Shades of Miz Scarlett, plantation blinds (sometimes called plantation shutters) have made a huge comeback. No longer a relic of dilapidated antebellum mansions, the thick, louvered wooden blinds are the window treatments of choice, from summer cottages to Manhattan pieds-à-terre. Gone, gone, gone are the hideous miniblinds and vertical blinds of yesteryear (and don't even mention Roman shades), replaced with the more substantial look that recalls sturdier construction, better quality, and permanence.
Unlike miniblinds, vertical blinds, drapes, or shades, plantation blinds can retain their value better than almost all other window coverings. And of course there is a range of quality from vinyl to faux wood to genuine and sometimes exotic wood. Faux wood is often recommended for damp areas such as bathrooms and pool enclosures, as well as for areas frequented by children and pets. Vinyl is great for outdoors, or indoors for the budget-conscious homeowner, and the wood, well ... the wood bespeaks hearth, home, and heritage ... and a larger budget.
Regardless of the materials, the effects of the plantation shade are many. Sometimes just used across the bottom of the window, the adjustable louvers allow you to filter, regulate, and direct the light, and they provide effective insulation when closed. And just imagine the luxury of having them motorized so that they can all open and close just the right amount all at once.
The plantation blind can work with virtually every decor; the beauty of is in its simple, clean design. Used in single or multiple panel installations, they can even be ordered to fit arched or unusually sized windows. Many prefer to use them unadorned, but they may also be hung with drapes.
From $27 for a small single window (at Lowe's) to the sky's-the-limit pricing for custom work, virtually any style and material is available. Locally, Blinds of All Kinds offers their showroom on Highway 620 and free in-home consultations. Austin-tatious Blinds & Shutters also offers free in-home estimates and gives a single price that will include everything from measuring to installing. Family-owned Window Fashions of Texas is one of the largest factory-direct sources for plantation shutters in the nation and on their website, under Specials, has coupons for discounts and upgrades.
Choosing plantation blinds, as with choosing any home-improvement item, can be an exercise in frustration, endlessly searching stores, catalogs, and the Internet for just the right look. Often these choices are best made with professional design advice. Buy an hour of a designer's time to get a different viewpoint. But shop carefully. Plantation blinds, like good intentions, can easily go awry. There is one particular website that shows you how to cut artwork into strips and apply the strips to the blinds so that when you turn the blinds, they look like those annoying and distracting billboards that change every few seconds. Don't try this at home.
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