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The Low-Down on Blinds

Monday, 28th June 2010

When it comes to selecting window treatments for a small home, it's a good idea to avoid anything too heavy that's going to make the space feel smaller than it already is. Lightweight blinds are a great choice - they maximise the feeling of light and space, give privacy, while still allowing you to control the amount of natural daylight entering your home. But with all the choices available, which one is right for you? We check out the different options on the market today.

Venetian Blinds
These are horizontal slats of aluminium or timber that can be lifted, dropped or angled to suit your needs. They're great for light control, and come in a range of sizes (from fine 25mm slats to the super-sized 85mm slats from Blinds by Peter Meyer) and finishes. You can have them custom-painted to achieve the look of timber shutters, without the big price tag.
Cleaning them can be a bit of a nightmare - try donning a clean, old sock and running your hand along each slat.

Vertical Blinds
These are long strips of material - fabric, plastic or metal - that can be opened or shut to suit your light conditions. They're a breeze to control, and have a chic, modern feel. The latest trends are for wider panels and 3D curved designs, both of which can take the hard edge off a minimalist interior. Two of our favourites are Silent Gliss's new supersized Wave XL system, and its Vertical Wave laser-cut blinds that have a striking, sculptural appearance.

Roller Blinds
Soft-fold fabric blinds with horizontal timber battens sewn into the back. They have a graceful feel that evokes the look of curtains, and they offer good insulation. One of their drawbacks, however, is that even when fully open some material may still hang down over the window and block out light. On the plus side, Designed Blinds Australia has recently overcome one of the other drawbacks of roller blinds - its Overlap bracketing system eliminates the traditional gap between panels.

Japanese Panels
These flat, gliding panels in paper or fabric are inspired by traditional Japanese Shoji screens, and can be used on windows and as room dividers. They offer good flexibility, as they can be made up in everything form the lightest sheers to heavy fabric, but they can be a bold choice that won't suit everyone's taste.
The latest designs use sophisticated track technology for smooth operation, both manual and motorised. Silent Gliss has a flat Panel Glide and a Folding Panel system (the latter has a striking 3D effect when folded). Luxaflex has a slimline Panel Glide system, while the motorised Motoglide by Blinds by Peter Meyer is a one-of-its kind in Australia.

Blackout Blinds
These types of blinds offer fully privacy and darkness - ideal if you overlook the neighbours or want your children to sleep a little later in the morning. If you feel a blackout blind is too heavy for your window, consider the new trend for layered blinds: combining a pretty, sheer blind with a blockout roller blind that can both be controlled independently (two of the best are Dual at Designed Blinds Australia and Luxaflex's Window Fashions Dual Function blinds).
For wet areas such as the bathroom or laundry, Luxaflex now offers Atmosphere, a foam-backed blockout blind that repels dust and dirt.

Tricky Spots
If you have awkward-sized windows, such as an arched window or a floor-to-ceiling glass panel, you will probably need to have your window covering custom-made to fit. Open Ultimate timber shutters from Open Shutters are designed to fit even the trickiest windows, and can be stained or colour-matched in non-toxic UV resistant paint. The Skylight Shading System from Silent Gliss comes in both roman and louvre styles.

Automation
Dangling cords and chains can be unsightly and they're also a real danger if you have children around. Today's window treatments can be controlled by switch, remote control, computer or even your smart phone. Somfy is leading the way with its motorised treatments, including a high-speed 54rpm system for extra-long drops, and intelligent sensors that discreetly measure light and temperature before automatically adjusting blinds. For a more affordable option, consider Designed Blinds Australia's Move motorisation system.

By

Georgia Madden

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