Focus on window treatments: loft blinds

In the fourth part of this series, interiors journalist Rachel Ogden offers advice on different styles to control light and temperature, and add interest

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Making Loft Blinds work for you

Loft or attic conversions are a great way to make the most of the space in your home, and are usually light, bright spaces, so you’ll need a window treatment that can block out light effectively when required. Sliding, pleated, Venetian or roller blinds are ideal for rooflights, while a side window can look stunning with the soft folds of fabric of Swedish or Roman blinds (as long as they don’t take up too much of the upper portion of the opening when they’re raised), or neat rollers.

If privacy is a concern but you’re keen to not lose too much light, look for lightweight or sheer coverings. A blackout and pleated blind combination is also a good idea, blocking out the light when required with the option to adjust it during the day.

Electric blinds aren’t just a convenient way of opening and closing loft blinds – they also give great symmetry as they allow you to stop all the blinds at the same place. If you’re planning to install electric blinds as part of a conversion, consider them at the planning stage of your project, as cables may need to be routed into the walls.

Contemporary appeal

Unlike traditional Venetian blinds, those that fit an angled window need to be cordless. Look for designs that have slats adjusted by a tilting grip, and that can be raised and lowered by a control bar. If you’re installing them in a kitchen or bathroom, you’ll also need to choose Venetian blinds that are low maintenance and moisture resistant. Aluminium or composite blinds are ideal and versatile enough to work with any interior scheme.

VELUX Venetain Blinds

35mm Venetian blinds in natural anodised lacquered aluminium with polyester cords: top blind in model PK10, H160xW94cm, £148.80; bottom blind in model PK04, H98xW94cm, £122.40, Velux

Ready made option

Prevent heat loss from a set of roof windows with a close-fitting, energy- saving solution. Most off-the-peg roof blinds come in sizes to match the brand of window, so there’s no need to opt for made-to-measure designs unless you’re keen to include more striking patterns and fabrics. These ready-made blinds come with an aluminium finish and can be positioned to sit at any point within the side channels of the window.

The Fabric Box Skye Loft Bedroom Vitra Zorro

Skye roof blind in Karo blackout polyester fabric, H118xW78cm, to fit original Velux windows, £64.10 each, The Fabric Box

Double Up

Be sure to consider your rooflight covering at the same time as other window treatments in the room. This allows you to opt for a matching fabric, which works well in a smaller room, or contrasting, brighter colours if the space is larger. Plains are often the default option for smaller blinds, but a simple pattern in a soothing pastel can work well to inject a sense of fun and character.

Bloc Fabric Changer Roller in Grey Polka Dot with Skylight

Rooflight blind for a Velux window in Polka Dot Grey polyester fabric, H56xW38.5cm, £65; Fabric Changer blind in Polka Dot Grey polyester fabric, H139xW110cm, £110, both Bloc Blinds

Mix and match

Rooflight blinds work best by being unobtrusive when opened and providing an extra point of interest when closed. One way to achieve this is to co-ordinate with adjacent treatments around the room, so think about introducing matching materials in a different style, such as roller blinds. This can also be a great technique for sectioning off part of a large room for a separate purpose, such as a desk area in an open-plan living space.


Easi-stop rooflight blinds in Sherbourne Orange polyester fabric, H99xW49cm, £85 each; roller blind in Sherbourne Orange polyester fabric, H120xW80cm, £67.50, Hillarys

Top tips for buying loft blinds

by Mike Stephen, style expert at Apollo blinds

  • First, decide on the look you want to achieve and which kind of window needs a solution, as not all of them will. The usage of the room will influence the choice of window dressing. If it’s a bedroom, blackout blinds are essential. But if the room is an office, the main purpose of the blinds will be to stop glare and prevent sunlight from overheating it.
  • Options are usually determined by the operation of the window. Around 80 per cent of this style of windows are Velux. Branded windows have a code on the inside frame, which tells you what size of blind to buy. Off-the-shelf blinds are available but it’s advisable to get a professional to fit in-frame blinds, such as VS1 (see below) and Velux.
  • VS1 blinds are a friction system and, as such, only require support wires down each side, so when the blind is not in use, the view is unobstructed. The bonus with VS1 blinds is that Duette blinds are available (which can reduce heat loss by up to 46 per cent, absorb sound and keep the space cool in the summer).
  • If it is a custom-sized window, the area of glass needs to be surveyed. Measure the width and height at the top, middle and bottom to take into consideration any distortion, and always use the smallest sizes. If it’s a high window, you may also want to consider extended poles.
  • Blinds can be motorised and operated with a remote control – ideal for hard-to-reach windows. The cost of adding motorisation as an option is falling considerably, and this is a trend that is set to continue in 2016, making remote-control operation much more viable.

