Solar Shade Success!

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One of the major tragedies of the past few years was IKEA’s decision to change the design of the ENJE roller blind. I’ve probably mentioned this like 30 times on this blog, but only because it was so crushing and significant.

See, back in the good old days, this shade was one of my favorite IKEA products. It’s not a blackout shade or really even much of a privacy shade, but it did a great job of filtering light, softening a view, and providing enough privacy for me to feel comfy with. It came with pretty nice, durable hardware, it was super long (perfect for big old windows!), it was fairly easy to cut down to a custom size, and it was cheap.

Then somebody decided that the pull-chain mechanism that made the shade go up and down was a choking hazard for kids, and all the ENJE shades disappeared from IKEA showrooms across the country, only to be re-introduced under the same name several months later.

New ENJE? Total bastardization of the old ENJE. Gone was the pull-chain mechanism, replaced by a spring inside the roll. The little end-caps on the bottom rail got switched from a faux-chrome finish to a sad, grey plastic. The bottom rail also got this new handle thing…easy enough to just break off and toss, but still totally stupid. At the time I needed a couple of shades for my apartment, so I bought the new ENJE shades, cautiously optimistic.

GARBAGE, I tell you. I mean, I still put them up and they look fine and whatever, but I only realized once I got them home that also gone was the generous length of the old shades, rendering them about 6″ too short for our long-ish windows at the apartment. So dumb. And that spring mechanism? Also garbage. It barely works. If you never want to raise and lower your shades, I guess it’s fine, but otherwise it just sucks.

At the time, I vowed that I wouldn’t buy any more of these shitty Americanized ENJE shades for the rest of my life. I would go to Canada next time I needed shades. I would swim the Atlantic. I would…find a new source for window treatments?

That last option sounds like the easiest, right? WRONG. SO WRONG.

You would think that a basic thing like a super-simple solar shade would be easy to find, right? And how expensive could they possibly be? I mean, I don’t expect everything to be IKEA prices—I knew I’d have to deepen my pockets a little bit. Like maybe 60 or 70 bucks instead of 30?

WRONG AGAIN. I searched high and I searched low. I went to multiple popular blinds manufacturer’s showrooms. I searched a lot of the internet. I even ordered a sample shade that looked promising online a while ago that cost me $75 and it was literally just a sheet of dumb white vinyl around a cardboard tube. This is the appalling world we live in, folks.

I’ve ordered solar shades from The Shade Store for a client and they’re super duper nice, but I think a single shade for one of the windows on the first floor of my house came out to about $250. That’s just not happening. A couple of very kind European readers even offered to go to IKEA, buy the European versions of the ENJE, and ship them to me, but with taxes and shipping it ended up being really expensive and the whole thing just seemed like kind of an absurd premise to begin with, even for me. A few people have suggested JC Penney’s version of the roller shade, which admittedly seems to be very well-priced, but the reviews were kind of questionable and I couldn’t really tell what they looked like from the pictures, and I think they’re all cordless, which I just feel too scarred to gamble on again.

SO ANYWAY. In the meantime, I did the thing I swore I wouldn’t and bought a few of the new ENJE shades for a couple rooms in the upstairs of our house. They’re a little too short for the windows and still crappy, but we needed something so I just did it. I’ll probably replace them someday but right now it’s not a priority.

process

Then for downstairs, I went to Home Depot and got these super cheap spring-powered vinyl shades for like $8 a pop, just to put up temporarily. We needed the privacy and honestly it’s better to put something up that’s disposable-ish while you’re renovating, since you’re likely to get paint and joint compound and dust all over it anyway. Above is a really horrendous process photo (is there anything uglier than that moment when the walls are painted but the trim isn’t?) showing how charming those looked. They were much better during the day but at night…oof.

Now that we have a couple rooms renovated, though, the “temporary” $8 vinyl sheets in front of my windows were an enormous bummer. They tend to get kind of blown out in photos so maybe you don’t notice them as much, but in real life they looked very crappy. It felt sad to put all this work into these rooms, get them looking good, only to have this big glaring horrible thing remaining in the space because the world of window treatments is so cruel.

Before I forget…yes. I know. I know there are many, many other solutions. Curtains, roman blinds, venetian blinds, cellular shades, shutters—there are lots of things out there to cover windows. I know I’m being more than a little ridiculous and dramatic here. I can’t be the only one who sort of hates 99% of window treatments, though, right? Even the term “window treatment” makes me nauseous. For some reason I actually tend to like curtains for other people but I don’t really want them in my own house? Maybe I’ll want them someday? I don’t know. One of my favorite things about my house are the big, beautiful old moldings, and I guess I worry about curtains sort of hiding/distracting from the architecture of the space. Another thing I like about my house is the natural light, so I like solar shades because they’re super minimal, they give some privacy, and you don’t have to sacrifice your natural light to get it.

I think I just want to be as picky and annoying as possible about everything that I possibly can. I’m so much fun to live with.

book

At long last, I finally found something I like, and of course it was right under my nose the whole time…at Lowe’s! I don’t know how it took me so long. I’m at Lowe’s several times a week. I’m dumb.

Anyway, Lowe’s carries a few different brands of custom blinds and shades and stuff, including their own Allen + Roth brand stuff. Allen + Roth things tend to be great, by the way. I’ve used some of these little lights around the house (nice-looking and inconspicuous for old houses, right?), I’ve been impressed with the tile options, some of the home goods are cute…they’re doing a good job.

