How We Choose : Roman Shades

Pinstriped Roman ShadeThis 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 ShadesThe 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 GuideOnce 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 ShadesIf 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 ShadeThe 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 ShadeIf 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 BorderMost 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 ShadeAnd 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 Budget01: 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Stephanie Miller says:

    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!

    1. 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

  2. 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.

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

  3. Teryn Anderson says:

    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!

    1. 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

  4. 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 ;)

    1. 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

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

    1. Thanks, Mauree! Those are custom made from

      1. I am trying to find this fabric on blinds galore and can’t! Can you share what the fabric design is? Or the manufacturer?

  6. Sarju Mehta says:

    Great Article! We are in the midst of updating our fixer upper and are in need of getting window treatments for the entire house. Given the budget, readymade is the only option. When I look at options almost all readymade shages are 64” inches long. All our windows are smaller in height than that (between 40-56). What is the general guidance on Roman shades being longer than the window?

    1. I would look for a roman shade that you can alter or adjust- excess fabric or material is never a good look and can come off as sloppy. It’s actually pretty easy to cut a bamboo or woven wood shade, or if you’re good with a sewing machine- you could cut the excess material and hem it! Both would fit the budget and look more custom. Hope this helps, Sarju!

  7. Thanks Sarah! I will try this out!

  8. Evelina Tota says:

    Hi Sarah!

    I’m trying to buy Roman shades for our sliding glass door. What style do you recommend?

    1. Without seeing the doors, I really couldn’t make a recommendation. I’m sorry Evelina! xo

  9. Kelsey Gratz says:

    Do you have a link for the first shades at the top?! I’m obsessed!!!

  10. Hailey Marks says:

    Completely agree that window treatments can make or break the room. We knew we needed roman shades and found bamboo shades on He was so helpful making sure they fit perfectly. Easy Peasy and within budget and I got the perfect ones that made my living room pop!

  11. Thanks for the insight. I’ve had luck at for my oversized windows.

  12. Your article is so helpful- thank you! I don’t have an eye for interior design and it’s hard for me to visualize what the finished product will look like- this article and samples helped a lot. Can you offer a suggestion regarding color? Do you typically go lighter or darker than your wall paint… we currently have white blinds and the wall color is a lighter “greige” – Amy suggestions?

    1. So happy to hear that, Nicole! Unfortunately, for textile and window treatments, there really isn’t a set rule or example… it’s just whatever looks best with your space :)

  13. Hi there! Do you have more details on the gorgeous grey with white threading blinds shown above? I’ve been scouring for them but can’t find them anywhere on the site…


    1. Hi Erin! Yep… those are from Blindsgalore. They might have discontinued the fabric, but it was part of their “designer roman shade” collection. I’d recommend ordering samples!

      1. Awesome, thanks! One last question: are those a plain, soft, or flat fold?

        1. We did both… flat fold & plain for window treatments throughout the house! I prefer flat fold.

  14. Stephanie Jo Darnell says:

    Thank you! This is exactly the kind of straight-forward guide to roman shades that I was looking for. I am considering roman shades for my guest bedroom, which is in the front of the house and also where I often change clothes, so I need to ensure privacy. I am wondering if hobbled roman shades, when closed, will lie flat enough against the window or if there will be gaps, where they “loop”?

  15. Hi! This article was just what I was looking for! I need help with picking Roman Blinds for my kitchen. I have white cabinets and grayish granite and I was hoping to pick natural shades to warm it up but am concerned because the window is large and is over my kitchen sink. What do you think?

  16. Great post! Love the first image. I’m making lined flat shades for 80″ tall windows (40″ and 80″ wide) with a tweed fabric and contrast hem flap. What fold depth/vertical ring spacing do you suggest? Many thanks

  17. Dominique Paolini says:

    Hi! Your site has been so helpful to me for many projects. Thanks for sharing your tips with us! I currently have wood blinds AND curtains. Most of my windows are roughly 6 ft wide. Is there a “too wide” for roman shades? Is pairing them with full length curtains okay?

    1. I love hearing that, Dominique! I like roman shades paired alongside drapery panels / curtains. I think that’s a great, layered look. In terms of the roman shade width… it is really just an aesthetic preference. You could either break the window up and install 3 (or whatever number fits- I like odd numbers) roman shades to cover it, or do one long one. I typically base this on the mullions or architecture of a home. Hope that’s helpful!

