These Aren’t Your Grandmother’s Blinds Anymore

Most people think of blinds as those cheap window coverings found in discount stores, where a string is pulled and a series of slats either rise or fall to let the person see out. Turn a rod and the slats turn, blocking the light or letting it in while limiting the view into the dwelling. In reality, the term refers to a broader spectrum of window coverings.

A Brief History of Blinds

Blinds have been around for centuries, though their exact origins are unknown. The first patent for blinds has been dated to the 1700s, in England, when Edward Beran was issued a patent for his blinds. Since that time, blinds have been in continuous use in both offices and homes as window treatments, with drapes and without.

In the 1940s, the original wooden slats were replaced by cheaper, lightweight aluminum ones. These blinds, however, were noisy to operate, and were visually unappealing, leading to a decline in their use in homes. They continued to be used in commercial buildings, though, since they allowed easy air flow while regulating the amount of natural light that entered a room.

This changed again in the 1970s, when vinyl slats became the norm. Vinyl slats were easier and even cheaper to produce, and allowed for more possibilities in styles. Blinds were no longer limited to horizontal versions; vinyl was lightweight enough that vertical blinds were possible, allowing even big picture windows to be covered, filtering light and blocking the view into the dwelling. The vertical blinds were also perfect for sliding glass doors, allowing easy entrance and exit, while maintaining the same light filtering properties.

Advantages of Blinds over Drapes

The biggest advantage of using blinds instead of drapes is the ability to adjust the blinds to allow in a particular amount of light. Blinds operate when a string is pulled or a rod is turned; this either turns or raises and lowers a string “ladder,” moving the slats with the ladder. The slats can be precisely adjusted in this manner, allowing no more light into the room than the user wishes. Because of their slats, light enters from the whole window at the same time, lighting a larger area, while still blocking the view of those outside the room. Drapes, on the other hand, are made of solid cloth materials. Opening them to allow light into the room focuses the light in narrow areas, with the drapes needing to be fully open to light the entire room.

Types of Blinds

The most common type of blind found today is the mini-blind. These extremely narrow slatted blinds–no more than an inch in width–are commonly found in discount stores, along with their micro-blind cousins, which measure half an inch in width. With slats made of vinyl or of bamboo, mini-blinds and micro-blinds are an inexpensive way to cover a window, easy to install and replace, and simple to clean by running a dust cloth over them while in their closed position.

In recent years, there has been a return to the wood-slatted blind. .Available in a wide variety of stains or painted colors, combined with drapes, these blinds offer a more formal look to a room. Some differences to wood-slatted blinds over the more common vinyl is that they are often custom fitted to the window, and use a cloth tape ladder system rather than the vinyl’s more common string.

Solid blinds have also become common. These blinds combine the best features of blinds and curtains, with slats that run through lightweight cloth that allows light to enter the room while fully blocking any outside view. Roman shades are another type of solid blind. In these, cloth tapes draw the solid fabric up or lower it as needed to allow light in. Again, this type of blind offers the best of both blind and curtain, and can be found in a variety of styles.

Whether a person is looking for a retro look, as found with wider, aluminum-slatted blinds, or a formal look, like that imparted by wooden blinds, or the simple modern functionality of mini-blinds, blinds offer a wealth of decorating options for widow treatments. With the improvements that have been made over the years, the functional blinds of older generations have become the stylish blinds of today, and have re-earned their place in homes, as well as maintaining their supremacy in offices everywhere.

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