3 ways to recreate a vintage style roller shade


ARE YOU LOOKING FOR an authentic midcentury window treatment that is  “simpler” and/or less expensive than pinch-pleat draperies or horizontal blinds — especially when it comes to a smaller window? Roller shades are a great alternative to add to your stable of choices.

Here are three ways to recreate the style:

  1. Simple, “pull-down” shades are available at many local hardware stores, and the big-box hardware stores have them, too. In both places, they cut them to your size, on site. When you go in, be sure to know whether you want to install them inside the window frame, or outside, and be ready with your measurements for both height and width. Roller shades from the hardware store are generally very inexpensive, but the options can be quite limited – white or almond-colored vinyl only, with kind of cheesy trim (as I recall). You might also find these at estate sales — used or unused — and if you can be patient, you can find them for a song.
  2. Another alternative is a fabric shade custom made to your specs. I have these in my bedrooms, with a scalloped edge and tassel-y trim (called “gimp”). I also paid for the cassette upgrade – which allows me to lower and raise them with a pulley system.  Fabric roller shades are available from a wide number of manufacturers. And, they can be ordered in all kinds of fabrics. In the main image above — from 1952 — you can see “oatmeal” and “shantung” fabrics — these kinds of fabrics are still very commonly available today… they’re what I used.
  3. If you are really handy – you can sew your own shade from fabric, or glue fabric straight onto an inexpensive shade cut to size from the hardware store or an estate sale. Watch tomorrow for a post on how to make your own fabric shades based on vintage 1959 instructions.


  • I ordered my bedroom shades, I labored over whether to buy the “black-out” design that totally blocks light, or the more translucent design. I decided on the translucent because we thought it would be nice to be awakened each day by the light slowing permeating the room. I think this choice is very personal… but it’s one more issue you will want to think about before making a final choice.
  • And in my bedrooms, I ultimately added pinch pleats over the roller shades. This layered effect is wonderful. And, if you are new to your home…and need immediate privacy…but want to wait to find the perfect set of draperies…you can install the roller shades right away and then take the time you need to find draperies (thrifted, new or home-made.)

  1. menk says:

    We were about to pull the trigger on Bali Shoreline shades from home depot (which are VERY close to the picture on this post), and then found this: totally traditional, natural fabrics, sustainable wood and CROCHET RINGS! And around half the cost. Which is surprising considering they seem geared towards restorers.
    We’re still comparison shopping, but this is looking pretty good right now.

  2. I’m looking for roller shade pulls (see I call them that) from the old days. I remember them as being crocheted onto a stiff ring about 1″ to 1-1/2″ in diameter (like a donut) with a string that is about six inches long that attaches to the wood rod in the bottom of the shade. I haven’t seen any since I was a preteen in the late 1950s, or perhaps at my grandmother’s house in the late 1940s and 1950s.

    Does anyone know where I might find some, or at least a PICTURE of one? My daughter crochets and I want to show her one to see if she can do something like that.

    Thanks for any help I can get on this!

    1. Lynda says:

      I have a photo. There are 4 on Ebay now.
      I am looking for 10 of the extra long Holland Cloth shades (or fabric) to use in a restored historic school.

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