Guide to choosing the right blinds
Whether you’re building new and need blinds to fit your new space, or you’ve just bought a home and they could do with refreshing, it’s a big decision and investment so you want to get it just right.There are many different types of blind made from different materials and with a variety of ways of operating that presents different pros and cons. Depending on the purpose of the room, size of the windows and how much light comes in, your choice of blind will vary from room to room.
This page is designed to answer many of those questions so that when it comes time to start your blind buying journey, you’re aware of the many different options you have. What colours will look good, how and where they should hang, and whether you should you buy readymade or custom made is also covered.
How to choose the right blinds for your home
Whether you’re building new and need blinds to fit your new space, or you’ve just bought a home and they could do with refreshing, it’s a big decision and investment so you want to get it just right.
Things to factor in include the purpose of the room, the size of the windows, how much light the room gets, what type of blind you prefer the look of, what colours will look good and whether you should you buy readymade or custom made. This guide is designed to answer many of those questions so that when it comes time to start your blind buying journey, you’re aware of the many different options you have.
Different types of blinds
They take up minimal space and are a cost effective option. We have roller blinds with different functionalities with a range of colours, patterns and componentry to customise them to your space.
The best blinds for temperature control as their cell-like structure traps pockets of air to act as an insulating barrier. Lightweight and easy to operate with options to open traditionally (from the top of the window down) or from the bottom of the window upwards exposing the top of the window (or both to cover the middle of the window).
Russells essential honeycomb blind
Venetian blinds have horizontal slats and are often made of metal such as aluminium, wood or plastic. Venetian blinds are operated by a cord and give you the option to draw them completely open to the top of the window, or you can leave them down but tilt the slats open up to 180 degrees to allow light through.
When open, Roman blinds fold and stack neatly at the top. When closed they lie smooth and flat. Good for blocking out the sun (when properly lined). Roman blinds are made of fabric and are therefore not suitable for bathrooms.
Vertical blinds are made up of flat slats which, when drawn can be tilted to allow light to filter through. They are fast and easy to operate, drawing to the side rather than lifting or lowering. A good choice for doors and windows that also slide open from side to side or angled windows. Vertical blinds are most commonly made of stiff fabric.
Russells vertical blind
Get the best of curtains and blinds with Veri-Shades®. Especially good in rooms where you want to create a seamless indoor/outdoor flow as they have no weights or connecting chains so you can simply walk right through them. Superior light and privacy control.
Shutters are a sophisticated alternative to blinds with slats that tilt to allow good air flow, and light and privacy control. PVC shutters work in any room because they’re unaffected by moisture and humidity; aluminium shutters are suitable for both internal and external applications; while wood shutters offer very good heat deflection in summer and insulation in winter.
Find your style
Blockout roller Russells
Blockout roller Russells
Sunscreen roller Russells
Light filter roller Russells
Selecting the right fabric type for roman blinds
It’s easy to make a choice based on textures, colours and patterns, but perhaps the first thing you should decide is which type of fabric you want. Each has its own benefits and best uses based on its weight, texture, light blocking or exposing qualities, durability and sun-fade resistance.
It’s also important to note that as New Zealand’s climate can be quite humid and our sunshine harsh, we recommend fabrics crafted from either synthetic fibres or a blend of natural and man-made. These have proven to stand up to our environmental conditions.
Cotton is versatile and offers a crisp, clean feel that suits traditional or modern styles. As it can be a very light fabric, cotton blinds do need to be properly lined so they hang and fall as desired.
As a natural fibre, linen is difficult to manage and degrades quickly. We recommend linen blends or linen look fabrics to achieve the same look you want at a more cost effective price with better performance and longer life.
Made of either natural or synthetic fibres, if you want glamour and richness in a room, pick velvet. It’s thick and heavy making it great for bedrooms and living spaces where you want to block cold air and light and reduce noise.
With a similar texture to wool, arylic is a lightweight fabric that drapes beautifully and provides great insulation. Acrylic curtains attract and disperse moisture effortlessly, they’re hypoallergenic and resistant to mould and mildew.
Rayon is able to be woven with natural fibres to achieve a variety of textures. It is soft, strong and breathable.RayonRayon is able to be woven with natural fibres to achieve a variety of textures. It is soft, strong and breathable.
A very common choice; polyester is durable, affordable, easy to care for, and doesn’t really wrinkle, stretch or shrink. Choose polyester for bedroom and living areas, but avoid it in the kitchen as it’s flammable and absorbs odours.
Savannah by Studio G in Oatmeal
When choosing a fabric type, hold the sample up to a window to see how it filters light. Also make sure to choose patterned fabrics wisely; as roman blinds are made of panels it may take more fabric than you expect to line up and match the pattern seamlessly.
