Buyer’s guide to window blinds

On the hunt for the best window blinds for your space? Use our expert guide to find the right way to dress your windows

Blinds in dining area by Blinds2Go
(Image credit: Blinds2Go)

Whatever look you want to achieve with window treatments, a blind is sure to enhance your room scheme. Tactile Roman blinds will add texture and warmth to a relaxed living room scheme, smart roller blinds bring a splash of colour to a kitchen and Venetians can shade the sun’s glare in an extension. 

Most blind types are versatile enough to work in any room; used singly they are a neat, architectural solution to dressing a window, layered with curtains or a second blind they’ll bring an extra dimension to your decor.

Find more window treatments on our dedicated hub page.

Before you buy blinds

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

  • When selecting blinds, think about practicality. If you need to block out the light in a child’s bedroom, opt for blinds with a blackout coating. For a north-facing chilly room, select a pleated blind with thermal properties. Sheer blinds maximise the light, slatted blinds adjust to block the sun. 
  • Decide whether the blind will be fitted within or outside the window recess; if it’s to go on the outside, allow at least 45mm overlap at the sides and bottom so that light won’t creep around the edges. 
  • Many blinds are available ready-made in set sizes and roller blinds can be trimmed to fit. Made to measure blinds are supplied according to your own measurements so use a metal tape and be precise; try Terry’s Fabrics for useful measuring guides.
  • Alternatively you can relax and let a blind company measure up then fit the completed blinds for you. 
  • Blinds can be motorised and controlled remotely by a wall switch or via a smartphone or tablet using an app. They can also be hooked up to a whole house automated system with sensors opening and closing them according to daylight levels. 

Buy the best roller blinds

Roller blinds are chic, simple and they come in a vast array of colours and patterns with shading options ranging from sheer right through to blackout. 

Cost effective ready-made roller blinds can be trimmed to size but for a perfect fit go for a made to measure blind. 

For flexibility, consider a double blind with a sheer fabric behind a blackout one or a ‘day and night’ shade with adjustable fabric slats. If your room faces a busy street, get the privacy you need with a bottom up blind, where the roller sits on the window ledge, or select a half and half blind, with translucent mesh above a solid fabric; try Eclectics

There are water-resistant PVC blinds for a bathroom and thermal blinds for a chilly bedroom... the options are endless. 

See more living room window treatment ideas in our design gallery. 

Blinds in living space by Dunelm

Elements Cirkle Print daylight roller blind, W61cm x H162cm, £12, Dunelm

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Choose versatile Venetian blinds

Great for south-facing or overlooked rooms, Venetian blinds allow you to control both the amount of light and the level of privacy simply by tilting the slats. 

Wooden Venetian blinds have a back-to-nature beauty that’s hard to beat. You’ll find natural, stained and painted finishes – wide slats up to 70mm will give a room contemporary appeal. Aluminium blinds come with super-slim slats for a minimalist look and have the advantage of shrugging off moisture so they’re a good choice for bathrooms and shower rooms. Or get the best of both worlds by selecting wood-effect blinds, such as Hillary’s Aluwood, which are made from aluminium but have a wood grain finish. 

Blinds in dining area by Blinds2Go

Essence Warm Copper aluminium Venetian blind, 25mm slat, W70cm x H100cm, £26.47, Blinds 2 Go

(Image credit: Blinds2Go)

Opt for practical pleated blinds

These have a softer appearance than roller blinds, allowing light to filter through, unless you pick a blackout version. 

Blinds with single pleats such as Plissé are supported by wires running across the blind. Those with double pleats such as Duette have a honeycomb design, trapping air between the two layers to keep out the cold. 

Pleated blinds come in a wide choice of colours, patterns and textured finishes. Some versions sit neatly within the glass panes rather than covering the entire window frame; these are a good option for tilt and turn windows. 

For ultimate flexibility, select pleated blinds that can can be lowered from the top and raised from the bottom so you can choose your level of privacy.

Find more clever bathroom window treatments in our design guide.