I guess the thing I didn’t realize was just how customizable the shades are! I think they have all the same options that you get when ordering at the Shade Store—different levels of opacity, different fabric weaves, lots of colors, inside vs. outside mount, reverse-roll or regular, finish options for the bottom bar, corded vs. cordless, and on and on! AND they’re about half the price. So. They’re not exactly inexpensive, but after a truly exhaustive search and knowing what else is out there and how much it costs, I think they’re a great value. Our shades came out to about $130 a pop including tax, but the price varies depending on the custom options and the size of the window. I think there was also a 10% off promotion going on when I ordered them, so that’s something to look out for, too. So anyway…not cheap, but not horrible, and feels decently manageable when you’re just buying a couple at a time.

3percent

I snapped some photos of the different fabric options, just in case you are as insane as I am and need to know everything? Custom solar shades are typically available in different levels of opacity—that’s what the 3% openness thing means. The lower the percentage, the more opaque the shades are.

4and5

One of the things I ran into a lot with other sources was that even if the shades had all the options I wanted, I didn’t like the fabrics. I feel like most of these are really nice, though? It’s hard to judge from these pictures, I know.

10percent

ANYWAY, because I am wildly boring and predictable, I went with the Equinox 10% openness in white. I tend to think 10% is the best for getting the most light and an acceptable level of privacy. They’re probably a little more opaque than the ENJE shades. There are 12% and 14% options, too, but that seems too transparent, unless I guess you’re just layering them under something else.

I don’t think there’s a way to order the custom stuff online, but doing it in the store is very easy. An employee enters all your custom options into the system, it spits out a price, and about a week or so later, it shows up at your house! I just ordered one shade to begin with as a sample, loved it, and went back to order two more to round out the living room. All three windows were the same size and they had all my info saved, so I didn’t have to go through the whole process again. Nice, right? I’m saving up to do the three dining room windows next, and then I guess I’ll just try to buy them for each room as we renovate, although I’m paranoid that they’ll discontinue them or the design will change or something and then I’ll just have to give up on life completely.

packaging

They come wrapped up all nice in brown craft paper. The ONE THING I wasn’t impressed by is that mine didn’t come with directions for mounting them! But after looking at the shades and at the brackets for about 30 seconds, it wasn’t hard to figure out. The brackets are pretty petite, too, which is good because our window casings don’t have a lot of depth.

It took all of about 5 minutes to get the shades up, and it IMMEDIATELY made the room feel so, so much more finished. There was much rejoicing.

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It’s hard to capture with a camera how these things look in real life, but I did my best! I don’t have any reason to block light in this room, so I’m thrilled with how bright they keep things. It’s also nice to kind of soften the views without blocking them. I like being able to see out a little.

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The pull-chain is SUCH a relief, too! It came with this little plastic piece to screw into the casing to keep the chain taut, but I broke it off and tossed it. All the hardware really seems very nice and built to last. It seems like these get bad reviews online because the cordless shades have the same operability issues that all cordless shades seem to have, but the corded option is great.

The window sashes themselves need some work, by the way. I’m sort of thinking of the window restoration as its own renovation project, so consequently I really haven’t touched them aside from replacing a couple of broken panes. I’ll get to it!

I chose a white powder-coated metal bottom bar, which I like. There were a few options including different metal finishes and having the fabric wrap around. I’m happy with it! Totally boring, like I wanted.

outside

Privacy-wise, they’re enough for me. I took this lousy picture from the sidewalk at night with the lights inside turned all the way up. You can definitely see shapes and movement but not a lot of detail. Realistically, we pretty much always have the lights dimmed down at night, so you’d be able to see a lot less…I just figured it was worth showing. Privacy is one of those very personal things, though. As someone who has made a habit for half a decade now of constantly putting photos of the inside of my home on the internet, my standards may be a little atypical. Different strokes!

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I have no idea how I managed to write this much about white solar shades. This was supposed to be a short and sweet post. Just slapped myself. Bye!


109 Comments

  1. Wow, is this an improvement. The new shades look great! You are not alone at all. Shade options are ridiculous. We’ve been five years in our house and are still using the “temporary” folding paper shades. We started with the $8 vinyl blinds from Home Depot, but they quickly stopped working. The only other option I was aware of is to spend hundreds per shade (our windows are 80 inches long) from Smith & Noble or the Shade Store (and they’re synthetic), so it’s good to know about Lowe’s and JC Penney. Indian bedspreads are working nicely for curtains in one bedroom, but I am holding out for cotton Roman shades in the living room. Years ago I bought cotton Roman shades at Bed Bath and Beyond for $40 per shade, but haven’t seen them in years. And the matchstick and bamboo shades are too transparent.

    • Hi! Just wanted to let you know, I got simple white cotton roman shades at Lowe’s that I’ve been very happy with. Your windows have to be a standard size, but if they are then off the shelf they’re about $20 each. SO much less expensive than all of the other options that I hated. :)

      • That’s great to know. (Though I wish they came 80 inches long, ha.) Thanks!

      • ooohh…will have to make the (longish) trip to a Lowe’s then. My Ikea roman shades are falling apart – and they don’t sell those anymore either due to apparent strangulation issues. ?????

  2. Looks great. Do you typically go for the standard or reverse roll? Do you think one way or the other makes the roll look less conspicuous?

  3. I have a new version of the Enje shade on my front window. It’s great as long as I don’t try and adjust the length in any way. Haha.

    Just a random story- I work at a restaurant in Toronto and served a guy whose name was Daniel Kanter! Apparently he gets your Twitter or Google+ updates everyday or something.

    • Ha! Same spelling and everything?? That never happens!

      • Yes the same! I googled him and he writes songs for Justin Beiber… But he goes by Dan.

        You’re obviously a much cooler Daniel Kanter.