Enhance the effectiveness of your roman blinds by utilising lining. Lining can dramatically improve heating efficiency, block out light and help to reduce noise.
- Thermal lining maximises heating efficiency. It can also be utilised to reduce outside noise and unwanted light.
- Block-out lining reduces natural light and UV rays, providing an ideal solution for darkening a bedroom or media room. They also offer excellent sound insulation and thermal properties.
- Interlining is the layer of fabric between the main fabric and lining. To increase the insulating properties of your blinds a light to medium weight interlining can be added. Interlining is ideal for increasing thermal performance and reducing noise.
Choosing fabric for roman blinds
Read our tips on choosing colours and patterns, as well as how lining and fabric type can alter how your roman blinds look and perform.
Ladybugs by Villa Nova
What should venetian blinds be made of?
What venetians are made of affects how they look and where you can use them. They are most commonly made of aluminum, wood or PVC.
- Plain wood offers a natural, warm look
- Aluminium venetian blinds make for a contemporary look and can come in many different colours and a variety of different finishes such as metallic, glossy, satin or matte
- PVC also gives you colour options as well as a wood look
Venetian blinds are popular for their ability to control light and privacy. For that reason, you might want to put them on windows that get a lot of natural light or face a street or neighbour.
Venetians can be used in bedrooms and living spaces but do offer a ‘harder’ look when compared to fabric window furnishings.
Lots of homes feature venetian blinds in the kitchen because they’re easy to clean and more flame retardant than a fabric blind.The bathroom is also another room where venetians commonly work well because they offer clean, simple lines and allow you to maintain privacy easily. For bathrooms, kitchens and laundries – areas with high moisture or humidity – wooden blinds may warp so aluminium or PVC would be better.
Styling venetian blinds
Get more info on using venetian blinds with curtains, pelmets and whether to fit them inside or outside the window frame.
Russells venetian blind
Which type of blind is best?
Due to the moisture present in the bathroom avoid blinds with wooden slats. PVC venetians are a good option because you can leave them down but allow light in by tilting the slats. Roller blinds are mould and mildew resistant so definitely an option to consider. Another idea to bear in mind for the bathroom is a honeycomb blind that opens from the bottom up/top down (the opposite to traditional blinds). This offers privacy when the bathroom is in use while letting in a lot of natural light.Learn more
Blinds in the kitchen need to be flame retardant and not susceptible to absorbing moisture and odours. Roller blinds, shutters and venetian blinds (not wood though, PVC is best) tick all these boxes, are easy to operate and allow you to control the amount of light coming through the window.Learn more
Keeping out light and reducing noise are likely to be a high priorities for bedroom blinds so blockout roller blinds should be top of the consideration list. Roman blinds are also a nice option for the bedroom as they are made of fabric and can offer a romantic, soft look and feel. Vertical and venetian blinds offer good light control and privacy but won’t guarantee total light blocking; certainly no noise reduction. If you like the slatted look, perhaps opt for shutters instead of a venetian blind.Learn more
Choosing the perfect blinds for your bedroom
Here’s more info on safety, access and operation, noise reduction and privacy and light control – all important things to factor into choosing the best blinds for your bedroom.Read article
Blinds for kids’ rooms
Don’t forget about the little ones. This article covers the choice between blinds or curtains for kids’ bedroom and factors in things like personality, health and safety, and light blocking.Read article
How to sleep when it’s too bright in your room
To help you get better sleep in a room that gets too much light, here are some ways to darken the room, limit unnatural light, and a few other simple sleep tips.Read article
Lounge and living room
These rooms often get a lot of light so a sunscreen roller blind is a great option during the day; consider a double roller blind with a blockout option for night or pair with curtains. Venetian or vertical blinds are also a popular choice. Both allow you to control light and in the case of a sliding glass door, vertical blinds are the most practical option. Shutters would also be worth considering here, as would honeycomb blinds; their cell-like structure offers excellent thermal insulation properties and while you may not be able to get full light blocking with a honeycomb, they will darken a room satisfactorily.
Tips and advice for blinds in other parts of the home:
Things that impact the style of your roman blinds
The type of fabric you choose will affect how your blinds fall and how much light they let in. Some fabrics are better for different rooms too.Download our fabric inspiration guide
Colour and pattern
The best idea is to get samples so you can hold them up next to your walls to see how they look in your space. Maybe go for a darker colour for high traffic areas so as it doesn’t get too noticeably dirty. Rooms that get a lot of light probably need a lighter colour as a darker one may fade. And if choosing a blind with a pattern, the pattern size needs to be relevant to the window, ie. a large pattern for a large window so you can see it in all its glory, or a small pattern for smaller windows so nothing is lost due to size.