Bathroom blinds by Duette

Translucent made to measure top-down/bottom-up blinds in White, from £150 for W40cm x H60cm, Duette

(Image credit: Duette)

Pick pretty Roman blinds

Whether you’re after a relaxed, coastal look or a more formal effect, a Roman blind is up for the challenge. Cords at the back draw them up into large, soft pleats, bringing a sumptuous extra element of furnishing to a room. Add contrast borders to draw attention to the pleated edges. 

These blinds are often lined, which improves the way the pleats fall; if you want to keep draughts out and the warmth in, opt for interlining as well. 

Blinds in dining room with dining table, by Luxaflex

Casa made to measure unlined Roman blind in Syre, W50cm x H100cm, £90, Luxaflex (available from November 2018)

(Image credit: Luxaflex)

Go for Scandi style roll-up blinds

Soft, pretty roll-up blinds are the way to bring a Scandi vibe to your home. These simple blinds are supported by cords which allow them to roll up loosely, but you’ll need to lend a helping hand if you want a neat, tight roll. The back of the blind is visible when rolled up, so choose a contrasting fabric to add an extra detail.

Find more pretty bedroom window treatments and more Scandi bedroom design ideas in our guides.

Bedroom chair with blind behind by Vanessa Arbuthnott

Made to measure Swedish blind in By the Sea, Scree/Charcoal, lined in Simple Ticking Detail, Charcoal, W70cm x H100cm, £250.20, Vanessa Arbuthnott

(Image credit: Vanessa Arbuthnott)

Pick a panel blind for a contemporary vibe

Is it a blind, is it a curtain? Panel blinds fall somewhere between the two, and they’re the ultimate in minimalist design, ideal for showing off fabric to advantage. 

These elegant blinds look best on tall, broad windows, for example in a glazed extension. 

Held taut at the top and bottom and running on a multi-track, panel blinds stack neatly behind one another when opened.

Panels at windows in living room by Ikea

Anno Tupplur panel curtain in light blue, W60cm x H300cm, £8, Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Invest in smart vertical blinds

However wide the window, a vertical blind can be made up to fit, and they can be designed to fit sloping windows, too. 

Consisting of individual slats that clip on to a track, and joined at the bottom by chains, vertical blinds pivot open or closed, or can be drawn right back. They can be stacked to the left or right, or part in the centre. 

Both smooth louvres and woven, textured finishes are available in myriad colours. Choose water-resistant vertical blinds for a wet room, or practical blackout versions for the bedroom.  

Find more great kitchen window treatments in our design guide.

Kitchen blinds with kitchen island by English Blinds

Gala Snow vertical blind, W100cm x H200cm, £55.51, English Blinds

(Image credit: English Blinds)

Choose sleek roof blinds

Roller, pleated and Venetian blinds come in specific versions to suit sloping skylight windows, and both roller and pleated blinds can work for flat roofs, too. 

For loft bedrooms, blackout blinds can be doubled up with sheer blinds to vary the shading options. 

Off the peg blinds come in sizes to match the window brand – just locate the window code, usually found somewhere on the inside of the frame, and you can order a blind and install it yourself. Although you’ll pay more for bespoke blinds, there are far more style and colour choices and you can arrange for them to be installed to avoid the hassle of fitting them yourself.

Find more loft and roof window blind ideas in our design gallery.

Velux window blinds in loft room, by Hillarys

Cordova White blackout skylight blind for a W116.3cm x H115cm Velux window, £209, Hillarys

(Image credit: Hillarys)

More blind options

Pinoleum blinds, most often seen in conservatories, are made from fine strips of wood, woven together. They’ll bring a soft, diffuse light to a room, and can shade glazed roofs, too. If you fancy an all-natural blind, B&Q’s bamboo roll up blinds are great for creating dappled shading.

Find more conservatory blind ideas in our design gallery.

Pinoleum blinds by Bridgman

(Image credit: Bridgman)

Top down, bottom up blinds can be positioned anywhere on a window to allow you to maximise both light and privacy. Generally pleated, they are available as sheer, black-out and reflective. These are by Blinds2Go.

Blinds2Go thermal blind

(Image credit: Blinds2Go)

More on window treatments

Caroline is a freelance journalist with over 25 years of experience writing about homes and interiors.