  4. Hi Daniel…very “shady” post..LOL…I’m going to have to check out the state of shades at my Ikea here in TO…I have custom shades in my bedroom bay window and they all have pull chains…only person who gets caught up in them is the cat…but I wouldn’t want to change them..those chainless ones are useless.
    And I’m with you on window coverings…drapes are just big dust collectors …..

    I’ll bet you have a ton of snow in Kingston? will this winter ever end?

    • @debbie in toronto – regarding cats getting caught up in the pull cords or chains: this happened to a friend’s cat while she was not home. By the time someone found the cat, it was so entwined that it had internal organ damage and later died at the vet’s. We have cords on our blinds — and much beloved cats — so we keep the cords looped up high on the window so that they are completely out of reach no matter what. The mental picture I have of my friend’s lovely cat Cleo enduring so many hours of pain and a horrible death haunts me.

  5. love this post. and your finished window shot with snoozn’ pup is beautiful. we just moved and I know we’re gonna need window “treatments” – thanks for the solution!

  6. While this post was meant to be short and sweet, it surely didn’t read all that long to me. :-)

    Like your choice in shades there, just enough privacy for your needs, and yet lets light in. Nice.

    An option I’m considering are UV shades since I”m likely to be buying an older home, and like yours may well have its original single pane windows, or if they’d been upgraded to insulated ones, may, or may not have the lo E or other UV protective layer inside them to reduce fading, as anything remotely near my windows eventually fade where I live now. Yes, it’s a rental, but has newer insulated double pane windows, but sans UV blocking, and I leave my shades up for the light. It’s not so bad in the bedroom (north facing window), but in the living room, the big ol’ slider faces more or less west though. Needless to say, some of the spine of my cookbooks are fading now.

    BTW, can’t recall if I mentioned it, but your living room is looking good! Love how Linus is curled up all cozy and comfy like on his pillow.

  7. I love every second of reading this post. We MN readers are a strange breed… seriously. Loved every word. :)

    • I agree totally lol

      Thanks Daniel for doing all the boring research for us and telling us where we can get the good stuff. This is why I like following decorating blogs like yours :)

  8. I have been following your dilemma closely because I share it, and this is so helpful!!! I love the way your shades look and am likely to get the exact same ones for my living room and kitchen. Thanks again!

  9. What is the price point of the Lowes shades? I couldn’t find any pricing info on their site… Or I’m just blind!

  10. I can totally understand your window coverings dilemma. I discovered, a couple of years ago, that I really don’t like curtains, I don’t like mini blinds, I despise California shutters, and pretty much every other window covering on earth has some flaw that keeps me from loving it. But I love my privacy. Dilemma. I eventually settled on Honeycomb shades, and solar shades (kind of like yours) for the windows that don’t look directly onto the street. I got mine at Select Blinds Canada. Fairly pricey, but I luckily hit a big sale, so the “sale” prices (they are one of those perma-sale stores) were actually marked down quite a bit from normal. I love the look of the solar shades you put in! They really make that molding the star of the show.

  11. This post was SO helpful. My house is over 100 years old, and my windows are my constant blessing/curse. At 96 inches tall, they let in the most amazing light, but I also live in a developing neighborhood and have a kind of weird fear of windows anyway (peeping Tom once…don’t ask).

    I bought film for the windows and have used that halfway up them for years, but I don’t love it. And while these are still pricey (I have a gazillion windows), they’re still a better option than much of what I’ve seen, especially as I usually think of custom as costing much much more.

    Thanks so much!

  12. Daniel, you don’t have to post this or leave it up but I feel compelled to say, regarding the ENJE shades being changed by IKEA; you said someone had the idea that they were a choking hazzard for small children. A one year old girl from Greenwich, Conn. actually got wrapped up in one of the IKEA shade cords and choked to death a couple of years ago. This is probably the reason for the recall and design change of the shades and blindes. I love your blog and read religiously but this irked me. Someone’s baby died and it seems silly that you are so put out about it. Even if you do not have children I wold think you would have some understanding about why the changes needed to be made.

    • First off, I’m very sorry to have offended. I wasn’t aware of an actual case where the shades led to such a tragic conclusion–how absolutely awful for those parents. My impression was that IKEA had proactively changed the design due to somewhat unsubstantiated fear that something might occur as a result of the design. Apparently this happens with some frequency with their crib designs. Anyway, I applaud IKEA for acting so swiftly to change the design, even if the operability of the product suffered as a result.

      If I’m not mistaken (and I might be), the old design DID come with a plastic piece to secure the chain taut to a casing, which was specifically included to address the strangulation risk…pure speculation, but in this case they may have been installed counter to the recommended manufacturer installation (which, admittedly, is what I do.).

      At the risk of making things worse, I do wonder if there’s a discussion to be had about how much design should have to suit child-proofing measures. Not to place the blame on the parents who have already been through something to awful, but part of me does feel like the fact is that a LOT of things can be hazardous to children…sharp corners, electrical outlets, cords, chains, kitchen utensils, appliances, everyday cleaning products, even their own toys. I don’t have kids, but I think most parents would agree that child-proofing measures in their own homes are, at some point, their responsibility, and wouldn’t expect every consumer product (unless it is specifically made for children, of course) to necessarily be safe to have in their living space. Again, this is tragic and I don’t want to shift blame, but it is something I do wonder about a lot as a consumer.

      • Hi there!
        I must agree with you in opinion that parents must childproof their homes and there should be avaible to buy products that are secure for children and those which are not. As a parent you choose what to buy! If toys have age warning, why it doesn’t stand on every other product?