Rotation by James Dunlop in Jet
Free fabric inspiration guide
Be inspired and learn how to use fabrics to create a home you love in our free guide.
Where they hang
Consider if you want your blinds to be fitted outside the window frame or inside it. Fit your blinds inside the window frame for the cleanest look, if the frame is deep enough; just be aware this may block a small amount of light at the top of the window when raised during the day and is likely to allow in light at night as this fitting type requires small gaps around the blind to allow it to move freely. Fitting blinds just above the sill and outside the frame is practical and flexible, suiting just about any window.Read more about where to fit your blinds
How they open and close
Roller blinds can be made to open from the front of the roll or the back of it. A back roll gets your blind snug up against the window or frame so is the better option for energy efficiency and light blocking. A back roll is better on blinds fitted outside the window frame. Front roll means the blind roll is separated from the window and frame; this is a good option if you have something in the way, like a window latch/handle or you want to hide the componentry. A front roll is best for blinds fitted inside the window frame.
Honeycomb blinds have interesting opening and closing options; they can open and close the traditional way, from the top. Or you can opt for a blind that opens from the bottom upwards – this means you can let light in through the top of the window. Or you can choose to have top option to open from both directions.
Check out our Zero Gravity chainless operation for roller blinds, just a nudge and the blinds rise themselves.
Getting the most from your blinds
Many people choose blinds for their versatile practicality, but they can be very stylish too. To ensure your window furnishings perform how you need them too, here are some blog articles people find helpful in making the right choices:
Are blinds the right solution or would curtains be better?
Warmth, light, style, practicality - read about the different things to consider when choosing between blinds and curtains.Learn more
Blinds for sunny windows
Get some solution suggestions from our consultants plus considerations around operation, maintenance and managing light and privacy.Read article
Which blinds are the most energy efficient?
Learn why romans and honeycombs have the best insulating properties and how to make rollers perform at their best, plus a few other considerations about placement for good effect.Read article
Pairing blinds with curtains
It’s common to have more than one window furnishing per window to achieve everything you want. There are many combinations that work well. Whatever combination you choose, there’s a simple formula behind it - choose something for filtering light and retaining privacy during the day and for night time, something to block out light and prevent anyone seeing in when your lights are on.
Blockout roller blind by Russells in Ice
What works with what?
Your options will vary depending on your windows, but here is a basic list of configurations we’ve found work well when you want both on one window:
- Curtains or sheers over venetian blinds (this option offers the most versatility as you can have the blind completely raised or lowered but with the slats tilted to let in light)
- Lined curtains over sunscreen roller blind
- Lined curtains or sheers over shutters
- Sheer curtains over blockout roller blind
- Sheer curtains over honeycomb blind
- Roman blind over shutters
Read this article for further information to help you pair blinds with curtains. We go into detail on mixing patterns, coordinating colour schemes and a few other tips and tricks.
Here are some clever tricks for cleaning your blinds. Read more tips on cleaning specific blind types here. - A cotton sports sock makes a great blind cleaning cloth as it slips over your hand giving you great control. - Make a specialist blind cleaning tool by using rubber bands or bulldog clips to attach microfibre cloths to a pair of tongs. You can then pinch each slat with the tongs and run it along to remove the dust. - To keep track of where you’ve gotten to, clip a clothes peg to the last slat you cleaned. - A little regular dusting will stop the dust building up and turning it into a big job that you dread.Read more
Installing sheer curtains in from of your blinds could help to lessen the amount of dust settling on your blinds
Blinds past their best?
Here’s what to look for to know it’s time to replace them, including age and condition, purpose and style.
Why choose custom-made blinds?
- You’ll get exactly what you want. If you choose Russells, one of our consultants will meet with you at your home and bring a wide variety of samples so you can see how different colours and patterns look in your space.
- You’ll get experienced advice about which type of blind is best for a room. For instance, if blocking light is the main priority, blinds with slats may not be the best option.
- Your blinds will be professionally measured and expertly made with special attention to detail.
- A good blind manufacturer (like Russells) will offer a product warranty.
- There may be a finance offer to help make it affordable. At Russells, we partner with Gem Visa to offer interest free purchases. See our latest offer and Ts and Cs here.
- Professional installation is included as part of our service.
What to look out for: • There is time involved in having blinds custom made. • It may cost a bit more than a mass-produced readymade blind, however you will probably get a better warranty direct from a manufacturer.
Russells roller sunscreen blinds
- Complete the most lived in rooms first
- Share your comfy price range with your consultant so they can show you the right options
- For rooms that do not need to have light blocked (such as the bathroom or laundry) consider frosted or textured glass instead of a blind
- If you are building new or undergoing significant construction as part of a reno, consult with your blind maker early as it could reveal options that won’t be possible once the build is complete.
Light filter honeycomb blind