Vintage bamboo shades — that hang horizontally, on curtain loops

vintage-rattan-shades-5I grabbed these vintage bamboo stick shades at a recent estate sale, thinking that I could take them apart with my seam ripper and use the slats for wood flooring in my dollhouse. When I got the shades home, I looked even closer and was surprised to see that the shades are not meant to hang vertically, like Roman shades. Instead, they actually have loop trim sewn down the long end so that thay can hang on a curtain rod, horizontally. 

vintage-rattan-shades-1Above: I hung one of the shades to cover the window of my office door, which leads to the garden outside. The door is steel, so the curtain rod is magnetic. Magnetic curtain rods can’t hold much weight, so this lightweight blind is a great solution. Also, very tidy, with relatively little stack back because the material is so thin.

vintage-rattan-shades-4Above: The loop trim, which is a little bit grody. But other than that, the shades are in great shape.

vintage-rattan-shades-10Flocked roses! 

vintage-rattan-shades-7The shades were $4 for the pair — what a deal, that’s a lotta wood flooring.

vintage-rattan-shades-8Above: The back side of the bamboo shades. Hmmm…. is the wood really bamboo — or is it a different material? I do not know for sure. The feel is thicker, sturdier, that what I associate with today’s bamboo. But then, it could be that back in the day, even the bamboo was heftier. Was there such a thing as old growth bamboo once upon a time?

vintage-rattan-shades-6Doggonit: These vintage shades are too odd and wonderful to chop up into wood flooring. I presume that these were marketed as an affordable window covering for bedrooms or sunrooms. I found them stashed in a bedroom closet.

Has anyone else ever seen these, or any like these, in the wild?


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  1. JC says

    I actually am old enough to remember these. They were very cheap, sold in the 5 and 10 and like places. Saw them mostly on kitchen windows.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Me too! I remember the crocheted trim. I believe they were made either in post-war Japan or in Hong Kong. There were some hanging in the screen porch of my hot-dog-stand-converted-to-cottage-by-the-sea when I moved in. They had no painted or flocked pattern on them, though. And they were so disgustingly dirty that I threw them out after various attempts to clean them. I made cafe curtains out of yards and yards of nautical flags pattern I got at a discontinued fabric store. I think it cost under $2 a yard.

        Pam, speaking of made overseas stuff, I have some faux bamboo coasters and placemats that my grandsons purchased for me one Christmas. They look very much like those screens. I wonder if you could make curtains for your dollhouse and/or flooring out of such?

        I think there is such a thing as special species of bamboo that was used to make bamboo furniture from the late 19th through mid 20th century. I think I read that it was the kind pandas like to eat, and it was “logged” out, as it were, and replaced with a weaker, faster growing variety that is used to make bamboo products now. And the pandas can’t eat it.

  2. Kate H says

    These are darling! Is Tiki-Colonial a style? Because the bamboo says tiki to me but the roses say Americana.

  3. Ali says

    What a unique find! I believe what you have here are technically vertical bamboo panels. The slats on yours run up and down when hung, thus they are vertical. They are designed to hang on a rod and will slide to either side when opened and closed, which makes them panels. Shades are designed to be mounted directly to the window frame or wall and are raised and lowered open and closed. Whatever the terminology, I agree these are too charming to take apart! I have seen plenty of bamboo panels in today’s window covering market, but never with a loop top for hanging. These days bamboo or woven wood panels are usually sold with a grommet top, which doesn’t exactly scream “mid century,” even if the overall aesthetic suggests tiki fabulous. The newer panels also tend to weigh something like 3000 lbs apiece (okay, I’m exaggerating), so your lightweight panels are truly a dainty retro delight. Enjoy your find!

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, too wonderful to take apart. Fortunately, I can use them ! Thanks for the lesson in proper terminology!

  4. says

    There are some of these hanging in the office of the Minneapolis time capsule house you featured:

    The jpg is listed as wood-ceiling, I believe. It’s the picture of the desk with the two chairs in front of it and you can see the bamboo shades hanging horizontally in the window bank. I noticed it because I’d never seen them hung this way before and thought it was a great idea.

  5. Karen S says

    We had a cottage on a lake when I was growing up and in the kitchen we had “curtains” similar to these. The slats were plastic instead of wood but with the same loop trim. There was a longer panel for the door and a shorter panel with valance (like café curtains) for the window above the sink. ah, memories. Our cottage was full of vintage treasures-everything was castoffs or unwanted things from relatives’ basements. Wish I had all that stuff now!

    • Kate says

      I think my grandma had small curtains like this covering the kitchen window at our lake cottage, too! 🙂 Her’s were plain though, no flocked roses, just plain wood.

    • Jeanne says

      Me three! In fact the ones Karen mentioned are still hanging in the bunkhouse at my parents lake cottage.

    • SpaceCadetNM says

      We have the plastic ones at our cabin, too! Ours are orange and yellow, and still look amazingly good. I’d love to find more of them!

  6. stacia says

    You might be able to roll them up and soak the loop end in something like Oxi Clean to get the brown out. Great find!

  7. tammyCA says

    Neat & interesting find..I’ve never seen them before. My favorite dress from childhood was a sleeveless yellow one with flocked red roses. 🙂 You could look for bamboo placemats & take those apart for flooring..I found some & was thinking to do that if they lay flat or I’ll use all my saved frozen corn dog sticks for strip wood floors..they are skinnier than Popsicle sticks (you probably can buy these unused & clean somewhere).

  8. Cynthia says

    Nice find! Yes, I have seen these before, very charming. Yes you can clean the groddy parts but I wouldn’t recommend soaking, nor oxy clean, which is a bleach and could damage these vintage natural materials. Try a little mild cleaning soap and water, dip a soft brush (even a paint brush) in the solution and use it to saturate the soiled loops or whatever is grimey. Let it soak in a little while. Rinse the brush and dip it in clean water, and start removing the soap solution from the loops. Repeat until you don’t get any suds coming off the loops. They should dry quickly in this weather.

  9. Sandra says

    I’ve seen some nice grass or bamboo placemats at Bed Bath & Beyond that might work, instead. I imagine you could floor the whole house with one or two.

    Bamboo grows fast, hence its “renewable” designation. I doubt there is any old growth.

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