This post is in partnership with Bali Blinds.
This post could also be titled à la Friends like so: “The One with All the Swatches.” In this episode, we loaded up the car for another Tree House to-do-list-weekend, and alongside cans of paint, rollers, baseboards and tools – and a baby, two dogs and suitcases – we also toted a lot of fabric swatches. Soon enough, we’d be holding these swatches against our windows, deciding between Romans, rollers, or natural, as well as which style will go on which window. We’ve been working with Bali Blinds for years (you can see how we used their window treatments as an integral part of our smart home), and we’re thrilled to continue that tradition in our Tree House, too!
So today, we want to take you through what that process looked like, what factors we kept in mind and where we landed. Even though we’ve ordered so many window treatments throughout our home – rollers, Romans, custom curtains – it can still feel a little daunting with every new window (and door!) in our life. Case in point, our Tree House master bedroom, where we needed to find something that would work on both the window and the door and feel cohesive and allow us to sleep in – all while still looking great.
First things first | Ordering free samples and narrowing them down
We love a good Roman shade for their versatility; they have the ability to lean as formal or as casual as you’d like depending on the shade style and fabric chosen. But in this case, we couldn’t agree on whether or not we wanted Tree House’s window treatments to be a statement or blend in, filter light or block it altogether. So to start, we ordered a handful of free Bali swatches for their varying products, and after a whole lot of debate, we narrowed down the top contenders to what you see below.
From left to right: solar/roller shade in Manhattan (room darkening), solar/roller shade in Manhattan (light filtering), tailored Roman shade in Wilston Carbon, natural shade in Caracas Honey, natural shade in Trinidad Owl and tailored Roman shade in Colletti Blizzard.
Let’s walk through the samples, shade styles and how each one serves us differently:
Roller shades | Room darkening vs. light filtering
Since painting our first few windows and door black, our biggest challenge was deciding whether or not we wanted black shades … Or white shades? Or natural shades? Or? Hence, all the fabric options we debated above. Starting with the door, we knew we’d need an outside mount shade (since there isn’t any inside casing). Our initial thought was a pair of sleek solar or roller shades in a black fabric to match the paint job, and we started by comparing Manhattan in room darkening versus light filtering. By looks alone, we couldn’t tell a huge difference between the two …
… well, until we turned them over! The room darkening fabric had a white plastic-like backing that prevented any light whatsoever from passing through. The light filtering fabric had no backing, which in theory could allow a small percentage of light to find its way into our room. In the end, while we liked the thickness and feel of the fabrics, we decided to nix both in favor of something with a little extra oomph.
Tailored Roman shades | Choosing a fabric
That’s where the Wilston Carbon fabric came in. This fabric is available as a tailored Roman shade, and we both fell for the heathered appearance in the fabric. As a Roman shade, we’d also have the option to add an additional lining for better light control (more on that in a moment). The Wilston Carbon blends in nicely with the door, but rather than falling too flat, it provides just enough interest without being overpowering.
Natural shades | Adding pattern and texture
Moving onto the window, we first considered natural shades. We absolutely love the way they turned out in Meg and Joe’s bedroom as well as Lucy’s nursery, and we wondered if they’d look good in Tree House as well! Natural shades add so much coziness and texture, and somehow, I convinced Scott to consider the more daring(?) Trinidad Owl pattern, below on the left:
Trinidad Owl felt sort of ‘preppy cool,’ if that makes sense? With its plaid-like pattern and gray and taupe weave, it felt like it could be a fun – somewhat sophisticated, somewhat funky – addition to our bedroom. On the other hand, Caracas Honey would be less of a gamble while adding a big splash of warmth.
Either one would receive a liner (so they wouldn’t be as see-through as shown above), but our biggest reason for holding back on pursuing these options was that we couldn’t imagine Owl or Honey being used in every window throughout Tree House. While we don’t think that every window has to have the same window treatment, the floor plan of the home is fairly open, and we want to intentionally create a more cohesive look. This is our personal preference specifically for Tree House (because on the contrary, our Chicago home mixes and matches), but essentially, what the master bedroom receives, so will the guest room – and the living room and the loft. So while we saw the merits in both, we passed on natural shades and continued the search.
Tailored Roman shades (again!) | Pairing fabric with the proper liner
After trying to make Trinidad Owl work for far too long, we switched gears completely, and on a whim, I picked up the swatch in Colletti Blizzard. Click! Click, click, click. As soon as we held up this creamy white fabric to the window, we were hooked. The fabric is a linen blend, and it has the most beautiful drape; it’s available as a tailored Roman shade or as custom drapery, which was a bonus since we’re considering curtains for a few unique situations. We both liked that Colletti Blizzard was barely off-white. It felt Casual. Easy. We could imagine it on every window throughout Tree House without hesitation.
You might be wondering, isn’t it a little sheer for the bright morning sun? Yes. Yes, it is. This is where the importance of a liner comes in, and in both cases – the French doors and these windows – we wanted to be mindful of how the light will filter through these fabrics with a liner. Bali offers several liner options – standard, flannel, thermal and room darkening – which not only give you control over light filtering, but energy efficiency, too. Some of these liners come in multiple colors as well, so you can fully customize your shade both inside and out.
The winning combination
Ultimately, we decided on a standard white liner + Wilston Carbon for the French doors and a white thermal liner + Colletti Blizzard for the windows! Both will be made to a tailored Roman Shade. Here’s our thoughts behind each liner decision:
- The Wilston Carbon fabric feels thick and sturdy, and we didn’t want to add any additional bulk with a thick liner. When held up to a window, little to no light passes through the swatch, so we feel confident using the thinnest standard liner.
- The Colletti Blizzard is a standout for it’s beautiful texture and drape. Although a blackout liner would be the most ideal to block all sun, it would also add a stiffness to the fabric. The thermal liner is one step below blackout while still offering flexibility in the fabric. Light will still pass through, but it will be limited. Note: If you’re like us and want to feel each liner option, a customer service representative would be more than happy to mail you samples of each! You can also find samples in-store at your local Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Measuring for our order | Inside mount vs. outside mount
Finally, it was time to measure our doors and windows! Bali Blinds has videos that will guide you through the process, but there is a (big) difference between measuring for an inside mount versus an outside mount. Essentially, you want to measure the exact width and height that you want your finished window treatment for an outside mount. An outside mount will need a flat surface to be mounted to; in our case, the shade will be mounted to the flat surface of our door above the window. Commonly, you’ll see an outside mount on the trim above a window. We always measure our windows in three places – top, middle and bottom – to ensure that there is no variances in the width and length.
Our window, on the other hand, will receive an inside mount. We’re opting for one wide shade to cover the entire width of the window. To measure for an inside mount, we again measured the window in three places, top, middle and bottom, both in width and length. We recorded the shortest width and longest length, and this is the measurement we give to Bali. The factory will then take those measurements and provide us with the perfect size treatment.
Our Roman shades have been ordered, and we’re crossing off the calendar days until they arrive. Window treatments always feel like such a satisfying step to any space, don’t you think? We’re looking forward to sharing the finished product with you!
PS: Bali Blinds can be ordered online through many of your favorite retailers, but I always find it the most helpful to call and place our order directly with a customer service representative. Not only is the Bali team super friendly, but they’ve often times offered options that I may not have thought of beforehand!