Energy Saving Design

Created using a double honeycomb-layered fabric, these insulating, made-to-measure blinds are perfect for cold lofts or high ceilings, and can also be motorised. They’ll prevent heat loss through windows by up to 40 per cent, and can reduce heating bills by up to 25 per cent. This material is also suitable for use in a shower space as it’s water and humidity resistant, and can come in three levels of transparency to ensure complete privacy.

Duette Sea Blue

Bespoke opaque blinds in light blue polyester fabric, from £150 for H60xW40cm, Duette

Colour pop

A bright colour on a blind often works well in a newly created space to help give it definition, plus it can be echoed around the room in co-ordinating shades. If the room is small, it’s often best to leave the walls white or choose a pale neutral tone – not only will this help reflect light around when the blinds are raised, it’ll serve as a versatile backdrop for colour.

Budget Blinds of velux

Hot Pink polyester/PVC-mix blackout fabric, with fire-retardant coating, H90xW60cm, around £100 each, Budget Blinds

Electronic edge

Small spaces can easily look cluttered, so keep window treatments as simple as possible. Many electronic blinds don’t need wiring in and have no cords, so give a clean, fuss-free finish. Ideal for keeping rooms free from glare and overheating, they can also be set to raise and lower while you’re away on holiday. This remote-operated, battery-powered design can also be raised or lowered manually by gently pulling at the bottom.

Motion Splash Blush

Electronic roller blind made from Splash polyester fabric in Blush, with a Frost trim, H240xW120cm, £675.80, QMotion

Space-saving style

Simple and stylish, Swedish blinds can be given a blackout lining, or interlined to help keep draughts out. They’re operated by a cord and pulley system and take up minimal space at the top of the window, unlike Roman blinds, so they’re good for maximising light, though they may not be as easy to operate.

VA Town beach style roller blind

Swedish blind made from Deckchair Stripe linen/cotton-mix fabric in Forget, and Seaweed and Shells linen/cotton-mix fabric in Forget on reverse, both £46 per m, the Seaside collection at Vanessa Arbuthnott

Colour Protector

There are few things as frustrating as your favourite bedroom furnishings becoming faded, so if the room is in a sunny spot in your home, it’s best to invest in a treatment that protects fabrics when drawn. This rooflight blind eliminates up to 99 per cent of the sun’s UV rays, plus it can also help to block out noise from outside so that your bedroom is always a peaceful space.

Luxaflex loft blinds

Duette skylight shade, H130xW100cm, from £234, Luxaflex

Did you know

It’s estimated that 25 per cent of heat in domestic dwellings is lost through the loft and roof*. While loft insulation is a long-term solution, window blinds can be a quick fix to help reduce heat loss and cut down your energy bills. According to research by the Glasgow Caledonian University for English Heritage, fitting roller blinds to single-glazed windows can reduce heat loss by as much as 40 per cent. In loft rooms, which may be colder and draughty, fitting insulating blinds can be an easy way to reduce heat loss.

Light and shade

For a softer look with folds of fabric, consider Roman for a roof window in an upstairs home office or living room. They may let in a little light around the edges, and will need to be kept close to the sloping ceiling by tightly strung cords, but the result will be a more design-led look.

Maurizio Pellizzoni Surrey Hills Country Mansion small jpeg

Roman blind, H100xW50cm, around £500, Maurizio Pellizzoni. For a similar fabric, try Angus Stripe linen fabric in Navy, £39.50 per m, Ian Mankin

Easy fix

Assembled against the glass of the window and held in place by spring clips, these Perfect Fit pleated tensioned blinds need to be professionally fitted, but once they’re in place can be clipped and unclipped as needed. Simple to raise and lower, the blind can be repositioned using the bottom bar to give the ultimate light control and shade, even when the window is opened for ventilation.

Apollo Blinds pleated maize

Made-to-measure Perfect Fit pleated tensioned blinds in Maize polyester fabric, with aluminium rails, H120xW80cm, £211 each, including frame, Apollo Blinds