Options for window treatments are nearly as endless as the vistas they’re designed to frame. Between shades, blinds, curtains, and drapes, it’s often hard to figure out which one’s right for you. While all of the options have their own strengths, it’s hard to look past the classics.
The Roman shade has been at it for hundreds of years. While there’s a lot of debate surrounding the origins of the famed window treatment, there’s one thing most can agree on: its name is no misnomer — the Roman shade originated in ancient Rome. From there, though, things get a little murky.
One version of the story is described by Shading Systems Inc., “Before what we know as Roman shades were used, a wet cloth was draped over the windows of those that lived in Rome for several reasons. There was much construction going on like that of the Roman Coliseum … Not only was there much construction going on in Rome, people traveled by dirt roads … Dust filled the air because of the construction and the means of travel used by the people.”
Another take on the tale has a predecessor to the Roman shade being made to shield Coliseum spectators from the sun on clear days.
This version is put forth by Strickland Window Coverings and Orion Ornamental, and is supported with information by Smithsonian Magazine. As described by the Orion, “The origins of Roman shades are often said to date to Rome’s famed Colosseum [sic] … A system of retractable fabric shades were part of the luxurious amenities offered to spectators.”
It’s important to observe that, while these stories are different, they don’t exactly contradict each other. Indeed, Next Day Blinds’ version of the story seems to combine elements from each account. Regardless of their origin, one thing is certain: the Roman shade has been around for a while, and it’s not going anywhere soon.
Custom window treatments can be expensive. Emily Henderson says customs “will start to run you about $300 — $1,000 a piece,” but with the simple trick in the clip below, you’ll be able to repurpose that old set of wood blinds into a glamorous Roman shade with not much more than the cost of fabric.
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