Focus on window treatments: roller and Roman blinds

In the third part of this series on window treatments, interiors journalist Rachel Ogden looks at Roman and roller blinds and offers advice on fabrics to add colour and pattern to your scheme

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Making blinds work in your home

Roller blinds give a simple finish to a window and are a practical choice as well as being ideal for compact rooms. They’re usually created by laminating fabric to cotton or blackout backing. Rollers are operated by either a sidewinder or slow-rise mechanism and can also be automated. The blinds can be on either a standard roll, where the fabric comes off the back of the roller tube, or a reverse roll, where the fabric comes off the front of the roller tube. If you have a blackout backing, it’s best to choose a standard roll so that the fabric is closest to the window.

Roman blinds can be supplied with a sidewinder mechanism and chain, or the more traditional cord and cleat. The chain should come with a child safety feature that ensures it is held tightly against the wall rather than dangling down. When they’re pulled up, Roman blinds will still cover a portion of your window at the top, blocking a little of the light, so may not work as well in north-facing rooms. They can be lightly lined, thermally lined, blackout lined or have interlining.

Both roller blinds and Roman blinds can usually be fixed to a wall, window frame or architrave, or from above to a ceiling or recess.

Double designs

If you can’t decide between your favourite fabrics, a Swedish blind is an opportunity to use them both, one on each side, for a modern country look. It will roll up like a roller blind if it’s operated by a chain control – but be aware that any visible cords can be a safety hazard for young children. Try adding a box pelmet in a co-ordinating material for extra definition at a smaller window

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Play with pattern

For a window treatment that unites colour and pattern, look no further than a mixture of stationary roll-up blinds and light curtains from the same colour palette. Choose oversized, painterly prints for windows and doors, remembering to keep a blind/curtain balance.

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Blinds made from Sabu cotton fabric in Jaffa, W137cm, £14.99 per m; blind ties made from Panama cotton fabric in Flame, W140cm, £13.99 per m; curtains made from Lombok cotton fabric in Jaffa, W137cm, £14.99 per m, all fabric only, Prestigious Textiles

Warm up cold spaces

Period properties or those with sash windows can be draughty, so if you’re choosing Roman blinds over curtains, make sure they’re interlined. This adds an additional two layers of fabric, giving a thicker, fuller blind with more visual impact. Roman blinds can also be hung behind shutters for extra insulation, or given a blackout lining.

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Roman blinds made from Kudi cotton fabric with wool crewelwork and interlining, H205xW128cm, from £558 each, The Natural Curtain Company

Nicolas Swift, joint managing director at Directblinds.co.uk, gives his top tips on how to measure your windows to ensure a perfect fit:

  1. Use a metal tape measure as cloth tapes aren’t accurate enough and can stretch. If you’d like your blinds to fit inside your window, you’ll need to take a recess measurement. Measure the inside width of your window recess in three places – the shortest is your recess width. Next, measure the inside length of your window in three places – again, the shortest is your recess drop. Most blind manufacturers will reduce your recess sizes to ensure the blinds fit within the opening.
  2. If you’d like your blinds to hang outside your window recess, measure the width where you want the blind to be, allowing for a 10-15cm overlap to work out your exact width. Measure the length where you want the blind to be, again allowing for a 10-15cm overlap but this time from the top and bottom. This is your exact drop length. When measuring for roller blinds, remember that the fabric width will be 3cm narrower than the overall exact blind width.

Let in light

Taking a leaf out of the book of Venetian blinds, double-layered roller blinds allow you to adjust how much daylight they let in instead of the all-or-nothing style of roller. Not only does this make them perfect for a home office, where the light needs to be altered throughout the day, but they can also provide a little extra privacy when required.

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Left Made-to-measure Enjoy Vision roller blinds, H180xW150cm, £108.46 each, Blinds 2 Go

Remote controlled

In the same
way that sunshine can lift your mood, so
too can a pop
of colour. This classic stripe and delicately drawn floral in a matching colourway add a shot of personality to an otherwise neutral room. Especially handy in a space with multiple windows, electronically operated roller blinds can be a real time-saver, opening simultaneously at the touch of a button. This system also has concealed long-life batteries so the pattern of the blinds can take centre stage.

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Automated wire-free blinds made from Palazzo fabric in Santorini, and Romance fabric in Santorini, from £567.95, QMotion UK

Statement looks

Use a colourful mix of curtains and blinds to form the backbone of your design – ideal for a bedroom that’s otherwise decorated in soothing shades. A combination of geometrics and stripes is a fresh, modern way to layer patterns, but any prints in similar colours that have a difference in scale will harmonise. Cocoon a bedroom further by adding blackout lining to your blinds.

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Roman blinds made from Link Raspberry cotton fabric, H280xW160cm, £573 each; curtains made from Indira Raspberry cotton fabric, H300xW160cm, £356 per pair, Style Studio

An easy change

Sheer fabrics give windows a soft styled look, letting in some light even when they’re drawn, so you can go for a dark colour, including dramatic black. They’re especially handy in a room that receives direct sunlight but needs it filtering. These fabric-changer blinds are easy to hook on and off.

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Thin-Stripe Midnight fabric- changer roller blinds, H190xW87cm, £136 each, Bloc Blinds

Styling Roman and roller blinds, by Emma Vans Agnew, design director at Fabrics & Papers

  • Roman blinds are suited to the majority of fabrics and can fit inside or outside the window recess. When they’re down, they should sit flat with no discernible stitching to the face of the fabric to ensure a smart finish. There are some lovely extras that you can add, such as pretty trimmings, pom pom fringes or contrast binding, to create a beautiful and decorative addition to your room.
  • Roller blinds are a good option when you want to minimise the amount of light lost, want a very clean finish, or want to cut out the light or protect furniture. Blackout roller blinds can be used behind existing curtains if you need the room to be darker. Decorative fabrics, such as velvet, or details, such as crewelwork or embroidery, can’t withstand the laminating process, so you can add extra decoration elsewhere.

Keep it simple

When it comes to design, the simplest ideas are often the best. Crisp and fuss-free, a large Roman blind can still have impact even if it’s made from a plain fabric. Contrasting borders down the leading edges look especially striking when blinds are unfurled. Dark edges work well, but rather than black, try a deep chocolate brown or berry shade for maximum warmth.

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Roman blinds made from Andrew Martin Rudge linen fabric in 01, with cotton border in Chocolate Brown, H250xW160cm, £500 each, including composition, Maurizio Pellizzoni

Layer up

Large windows need a treatment with plenty of flexibility, and panel blinds fit the bill perfectly. They’ll neatly stack to either side when in the open position or slide over the width of the window in a similar way to curtains. Keep the look sleek with a broad vertical stripe or add interest with a contrasting plain and pattern arrangement.

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Panel blinds made from Jocelyn and plain black fabric from the Chelsea range, W83cm, from £54 per m², Illumin8 Blinds

Go for geometrics

Roller blinds can be as simple or as ornate as you like thanks to a huge array of fabrics and finishes. Pick one in an accent colour to co-ordinate with the accessories in a room or, if adding pattern, choose your blinds once the space has been decorated and add extra wow factor with a metallic finish.

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Roller blinds made from Glamour Laurent Blanc fabric, H150xW150cm, £191 each, Apollo Blinds