Vertical blinds

We have several gorgeous picture windows in our house.

In the Great Room we have 3 long and tall windows that are too close together for drapes, and the drapes would obscure the beautiful moulding that frames each window.

The dining room doesn’t have the moulding, and has a bit more space between the windows than those in the Great Room, but is also a set of three long and tall windows.  These have large half circle windows on top.

The library (potentially future child’s room) is similar to the dining room.

The guest bedroom could have drapes put in its large picture window (actually a set of three windows that can be opened but with no walls between).

All the windows are between 81 and 84 inches long (this is important as most of the pre-made Roman blinds are 64 in long).  Widths vary, but are generally in the 30+ inches category.

All of these currently have off-white textured vertical blinds.  They all look great when the blinds are open.  They’re energy efficient when the blinds are closed.  But… apparently vertical blinds are so far out of fashion that people COMMENT on them.  My sister, my mother-in-law, #2….  (You can still *buy* vertical blinds, and apparently these are very nice quality vertical blinds… but they’re still vertical blinds.  They don’t have quite the color in stock at Lowes that we have at home, but they have similar textured off-whites.)

We’re pretty much ok with the vertical blinds, except for a few annoyances.  A few of them got dirty during a rainstorm when a bottom window was open and we have no idea how to clean them.  A few of them broke up at the top and are currently hanging by the grace of clear plastic tape.  And the clippy thing at the top of one of them in the guest bedroom refuses to face the right direction no matter how many times DH takes it apart and puts it back together.  (It used to be 3 of them that wouldn’t face the right direction, but now it’s down to just the one recalcitrant.)

So while the in-laws were here over break we went window treatment shopping. We hit up JCPenny’s and Lowe’s and another cheaper local store.

We measured all the windows.  We decided on roman shades, because they don’t obscure the moulding in the Great room.  We liked Bali as the brand.  We picked chocolate as the color.

Of course none of these have prices, and over the holidays there aren’t a whole lot of people trying to sell you blinds.  So we just decided what we liked and left it at that.

On the internet, Bali links to places so you can order blinds.  JCPenny:  $325.50 for one of the three windows in the Great room.  They claim that’s 70% off the original price, but I imagine that is a lie.  Lowes gives $291.55 for the one window.  Home Depot says $276 but doesn’t give the exact size.

So… to outfit the Great Room alone we’re talking upwards of $900.  And that’s only one of the rooms with vertical blinds.  There are four rooms with vertical blinds.

Dear readers,  What would you do?

51 Responses to “Vertical blinds”

  1. Practical Parsimony Says:

    I am so glad you asked. I would buy plantation shutters. You did not state the style of your home, but these sound perfect for the windows and the beautiful millwork/moulding. Actually, they fit lots of home styles. Shop around for these. Some of the prices are outrageous. Cabinet shops often make plantation shutters, so that is another option. You can use the shutters only on the bottom of the window or have two sets, one for top and one for bottom. Since I cannot see the windows, I am not sure about the configuration that would work best. I have three rooms with the three windows. These are three rooms that have a bay shape to the whole room. I have always wanted plantation shutters. My design friends say that this home begs for plantation shutters.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We have plantation shutters in the master bath. I don’t think they would really work with the big picture windows. Even when completely open they shut out a lot of light and you get those lines in the view. Also, pricing out our window puts it well into the $300s for one, so they’re more expensive than the roman blinds would be.

    • femmefrugality Says:

      Ohhh I love the plantation shutters idea! Even though it sounds like it’s not going to work for you. I was going to say just keep the vertical blinds. I do hate when they rip off at the top like that, though.

  2. Dr. Virago Says:

    Have you priced cell shades? Would they be cheaper? Also, you *could* do giant drapes that go across all three at once, but I’ve only seen that in fancy schmancy houses, so I expect that’s expensive (and probably requires custom ordering).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We have cell shades on most of our doors [our house is really just one big window, it seems like]. They’re somewhat less expensive, but they don’t block light out enough when they’re closed for these particular windows, so they would be less energy efficient.

      Drapes are actually a lot less expensive because one of the standard lengths is 84 in, and unlike Roman shades, they don’t have to be made by hand.

  3. Thisbe Says:

    I would keep the vertical blinds. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason not to! Are the minor annoyances and compliance with home decor fashion (nb, the whole concept of “in fashion” is intended to get us to spend money we don’t need to spend, like planned obsolescence but without the actual obsolescence) really worth $1000?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Really worth $4000, since there are 4 rooms!

      • Debbie M Says:

        I’d keep them and just tell the complainers, “Wait, you don’t come HERE to see home fashion trends, do you? Forget the windows and have some more cheese.”