  18. Hi! I stumbled on your page when searching for Roman shade tips. Thank you! I like the flat folded, but my main question is if Roman shades when pulled down (light-filtering) show the horizontal lines so look striped? I wanted white romans, but many google pictures I see with them pulled down show the horizontal lines. Thank you!

    1. Hi Vicky! It depends on the roman shade, and the liner you choose. Privacy or heavy liners will block the sun and those filtered horizontal lines are less noticeable.

      1. Sorry I just saw this. Thank you so much, Sarah!

  19. I love roman shades and plan to use them on our 3 large floor-to-ceiling living room windows. My question is: can I use them without curtains as I want to keep the look clean, simple and fresh (I’m not a fan of curtain panels or valances). Thanks!

    1. You can definitely use them without drapery panels!

  20. Shawn Myhre says:

    Great article. One thing that is important to keep in mind when deciding on inside vs outside mount (and that I learned the hard way) is the “stacking height” and whether you are ok with some of the glass/view/light being blocked when the shade is fully up. This is one of the advantages of an outside mount. The other advantage with an outside mount is that it can be mounted higher up on the wall, and when lined with blackout lining, can give the illusion of higher windows. Finally, if neither light control or privacy are really needed, but you still want the softness/texture/interest that a roman shade can offer, a “faux roman” or stationary shade can be made that gives the appearance of a working roman with less expense/fabric required and without any cords, etc.

    1. Amazing points, Shawn! Thank you for sharing :)

  21. Hi Sarah,
    This article has been super helpful as we’re trying to determine what shades/blinds we want for our new home. I’ve been looking into roman shades for a while, my one concern is what they look like from the outside of the home. Do they look sloppy with the liner? Thanks!

    1. I like the functionality of a liner, and most options are very clean and streamlined looking. It doesn’t bother me from an exterior perspective (definitely not sloppy), but if you like things to look cohesive- I’d make sure they match… all have a liner, have the same liner, or no liner at all. I hope that helps!

  22. Thank you so much for sharing these tips! For shades that will almost always been drawn down for privacy reasons (bedroom), do you prefer the look of woven woods or fabric romans? I mostly see pictures of fabric romans half way up only!

    1. I hope they were helpful, Jean! I think it really depends on the space and the aesthetic you’re going for… as well as functionality. I never keep any of my window treatments closed throughout the daytime, because I enjoy having lots of natural light!

  23. Hi Sarah! Wonder what your thoughts are re: shades from the POV of the exterior. I have a moody dark green and black home and I cannot figure out what to do. We really wanted woven wood / natural Roman shades bc we love that look inside… but adding a privacy liner or a blackout liner (which we must in certain rooms) totally kills the dark look we’ve established on the exterior. Those liners usually look like a cheap white cloth from the outside :( Curious if you’ve had this struggle or what you’d suggest… thanks if you’re reading! :)

    1. Hi Polly, I’m happy to share my thoughts! I always consider function first when designing or ordering window treatments. If you need privacy, I’d definitely opt for the privacy liner. The way I see it… we always have our window treatments open during the day, and during the dark evening hours, nobody can really see the exterior well anyway. I think for that reason, it has never really been a dealbreaker or major issue for me. If you’re worried, I’d try to keep them consistent. You can also look into different colored liners if you take the custom route. I hope that helps :)

  24. Hi Sarah. We have a new build with modern black windows and no window trim. Would you still recommend inside mount Roman shades? Thanks!

    1. I always prefer the inside mount- I just think it’s a cleaner and more customized look if you have the depth to do it! I hope that helps :)

  25. Thank you so much for all the ideas! Wondering if you can tell me anything about the beautiful horse portrait in this post? I’d love to find something like this for my daughter’s room.

    1. Our friend painted that for us! It’s a portrait of Emmett’s horse, Derby :)

      1. Oooh, it’s beautiful! Lucky Emmett. :) Thank you!

  26. Loved this article – thanks for sharing it! We have kind of a shallow bay window in our living room, where the window on the left and right have about 1″ of interior frame on the outer edge of the window. (Does that make sense?) Do you know how much clearance roman shades need for mounting? My sense (and worry) is that shades of any kind wouldn’t work here because the outer edge is so shallow and anything mounted to the top would stick out.

    1. So happy to hear that, Sarah! The clearance totally depends on the type of window treatment or shade you’re considering. Definitely measure per the recommendations of the manufacturer, so the mounting hardware fits properly. You can also get fused curtain rods or tracks for bay windows. I hope that helps!

  27. Great information very helpful I love Roman blinds think they’re so stylish no. 8 bordered blind is one of my favourites thank you

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Thank you, Carol!