        I am a mother of small boy and another crazy anti window treatment home owner.
        Luckily our ENJE design is still intact and we have some other stores with not too pricey roller shades.
        We tried on a few really cheap ones from another swedish store and they work perfectly (they go from 6,5$ in smallest semi transparent version). I love saving some money on things I don’t really like!
        Keep on doing your good job :)

      • great reply Daniel
        I agree entirely

      • I agree that it’s really the parent’s job to child proof their home.

        I have cats and have done my best to kitty proof my home. Like you, I don’t like window treatments either. When I moved into my current home many years ago, I opted for cordless blinds because I was terrified that my furbabies could get entangled and strangled by the blind cords. It was very pricey back then, but completely worth the peace of mind for me.

      • It’s very hard to childproof your home when you literally cannot buy a safe product. Securing the chain to the wall doesn’t help, particularly in a nursery where a child is alone for hours. This was the problem with blinds for years, and now finally you can buy safe blinds. I’m glad to know IKEA has options now. You can also get cordless roman blinds these days. Normally the cord in the blind itself is a terrible hazard (in venetians, too), but Insola Chatham blinds from BB&B are a honeycomb blind with a roman shade sewn to the front. They’re about $50 each and are very long (well, long enough for my old house).

      • I agree. Products should come with clear warnings. Then adults can make adult choices about what works in their homes. It’s interesting that Ikea continues to sell these in Europe.

      • For what it’s worth, the shade (like most or all shades) did come with an adhesive label on the bottom bar with clear warnings. I know because I peeled a lot of them off and they were VERY sticky.

      • Because of major public health successes of the past (vaccines, clean drinking water) the leading cause of death for children in the US is accidental injury. Child deaths are also now relatively rare, but the goal is to get them to an irreducible minimum. So from a public health perspective, the question is not who is to blame in each incident of a child dying due to accidental injury, but identifying the most effective means of reducing the overall incidence of these deaths. That’s why we’ve seen so many changes to seatbelts, airbags, etc., and also why there is a standard width for balusters, standards for the number and accessibility of exits and so on. Parents have to be vigilant, but it is to the overall good if the overall environment doesn’t pose known risks to babies and toddlers.

        So Ikea had an obligation to change the design, but it was their choice to do such a poor job. I had the old enje and replaced it with a new one after our dog destroyed the first one days after being rescued. I also wish they’d have included a mechanism that would work in the redesign!

      • Daniel, to know nothing about this particular incident yet to insinuate that a child’s death might be due to install errors on the part of the parents is really pretty awful.

        indeed, the Enjes did come with a plastic clip to secure the chain to the window frame. It was so flimsy that my 15 month old was able to snap it with ease, free the chain and wrap it around her neck. She still has the scar on her throat from where she almost choked on the chain, which by the way did not give way under her weight.

        it is reasonable for a consumer to assume that a product will function as intended. it is not reasonable for a piece that is intended to secure a chain to a window frame to break so incredibly easily. that is all part of the reason why this product was recalled.

        during the recall process i imagine IKEA evaluated the possibility of making this plastic clip stronger, but instead they opted to simply change out all the expensive metal hardware for cheaper plastic and call it a day. I have no experience with the new enjes, but they sound like they are simply poorly made, so the fault here wold seem to lie solely with ikea.

        Parents do generally childproof their homes, put corner pads on sharp corners, tamper proof covers on electrical outlets, keep kitchen utensils, appliances and cleaning products our of their children’s reach. These are all reasonable precautions. It is not reasonable to expect parents to second guess the safety features of every single product on the market, so when a safety feature such as this is wholly inadequate it must be addressed.

      • Just to chip in on this, there have been several documented cases here in Europe of small children dying of strangulation with these types of cords, so it’s not a pre-emptive imaginary problem but a real one (and in each case an avoidable tragedy). I don’t have children either, but I do have friends with children who come to visit. And although I warn them that my house is probably a toddler death-trap (and so it is up to them to make sure their child leaves intact) I think it’s reasonable, and indeed preferable, for my own peace of mind to have my house reasonably child safe, and that includes taking care of blind cords.

    • I have a vivid memory of my 2yo sister getting her neck caught in a floor-length window cord loop and almost strangling herself. In our case, the cord shouldn’t have been so long (user error), but I totally agree that in a case where an actual child died or any life was threatened, the design should be reconsidered.

      I’d guess Daniel agrees too, as he’s not a monster :)

      My sense is that the frustration is mostly around the crappy quality of the new shades – plastic where there was metal, shitty length when it used to be customizable, etc. These don’t seem to be relevant to child-proofing, yet were adjustments made by IKEA that make the product less valuable. That’s valid feedback from an avid consumer/influencer, and something anyone would want to know who needs shades (everyone who reads this blog).

  13. Those look great. I feel the same way about curtains hiding the trim. I mocked some up in a SketchUp model and really didn’t like them. Shutters either.

    We have similar shades in our bedroom (which faces the street and needs to be somewhat private). We’ve had great luck with Smith + Noble – I’m pretty sure they ran about the same price as the ones you got at Lowe’s. Not cheap, but well made and have lasted almost 15 years now.

    I’m trying to decide if I want to do them in the Living Room. Right now we have simple curtains over the lower half, the house is so tall, that you can’t see any people with the lower sash blocked. And I like to be able to see in other people’s houses at night! You can look in our top sashes and see the wall of bookshelves and the hanging pendant light, and it looks so warm and twinkly in there. That sounds a little weird, but I’m a serious nighttime house gawker.

  14. The length of this post was totally worth it! I’ll admit I was skeptical of such a long post about solar shades, but I read it straight through and enjoyed every bit, even though I have no need for solar shades! Also the finished product looks excellent. Keep ’em coming!

