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:
- 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.
- Another alternative is a fabric shade custom made to your specs from companies like Smith & Noble. I have these in my bedrooms, with a scalloped edge and tassel-y trim (called “gimp”). I also paid for the cassete 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.
- 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.)