The Appeal of Roman Shades
I’ve long been drawn (seriously, no pun intended) to shades as window treatments. It’s the cloth variety I find appealing, in the form of Roman shades. There’s a softness to these shades, but without the air of formality that draperies can impart. A Roman shade tends by nature to be a more casual choice.
The simplicity of a basic Roman shade can add just the right touch. Plain, yet pretty in a gauzy fabric, the shade in this room enhances, rather than competes with, the antique chinoiserie dressing table. It’s the table, displaying a Fabergé mirror, that shines in the space.
Shades can add a dash of color to a room. In this banquette area the blue shade picks up and plays off of the gingham fabric and light blue seat cushions.
Patterns play out nicely across the flat surface of a Roman shade, as in this inviting sitting area.
Perfect Places for Roman Shades
Rooms and spaces serving a casual function in a home are perfect places to find these favorites of mine; rooms like kitchens and breakfast nooks.
An all-white kitchen gets a touch of color from a Roman shade in Jungle Green and New Shrimp Bijou stripe from China Seas:
A cottage look is created using a crisp white shade and white table linens, contrasting with the soft yellow wall color. The simple shade is just the right touch.
A patterned Roman shade plays its part in the charm of this eclectic breakfast area by design marvel Kelly Wearstler:
In addition, casually designed bedrooms, libraries and studies are spaces where we see interior designers using these window coverings.
A simple crisscross pattern on a simple shade is part of the fabric pattern mix in this bedroom with antique French steel beds:
A perfectly pretty floral-patterned shade is in happy harmony with the style, and colors, of this bedroom. The shade fabric is Manuel Canovas’s Bragance. The wall paint color is Benjamin Moore’s November Skies.
The softness of an elegant white shade provides a foil to the masculinity of this study with cocoa-brown walls.
A simple, color coordinated Roman shade fits the decor of a wood-paneled library by Mariette Himes Gomez.
Occasionally one finds Roman shades in a living room area. Designer Robert Couturier uses a trio of azure-colored shades for a punch of color in this eclectically styled living space.
Styles of Roman Shades
You may have noticed, in some of the rooms above, that the simple Roman shade I laud has morphed into something a bit fancier. Not to fear! I fancy the fancier ones as well. A number of varieties enjoy popularity, each providing opportunity to add a touch of style and flair to any room.
a. The basic, or flat, Roman shade is drawn from a cord at the outer edges, with a stiffener at the bottom edge.
b. The relaxed Roman shade eliminates the bottom stiffener creating this softer look.
c. The “tie-up” shade has additional draw cords set in a few inches in from the outer edges, often enhanced with a coordinating ribbon.
Enjoying great popularity, judging from its appearance in home decor magazines, is the London shade.
The London shade, with its side ‘tails’, is sometimes called a ‘slouch’ shade or a ‘butterfly’ shade. The style can have variations.
One variation is to add a draw cord in the center of the shade, sometimes desirable if the shade is wide. In this room, by designer Sara Bengur, the gauzy fabric adds an air lightness to the space.
This shade, with shortened ‘tails’, achieves a particularly soft and loose look, partly the result of using a center cord in a narrow shade.
In this child’s room the ruffly shade adds a little dose of confection.
The London shade, or any Roman shade, can be enhanced by adding trim, often at the bottom or the sides. Here designer Suzanne Kasler has added a bold black trim, that picks up and highlights other black elements in the room, down the center. It’s a touch of flair.
The London shade, as well as the flat roman, can be styled with tie-up ribbons. An option is to eliminate the draw cords, using only the ribbons to hold the shade in open position.
Varying the Use of Roman Shades
In this winsome bedroom, basic Roman shades have been layered with draperies. It’s a method often used with natural woven shades. Using fabric roman shades allows for the repeating or the mixing of patterns.
For a room with a bank of windows, Roman shades can be lined up, tightly spaced, along the windows.
Balloon shades are worthy cousins to the admirable Roman shade. Balloon shades range from billowy, near flouncy, to tighter more restrained versions with their air of formality. For the billowy type of balloon shade, it’s the gathering or shearing at the top that creates the extra fullness. Pleating between folds is the method used in the more formal style.
The more formal, tighter versions are easily distinguishable. This detail is an example of one version.
Billowy balloon shades boost the ambiance of this room by Tobi Fairley.
An elegant dining area provides a perfect role for balloon shades styled softly and gracefully.
And that’s why …
I think you can see why I’m so fond of the versatile, sometimes colorful, Roman shade. So many shades, so little time …
OK, one last colorful image:
Credits for the images:
The Appeal of Roman Shades: 1. Designer: Susan Chalom; source: Elle Decor. 2. From Southern Accents at MyHomeIdeas. 3 and 4. Designer: Ken Gemes from Traditional Home. 5. From MyHomeIdeas; designer: Mary Leigh Fitts. 6. Kelly Wearstler. 7. From House Beautiful; designer: Tom Stringer. 8 and 9. Designer: Joe Nye; from House Beautiful. 10. Mariette Himes Gomez 11. Designer: Robert Couturier; source: Elle Decor.)
Styles of Roman Shades:
2 Right-hand image, and 3. Sara Bengur. 4. Sunset magazine. 5. Designer: Dana Abbott; House Beautiful. 6. Suzanne Kasler. 7. left-hand image, MyHomeIdeas; right-hand, Home & Family Network.
Varying the Use of Roman Shades:
1. Sunset magazine. 2. Stephen Sills.
1. Detail, Suzanne Kasler; Traditional Home. 2. Tobi Fairley. 3. Better Homes & Gardens.
Last image: Better Homes & Gardens
Note: On the grammatical side, you will see the words ‘Roman’ shades and ‘London’ shades either capitalized or not capitalized.