  15. Daniel!
    You have made me SO happy with this post. When you first mentioned ENJE ages ago, the only ones I could find in Canada were already the ones without the pull cord, and at the time I just said to hell with it and bought them.
    They looked PERFECT, but the roller mechanism was trash. Ive since moved and been searching for a new option. I don’t think we have LOWEs here, but I bet I can find something pretty similar at Rona.

    Thanks!

  16. I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent thinking about window treatments since I got a house. Ughhhh.’m relieved to read someone else’s obsessive thoughts on this matter. It’s so hard to find nice shades that don’t cost a fortune! It’s good to read someone else’s obsessive thoughts on this matter. Glad to hear this story ended well.

    (PSA for any Aussies/Kiwis reading through the comments: you can still get the pull-chain version of ENJE shades, but if you can’t easily get to IKEA, like me, the ‘Baltic’ shades at Spotlight are equal in transparency and quality. Just wait for them to go on sale.)

    • This is valuable info. Thanks.

      I still need a solution for an absolutely ENORMOUS west-facing (equivalent of east-facing for those in the northern hemisphere) ground level window that looks straight onto a carpark. I have no desire to see the view; don’t want people in the carpark seeing me; and need to stop as much heat and light getting in as possible…. but all blockout blinds are really ugly. Maybe something like a 3% openness blind would work?

  17. I have three of these blinds with chains that I’m trying to unload. I loved them but needed blackout blinds once the baby came. Two are 40″ and one is 48″. I’m in Toronto.

  18. great post! thanks for all the info. I totally understand the no curtains/show off the molding thing. We are the same. I spent a small fortune on blackout blinds many years ago, and they are wonderful. But now I know about Lowes and will keep that in mind for future windows. I also love your Marimekko doggie pillow. I’m a big fan!

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this!!
    I fell in love with the beautiful shades at the Shade Store and was devastated when I realized their mounting brackets were made for much deeper window wells (I think that’s the correct term..?). No wonder all their photos are of gorgeous, modern homes. 1950s windows, even if they’re double-hung, aren’t going to cut it. And did I mention that the window in question was a bay? Even if draperies would work (they wouldn’t fit), I still wanted a shade for privacy.

    Before this drags on any longer, I was able to solve my dilemma by using Hunter Douglas roller shades. Tons of fabric choices, opacity options, etc. But not cheap. They were an investment – meaning, the large bay window in the living room plus 2 windows in the dining room cost us just shy of $2K. I love them, but the price means they aren’t an option for the rest of the house.

    We have used the Levolor bamboo roman shades at Lowe’s, but I had no idea you could custom order fabric roller shades! Crappy vinyl roller shades in the bedroom (2+ years and counting), be gone!!

  20. A post about shades? I’ll take it and with pleasure sir: I like the colour options of those shades.

  21. Yes, the dilemma of window shades! How I know it. I have a 1958 house that has a 8 foot window on one wall and another window on the other wall that meet in the corner. No way I wanted to cover this very 50’s feature with curtains, especially the corner would be a disaster. I opted for white blinds but didn’t want to have to split the large window into two blinds. I managed to get one full length blind at about the same opacity as yours at Blinds to Go…it was the largest they could do! It took a long time to figure it all out and they had to trick their own computer system, but I was super pleased with their service, especially because they are made locally here in Canada, are done in 48 hours, have life-time guarantee on anything and have a proper chain!

  22. Well, this is amazing. The only roller blinds that I have seen at the big box stores are vinyl and curl in on the sides. Thanks for not compromising.

  23. The new shades look great! Glad you found something that worked.

  24. Beautiful windows. Great pictures. Thanks for the info.

  25. Preach it. Oh so many bad window treatment options (until you get to the $$$ super pricey, actually sometimes even then). Except I have the opposite problem in that my windows are short and very wide – like 70″ wide and 34″ short for interior dimensions. I’ve settled on a layered curtain solution that hopefully won’t look too froofy in the end. A tension rod with a lightweight sheer curtain on the inside and hidden tab curtains over the windows. Of course along with my mid-century wide windows are nothing special wrt trim work so it doesn’t feel like a big deal to have that covered sometimes. Except our living room is just bare – thank you 10 foot picture window + 4 foot window, wonderful light, slight fishbowl living.

  26. More long posts about small details! Wall sconces, electrical outlet cover plates, thermostats, quarter rounds on baseboards, … so many options.

  27. Oh, I also want to thank for for that exterior-to-interior photo! This is very important information when your bedroom windows are ~10 feet away from the neighbors windows. And actually one of the reasons why I didn’t just try the new ENJE version for our bathrooms, I couldn’t figure out if I’d spend the money and end up with a bamboo blind situation where our neighbors can still see in our house.

  28. Bookcase + Linus + New Window Shade = Perfection.

  29. Not shady, just fierce!
    Love the new blinds…. Glad to know there are options which are not terribly expensive. I have been a fan of soar blinds for years, I love being able to filter the heat of the sun but maintain some of the view. I have also been known to spend hundreds of dollars on solar shades to get quality.

    Funny thing, I have never been much of a fan of curtains, but now find myself in the pursuit of curtains for my 1910 pre-war living room. I am however like you in that I hate to cover up the over-sized woodwork.

    To respond about product design and child safety. It is a difficult line to manage. While certainly not always the case, it is frightening how often parents do really stupid things to put their kids at risk and then are not willing to accept culpability for their actions (example: Locating a bunk bed next to a window, the kid rolls off the top bunk bed and falls out the window, parents blame the accident on the manufacturer of the bunk bed). Much of the time, if products are installed correctly, they pose little hazard. Unfortunately, no matter how many warnings and messages in a multitude of languages are printed on plastic bags, children will inevitably place them over their heads and suffocate.

