Window shades are the “central air” of decorating. It’s a luxury that you don’t always need, but when you have some, that really WORK, you feel so lucky and fancy. I love curtains/drapes but they don’t work in every style of window or home (or maybe the furniture doesn’t allow them). Custom shades cost a ton – hell, custom anything costs a ton. So I have rounded up all the readymade shades that hopefully will work on your (crossing fingers) standard windows.

Let me quickly explain what a shade does that is different than a curtain/drape. A curtain/drape hangs vertically and opens/closes horizontally. Curtains add more drama and texture plus a luxe or bohemian vibe. Shades feel simpler, modern, and take up less visual space in the room. I love both equally – it totally depends on the space. Historically shades have cost more than drapes but there are a lot of readymade, less expensive shades out there now giving drapes a run for their/your money.

There are three major different types of shades if you are looking for a drapery alternative:

  1. The simple Roller Shade:

Roller shades are the most modern, simple and least visible of the shade varieties. They are like good spanx – they should disappear and show off the goods. Their function is to block light and provide privacy but not look decorative or even be noticed. I have these in my living room and I love how much they disappear because that room has huge modern windows and I didn’t want the distraction of shades or drapes.

  1. The Woven Shade:

The great thing about woven shades, of natural material like wood or bamboo is that they add a lot of warmth to a room, while still adding privacy and shielding light. They go a little more boho or traditional (funny how they bridge both styles) but are less expensive than fabric typically.

Lastly …

  1. The Famous Roman Shade:

Now there are a million different styles of roman shades, but my favorite are the simple flat panels that don’t do anything too romantic or frilly, just add a lovely line of fabric when up and textured fabric shade when down. I like both inside mount (because they are cleaner) and outside mount (because they allow more light).

I buy them a lot and when done right they can’t go wrong.

A few things to think about: if you use them a lot, pulling them up and down twice a day then I fear that some of these cheaper readymade shades aren’t going to be sturdy enough. Roman shades can be heavy and people aren’t gentle with them, so unfortunately something custom or a more high quality can be required in high use areas. I haven’t used every single of one these before, but it’s like shoes – if you are going to give them a lot of wear and tear, then think about something more high quality that will last a lot longer. But there are many windows in our life that take the gentle up and down once a day, and for those you can get away with a less expensive version.