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How To: Your Guide to Roman Shades

How To: Your Guide to Roman Shades

In the past month, we’ve gotten tons of great window treatment questions from our customers. Here’s our favorite, and one we think is pretty widely applicable especially if your home lends itself to roman shades: Why choose a custom roman shade over another window treatment — and probably just as important — how do you choose?

So often, we come across homes where the design budget shot through the roof before window treatments we’re even considered. We want to save you from this, or even worse, defaulting to the cheapest option that is probably not even appropriate for your situation.

While custom, full-length drapery has a well-deserved attention for its richness and drama, it oftentimes is not the best choice for your situation. You home might not be architecturally set-up for those custom linen drapery panels because of your mid-century rectangular windows or lack of ceiling height. Because many homes are short on space, 65% of the rooms we see are prime candidates for the highly functional and visually appealing roman shade.

Roman Shades: 4 Questions To Start With.

1. Do you prefer a window treatment that is a bit more streamlined, and less feminine?

2. Is your window located in a tight space, maybe surrounded by additional furniture?

3. Do you have a highly “busy” household (translated: active kids, dogs, and cats that own the space in question)?

4. Are your windows odd sizes, located in nooks, or hard-to-reach places?

If the answer was yes to two or more of these, then chances are custom roman shades are a solid option for the space in question.


Evaluating Fabric.

To kick things off, you’re going to start the process with material. We’re big believers in natural materials  — like linen. Belgian Linen is an absolute ideal fabric for roman shades because of its durability and tendency to hold its shape. With its natural slub texture, linen does not shed fibers as many synthetic materials do. It also softens the more it is used, is extremely durable, and can last for decades when cared for correctly.

Custom Roman Shades | Alva

Selecting Style Options.

Selecting a style is your next cross-road! The best way we’ve found to think about style, is thinking how you prefer the shade to lie when in the “closed” position on the window. We’ve created a simple rotating image so that you can get the idea of how your shade will look when slightly raised. Although, we’re fans of the Flat & Cascade styles due to their simple and modern aesthetic, don’t be shy about giving the relaxed, pleated, or tulip roman shades a look. Here’s two extra of tips to consider:

Are you windows very wide? If so, then we suggest you rule out the Relaxed roman shade. Although, they’re certainly on trend, and make for a laid-back vibe when paired with Belgian Linen. Since these shades are what we term “unconstructed”, they’ll gently bow when raised. Relaxed roman shades work best with windows less than 54”.

Will you use your roman shades primarily for decoration, or will they go up-and-down daily? If daily use is what you’re thinking, we suggest you rule out the Tulip shades, unless you don’t mind spending 3-minutes daily to re-style the shade.


Once you’ve settled on your fabric & style, you’ll need to consider how much light control you think you’re going to need. Liners are the fabric that is sewn to the back of the shade, that will soften or completely block the light coming in, as well as give structure to the shade itself. A common scenario is to have blackout liners on the roman shades in your master bedroom or nursery, & privacy liners in a guest room. Should you be living in a colder climate, adding thermal backing is a solid consideration, especially if you find your windows let in a slight draft.

Mounting Choices.

If you’re still reading this, & you’re feeling the roman shade will complement your space, then you’re ready to decide on the appropriate mount. This is basically whether this will go inside your window sill or outside.

For Cascade, Front Slat, or Flat Roman Shades — we absolutely love installing these inside the window when possible. They’ll fit flush, fell minimal, and allow any molding or border to accentuate the shade. Make sure you have at least 2” of depth

For Tulip or Relaxed Roman Shades — we generally like to suggest using an outside mount when possible. You can choose to mount this to a molding or at least 0.5” on both the left and right side of the window. Although, inside mounts are possible for these, due to the curved nature of these shades, the design and light control is generally better suited for Outside Mounts.

Roman Shades | Control Options

Controlling your Roman Shade.

Technology has advanced within the last few years in the window treatment industry. The introduction of Motorized Operation provides the ultimate in convenient, safe, and stylish way to dress your home.

If child safety is on the top of your mind, motorized or cordless controls are an excellent option for custom roman shades, and make for a safer environment for kids and pets. Outside of these you may opt for hand-controlled options like Cordlock or Continuous Loop. These mechanisms have withstood the test of time, and remain popular options.

Enter: Belgian Linen Roman Shades.

When incorporated into your design, you’ll find these window coverings literally play with the way light is being filtered, giving different effects throughout the day. If your aesthetic is casual, very relaxed, and organic, then Belgian Linen Roman Shades are the epitome of that chill, California-centric feel that you might be aiming for.

Shop this luxe material here.

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