Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

How to order custom window blinds! Week 7 ORC guest room

Window coverings can be so hard! Aside from the curtains vs. shades vs. both decision, once you decide to go with blinds or shades, shopping for them can be really difficult. If you're looking somewhere like Amazon/Wayfair/Home Depot read-made, you won't have a lot of options for lengths or features. If you shop with a custom blind company that comes out and measures for you, you can spend a fortune! If you shop at an affordable custom online blind company, you can get exactly what you want at a reasonable price, but there are SO many options it can be really overwhelming. 

Well, I'm here to help. I've ordered custom blinds from several different companies and can walk you through the options and what to consider!

Also, it's week 7 of the One Room Challenge and this guest room is really coming together!

New here?

If you're new to this blog from the ORC site, welcome!! I'm Suzannah, a longtime DIYer and design lover currently making over our 1937 Tudor revival style home, our second fixer-upper. I have a 2-year-old and baby on the way, but my husband and I have done almost all of the work on our homes ourselves! I've blogged about all of it so you can check out my tutorials page and room reveals to see. You can also follow along with me and my projects on Instagram! I also co-host the Your Home Story podcast!

See all my posts about this ORC here!

How to order custom window blinds

As you may remember from the before pics of this room, it had white Venetian blinds to start. My friends/clients who own the home installed those shortly after they moved in, when they had guests coming and needed a quick, easy fix. They were thick plastic and were super heavy and hard to pull on for such a wide window. And, they weren't blackout, which isn't ideal for a guest room.

The window is short, high, and wide, which means curtains are possible but will look a little funny since most of what they'd be covering (if they went to the floor) would be wall. But, we really wanted to soften this window (not white plastic) and add function (something easier to open that was full blackout). 

Why go custom?

I don't always recommend custom. (I have these ready-made ones on 7 windows in our current house!) Window treatments are expensive no matter which route you go, but you can definitely save money if you like something that comes in the right width and close to the right length.

Length is the main reason I recommend custom blinds or shades. On a ranch house's short windows, or on small windows like in a bathroom or kitchen, it's really doubtful that a standard 5'+ long shade will work! It would pool at the bottom like crazy when down, and be all bunched up at the top when open.

Style is also a great reason. You have a lot more selection from most custom window treatment companies--pick any shade of bamboo, pick from a ton of shades of fabric, etc.!

You can also customize things like blackout, top-down, which side the cord is on, or cordless, when you order custom. Some of these add a lot of cost, others don't.

How to order custom shades

I'll be brief on the first step to ordering custom blinds or shades: choosing the style and size. My favorite title right now is Roman shades. I love a linen look for our home. Bamboo look/woven wood shades are also really popular right now, best for a home with a slightly more boho or airy look. For a more traditional or maximalist look, a colored fabric (even a stripe or pattern!) can be really lovely, especially when paired with curtains over. Roller shades are old-fashioned and simple, and don't block hardly any light at the top when open, but also don't add much style. I can't think of many cases when I would choose a Venetian blind or honeycomb shade these days.

The size you need depends on the choice 1 below (inside or outside mount). Take multiple measurements of the inside opening of your window and measure the depth of the trim. Factor in if you have wide or no window trim at the top and sides, and if you really really really want or need 100% full blackout effect, have curtains over, or don't want to block any light when the blind is all the way open.

Once you choose the material and type of shade or blind, you'll be faced with lots of options before you complete your order. Aside from the size, you'll also have to choose the following. (Note: the most basic blinds/shades don't have as many choices. Premium/"better"/"best" quality options will come with more potential configurations, etc.)
  1. Inside vs. outside mount. Inside mount is great because it doesn't hide any of the window trim, which can be very pretty and match the rest of the room. It's also nice even on windows without upper trim because it's easy to install within the opening of the window and it's clear where the window opening starts. However, the 6" or so of the shade when pulled up will block light. Also note that you need at least a couple inches of space within the opening or trim to mount the brackets. (We don't have this on our living room windows but I went inside mount anyway, and the top valance just sticks out 12" or so.) I am almost always Team Inside Mount, but there are times when you need to go with outside.
  2. Liner. No liner is cheapest, but then from the street when closed people will see wood or color instead of white. A liner also adds to light blocking so the color will look more pure from the inside of the room. A blackout liner is great for bedrooms or if you're trying to block heat from coming in in the morning or afternoon (east or west windows) or all day in the summer (south windows). (Also, important note: bamboo/woven wood shades are not opaque so people from the street will be able to see through to shapes and light inside the house unless you choose a privacy or blackout fabric liner.)
  3. Top-down or bottom-up. Top-down is a great option if you need privacy but not always light blockage. The reason I love these ready-made ones we have on 7 windows is they are a budget-friendly top-down option--we are close to our neighbors on one side but I still want light coming in, so I open them from the top every morning in our bedroom and living room! But you don't really need this option for a window like ours in this ORC project--it's short and high and doesn't face neighbors or the street.
  4. Flat w/ valance or no valance (also called standard shade vs. waterfall shade). If you want top-down, you'll need the valance to cover the hardware. The no-valance or waterfall option also sticks out a bit more from the glass, so isn't as good for blackout or keeping cold out.
  5. Cord, cordless, or loop. Because of the dangers and child strangulation incidences associated with cords, a lot of companies don't even make a corded option anymore. But for a high, short window like the one in this ORC project (a toddler wouldn't be able to reach it), corded is fine, and is usually the cheapest. A continuous cord loop is also a nice, kind of hybrid option (metal chain connected to the inside of the window opening at the bottom, so it never dangles). You may also see options for motorized lifts with a wand or remote in this part of the customization options. Motorized can get very expensive, but if you have windows that are 12' up or something that may be the only/best way to open and close them! Or if you have a lot of windows in one room and want all the blinds to open and close at once (at the touch of a button), this could be an option.
  6. More than one blind on one headrail. This is a great choice for really wide windows. You can have 2-3 individual blinds coming down under one valance, so that you can open left or right or middle independently. Great if the sun always comes in and hits your spot at the table on one side but not the other (also a reason to do curtain panels on top, but in case you don't want to) or if you have a very wide window, because doing one really wide shade or blind can get really heavy!
  7. Edge binding. For a more traditional home, you may want the finished look of an edge binding. For a more relaxed look, no edge binding (especially for a woven wood shade.)
  8. Extension brackets & spacer blocks. These make the shade mount stick out further for an outside mount option, if the window trim gets in the way. 
  9. Hold-down brackets. These make the bottom of the shade/blind stay in place. I've most commonly seen them used on French doors or a large window on a door, where you'll be swinging it around and need something more than gravity can provide. They're probably not needed on most window coverings.

Some affordable sources for custom shades: (we considered these for the woven wood/bamboo look for this guest room)):

For this project, we ordered the Woven Wood Shades from Just Blinds with these customizations. Kept it pretty simple, other than adding the blackout liner.

Most inside mount blinds are super simple to install--just screw in the brackets, then line up the bolts with the slats in the blinds and screw the nut on. (See more photos of a very similar installation at our last house here.)

They look great and add the warmth we wanted, plus are much easier to open/close than the thick, heavy plastic ones from before! Can't wait to show you more of this room!

Follow along with all my posts about this ORC here!

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