Roman Shade Styles: Which Style is Right for Your Windows?

From classic to modern and formal to casual, Roman shades are the perfect choice to add style to your windows. Combining the softness of curtains or draperies with the functionality of a shade, they are the designer choice to dress up a window. With hundreds of fabrics to choose from and a variety of styles and options, choosing the right style of Roman shades can be a little overwhelming. Read along as we provide you with the pros and cons of today’s four most popular styles. We also have design tips for you, so let’s get started!

First tip, while you are researching Roman shades, many companies mention light filtering and room darkening shades. This is achieved by the lining choice. Some have suggested choosing a thicker fabric to achieve more privacy or room darkening. While less light will come through a thicker fabric, it is not the best choice for a Roman shade as it will make your shade appear bulky when raised and it may even prevent your shade from raising properly. We recommend fabrics that fold easily and resist creasing or wrinkling. Some of our favorites are natural fibers like cotton and linen blended with polyester. These blends give you the texture and natural fabric look you desire with the ease of maintenance and functionality of a polyester. Budget Blinds sources top of the line vendors that provide fabric choices and lining choices, from light filtering, and thermal, to room darkening or blackout; to create the shade look you want with the proper functionality you need.

Secondly, some of you may be thinking Roman shades are out of style because all you have seen are “poofy” Roman shades. You may have grown up or decorated your house in the 90’s when balloon Roman shades were popular! Today’s most popular Roman shade styles are much more tailored in appearance. With new cordless and affordable motorized options, they can provide a clean modern updated look. In fact, the four most popular styles are:

  • Standard Flat Fold
  • Plainfold or Knife Pleat
  • Soft fold or Hobbled
  • Relaxed or European

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each style. First up is the standard Flat Fold Roman shade. As the shade’s name implies this shade is flat when lowered. It is the perfect style for a bold or large print that you do not want to disrupt with any seams going across the shade. This style folds up into a neat tailored stack at the top of your window. One thing to watch out for on this shade, is it can look a little too casual, and the side a little wavy, if not constructed with hidden rods or stays attached between the fabric and lining. The rods also help this style “dress” itself into nice tailored folds when raised. The flat fold is one of the most affordable styles as it uses the least amount of fabric due to the shades simple flat design. With the money you save, add drapery panels on either side for the ultimate in softness and style! Easier than opening and closing curtains every day, you simply raise and lower your Roman shade daily and the drapery panels hang undisturbed on either side.  If your window is large or too tall to reach a cordless Roman shade, a motorized shade is the utmost in convenience. You can open and close your shades daily with just the push of a button. Combining drapes and shades is one of our favorite layered combinations!

Next is the Plain Fold or Knife Pleat Roman shade. This style is one of the most popular especially when using a solid fabric. The shade has seams sewn across the shade which not only add stability to the sides but give some visual interest to the shade. The seams also help the shade fold up or “dress” itself as it is raised into neat folds at the top of the window. The plain fold is also the perfect style for a door. Due to the construction with seams across the shade it hangs nicely tailored on the long narrow glass area of a door. Design Tip: If installing outside mount for example, like on a door, add a valance to the shade and make sure the shade itself comes off the back of the headrail. This assures that the shade will hang close to the glass providing the best privacy and light control. Otherwise, when the shade comes off the front of the headrail it will hang 3” or more away from the glass, effecting the privacy and energy efficiency of the shade. Options like this are why hiring a professional to assist you with your window treatments makes all the difference, and can save you money and frustration! At Budget Blinds, we not only want your window covering to fit your style and make your home more beautiful, but we want it to function correctly to meet your needs from privacy and energy efficiency to operating safely for your entire family.

Roman Shades and Drapery in Living Room

Another popular style is the Soft Fold or Hobbled Shade. The beauty of this style is that even when lowered this shade has soft loops or folds of fabric making it a perfect choice for shades that will be down the majority of the time. If you are going to leave your shades raised most of the time we suggest one of the other styles, as this style tends to be more voluminous when raised and does require additional fabric which adds to the cost. This style is not recommended for light weight or sheer fabrics as they will not hold their shape and the loops will just look flat when the shade is lowered. You may also want to consider a subtle print or tone on tone solid for this style since there is a lot going on with the loops of fabric. This shade style is truly the most elegant of the 4 styles and is often used in living, dining and master bedrooms.

Roman Shade in Bathroom

Last but not least the fourth most popular style is the Relaxed Roman. Sometimes called a European style Roman shade, which has a gentle curve at the bottom. This relaxed style is charming and casual and depending on fabric selection it can fit almost every style. It is most popular in French Country, Cottage and Traditional. This style is best suited on a window where you will position the shade and leave it for decorative style and semi-privacy. Why? Because when lowered this shade can look a little slouchy or messy. On a long narrow window or door, it just hangs flat and unstructured when lowered and you lose the charm of the gentle curve of layers that the shades have when raised a little. Because of the curved design the shade does require some shaping and dressing so it is not the most functional for every day raising and lowering, but it is the perfect shade to add charm and style to a kitchen or breakfast nook where you can leave it halfway lowered to block that early morning sun yet enjoy the view out your window. This shade can also be cordless so there are no dangling cords to take away from the style or create a hazard for children or pets.

Roman Shade in Windowsill

 Another option with this style, if you simply love the shade style but want privacy too, is to combine it with another shade. If you have enough depth in your window mount a room light filtering or blackout roller shade inside the window and the Relaxed Roman shade on the outside of the window. Leave the Roman shade positioned with its gentle curve for style and then raise and lower the roller shade for privacy and light control. When not in use roll the cordless roller shade up behind the Roman shade. To see if you have the proper depth to mount this combination and assure proper proportion and fit, schedule a complimentary in-home or virtual* consultation with your local Budget Blinds Design Consultant.

While there are a lot of options to consider, don’t be overwhelmed! Your local Budget Blinds Design Consultant will bring the fabrics, lining choices and style samples to your home. You will be amazed at how seeing these in your home makes the process so much easier. With the guidance and experience of your Budget Blinds Design Consultant, the process of selecting the perfect style and fabric for your home will be informative and fun! Plus, from measuring, custom designing and ordering to installation we take care of everything for you! To find the Budget Blinds Design Consultant nearest you and to schedule a complimentary in-home or virtual* consultation go to .

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