Monthly Archives: June 2014

A History Lesson on Roman Shades


One of the best selling window covering categories these days is Roman Shades. Any idea how they orginated? The Roman shade the simplest and one of the oldest window treatments, is a flat shade that can be raised or lowered with a cord. While the body of a Roman shade is started out as flat and smooth; today there is a variety of styles from Relaxed to Pleated and Hobble.shade (2)

The origins of Roman shades probably date to Rome’s famed Coliseum, the ancient arena that was the site of the famed Roman spectacles. Excavations of the Coliseum have revealed that the Romans used amazing technological and engineering advances to create shows, including flooding the huge arena to stage mock naval conflicts. One of those innovations was the forerunner to Roman Shades- a system of retractable fabric shades that were part of the luxurious amenities offered to spectators of the grandiose spectales of Imperial Rome. According to the Smithsonian:

During the intermezzos between hunts, spectators were treated to a range of sensory delights. Handsome stewards passed through the crowd carrying trays of cakes, pastries, dates and other sweetmeats, and generous cups of wine. Snacks also fell from the sky as abundantly as hail, one observer noted, along with wooden balls containing tokens for prizes—food, money or even the title to an apartment—which sometimes set off violent scuffles among spectators struggling to grab them. On hot days, the audience might enjoy sparsiones (“sprinklings”), mist scented with balsam or saffron, or the shade of the vela, an enormous cloth awning drawn over the Coliseum roof by sailors- or quite simply- Roman Shades.

These long awnings were constructed to open into the arena and offered some sun protection.  The awnings were held out on poles that extended into the stands.  When they were not in use the shades pleated back on themselves like our modern Romans.  The difference was that the original Roman shades hung horizontally out from the wall.  Today’s Roman shades hang vertically in front of the window.Though today’s forerunner is different from today’s version, the genius system of ropes and pulleys used to move this flexible sunscreen were crucial to the development of the Roman Shade.

Today’s Roman shades offer design clients a huge variety of  styles with endless options when it comes to details.



What’s next in Roman Shade stylings? How about Roman shades hung from poles and rings? Orion’s Milano collection consists of  5/8″ rods , rings and support brackets with almost a dozen finial choices from glass and iron to beads. Next time you’re showing Roman Shades show these on trend options to your clients.



roman with rod



Our Milano Collection Finials


The headrail support bracket

Build a Designer’s Toolbox


I have often been asked to post my list of must-haves when it comes to building a Designer’s Toolbox for designing and selling custom window treatments and decorative hardware.  This is an indispensable kit, I keep in my van and it is has solved customer service issues, saved call backs; but most importantly, it is critical to my planning process when it comes to designing window treatments and specifying drapery hardware. Here’s what I have in my tool box. What’s in yours?

  • Steel Tape Measure- 1” X 25’  I like the Fat Max
  • Visualization samples
  • Protractor
  • Blue masking tape- always check you have the right release type.
  • Measuring Forms
  • Roll of blackout lining- 10 yard bolt. I use to create mockups if the client is having a problem visualizing
  • Bead Chain- use to drape silhouettes, treatment shapes for client for clients
  • Needle and thread in white off white, black
  • Roll of kraft or vellum paper for templates
  • Tailor’s chalk to trace templates
  • Bracket “key set” – this way I can make sure the treatment I am choosing will mount properly
  • Decorative Hardware Bracket “key set”
  • Decorative hardware Ring  “key set”
  • Hinged Protractor
  • Eurostick
  • Installation Template
  • Contour Gauge- a must for cutouts
  • Pinsetter
  • Flexi Tape measure great for bedding and specialty windows
  • Dust Board Hinge plate protractor
  • Digital Camera- actually I now use my iPad or smartphone.
  • template

    Bracket Template- Rowley Company


    Hinged Protractor- Rowley Company


    Eurostick measuring Stick- Rowley Company


    Dustboard Hinged protractor


    Contour Gauge – Purchase at any home improvement center

Speaking of my iPad, I am now collecting al kinds of virtual/digital tools for planning and designing window treatments and hardware. But that’s a whole other post! A must- have app is certainly either My Measure Pro App or Photo Measures App.


My Measures Pro available in Android or ios versions

Last, but not least, the only way to really sell drapery hardware is to make sure you have samping and finish selectors. Showing customers finishes off of a 4 color brochure just doesn’t cut it; especially if she is spending thousands of dollars. Check out Orion’s Designer’s Bag and Finish Selector binder and add those to your toolbox.

designers bag finish selecotr


Rowley Company is the industry’s gold standard when it comes to installation, workroom and design supplies. Check it out HERE.