Basically a roman shade is a style of window treatment consisting of a fabric shade with wood slats which are inserted horizontally at intervals down the length of the shade. However, some newer roman shades do not have the slats because of the advent of new sheer, lightweight fabrics. A roman shade can be raised or lowered via a pull cord. But unlike a mini blind, the fabric gathers or folds (like an accordion) as you raise the shade depending on the style: flat fold (gathers) or hobbled fold (folds), also known as teardrop style.

Roman shades are known by many names: fabric shades, pleated shades, Romanesque shades, roman window shades, roman pleated shades, and more. They are also known as Roman blinds but this is mostly a misnomer because blinds technically have slats or louvers like mini blinds and shutters that can be opened to allow in light or closed for privacy. Shades roll-up or fold-up.

Roman Shades come in come in many colors, styles and fabrics including, silk, cotton, linen, weaves and bamboo. And with many features like, pleated, hobbled, flat fold, top down bottom up, blackout liners and even insulated liners. You can choose roman shades that are sheer and will let in a fair amount of light even when closed, to semi opaque all the way to opaque.

Roman Shades can lend a rich, textured and warm look to a room. From an interior design standpoint, roman shades, by their nature, lean towards a more casual look. However, this depends greatly on the materials, colors and features. If you want a more formal look, you may want to consider roman shades with the pleated fold or teardrop style in maybe a silk or linen fabric. An additional benefit to choosing roman shades is that they offer a nice departure from the all-to-common vertical blinds or mini blinds. You can decorate your room in a fashion that not everyone else is using.

Roman shades are kind of a cross between a curtain and a shade, a hybrid if you will. Except that the fabric is horizontally oriented as opposed to vertically. They offer all that rich material and color, like drapes (especially the hobbled fold) with the easy operation of a shade. In my opinion, the flat fold roman shade has an almost oriental or middle-eastern look whereas the hobbled roman shade has a more classical, Grecian-look. If you’d like to see some graphic examples, try Google’s or Yahoo’s image search. It’s nice to see how they look in a room setting.

From a price standpoint, roman shades are on the high-end of the spectrum, comparable to woven wood shades or possibly cellular shades. If you shop around, discount roman shades can be found. I would recommend using on of the shopping engines like Shopzilla or PriceGrabber to compare prices. One should note that the price listed on the shopping engines is usually for the smallest size available, therefore the cheapest, which can be a little misleading. The various online retailers want to get your attention with the lowest cost.