  30. THANKGOD this post went up right after I succumbed to fate and bought the crummy ENJE blinds.

  31. In THE bungalow, I don’t want to cover up the case work either. It’s lovely quarter sawn dark fumed oak and I think it’s quite beautiful. But I also need privacy and didn’t need to worry about the ‘view’, because the living room windows front onto the side of the neighbor’s porch just 10 feet away.

    What I did was muslin cafe-ish curtains with a tension rod pocket in both the top and the bottom, with the whole thing mounted inside the window frame. Since I did the fabric about 1.5 times the window width, there’s a bit of gathering. It’s just enough for some fullness and to hide the ends of the tension rods. And since the fabric is just a single unlined layer, lots of light still filters in. Craftsman bungalows are already very ‘shaded’ from the large, low eaves, so I didn’t want to loose much of the light that makes it into the space.

    As far as the ‘how much consumer protection’ question. I’m very torn. Even one child dying is one too many, but parents and caregivers have to be responsible. What I did when my son was a baby was crawl around on the floor and look at everything – cords, rugs, outlets, things to pull down, push over. It’s HARD to baby proof everything, but you just have to keep looking and doing ‘what if’ in your head.

  32. I feel your pain, except my windows are super wide, not long. And I hate curtains, too!

    Is it too much to ask for a decent cut-to-width roller shade, under $75, in both blackout and light-filtering options??? I am not made of money, people!

  33. Victory! They look great and I’m so glad you didn’t have to compromise and get something you secretly hated.

    Honestly though I’m commenting to compliment the marimekko fabric dog bed. Did you make it yourself? It’s so bright and lovely!

  34. Daniel did you look at Select Blinds at all? Last year I did intense research on finding budget friendly, but customizable shades and blinds for my 1920s house. I looked at many, many online retailers and the best bang for the buck was from Select Blinds (www.selectblinds.com). So far I’ve ordered 4 cellular shades from them with cordless, top down/bottom up features. Three of those were for a large bay window, which included a 58″w x 56″h shade that works great with the cordless feature. With a Black Friday sale, I ordered (2) 76″w x 56″h faux 2″ wood blinds with crown valances, plus a pair of 30″w blinds (it was a really good sale and totaled $250 for everything). You can get free samples to see the color and material — tip for others: antique white smooth in the Premium faux wood blind matches BM White Dove.

  35. Yay!!! Lionel!!

  36. I went to the Repair Café in Kingston on the 31st – got out of my car and stared right at your little house! I was so startled to see it in real life! I do like that red paint on the door, and I enjoy seeing what you do each time. Your house down the block looks terrific. I can’t get over that I really saw it. Fun times! And I highly recommend Repair Cafes everywhere – good advice and good work. I was sad I didn’t see you – half expected to.

    • I’m jealous. We should all have the opportunity to make a Pilgrimage to Daniel’s house at some point because he’s pretty much the God of Awesome!

  37. This post has me 100% convinced that you could write about anything under the sun, and I would enjoy reading it (not that there was ever doubt, but more like this provides the proof). An essay on shade shopping should be boring and lame, yet I found it interesting and relatable – even though I have no need or desire for shades. Please write a memoir when you finish with the Cottage!

  38. I agree that design shouldn’t make products lose functionality to be child proof. But it has long been known that any type of window treatment with a looped cord is a choking hazard for small children. It isn’t just one who has died from this over the years – it isn’t uncommon. So, parents need to pay attention to these hazards. The problem is, people often don’t. Parents I know pay a great deal of attention to some hazards, sometimes out of proportion to the actual risk, while blatantly refusing to address other hazards, some quite risky or quite commonly resulting in injury, even when pointed out to them. Parents just have so much going on to pay attention to, and often feel defensive about following all the well-known safety rules. Parents of small children tend to be sleep-deprived and overstressed, and aren’t always at their best in decision making, even when otherwise fairly logical. So manufacturers end up responding with design decision because parents don’t pay attention, and the lawsuit risk is real. Think of the example of child car seats. The vast majority of parents install or use them improperly – I’ve seen this with most of my friends with kids frequently – even with all the focus on installing them correctly, taking advantage of free help to do so, and car accidents being the leading cause of death in small children. Anyway, I’m glad to know there are still functional shades out there with the cord loops, but I’m sorry they aren’t available at Ikea prices anymore.

  39. Thanks Daniel!

    I have a stack of the ENJE blinds that all need to be properly cut and installed. But after reading your post, I think I will take them all back. I honestly don’t have a problem with the manual pull (without a cord, I kind of like the minimalist nature of it). And I had intended to craft something to replace the plastic pull that would have been in keeping with my decor. But what I really don’t want to do is have to manually cut the blinds. That terrifies me. So if i can buy custom sizes from Lowes, I am so in!

  40. You can’t believe you wrote this much about roller blinds, and I can’t believe I read it all! Roller blinds – they’ve never been this fascinating! My blinds (not custom, but I have standard windows) are from Bed Bath & Beyond, and I love them!

  41. I think I get it! We moved recently and have a dozen windows to cover. It get’s so ridiculously expensive, and I’m like you, I’d rather not have anything at all. Currently I have my old interior design senior project vellum sheets from the 80s taped up to the windows.

  42. Member of team “get your window treatments off my windows” here as well! We use the (in theory) removable window film you have to measure & cut. It’s also not as cheap as I would like, but has worked. Glad to know this shade option is out there!

  43. Timely and informative post. So glad to know Lowe’s carries these solar shades. I like my privacy but I also like the softened light coming in. The night photo was helpful and it was nice to see your custom made Marimekko doggie bed being happily used.