        But then I like vertical blinds. They remind me of Florida. And I feel they give a room a clean, sleek look, which is a good contrast for my knickknack-covered shelves.

        By the way, I am jealous of your reasonably sized windows. Mine are much longer than 84 inches tall and they are 47 inches wide. I have eight of these windows plus two smaller ones. Many of my neighbors have found a way to cut off the bottom panel, bricking or shingling over that part. Some ignore the top panel instead, adding a shelf and displaying their glass there, and hanging the curtains below that. Many have just downright completely replaced the windows.

  4. becca Says:

    Fashion is wrong.
    Roman blinds are always inferior to vertical ones, just as skinny jeans are always inferior to bootcut. These things are not up for debate.

  5. bardiac Says:

    I like vertical blinds, and would replace them when they no longer worked well enough in the individual room. They’re especially great for light that comes in horizontally angled.

    It sounds like these aren’t plastic, because I just used to wipe mine down when they got dirty, but they were plastic.

  6. rented life Says:

    I used to be a maid and verticle blinds are annoying to clean unless it’s something you clean regularly. And if they’re broken, I’d just get new ones. If you’re going to be in the home forever or nearly so, and you’re not likely to change you mind on colors too much, the Bali are great. I’ve never heard anyone complain about them or regret the purchase. But I’d only dump the money on a house I knew I was staying in for a long enough time to make the money work the investment. I couldn’t commit to that kind of a purchase because I change my mind every few years and would want to redecorate.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We definitely don’t change our mind every few years, but we also don’t know how long we’ll be in the house. My MIL is very concerned about the resaleability of the house with the vertical blinds intact as apparently they are a fashion abomination.

      • rented life Says:

        We just sold ours and I don’t recall the woman caring what was on the windows. Heck, I doubt I would care about that either, because I know I’d be chaning it to make it my own. But I’ve never been one for making fashion changes for the resale. (Our bathroom was very custom. We loved it, if the buyer didn’t they could re-do it. But everyone who saw the house love it to, it was unique.) Besides, by the time you do sell, what if something else is all the rage for windows?

      • Debbie M Says:

        You could just remove all window treatments when selling. I’m serious! Most people replace them all anyway, and it lets in the light, making people think they love the house. Of course when they move in, they might wish they had something, but that’s what extra sheets, tablecloths, blankets, quilts, scarves, and beach towels are for. Seriously, ask your real estate agent if the blinds would be better or naked windows would be better. House buyers are crazy.

        Note: I was very grateful for my too-short curtains on the big windows, my dirty and broken horizontal blinds on my bathroom window, and the hideous burnt-orange curtains with tan pinstripes on the kitchen window that gave me time to save up for something better.

  7. Dr. O Says:

    I’m not a huge fan of vertical blinds, but I don’t share the hatred for them that some people these days seem to have. If you really like the roman shades, I say go for it, but just start with one room – the great room it sounds like you’re most interested in right now. Then you can take the time over the next few months or so to decide if you want to do the same thing in the other rooms (esp. potential baby room, since you might not mind something like plantation shudders to block out more light in a nursery; also, I simply love the idea of plantation shudders).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      One thought would be that we would want them all the same color and if they were done at different times, the batches would be different. Different shades of chocolate brown.

      The big question is whether or not it is worth $900/room to stop hearing my sister, MIL, and #2 comment on the vertical blinds as we don’t really care.

      • Cloud Says:

        No way I’d spend that much money to make my relatives stop saying my window treatments are ugly.

        But I’d definitely spend that much to fix window treatments I didn’t like.

        But: we still have the same plain off-white curtains that came with our house in all rooms except the kids rooms (which have cute, bright curtains made by my mother and cheapo blinds from Home Depot to block the light). The curtains are complete with a jerryrigged curtain rod in the living room. Even I can tell that this is ugly, but fixing it hasn’t made it to the top of our to do list yet. So perhaps you shouldn’t take home decorating advice from me.

      • Dr. O Says:

        How noticeable do you think the color change would be? I know I wouldn’t notice if they were in different rooms. Same room, though, definitely get them all at once.

        OTOH, I agree with Cloud that if you’re just doing it to make relatives shush, I’d hold off until you find something you really like / care about. Or win the lottery.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Depends on if it’s just differences in the color lot or if they decide to get rid of Chocolate all together!

      • Elizabeth Says:

        If your sister, MIL and #2 hate the blinds so much, then I say they pay for them. That would be $300/each for the one room.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        heehee, I should take that up with #2

        Though she suggested drilling through the moulding yesterday so I’m not sure I can trust her.

