Let’s take a moment to talk about something very exciting – blinds!
What, that’s not exciting to you? Yeah, us either. But it’s funny, because for something so very, very un-exciting, we sure did spend a boat load of time on the topic. Like, months. And I wish we were kidding. (Of course, we did have a few moments where our research slipped to the back burner – it was summer, after all! We couldn’t spend all our time comparison shopping, right?)
In any case, we seem to know more than we ever wanted on the topic, and since we decided, hey, we want new blinds! White ones! Ones that diffuse the light but reduce television glare!, well, we realized that choosing the right ones for us wasn’t so easy. And because it wasn’t so easy for us, we thought, hey, maybe you’re in the same boat, too? (If not, we apologize for our ramble, ramble on the topic. If so, let’s go!)
Before moving into our home, the first things we did was paint the walls (almost all of which has since been painted a different color) and hang venetian blinds on all the windows. At the time, our choice made sense. We have red toned wood cabinets, and they matched; they made the kitchen/living room feel larger, and they provided us with privacy. It was right decision for us then, but over time, our style has evolved, our rooms have changed and it no longer seemed like a good fit for us.
We’ve always felt so-so about our kitchen cabinets. They’re modern enough, and while house hunting, it was the nicest as-is kitchen we saw. Because our unit was a gut rehab, rightfully so. However, if this was our forever home (it’s much too small for that), we’ve talked about what we would do differently: white cabinets, perhaps a darker counter top (in the grey family, perhaps?) and maybe not so many cabinets (we love them, but there are so many! Floating shelves, maybe?). With all this said, we’ve decided that as we tweak our living room – which is one half of the large kitchen/living area – we’re going to think of our kitchen cabinets as any other neutral wood tone in one great, big room.
Once we came to this realization, we noticed that many of our neighbors have cellular (or honeycomb) shades, and after asking them a few annoying questions (you know, over a beer: so, how ’bout your shades?), we knew they were the right style for us. Cell shades are unobtrusive and lightweight – and most importantly, they didn’t detract from the room as a whole. Done! And so our search began.
We wanted to outfit the living room window and the kitchen window, and all estimates came in around $300-450 total, depending on the style, on these three sites: Blinds.Com, Select Blinds and Blindster. We also discovered there are single cell and double cell, and (surprise, surprise!) there are about 20 shades of white. Luckily, each site offered up to 10 free samples, so while the task overwhelmed my man, I spent an entire lunch break ordering about 3 different shades of white in single and double cell from each company. It was nuts, my eyes felt blurry, and then we waited.
Upon receiving our samples, one thing became very clear: although there were variations in price, each company seemed to carry the same shade, but they were all named just a twinge differently. For example, Select Blinds double cell shade in Snowflake seemed identical to Blinds.Com in Altamont. They looked the same, they felt the same, they were the same toughness and both were crumple-resistent – yet the prices were slightly varied. We read the thousands of reviews, found discount codes on RetailMeNot for each and they all came up… well, about identical.
Long story short (as Scott likes to say, although I blew that one about 3 paragraphs ago), it came down to return policy for us. We found that Blinds.Com had a 60 day guarantee, and if we didn’t like ’em, we could return the shades on their dime. Even the policies were just slightly different from company to company, and had we not read the fine print, we could have been screwed with the competitors had we not liked our final decision.
Which, by the way, was the 3/8″ Double Cell Light Filtering in the color Altamont by Blinds.Com.
After taking down the venetians, we discovered that we’d never painted the window casing the same color as the living room wall! (Remember when that happened with the kitchen window?) We found the last teeny bit of contractor’s beige in our home, and we very happily painted over it with Behr’s Winterfresh.
The new shades went up without a hitch; Scott installed them in under an hour. He was also able to use the good quality supplied hardware (which seems to be a rarity anymore, since Scott eschews most item-supplied nuts and bolts), and all that was needed was our drill and tape measure.
Our living room window is over 100″ wide, so we had to order 3 separate shades for that window and 1 shade for the kitchen to achieve our next decision: bottom up/top down. (The maximum width for bottom up/top down is 72,” so we were unable to do one wide panel.)
The happy ending for our previous blinds is that they’re now installed on our neighbor’s bare windows – the perfect fit, since our windows are a mirror image of each other. The bottom line for our 4 shades came to $425. However, we sold our former set for $100, so we can bring that total down to $325. And the best part? (This is where it gets geeky – as if it wasn’t already!) Not only are we smitten with the clean look of the fresh white, but the twin cells trap air, keeping our home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Now, to add some curtain panels, hide those speakers, figure out our lamp situation and start scoping end tables:
Who knew I could go on for so long about blinds? It’s all very exciting; this we know. But we figured that if something so seemingly simple could take us so long to decide upon, we couldn’t be the only ones that’ve struggled. Our final purchase was the best decision for us, but we wonder, have you (or are you currently) felt the pain of window shopping (literally, it seems!)? Any tips or advice that helped you?
PS: Nope, we weren’t perked in any way for the Blinds.Com love. We just wanted to share our adventures in shade shopping in the hopes it could help you!
PPS: It is almost impossible to take photos of windows. That’s all.