  44. April 4, 2008 a one year old child died after getting a cord from an Ikea blind wrapped around their neck. Ikea recalled and redesigned their blinds with cords. Their redesign resulted in an inferior product. But I thought it might help to know there was a child death that lead to the change and not just fearmongering. I know it’s a whole other debate, how much we child-proof the world, and in what ways, and I don’t really want to have it, just want to make sure you know.

  45. Are those giant bugs on the sheepskin in the last pic????

    Always nice to get a peek of Linus. I still love his rescue story

    • I sure hope not! The sheep does have some large black spots, though.

      Oh, little Linus. Always sleeping!

  46. Of course it would be a tad absurd to ship European ENJEs to you. But it might just be possible if I hear back from you quickly. Please check your email…

  47. Really useful/helpful post! It is so hard to find affordable, inoffensive window coverings. I especially appreciate the last photo from outside looking in. I like a bit more privacy than that but also want to let in a lot of light, so it’s a struggle to find the right balance.

    And that was a very mature, thoughtful answer to the cord issue. I might not have been so diplomatic.

  48. I almost don’t want to admit this, but… you kind of blew my mind with this: “It came with this little plastic piece to screw into the casing to keep the chain taut, but I broke it off and tossed it.” OF COURSE I can toss those. Never mind that I’ve had them on my casings for the last five years; as of tonight, they’re gone.

  49. Thank you SO much for this post, Daniel! I’ve been wanting a roller shade for a large front picture window forever. Lowe’s should pay you for this post because I’m sure they’re going to get plenty of new business! I’ll be going with something more opaque since the point of the shade is to send a “you’re off duty now” message to my dog (who thinks her purpose in life is to look out that window and bark at all passersby).

  50. At last! Shipping them from the other side of the world really was a bit mad but when you like something…you get a bit crazy! These blinds look fabulous, if not better, and I bet you have a huge relieved smile on your face each time you walk in the room. Really pleased that you got there in the end x

  51. They look really great and it’s good to know Lowe’s has such a decent option. When we moved into our house and I saw the previous owners had had custom roller shades made and installed (which look very similar to yours!) I did a happy dance. They let in light when rolled down, make us feel cozy and not on display at night and hardly take up any visual space when rolled up during the day (and let us get all the natural light we can get – v. important in Seattle!). I totally agree that curtains can look lovely but in my own place I can’t handle them!

  52. Daniel, honey, I hate to break this to you, but the Canadian Enjes are now exactly the same. I should know (sigh).

    Thanks for finding an elegant solution for our guest suite (the only place we have blinds). Time to upgrade!

  53. I think you forgot to mention that this post was sponsored by Lowes.

    • Actually, it wasn’t, in any way, shape, or form. I purchased the products with my own money and was not compensated in any way to talk about them.

      I always, always have and will disclose clearly if a post is sponsored.

  54. Nice find! Making note. Our kitchen used to have a roller shade and then after our reno we’ve been living without anything. P.S. “Window treatment” makes my skin crawl too.

  55. What a relief! You’ve done my homework for me. I admit I was eyeballing the shades @ Loew’s when I was there to pick up the paint for my bathroom. Now it’s a no-brainer.
    I fall most definitely in the minimal window treatment camp; natural light is good for the soul. I have a levelor blind (I think) over my living room picture window that has literally never been down the whole time I have lived in the house.
    I guess that LInus has not figured out that that pillow is really more for Mekko. I could spot that design @ 1,000 yards. Bit of self-indulgence; bought a Marrimekko raincoat when they had a winter sale & I cannot wait for spring when it gets it’s debut.
    As always, thanks for your efforts & wonderful way of articulating them.

  56. Ok after living for 8 years with my neighbors watching us eat, I just ran out and ordered 5 of these for all of our first floor windows. Currently 15% off at my Lowes (philly). Thanks so much! Here’s hoping I measured correctly!

  57. Ha ha. I followed a link from another blog (Terrace Place) and thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I too hate 99% of window treatments (and 80% of the ones I currently have in my home). It is just so hard/stressful that I keep avoiding the whole issue. Congratulations for sorting it out and thanks for making me laugh!

  58. I bought a lovely, old 1950s house that had fabric-coated vertical blinds that I hated beyond all reason. Fifteen years later guess what still hangs in those same windows? I’m willing to fork over the money but what I don’t want is to spend a fortune and still not like how it looks. My biggest problem has been that the windows are double-hung and there is not enough room to install the hardware without it sticking out. I have the same problem as a similar poster with the Shade Store, their roller shades only work with modern windows unless you don’t mind the whole valence/outside mount look.

    Bottom line, I’m on my way to Lowe’s this morning. Athough, I feel a bit like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football.

  59. Rejoicing with you! Those shades are nice! (Lowe’s is the BEST!)

  60. Another great source for roller shades (at a great price) is blindsgalore.com, their house brand. I am not affiliated with them, but read about them on apartmenttherapy.com. I’ve done most of the shades in my house with lightblocking rollershades, and they have turned out great, at well below $100 per shade (usually more like $30-40 per shade). Also, they can potentially be customized with fabric and matte Modge-Podge.

  61. Lowe’s is an occasional sponsor of manhattan nest’s projects, no?

    • Yep, I have worked with Lowe’s both in my own laundry room and for the makeover of the exterior of the cottage! I do most of my renovation-related shopping there, so it’s wonderful to occasionally have the opportunity to work with them, and I routinely recommend specific products and materials sold there!

      (I’m not sure if this question is in reference to Ryden’s comment above, but this post is not sponsored in any way. I always disclose when a post is sponsored both by categorizing it as such and including a disclosure statement, typically at the end of the post. Not that sponsorship affects the way that I would review a product, experience, etc, but I do take disclosure VERY seriously regardless. You will never see a sponsored post on this blog where the sponsorship is not clearly noted, ever.)