  8. Practical Parsimony Says:

    Plantation shutters can have a hinge in the middle to fold them back for a full view. I understand the need for an un obstructed view and the need for light. There are 40 windows in my house, so I also understand the house being all windows. In order to have millwork/molding uncovered, I hang sheers or lace curtains on a tension rod inside the window frames. That way, I have light and can see out. In the bedroom I have shades that can be raised or lowered.

    My house is built on a stone foundation that raises the whole two-story house about five , so privacy the full length of the windows is not the object. My long, three windows in the bays can raise, so there is a natural space for the shutters to be. The whole upper window can be left uncovered. Still, at the top of these windows, the treatment (swags) is inside the window with the molding/millwork left uncovered. I don’t want to cover that or the bulleyes in the top corners.

    Roman shades are beautiful but don’t give you the option of privacy and light/view at the same time.

    There is only one wall in my house that does not have some combination of doors, windows or fireplaces. There are 23 doors, 40 windows, three fireplaces, two built-in china cabinets and and two built-in bookcases. The house is 110-years-old, drafty, and falling down…lol. But, it is paid for. I digress.

    Are you going to use a window treatment on the half-circle windows about the long windows?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yes, we have plantation shutters in the master bathroom. If we got them for the other windows, the middle one in each group of three would still block out light if open at a hinge, and they would take up space if open which wouldn’t be possible in 3 of the rooms. I also imagine that if the kind that were opened at a hinge were used, that would mess with the moulding in the 4th room. They’re also more expensive than roman shades.

      Only two sets of the windows have the half circle windows above them (not the ones in the great room). They currently have hand-made cloth things from the previous owner. I do like plantation shutters for the top of those– some of our neighbors have plantation for the top half circle but drapes or horozontal/vertical blinds for the remainder of the window. DH wants to stain glass them at some point in the future (possibly just with the temporary paint), which is another popular option in the neighborhood, but one that can wait.

  9. darchole Says:

    I got some blackout cordless cellular shades from JCP (the cordless part is a lie, the cord is just inside the cells), blocks out light great, and no cords for the cats to chew on! You can even get some where both the top and bottom go down, but I think they mount in the middle.

    If you really want roman shade, making them isn’t that hard, maybe you could hire someone to make them? The fabric would probably still be expensive tho, because you would have to line them too…

  10. Linda Says:

    It sounds like you need insulation value and not just light/privacy management. I’ve always thought that curtains were the best solution for insulation. People have been hanging woven cloth on vertical services for thousands of years for just this purpose.

    Don’t worry about replacing those vertical blinds just for resale value. It seems like the only thing selling in my market is low-end bargains, so sprucing up the house for this reason alone is ridiculous.

    I’ve always been intrigued by panel curtains. Whenver I get a new Ikea catalog, I start thinking about how I can incorporate curtains like this into my house: There are ways of hanging them in layers to better manage light and privacy. I don’t think they would insulate very well, though. Just another idea to further confound you. ;-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our house really isn’t a low-end bargain! We were foolish when we moved from an expensive city to a rural town and kept our mortgage payment the same as our rent on a cruddy apartment.

      Paid special attention driving home today, noticed the majority of folks have horizontal blinds in their front picture windows, which I understand are even less fashionable (though much cheaper than) vertical. There’s also quite a bit of plantation shuttering. And some vertical blinds and some basic drapes. And of course lacy stuff. There are a lot of retired folks in our HOA.

      • Debbie M Says:

        I also like to check out the neighbors to see if they have any good ideas I can use. You could tell complainers that you are planning to replace your vertical blinds with horizontal ones and see if that helps them appreciate what you have!

  11. retirebyforty Says:

    We put in cell shades (honeycomb?) a few years ago. They work really well and help insulate the place. You can order one that block out light completely. They have foil like substance on the inner surface. These shades are not cheap though.

  12. arc Says:

    Have you looked online? Try I love those people. We’ve bought 9 windows worth of great quality wood blinds from them and they’ve been awesome. They have all sorts of shades and stuff. The only catch is that you have to install them yourself, but it’s not hard.

    I have an irrational hatred of vertical blinds, but that’s the only thing that makes sense for our two sliding glass doors. Sigh.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      yourblinds is more expensive for the bali we spec’d out (and they don’t have chocolate color). They have some less expensive brands, but they still come around to $200/window.

  13. Rumpus Says:

    Isn’t this the future? Where’s my smart-glass color-change windows? When will we catch up to Blade-Runner technology? Er, minus the cyborgs I guess. Apparently it exists, but is not cheap enough for mass marketing.

