ website is relatively complicated to use if you just want to get to the color selections by blind. So be patient in making your way through it — the info is there. In any case, before you order you are going to want to see live samples. So, use their dealer locator to find a store that carries this line and go see all catalogs and color samples and check everything out there.
  • These blinds are relatively expensive, but in my experience the quality and service were worth it. For example, after I ordered my kitchen window shade, I found that I needed to have it cut down by about 1/2″ on each side. My local sales rep got it done for me at no charge. She was great, and so was Hunter Douglas. Be nice – and the niceness comes back around.
  • One final idea: If you are installing a new window – talk to your contractor about adding a support behind the drywall all the way horizontally across the window top and even beyond if you think you will need a stack-back (for pinch pleats). That way – you will not have to hunt and peck looking for the studs (which will always be in the “wrong” place) when you go to install. Oh, this is also a good idea in a bathroom, in a tub — even if you don’t think you need that grab bar now — you may eventually — so if you have the space opened up, add the support now and make a note of where it is so you can add a grab bar if you need it…

This classic Retro Renovation post has been updated from the original, which was first published on March 19, 2007.

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Comments

  1. Glamorlux Nancy says

    2″ metal blinds are the way to go! We have two original blinds left in our house. For the other rooms, I’ve ordered the “Embassy 2″ Macro Aluminum Blinds” from Blinds Chalet online. You can pick colored cloth tapes to accent your decor. They are relatively cheap and have the right look. They deduct from the width for them to fit in your window, but they do not deduct from the length, making them a little too long when hanging in my windows… So, if you order from them, you might want to deduct a quarter or half an inch yourself. Oh yeah, they will send you slat and tape samples, too!

  2. Anita says

    We had the venitian blinds and pinch pleat drapes on every window in our house (which was built in 1950), except for the kitchen window which had a roller shade. In our current house which is new construction we have several rooms done in a 1950s theme and have gone with the venitian blinds. They were everywhere in the 50s.

  3. Palm Springs Stephan says

    I installed Levolor 2″ aluminum blinds, white (color code 110) with the “ladders” made from wide white cotton twill webbing, throughout my little Tony Curits condo. I even did split blinds all from one header over the multi-part living room window. I love them. And visitors always ask if they are original to the unit.

  4. says

    We put traditional aluminum blinds in our bedroom and they work well. Our only problem with them is that they darken the room a lot when they’re in the closed-slat position for privacy. But for people who want the blackout effect, especially in the daytime, they’re perfect. We’re actually thinking about replacing the blinds with roller shades for a little more light penetration while they’re down.

  5. Elaine says

    We went with 2″ slats as well, but I picked walnut wood slats to match the woodwork. They give more of a southern plantation look. I think mine are Bali, and I chose the slats with holes, cords to pull them up and a wand to adjust the slats.

  6. Darlahood says

    I know this was an old post, but I was probing the archives for some help finding blinds. My problem is that my 1953 casement windows are 52 inches wide. I can’t just go to Target or Home Depot and pick up a set of blinds because the widest they come is 48″. Searching online for 52″ wide blinds leads me to old Craigslist ads; wow, do they not make them anymore as a standard size? I guess custom blinds is my only option… but last time I got a quote for that for four windows in my Florida Room, Blinds-To-Go wanted $600. Dangit.

  7. Stephen says

    I have been an interior decorating installer for 25 years. The only thing i would add to this thread, is everyone should consider hiring a professional installer. If you are not comfortable with driving screws at odd angles, working on a ladder or reading a measuring tape, you really should consider hiring a pro. You will not have exploratory “hunt and peck” holes all over your walls when a pro installs your treatments. Professional installers are fast, efficient, very knowledgeable, experienced and should clean up after themselves. Depending upon the size of product being installed, quantity and difficulty, you can expect to pay anywhere from $7.75 to $15.00 a linear foot for your installation. Along with a trip charge of usually $25 to $35 bucks. I guarantee every installation for LIFE. You should accept nothing less from ANY installer.

  8. sarah says

    I liked the idea very much and bought mine also from IKEA, added cheap motorized automation for blinds (www.theriseapp.com) to help with lowering and rising the blinds. Overall I’m very happy

  9. Steve says

    I was Reno

    I have 2 6’x6′ x2″ aluminum blinds that is stored away in my shop .They are a mint green color , Id say they are from the 50s . I’ll sell them for a reasonable offer.

  10. Larry Murphy says

    Hi. I’m a new member. if your looking for authentic 2” metal venetian blinds with cloth inserts. Look no further. Home Depot online, sells custom fit Levolor Riviera 2 in. Aluminum Blinds with cloth inserts. I have just finished retrofying my mid 1940s kitchen with them. They look amazing.
    They come in an array of colors. Mine are Metallic Satin nickel, with celadon cloth inserts.They are spot on. Just like the originals from the 40s and 50s. I’m so happy the way they turned out, that I ordered more, and am outfitting my living room and dining area.

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