Windows have existed for as long as humans have lived in dwellings; functional holes to allow light and air to flow into the rooms in which they lived.
Despite the existence of the windows themselves, however, it took much longer for window coverings to come into play. In fact, it wasn’t until the early 1700s that shades truly came into play.
Scotch Holland Roller blinds, named both for the country in which they were produced (Scotland) and the country in which they were invented (the Netherlands), were the first recorded window shades ever to gain mass popularity across the globe. Used frequently across Holland, France, and England, the stiff painted linen shades began appearing in homes everywhere in Europe, and by 1780 they were also becoming extremely common in the United States, Asia, and around the world.
The rolled blinds were often painted with intricate landscapes, serving as art that could be seen by inhabitants of both the interior and exterior of the house. Towards the second half of the century, however, the decorative style changed, and the shades evolved to be painted with delicate, intricate frames, often featuring an artful medallion or dainty floral image in the center. Slowly it became more common for shades to be created with stencils or tracing than hand painted, and the line work and designs became more uniform and more perfect.
The next big change in roller-blind history would come as the middle of the nineteenth century approached, and the spring roller made a huge impact on the design of the original string-loop-and-hook installations. Spring loaded rollers would eventually become mass produced in factories, and by 1872 they had been patented by the Hartshorn Company in New York.
Unfortunately, as the end of the nineteenth century loomed ever closer, the Victorian interior decoration style largely ended the use of roller blinds in homes and other buildings. At the time, heavy curtains made of rich fabrics became more popular, and only a few roller blinds survived as solutions for window covering.
It was a short-lived period of disfavor, however; by the time the 20th century was getting into full swing, roller blinds would find their places once again in most homes. Now lighter and more flexible, solid colors were typically favored above the more intricate designs of the past, and spring loaded roller blinds were in vogue once again.
So, how do modern roller blinds work?
Roller blinds are usually made of single, continuous pieces of stiff fabric wound around a hollow tube. Typically, a ratchet and spring live inside the tube to facilitate operation using a “pull” at the bottom of the curtain, however, some roller blinds are manually adjustable and feature side winders that allow the user to “lock” the blind at their desired height. Today, many roller blinds are actually operated electronically with a remote control, especially for those larger blinds that are used to cover picture window and French or sliding glass doors. Motorized roller blinds are becoming more and more common as the desire for light and heat customization without the use of expensive HVAC systems becomes paramount
Most roller blinds will have the fabric roll behind the tube, letting it sit closer to the window itself and eliminating the kind of “gap” that might let light in. That being said, this isn’t always the case; cheaply made blinds will sometimes be rolled towards the interior of the room. This feature is an easy way to check the quality of roller blinds before purchasing them.
Roller blinds are an extremely versatile type of window covering. It’s possible to buy “blackout” roller blinds that use thick, opaque fabric to totally obscure any light coming through the window, or translucent roller blinds that let in a significant amount of light, but are favored for the privacy they offer. While the thicker types of roller blinds are also excellent for insulation, sheerer blinds will do little to keep heat in or out of your home.
Why Choose Roller Blinds?
Rollers are some of the most versatile window coverings, and can be implemented to complement a wide variety of interiors. If you’re interested in a sleek, contemporary window covering, roller blinds tend to be the obvious choice.
For those who live in a warm climate, the ease of adjustment found with roller blinds can be a huge draw. Because moving the blinds up and down throughout the day is no problem, it’s a cinch to block out heat and light during the day and allow sunlight to stream through in the mornings and evenings. Because the blinds are lockable at any height, you can truly customize the amount of light and heat you’re allowing into the room. Even easier than manual roller blinds are motorized ones, allowing you to control the temperature in your home or office at the touch of a button.
Speaking of customization, roller blinds are also well suited to unusual window sizes, and are available in wide, narrow, short, or floor to ceiling formats. No matter what types of windows you have in your home, you won’t have a hard time finding roller blinds to fit them.
Because roller blinds can be made with such a wide range of fabrics, they can be used to either quietly complement your existing interior design or create a pop of color or standout piece in the room.
Today, “slatted” roller blinds have become a popular choice, in which stripes of sheer and opaque fabric alternate along the roll in a double-paneled format. When sheer sections on one side are aligned with sheer sections on the other, the opaque sections cover half the window while the sheer sections cover the other, letting in “half” light. When the sheer sections are aligned with the opaque ones, the curtains turn into totally opaque blackout roller blinds. The blinds can also be rolled all the way up, allowing 100% of the available to stream in.
Another solution for adding more flexibility to your roller blinds is adding dual blinds, which allow you to hang both an opaque blind against the window and a sheer blind a little further in towards the room. Dual blinds truly maximize your ability to customize the light flow in the room.
Roller blinds are also a good choice for those who suffer from allergies, as they don’t easily trap dirt or dust. Because they’re often coated and are able to be rolled down into a flat panel, they’re also very easy to clean. Unlike heavy curtain blinds that trap tons of allergens in their fold and require frequent dry cleaning, roller blinds are extremely low maintenance.