  14. J Liedl Says:

    Learning to sew Roman shades is really easy (I helped put myself through my undergraduate degree by working in a fabric store!). There’s even fabric tape that you can just sew down so nicely these days and many fabric stores have some sort of workshop about blinds and sewing other household items. . . .

    If not you, maybe you can find a seamstress in town who’d be interested in custom-making Roman shades for your windows? it would take a bit of phoning around to find out who’s skilled, available and priced appropriately (best if you’ve visited a fabric store in advance to price the fabric you’d be interested in using).

    Generally speaking, we love our cellular shades in most of the west-facing windows: they don’t screen out 100% of the light but enough for our family room, living room and bedrooms. There were vertical blinds on the sliding glass door when we moved in and they were wearing badly. They’ve now been replaced by fabric panels that are both more energy-efficient and beautiful (as well as quiet – they don’t clatter when the forced-air heat turns on).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      In theory outsourcing would be possible– but sadly I get tailoring done some place that is $20 a pant (well, in *theory* I get tailoring done there– in reality I have several pairs suit pants that I bought two years ago and now won’t be able to wear for at least another year, should all continue to progress well), which I understand is somewhat overpriced for the area, though it is high quality.

      As you can see I suck at getting things done, including outsourcing.

  15. chacha1 Says:

    I just ran a quick quote at for their “sale” item, simple essentials cordless fabric shades, and came up with $150 per window. That’s still a lot of money but not QUITE as horrible.

    Ultimately, though, if you don’t really care I wouldn’t spend a penny on it. If the blinds you have are doing the job for you, changing them out just to suit “fashion” is like wearing Jimmy Choos when you’re a typist. A waste of money unless you’re trying to get the boss into bed. You certainly shouldn’t change anything properly categorized as an *accessory* in your home based on someone else’s idea of what will improve your resale value if and when you sell your house. Window treatments are a very personal choice.

    And that said, I hate vertical blinds with a passion and the second thing we did when we leased our apartment was ask the landlord to take them out so we could put up drapery. :-) (The first thing was to ask them not to replace the manky old carpet, so we could put in parquet floor.)

  16. chacha1 Says:

    p.s. if your verticals are fabric on one side, spray-foam carpet cleaner ought to work to clean them. :-)

  17. Tinkering Theorist Says:

    Just a reminder to make sure to get safe ones. My 2 year old caught her neck in the blinds a few weeks ago when they were supposed to be napping. Apparently my 4 year old rescued her, didn’t bother to tell anyone, and they went on with their nap. I didn’t find out until she came out with marks around her neck.

  18. Thisbe Says:

    Well, my thought process would probably go something like, “For $4000, I could get my MIL and sister to stop nagging me about this particular thing that isn’t any of their business anyways – and they would almost certainly just find something else to go on about – or I could do something that makes me really happy, like buy expensive and delicious food to cook with or go on vacation somewhere sunny!” Or I guess save it, which is sensible and virtuous. But if I were going to spend $4000 on something, window treatments to appease someone else’s likely incorrect opinions about resale value is NOT where I would start.

    (But I am someone who mostly insists on buying furniture at the thrift store, trucked a portable dishwasher across the country because there was room in the truck and it totally still works, and routinely accidentally have my underpants hanging to dry when guests come over because apparently I don’t care that much.)

    Two further thoughts:
    1) I sincerely doubt that window treatments will change the resale value of the house much. I know our house came with some horrifying ones (and some truly ugly carpet!) and I just took them down. And will they really change it by > $4000, some unknown number of years down the line? I doubt it.
    2) Have you considered covering the dingy-looking and hard-to-clean fabric side of your vertical blinds with some sort of contact paper or glued-on oilcloth or easy-to-clean fabric? It would not be very hard at all, and could be really attractive. I checked the internet and DIY sites say people have tried this kind of thing before to good result.

  19. Molly (Mike and Molly's House) Says:

    A few years back we spent tons of time plastering our walls and putting trim and molding around all of our windows. It lead to the same dilemma. We didn’t want to cover the trim. My solution was to make curtains that fit inside the trim (just covering the window panes). After all that we ended up fitting all the windows with sheets of foam insulation- it’s total white-trash but we are warm at night and we do live in a 1985 double wide!
    My problem is I love pretty things but like you balk at the price.

  20. Lindy Mint Says:

    There’s always drop cloths. :)

    Window treatments are an investment for sure. I used to sell them. I second (third?) the suggestion to go with honeycomb shades. They come in all variations, colors, insulating values, lightness/darkness, etc. And yes, they are good for resale.

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    […] my graduate school paste-board desk may finally fall apart.  And my MIL is slowly replacing our vertical blinds.  But for the most part, we’re […]

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