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Window Coverings. I Like Solar Shades

By August 22, 2008


The Seattle Times has a rather humorous article on a window covering battle in Queen Anne, Women block windows to keep peering neighbors out:

They waged a fierce battle involving spotlights, construction paper and crude signs, but in the end roommates Sophie Parker and Karen Linebarger bowed to the realities of city living and tinted their windows, lengthened their blinds and stopped strolling around their apartment in underclothes.

Picture of the battle:

I had a similar revelation one day. For the longest time I didn’t have window coverings for my place and would walk around not really worrying about people seeing in because I didn’t really think anyone was or would. That is until one day I realized that just because I couldn’t see into the neighboring building didn’t mean they couldn’t see into mine. My realization was that they had tinted their windows while my windows were not tinted; they could see me but I couldn’t see them.

That and the onset of summer put my window covering search in high gear.

My first consideration was solar shades from The Shade Store. This is where I bought the blackout shades for my bedroom.

After having lunch with Rob Sinclair of HTI I then became enamored with automated window coverings that raised and lowered with the sun’s position in the sky but ruled those out after I got a ~$10,000 quote which is pretty pricey considering manual solar shades would run $800 to $1500 depending on the vendor. Also with automated shades instead of having one in each of my 8 windows, they’d install 3 large window coverings spanning windows .

At about the same time my friend Rob pointed out that JC Penny’s was having a father day’s sale where solar shades were $30/window, much cheaper than $10,000 and cheaper than the solar shades I found online that were in the $80-$150/window range. So I ordered them but they turned out to be too good to be true. They were indeed cheap looking but also lacked a pull cord mechanism to raise and lower them. With 70″ high windows I needed a cord. Fortunately I was able to return them which is not true of all solar shades.

I then ordered samples from JustBlinds, SelectBlinds and Smith and Noble.

I liked the patterns from JustBlinds the best, they turned out to be a little more expensive than SelectBlinds who had a big sale at the time, but were still much cheaper at $90/window that the Shade Store. I’m sure some of you would hesitate about buying window coverings online but I found many of the shops had both satisfaction and quality guarantees and were featured on numerous home improvement shows. This and the ability to get samples ahead of time gave me the confidence that I’d like the finish product and if I didn’t I’d have some sort of recourse. Of course they don’t have a guarantee against you messing up the measuring so I must have measured each window 10 times to ensure I got it right.

Once they arrived a week after ordering I found them relatively easy to install after I gave up on trying to level them relative to anything (turns out that in an eighty year old building nothing is level.) My only compliant is that the pull cord is plastic and not metal but I’m sure with a little of effort I could replace them with new cords.

What I like best about the solar shades is that they block the sun but still allow me to enjoy my view when they are down. However, my south west corner place still cooks up to around 85′ on hot days.

In the end it also looks like the Queen Anne girls also settled on solar shades:

Update: Here’s some pictures of my window coverings.

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