Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Roman Shades

Ancient Rome was so hot.

 High noon at the Coliseum. Source.

The Roman sun mercilessly beats down upon Russell Crowe and his soon to be dispatched adversaries

Nice boots. Love that deconstructed hem line. Same source as above.

whilst raucus spectators find relief under huge fabric shades which are not in these two shots.

Fast forward a few thousand years and Roman shades are still in style. At the cross-roads of function and beauty, Roman shades have justly earned the "timeless" accolade. Roman shades can be made to fit in with any mood and deorating style: casual, elegant, edgy, traditional, formal, informal, tailored, eclectic, bo-ho, ethnic, you name it.

One of my favorite window dressings, roman shades work beautifully in an ensemble.

Elegant. A "relaxed" style Roman shade paired with formal, floor length drapes gives this vignette an air of casual elegance. 
Amanda Nisbet's Manhattan apartment. Via NY Social Diary.
This Roman Shade does a lot: obscures a not so hot view, can be lowered for privacy or to block the sun, 
and I can't resist that happy yellow silk?!

But have the confidence to star solo.

Flat Roman Shades

What makes a shade Roman? Usually made with fabric, woven grasses, bamboo and the like, they are raised or lowered by cords concealed on the back side. A roller shade is not Roman.

And styles? So many to choose from. Here are just 3. Flat-fold, relaxed, and pleated.

Casual. "Flat fold" Roman shades in woven grasses add textural contrast to sheer linen panels in this quiet bedroom retreat. 
Design and photo by Linda Pakravan.

flat-fold Roman shade hangs perfectly flat when lowered. On the way up it condenses into evenly spaced, round-edged folds.

A simple, "flat-fold" Roman in white. The red border echoes the bedding in Steven Gambrel's colorful guest room. 
I love how it looks against the blue painted woodwork.
Steven Gambrel via Elle Decor.

Compare to a relaxed Roman, also flat when down, but on the way up the sides condense into ruching as the lower edge develops a slight smile. A tailored relaxed Roman has a center pleat giving it a neater appearance without sacrificing the pleasing curve of the lower edge.

A tailored relaxed Roman Shade.

A pleated Roman shade is stitched along the fold lines giving the shade crisp, precise knife-edge folds on the way up.

Crisp. A "pleated" Roman shade. This precise look is achieved by sewing along the fold lines. 
Sometimes battens are inserted for more rigidity. A good look for those who appreciate structure and control.
Amanda Nisbet's Manhattan apartment. Via NY Social Diary.

Worried about unsafe, unsightly lift cords? Don't. The new ANSI standard for corded shades is in full effect. Shades must be made with a cord loop no bigger than the circumference of an infant's head and the lift cords cannot dangle freely. I now have all my shades made with shrouded lift cords, like this.

The back side of a Roman Shade.
A cord loop is the space between the attachment points of the lift cords. 
View from the back of the shade. This is not my hand. Photo courtesy of the Rowley Company.

All lift cords are safely contained in the shroud, roll up onto cylinders. No cords hanging down the side of the shade. The shade is lifted/lowered by pulling on a securely fixed bead chain. This picture shows a shade (from the back side) ready to be shipped. The bead chain and safety tensioner are tied together so it won't get tangled during shipping or installation.

Photo courtesy of the Rowley Company

Here is a youtube video from Rowley on this great system.

This lift system is the best one yet. The safety features are comforting, so easy to operate and the shade lifts evenly.

What is your take on Romans, shades, and/or Russel Crowe? Have you been to Rome?

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

Want Roman shades or any design help for your home? Send me an email, we'll work something out.

This post was unsponsored.


  1. Linda, the bedroom you designed and photographed is by far the most appealing! Nice work. Mary

  2. Anonymous26.1.12

    Regarding roman shades, my preference is tidy and tailored vs casual and relaxed - Russell Crowe can do no wrong in my movie book....my colleagues in the hotel business dont like him because of the NYC phone incident...having worked in NY, I say the guy at the front desk probably deserved it....


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