interiors & styling

How We Choose : Roman Shades

Pinstriped Roman Shade This is a question I’ve been getting a lot, especially since our new home has windows that lend themselves to roman shades. Why choose a roman shade over another window treatment, and more importantly- how do you choose? Window treatments can really make or break a home. My pet peeve is when people blow their entire budget, finish a project, and forego window treatments- or even worse, buy really cheap ones that aren’t appropriate for their windows. Click through for my favorite resources, tips, tricks, and a complete guide to selecting a roman shade appropriate for your space and budget. 

I love soft, textural drapery just as much as any other designer. However, our current home just isn’t architecturally set up for those type of window treatments (I miss you pinch pleats). Our high, rectangular mid century windows are odd sizes, we’re short on space, and pretty much nothing in this home is centered or balanced when it comes to the construction. Therefore, in 90% of our rooms, the most functional and visually appealing window treatments are roman shades. If you’re wondering how to determine if a roman shade is a good fit for your window, here are some things to consider:

  • Do you have room for stack back? That’s the part of the drapery panel that opens to each side of your window? If the answer is no, a roman shade would be a great alternative.
  • Are your windows odd sizes or difficult to reach? If so, again- roman shades are convenient and even come synced to remotes for those difficult-to-reach windows.
  • Do you prefer a window treatment that is a bit more streamlined and less feminine? If your answer is yes, roman shades would be a great fit.
  • Is the window located in a really small room or area? Roman shades don’t physically take up as much space as traditional drapery, since they’re mounted inside the window frame or above it.
  • Do you have pets or children that might pull or rub against drapery panels? If so, you should totally consider roman shades! The dogs can’t get them dirty and the kids can’t pull and tug on them.

Woven Roman Shades The first big decision you’ll make is selecting the material and style! I’m a big believer in natural materials- like linen, cotton, or woven wood. They tend to look higher end and will withstand the test of time. In regards to the shade style, you’ll have to select the way in which the shade will lie when in the “down” position on the window. I created a little diagram below to make it easier to see the style options available. Typically I go with a flat, plain, or soft fold.

Roman Shade Style Guide Once you’ve settled on a fabric, there might be an option to add a detail or accent. Inset borders and contrast piping make great additions to roman shades!

You’ll also need to decide if you’d prefer to have a liner. These days, there are tons of options… privacy liners, blackout liners, and even thermal liners to help with your home’s efficiency. We have blackout liners in our master bedroom and it was a solid choice! I will say, we opted for privacy liners in the guest room and they’re really pretty dark. Our guests have yet to complain. Would you guess the white shade below is blackout? We had a couple minimal white roman shades in our previous home and they were a great budget friendly, readymade option.

Readymade Roman Shades If you’re convinced your window is appropriate for a roman shade, next you have to determine what type is needed. To start, you’ll need to decide what type of mount will work with your window. Mount refers to whether the treatment will be mounted within the window frame (inside mount) or on the wall surrounding the window (outside mount). I always prefer an inside mount if the window allows. Depending on what type of product you’ve found or what manufacturer you’re going with… inside mounts have different requirements. Basically, you have to make sure the window frame is deep enough for the mounting hardware. For more on windows themselves, click here.

Inside Mount Roman Shade The remaining details are the knitty gritty items, such as the lift. Would you prefer a cord to open and close the shade? If so, which side would you like the cord to fall on- right or left? If you’d prefer not to see a cord, there are plenty of cordless options, as well as lifts that sync to a remote. It all depends on where you’re purchasing the shade and what your budget looks like! FYI – we have hidden cords on all of our roman shades… that means you can’t see them because they lift from the backside.

Woven Wood Roman Shade If you’re wondering where the heck you find roman shades, that’s a great question. It took me a long time to find the best resources. If you have the budget, I’d 100% recommend a custom treatment. It will give you all of the options I discussed and will arrive at your door perfectly sized to your window. However, there are also plenty of great budget-friendly readymade options. I created lists for each…

C U S T O M:

Roman Shade wtih Inset Border Most of the custom retailers will mail free samples, too! It definitely makes the process much easier seeing the material in the space.

R E A D Y M A D E:

White Roman Shade And finally… I’ll leave you with a collage containing some of my favorite readymades. Let me know what you guys think, or if you have other roman shade sources / suggestions that should be added to the list!

Readymade Roman Shades for Every Budget 01: linen cordless roman shade // 02: classic soft fold roman shade // 03: white light filtering shade // 04: whitewash bamboo roman shade // 05: natural bamboo roman shade // 06: classic cotton roman shade // 07: flat fold roman shade // 08: bordered roman shade // 09: woven roman shade with taped edge // 10: woven bamboo roman shade // 11: greek key border roman shade // 12: thermal blackout roman shade

I’d also love to know what else you guys would like to see on the ‘How We Choose’ series. I feel like there are SO many home decor items that are difficult to purchase online. As always- comment with any questions below, I’m happy to help!

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  • Reply
    Stephanie Miller
    May 15, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Love this! We have dark original trim throughout our main living areas so the roman shades work so well and don’t hide the beautiful trim. I ended up getting the Dover shades from JCPenney and they are surprisingly nice for the cost! I so badly wanted to get a custom linen shade, but budget didn’t allow for them now. Maybe someday!

    • Reply
      May 15, 2017 at 4:48 pm

      Love dark trim! JCP definitely has some great budget friendly options. I’m happy to hear the quality is pretty amazing for the cost. Thanks so much, Stephanie! xo

  • Reply
    May 15, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    We chose Roman shades similar to option #8 and I absolutely love how warm they make our room feel! We were able to get them fairly cheap at Lowe’s.

    • Reply
      May 15, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      I’ll have to add Lowes to the list! Good to know, Kuleigh. Thanks so much! xo

  • Reply
    Teryn Anderson
    May 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    This post is so helpful! My husband and I are in the middle of choosing shades for our new home and I’m curious if you have an opinion on roller shades? I find myself going back and forth between roller/roman. I like the clean lines of a roller shade, but roman shades may be more decorative and functional. Just curious if you have thoughts!

    • Reply
      May 17, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      So glad you found this one helpful, Teryn! I’m honestly not a big fan of roller shades… I just think they look cheaper overall. There are some great rollers on remotes that are made of quality, beautiful material, but I’ve found they’re more expensive to find ‘good’ ones. It’s probably just a personal preference! I hope this helps. xo

  • Reply
    April 27, 2018 at 11:04 am

    So I need your help! We just installed roman shades on a bunch of windows and I love the look of them. Because the windows are so tall, we had to go with corded shades as we wouldn’t have been able to reach to open/close them with a cordless option. But now I’m going crazy looking at the hideous cords hanging out the side when the shades are open. Do you have any tips for how to make these look less hideous ;)

    • Reply
      April 28, 2018 at 9:51 am

      You could see if they could be upgraded or motorized? For things I like that, it’s nice to keep them on a remote- so it’s functional and beautiful! Otherwise, maybe find some tie-ups to keep them tucked away. Hope this helps! xo

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Where are the top grey shades with the white threading from? I love the look of them!

    • Reply
      May 19, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Thanks, Mauree! Those are custom made from

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