  62. I’m so happy this post exists in the world. I would have loved to have stumbled across it 3 months ago when I was embroiled in my own shade buying experience, which made me realize some of the same things you did. All I wanted was something normal, and non-heideous. it doesn’t exist! It literally doesn’t exist! The more one learns about shades, the more one realizes that almost every shade out there has the texture of a diaper. I feel so passionately about the absurdity that is shade buying. So happy to come across a community of like-minded indignants.

  63. You’re asking yourself, why you wrote such a long post about shades, and I’m asking myself why I read such a long post about shades.. I don’t even like shades. For other people they’re okay, but not in my house – it’s probably because my windows don’t have any moldings.

    I think I read this all because I’m looking for nursery room curtains and it appears to be at least as difficult as finding the right shades. Sometimes I worry that I dont have more serious things to worry about.. but I’m glad you found what you were looking for, gives me hope.. haha.

    PS: “Window treatment” IS a term indeed – I’m with you 100%!

  64. Just in terms of a few comments related to Lowe’s sponsorship of this blog, I personally find it awesome that you actually shop at a store that also occasionally sponsors you. Isn’t that the point that bloggers are always trying to make? Namely, you buy their products regardless.

  65. Thank you for this post. I’ve been searching for great solar shades as well since the ENJE shades changed. Also, I love the Marimekko bed for the pup.

  66. Late to the party, but thanks for posting this. I’ll have to check them out!

  67. Just finished hanging them and I LOVE them. One of the five randomly came with instructions, but they are online too. Note- do not do what I did and take a measurement near the bottom of the window rather than up top where you will be hanging them (I get this defies logic in hindsight but who knows what I was thinking). Of course my windows are not square and I ended up having to cut one down that was almost 1/4″ too wide. Followed Door Sixteen’s instructions for cutting down Enje shades. Worked like a charm. Thanks again Daniel!

  68. We have also been on the solar-blind pain train lately. I tried one of those make-your-own-roller-blind with iron-on-plus-fabric things (a complete failure, looked more like avant garde fashion at the end) and the horrible vinyl cheapo roller (nothing says “welcome to my trailerpark” like vinyl.)

    Did you see these? http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Cordless-Smooth-lift-Solar-Shade-34-in.-x-61-in./6159075/product.html?refccid=W4L5CNTDFG536NCAR3FWKVL7IA&searchidx=9
    I admit, buying roller blinds off of Overstock seemed a bit sketchy, but these actually look pretty nice and the mounting and everything is the least visually offensive that I’ve seen. No chain but the slow roll-up is kinda classy. Privacy level similar to what you have shown, and they come in a bunch of lengths and colors. Which days they’re on sale seems to be random, but Overstock has carried them continuously for the eight months I’ve been looking so I think maybe they’re a standard offering. Might be worth a look if you do another room, at least worth the $40 to see if they spark your fancy.

    • Huh! I don’t think I saw those! I think it would take a lot of convincing for me to try another cordless option, though…I just can’t stand when simple things like that don’t work well! They do look pretty nice, though. Let me know how they are if you order them!

  69. Haa! This post made me laugh because I know exactly what you’ve been through. I use to always get the ENJE shades and was so bummed when IKEA changed them, the new version is a pain but because of its price point I’ve put them up in our home (though I too swore I wouldn’t)…we don’t open and close them much because they let so much light in and for now, they’re fine. I am thrilled to see you found another affordable option though and when we can afford to upgrade, I’ll be trying out Lowe’s options…thanks for the shade relief!

  70. Hi Daniel,

    Loved your post! I thought my bf and I were the only ones struggling with shades, opacity, size and price to fit our windows according to both our taste. At least it seemed so when we talk to friends. Unfortunately for us, Ikea shades do not fit our atypical size windows. We live in Canada and the choice here is not any better. We do not have Lowe’s in our province (Quebec) and I feel uncomfortable buying it online without seeing the exact color and opacity, nor do I wanna pay for samples. We ended up having it made custom and paid a fortune (almost $300 per window) mostly because no store carried our window size (everything was too short by a few inches lengthwise or widthwise.)
    Next place we’re buying, we’ll definitely take window size into consideration.
    Your homes are looking better and better every post, keep up the smart and good looking work and forget perfection, perfection is boring.
    :)

  71. how deep is your window? It doesn’t look that deep so I’m surprised you were able to get an inside mount. We went to lowes and they said because our window is only 1.5 Inch deep they highly recommended an outside mount but I don’t think that would look as nice. Would love to see close ups of the mount and hardware!

    • Yep, our window only has about 1″. It can be done!! I just have the front of the mounting brackets flush with the front of the casings, and some of the bracket sticks out behind and isn’t attached to anything. There are several screw holes on the brackets and the shades themselves aren’t very heavy, so I just screwed into what I could and didn’t worry about the rest. They aren’t going anywhere! So not the recommended/intended installation, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Inside mount was definitely important to me…I think it pretty much always looks much better and more subtle.

  72. thank you for this post. it made me feel better about my crazy – since i discovered it while googling “is there any replacement for the ikea enje shade?” however, at 130/pop, i’d have to say that the answer is still “no”. long live the enje. :)

  73. Be careful! My custom ordered allen + roth blinds broke after 1 year. Their warranty consists of: they will fix the blinds for up to 3 years. When uou call Vista blindx they give you a hard time. You have to pay shipping to and from the factory. Very disappointed. levelor has a much better warranty!

    • Yikes! That’s good to know!! If you happen to see this, would you mind explaining what broke? Mine seem to be holding up great but I’d like to know what to watch out for! You’re the first one to chime in with any problems. Hope it gets resolved!

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