What are Roman Blinds?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Roman blinds are window blinds made from fabric which is designed to fold into pleats when the blinds are raised. Also known as fabric shades or Roman shades, Roman blinds are popular in a variety of interior design schemes. Many home supply stores carry this product or can order it by request, and for unusually sized or shaped windows, custom Roman blinds can be ordered. Custom products can also include special features such as unique fabrics.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

These blinds are constructed by taking a solid fabric panel and mounting slats into the back of it. The slats are connected to cords which will pull the slats together when the blind is raised, forcing the fabric to fold into pleats. Flat Roman blinds lie flat when they are fully lowered, while hobbled Roman blinds are designed with excess fabric so that they overlap when closed. Also known as teardrop Roman blinds, the hobbled design creates a softened pleated effect which can also add to the insulating properties of the blinds when they are closed.

The fabric used for Roman blinds can vary considerably. Textiles like silk, hemp, cotton, and linen are all common, and synthetics may be used as well. Some companies make their blinds with liners which add insulation and block light, while other blinds are thin, allowing diffuse light into a room even when they are closed. These blinds can be fitted to a variety of fixtures, including rods with ornamental finials, allowing people to create a customized look for their blinds.

People can also use Roman blinds outdoors. Some patios and gazebos are designed to be covered with Roman blinds which can be raised and lowered to control the temperature and light level. In hot climates, this can be a tremendous advantage which allows people to enjoy the outdoors without roasting in the sun. These blinds may be made from more durable fabrics or from materials like bamboo mats which will withstand the outdoors.

When purchasing Roman blinds, people may want to think about the color or pattern of the fabric, the texture of the fabric, and issues such as UV resistance, washability, and level of opacity. These blinds can be designed to fit inside or over a window frame, depending on personal taste, and this should be taken into account when making measurements. Another consideration is the size of the pleats in the closed blind; the closer the slats are to each other, the smaller the pleats will be, and the less of the window will be obscured when the blinds are open.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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