Window blinds are a form of window covering that utilise strips of fabric and solid materials; varieties include, Venetian, shades and track blinds. As they limit or completely obscure vision through a window they act to 'blind' those inside and out, hence the term blinds. Split into the two distinct categories of slat and solid they are an increasingly popular form of window covering used in interior design. Slat blinds can be constructed along both the vertical and horizontal axis, normally utilising drawstrings to control the rotation of the slats and the amount of window space covered. Solid blinds on the other hand do not rotate and only operate along the vertical axis and will completely block the light coming into a room.
Blinds have been used throughout history; archaeological evidence shows that the ancient Egyptians used reeds to construct blinds whilst in the nineteenth century many households used inexpensive cloth to block out light. Modern varieties can be operated both manually and automatically through the use of motors, the more expensive being operated with remote controls.
The Venetian variety of blinds utilise horizontal slats in descending order and are suspended with the use of strips of cloth. They are raised and lifted with connections on each slat and that can pull the slats closer. The classic style of Venetian blind has overlapping material while more modern variants use metal and wood and are probably the most recognisable type of blinds in use today. This type of blind was first used in Venice, hence the name but it was in London that the first modern variants were produced and patented, in the year 1769.
When blinds are fitted they are normally placed within the window recess, snugly against the wall to block as much light as possible. On windows without a recess however it is possible to have blinds that extend past the window. The thermal effects of blinds vary, in the summers they are an effective way of blocking the summer sun and heat whilst in the winter, they can keep heat in; this is particularly true for the fabric varieties. Depending upon the materials used, they are effective at creating privacy whilst shading a room from sunlight.
Fabric blinds are extremely popular in both roller and Venetian styles, roller blinds wrap the material around a metal pole that can be raised or lowered using drawstrings. Wood is also a commonly used material in the manufacture of blinds. Oak is used in many designs due to its hardiness while lighter woods such as beech are also commonly used. The majority of the time however, the wood will have to be treated in order to prolong its life, this is especially true if the blind is to be situated in a room with excessive moisture such as the bathroom or kitchen. As well as wood and fabric, modern blinds, especially in the commercial sphere are made from metals such as aluminium and plastic; this is usually because it is cheaper and more suited to commercial uses.
The most modern development in the world of blinds has been automation. Some are retrofitted with motors that take the physical effort out of closing and opening them. In terms of control, all in one remote controls are available that allow the user to control nearly every element of the room's atmosphere from an armchair. Additionally however, those with a penchant for technology can also buy blinds that can be controlled through a laptop computer.
Hopefully this information has given the reader a better understanding of the history, development, varieties and applications of blinds in the modern world. Today they are a chic and stylish way to cover windows and are extensively used in interior design circles.
Interior design expert Thomas Pretty looks into the varieties of blinds available on the market and why they can be considered a chic and stylish window covering.