The Survival of Utility and Splendor
There are some things that just don’t die. The inherent quality of a survivor is resilience, apart from verve. We can never erase some people from our memories, can never get rid of that childhood experience, or that jingle that comes unbidden to memory. Unremarkable to some but unforgettable to others. The Gucci shoes; Chanel perfume; Lois Vuitton bags; Victorinox knives; Rolls Royce cars; Rolex watches; Ferrari sports cars; the handmade Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks; the Delft crockery; the fond memory of eating pastrami on freshly baked rolls in Verona; the peaceful sojourn drifting down a Venetian canal in a gondola; that splendid taste of turkey on rye in an English pub; the taste of sunshine on your tongue as you sample a Bordeaux wine…well, the list isn’t endless to be sure!! Speaking of, what happened to good old Schumacher? The last I’d heard, he was home, though still in a coma….here’s hoping for a miracle. Now that’s another memory for you – the daredevil on the race track with a never say die attitude, and a flashing smile announcing victory every single time! Every time the Dom Perignon was popped open, the gleam would only get brighter! The classic example of ‘hell on wheels’!
In the old days, wooden roofs and floors were no big deal, but with da Vinci’s Michelangelo, marble caught on in a big way, not just for sculpting, but also for flooring, steel and iron rafters and tiling paving the way for more durable roofs as well. Today, the world over, one needs to pay a premium price for all things wooden; but never fear, with sustainable forestry practices on the rise in the US and Canada, wood is making a comeback, which is great news for people who love the warmth and wonder of polished wood!
So, culturally, there was a lot of rumble from the Italian Peninsula, and they’re still the masters of their craft, as evidenced by the popularity of their cuisine (pizzas, gelato, and salami), the opera, their cars – youngsters salivate over the Lamborghini Gallardo – and tourists thronging to Italy as their ideal holiday destination, to experience the Sistine, da Vinci and the Vatican, not least the lascivious Romeos that excite the young feminine souls! And today, gladiator movies take us back to the days of the Colosseum, when barbaric but spectacular shows were put up for entertainment, man and beast wrestling it out for supremacy! And when the sun got hot, Italian innovation in the form of the Velarium was deployed over the sporting arena to provide shade for the spectators who would otherwise get roasted in the hot Mediterranean sun! The Velarium was a retractable awning system made of canvas operated by pulleys and ropes, used as shading at the Colosseum. The shade would fold over itself in accordion pleats, to be stored away when not in use, a similar system employed by the popularly used window coverings of today, the Roman Shades. The Roman Shades or Blinds seemed to have survived the centuries, providing incredible protection from the sun, offering privacy and insulation at the same time.
The Roman Shading Mechanism
Reapers or battens are fixed at evenly spaced intervals on the body of the shade, and small metal or plastic rings or eyelets screwed onto the reapers through which cords pass along the length of the shade that allow soft pleats to form when the shade is lifted or let down. One end of the cord is fastened to the ring on the hem bar, threaded through the vertically aligned eyelets, the other end of the cord attached to the pulley that is concealed in the head rail, which enables the fabric of the shades to crease into accordion folds. The pulley system is probably the only factor that seems to have progressively changed to accommodate modern requirements of ease in shade operations.
The lift system used in Roman Shades is similar to that of Roller Shades except that the fabric does not retract into the roller tube, but the cord winds around spools concealed in the head rail. The shades are fabricated with an intense eye for detail that one wouldn’t even be able to make out that there are eyelets attached to the battens at all. The Roman shade is an outstanding alternative to the rather boring drapes, and for those who prefer a combination of the sumptuousness of drapery and the utility of a roller shade system, Roman Shades are IT. Roman Shades are crafted in various styles that allow them to be used in any setting possible, from the state-of-the-art modern to the stuffy traditional. RollEase, in collaboration with reputed window shading specialists, has provided intrinsically smooth state of the art manual clutch-driven operating/lift mechanisms that eliminate most of the operational problems faced by users.
The Various Roman Shade Styles
Roman shades have evolved through the centuries to provide a feast for the senses! From the original sleek and functional style to the Austrian Style Roman Shades, one can opt for a variety of shade styles from operable to stationary, from formal to casual, to offset or complement any number of settings. Some of the styles include –
1. The Classic Flat Roman falls straight and flat down the length of a door or window, without the fuss of ruches. They provide simple elegance,creasing into neat pleats at the bottom as it’s raised. They look great in stripes, and bold patterns as there aren’t any seams to create interruptions on the face of the fabric. Block colors hold their own, and can be embellished with contrasting, plain or printed edging for extra élan. Some manufacturers offer the option of cuffs (narrow pleats) at the top or bottom of the classic Roman; at the top, they create a valance effect that adds to their simple appeal.
2. The Reverse Fold Roman or the seamed Roman has the stiffeners or battens or reapers sewn into the back of the fabric, the stitching allowed to show in front. Sometimes, the seams are given a piped look for stylistic detailing. The style works best with railroaded fabrics for continuity of patterns.
