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Publication Date: 2018-07-16

Design Insights

Eight Tips for Controlling Light from an Expert on Shades and Blinds

Whether it's in an urban apartment tower or at a sunny beachside cottage, glass is becoming ever more central to the American home. But with large expanses of glass comes the challenge of controlling light and creating window treatments that are not only effective, but fit within the aesthetic of a room. For tips on how to combine functionality with style, we turned to Karen Goelst, founder of Saelger Shading, which merges fashion-inspired window treatments with the latest in technology. With a showroom at the San Francisco Design Center, her firm has long been a favorite of top interior designers and architects. Here, Goelst shares eight pointers on what designers need to keep in mind when dealing with all that glass.


Photo courtesy Tao Tessile

Plan Ahead and Collaborate Early

The biggest mistake designers make is thinking that window treatments and shading decisions are straightforward and simple, and not understanding—and weighing—the pros and cons of each option and how they will affect the overall design aesthetic and functionality. Ideally, architects and designers should collaborate closely early in the design phase. This is especially so when motorization is involved, as particular emphasis needs to be given to electrical requirements and whether soffits can be incorporated to hide unsightly wiring. 

Photo courtesy Tao Tessile

Know Your Options

Designers often seem unaware of the multitude of options available to them, and suffer from the misconception that a single solution will answer all their design requirements throughout the home. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case.

Don't Be Afraid of the Latest Technology

We are excited that motorization is becoming more and more accessible, and the ways that various technologies are being increasingly integrated into day-to-day applications. The most important factor with electronic controls is to decide early on whether or not motorization is desired, and if so, to ensure that all wiring and tech needs have been considered prior to construction.

Photo courtesy Tao Tessile

Large Expanses of Glass Multiply the Challenge

For very large windows, we typically suggest maximizing the size of the shade bands as much as possible, to minimize light gaps. Typically, the size of the shade will be dictated by the width and stability of the fabric, and whether the fabric can be railroaded and seamed.

Photo courtesy Tao Tessile

Architectural Innovations Require Ingenuity

Thanks to the imagination of architects and the rise of computer design and engineering, windows now come in more shapes than ever before. Trapezoid and palladium windows, depending on size, can be quite challenging. The most complicated motorized shade we have ever fabricated was for a very large window that was slanted inward, requiring side cables as well as a custom developed architectural hem-bar, to insure that the fabric was kept taut while the shade was in operation.

Be Aware of Trends

We are seeing a huge interest in nuanced translucent and blackout fabrics that are coordinated and that can be integrated into a cohesive design aesthetic. Many designers now seem willing to embracing roller shade fabrics with bold designs and graphics, similar to what we see in Europe. The designers we work with remain quite focused on roller shades, both manual and motorized, with architectural brackets versus traditional fascias. We are also getting a lot of requests for more unique solutions for top down/bottom up shades.

Photo courtesy Tao Tessile

Bedrooms Require Special Consideration

Bedrooms can be especially tricky. It is always important to consider the client’s preference. Many people love blackout shades, but forget to consider light seepage. For total blackout of the room, ensuring that all light gaps are eliminated, we typically recommend installing side and bottom channels.

Simpler Can Be Better — But Not Always

Since the upcharge to go from manual to battery-operated roller shades is so slight, we typically recommend motorization. When it comes to drapery, more often than not, manual tracks will suffice. But we will recommend motorization for an extremely large track or if the client wants everything integrated into home automation.


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