Roman shades are attractive and simple window treatments that offer a combination of the appearance of a drapery and the functionality of normal blinds. Like other window treatments, Roman shades are designed to enhance the privacy of a room by blocking the view from the outside in. They also function to control the light that enters the room. Different types of fabrics and designs will vary in these two capacities. Furthermore, Roman shades help to retain heat in a room by acting as insulators against the exposed window glass.
About Roman Shades
When lowered, a Roman shade appears similar to a hanging fabric. Unlike Venetian and other types of blinds, Roman shades are not split into distinct horizontal sections. Rather, a Roman shade is a single piece of fabric with guiding lift cords strung vertically. These cords allow the shade to be pulled upward when you open it. As you open the shades, the fabric folds over on itself several times, creating a ripple effect and preventing wrinkles and other damage to the shade itself.
Folding Roman Shades
Roman shades of all different varieties fold over on themselves as you open them according to the same method. In all cases, the shade is lined with several vertically strung lift cords. These cords are attached to the shades along the fold points at connectors called lift rings. The shade is hung from a horizontal headrail at the top in much the same way as other blinds and draperies. Each of the lift cords is connected to this headrail by means of a small pulley system.
Like other blinds and drapes, Roman shades have a cord drop that hangs to the side of the shade. This cord is connected to each of the lift cords through the pulleys. When you pull on this cord, the lift cords are drawn through the pulleys at the top of the shade along the headrail. This draws the lift rings closer together, which pulls the fabric of the shade upward toward the pulleys. Because the lift rings are spaced evenly, the shade folds between the horizontal lines created by the rings.
Due to the nature of the folding mechanism of Roman shades, the fabric appears to fold on both sides, either if you are viewing the shade from inside the window or outside the window as well. These folds do not appear exactly the same from one side to the other, however. The inside of the shade appears to have folds that hang downward, while the outside shows folds up above with shade material hanging down from the top.
In some cases, shades do not fold neatly along the lift rings. In this situation, internal battens may be used to strengthen the fold of the shade. Typically glued inside of the shade along the fold lines, these allow you to string fewer lift lines through the shade to achieve a similar (or better) fold as you pull the cord drop.
Roman shades are available at home improvement and drapery stores.