Guide to blinds and shutters

Looking for blinds or shutters for your home? Interior designer Julia Kendell shares her knowledge on how to enhance your windows with a practical solution.

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Image above: Othello automated blinds in Memoir, made from 100 per cent polyester, from £826.27 for (H)160x (W)100cm, QMotion

Most blinds work in bay windows, but remember to take into account the headrail size and fixings when measuring. If the blinds need to be installed in front of protruding window handles, this will also impact on width the further forward they are fitted. A custom-made curved headrail will suit vertical blinds, or hang individual blinds at each section. Combine practical blinds with dress curtains to cut costs and reduce the amount of light-absorbing fabric within the bay.

Remote control

Blinds operated by remote control are very helpful for hard-to-access windows in hallways and landings, and for the elderly or those unable to reach. An option for most blinds, they can be either battery- or solar- powered, so no electric supply is required, and are particularly useful to operate blinds within a bay where furniture obstructs access to the blind controls. The remote will generally link several blinds to allow them to be opened and closed in one action or operated independently.

Panel blinds

Image above: Voiles (from left): Dot in Onyx/Chalk, made from polyester/cotton mix fabric, £52 per m; Ribbon in Onyx, made from 100 per cent polyester, £96 per m, all Harlequin

Ideal for larger windows, doors and room dividers, panel blinds are less expensive than curtains, producing a clean, simplified look in a contemporary setting. Fully closed, they form a solid fabric screen, and the panels slide behind one another when open. Sheer or solid, plain or patterned, the panels are available in a variety of designs, fabrics and photographic images to create a real statement. Use in living, dining and kitchen areas as an alternative to fussy curtains and to maximise the feeling of space in the room.

Vertical blinds

Image above: Kalua vertical conservatory blinds in Celeriac, made from 100 per cent polyester, from £68 for (H)91x(W)61cm, Apollo Blinds

Popular during the 1980s, vertical slatted blinds are mainly associated with offices and commercial environments, but there are many modern choices to give a new take on a much- maligned product. Vanes are now available from 5cm to 25cm widths, and fabrics range from faux suede to embossed linen. A great choice for patio and French doors, verticals stack back neatly, allowing for unobstructed views, and can also be custom-made to suit awkwardly-shaped windows.

Horizontal or venetian blinds

Image above: Abachi wood Venetian blind in Citrus Orange, from £84 including fitting for (H)80x (W)42cm, Hillarys

With tilting slats, metal horizontal blinds offer precise control of light, fitting beautifully into a contemporary environment with their no-nonsense, clinical look. Choose very slim 1.5cm or wider 5cm slats for an on-trend feel. Horizontal blinds work well either fitted inside or outside a recess and are particularly suitable for smaller windows. Choose a matt, textured option for a softer appearance, a bright shade for a child’s bedroom or use to bring bold colour to a kitchen.

New trends

Image above: Made-to-measure Silhouette blind, made from 100 per cent polyester, from £202 for (H)60x(W)60cm, Luxaflex

Clever blinds offering practical solutions to window shape dilemmas include soft fabric Silhouette and Facette blinds from Luxaflex. An alternative to horizontal blinds, they have both a translucent and solid aspect to filter or block light and retain privacy. To deal with draughty windows, The Thermal Blind Company has created a five-layer thermal core blind with a magnetic edge seal, suited to sash windows and listed buildings. Perfect Fit blinds are fitted within the glass, moving with the window or door for maximum ventilation and a neat finish for conservatories.

Child safety

Image above:Printed roller blind in Ballerina Fairies by Berni Parker, made from 100 per cent polyester, (H)120x (W)80cm, £249.78, Creatively Different

In February 2014, legislation was passed to ensure child-safety features are fitted to all cord-operated blinds in the UK, following several tragic cases of child strangulation. These features include shortened chain links, securing cleats and concealed cords. Any blind sold in the UK should have one of these as standard, and professionals will be breaking the law if they are not installed correctly, even if no children currently live in the property.

Bathroom and kitchen blinds

Image above: Printed Roman blind in Smart Artisan, made from 100 per cent cotton, from £35 for (H)120x (W)60cm, Next Home

In any moisture-filled environment, take care to choose a suitable product or fabric to prevent warping, mould growth and discolouration. Nearly all blinds have a moisture-resistant option, and vinyl shutters are also available, which are easy to clean – important within a damp, steamy kitchen atmosphere when there’s grease in the air.

Roman blinds

Using any curtain-weight fabric, Roman blinds are elegant and simple in style. The fabric is flat when lowered, which shows a large design at its best, and pulls up in pleats leaving a neat top flap. Customise with a trim or contrast panel for added interest.