3. The Hobbled or Teardrop Roman leaves the face of the Roman folded or bunched at regular intervals provided by the battens, creating a softly shuttered effect that shows off the decadence of fabrics. They offer luxurious looks to windows. When the folds are tailored deeper, they produce a cascading effect that transforms them into Waterfall Romans.
4. The Relaxed or Soft Roman sports a fullness to the fabric at the hem that allow a pleasing curvature to the hem, hence the term ‘relaxed’ Roman. This style fits in best in a casual setting, though I would go so far as to decorate the windows of a room filled with slim and classically elegant upholstered furniture with this style to soften the looks of the classic staidness. The relaxed Roman works best as outside mounts as you don’t want its looks defaced by the curve resting straight on a window sill, as it would with inside mounts.
5. The Slouch Roman is similar to the relaxed Roman with a full bottom edge that is nipped on either side to provide more formal looks in some setting, and softer looks in others. When it sports a single vertical pleat on either side, the face of the Roman looks softer and fuller to transform into the Venice Style in some parts of the world, and the London Style in others.
6. The Balloon Roman Style is evinced by puffy festoons at the bottom, created by inverted pleats in the fabric. This style is the epitome of formality in traditional settings, offering a sumptuous fabric feel to the shades. These shades are also tailored to be stationary shades, functioning solely as decorative window styling. A more relaxed look can be achieved with the Shirred Balloon Roman Style that sports fullness across the width of the shade.
7. The Austrian Style is crafted by creating puffy shirrs along the width of the shade fabric, nipping it a regular vertical intervals to create a frilly Roman Shade that works well with all manner of settings or interiors.
Like the trusty stalwarts, the drapes, Roman Shades too can be decorated with boxed, pleated, shirred, and swaged valances, in addition to numerous frills, tassels, and rick racks that elevate their appeal. Manufacturers like Graber also provide coordinated cushions and upholstery that make for beautiful, finished interior appearances, in silks, linen, polyester blends, jacquards, and velvets, sporting a variety of patterns and on-trend colors one could never go wrong with.
Natural Roman Shades
In Egypt, India, China, and the Middle East, Bamboo, grass, sisal, and cane were woven together with strings to form panels that have always been used for shading windows and verandas from the sun’s heat, glare and inclement weather, through the ages. In modern times, they’ve been adopted and utilized efficiently in the West to provide naturally sustainable window shading options, incorporating smooth lift systems that allow them to function as Roman shades. They can be used with a variety of liners to offer privacy and thermal insulation to make homes more energy efficient, superbly elegant, and not cumbersome as when they roll onto a rod used to suspend them as they were originally used.
The Top-Down Bottom-Up feature in Roman shades comprises a mechanism that incorporates a head rail, a top rail, and a bottom rail, the shade material’s top edge being attached to the top rail, and its bottom edge attached to the bottom rail. The head rail houses the top rail lift mechanism for lowering and raising the top rail; and the bottom rail lift mechanism for raising and lowering the bottom rail, with two top rail lift cords, and two bottom rail lift cords with washer-shaped elements.
This convenient feature caters to a number of room brightening, view, and privacy requirements that cannot otherwise be efficiently managed. For example, lower the shade quarter way the window to let the light in while protecting indoor privacy, even with windows open. Or vice versa.
Aside from the regular corded and cordless lift systems, Roman shades can be equipped with low voltage motors that provide quiet automated functioning of the shades that allow terrific energy efficiency as they can be programmed to raise and lower with the sun’s intensity. They can also be synchronized with other automated systems like the lighting and the AV systems to provide ease and comfort.
Trouble Shooting Roman Shades
Reputed window shading enterprises like Graber and Norman give their customers the best possible experience with their products, but there may be problems that inevitably crop up, as with any regularly used product, and may require occasional DIY maintenance. Here are Graber’s instructions on how to sort out a very common issue –
The shades hang unevenly – sometimes, the internal components of the shade can move if bumped when the shade is in its lowered position. . Use a carpenter’s level to make sure the brackets, window, and mounting surface are level. Lower shade completely. Measure length of the bottom panel on both sides to confirm the fabric was rolled onto the sill rail evenly. Remove clear sill rail cover. Carefully unroll the fabric from the sill rail. Reroll the fabric keeping taut and parallel with the pleat above. Check bottom pleat for evenness by measuring again. Replace sill rail cover. Ensure all cord clips on the back of material are in alignment. If necessary, slide the cord clips horizontally, so all are aligned with the headrail. Locate the cord on the side of the shade that is lower. Retie knot in cord so the shade is even in length. Raise shade fully. Remove screw to release tensioner or cord locking guide at the bottom of the continuous loop. Remove shade from installation brackets using a flathead screwdriver. Insert the tip of a screwdriver between the back of the headrail and the bracket. Remove dust cover, starting with the top corner. Run your finger across the top. Put pressure on the back to remove. Note: Do not remove the end caps. Make sure cords are not twisted or tangled in the headrail. You can remove the plastic cover to adjust the cords. If cords are not tangled, replace dust cover. Replace shade in the brackets by attaching the front of the shade to the front of the brackets. Push back on the shade until it snaps into place. Mount the tensioner or cord locking guide depending on manufacturing date as previously installed.