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Replacing Corded Shades

February 02, 2022

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Did you ever dream about something for a really long time, and then once you got it, it wasn't all you thought it would be?

It happens.

Perhaps it didn't live up to the hype.

Or it made your life a little more complicated.

What To Consider Before Ditching The Cords

After all, all that glitters isn't gold.

Well, I recently had this exact experience while replacing window shades.

Yup. Quite unexpected, I mean they're shades.

What kind of expectations could I have?

Well, let me tell you.

I talk about windows a lot around here.

I love dressing them up with fabric and make new curtains for almost every season. Or it least it seems that way.

Over the years, I've shared too many curtain DIYs to count and just last month, I was discussing curtain rods.

Like I said, windows windows, windows.

However, with the notable exception of one post on how to line a bamboo roman shade, and a brief mention of the new mini blind in my master bath, I've never discussed the shades. 

What we use for privacy.

Which is an essential part of window dressing. 

I've spent so much time discussing the form aspect...the pretty fabrics, the delicate trim, ring clips and rod pockets...but very little time on function.

And that's because, I'm a form over function girl. I'm all about the look of the curtains and not a bit about blocking my neighbors from seeing me in my bathrobe.

Pleated Shade On Large Window

There are other people living here who do care, though, so I had to put something up and that something was pleated shades.

Yup. Basic, boring, inexpensive, off the shelf, white pleated shades in almost every room.

Simply because at night, they provide enough privacy to make us all feel comfortable.

And during the day, they completely disappear.

Whether they're light filtering or room darkening, once I raise them, they stack up nicely and blend right into the moulding.

And virtually out of sight.

They don't interfere with my view of the outdoors or my very deliberate window dressings.

Fabulous.

Right now, 99% of the shades in my home are cordless.

We had the corded versions for years, because when we moved in here, that was the standard model.

Although, I always hated those dangling strings.

Besides being a hazard with little kids and pets around, they were ugly.

Not always super obvious to others, but they mocked me and my carefully crafted vision for years.

Rooster Valances With Shade Strings Showing

They looked messy and sometimes, they broke. 

So often actually, that my husband became an expert at restringing them and replacing the cheap, plastic innards to keep them functional.

Broken Shade String

However, in the last two years or so, whenever one broke, we would just replace it with a cordless version.

This winter, we finally tackled the family room and I was thrilled. 

Merry Christmas to me!

The string that hung over the couch bugged me the most, so even though it wasn't broken, it had to go. 

And take its awful little cord with it.

When it went up, I literally clapped and cheered. The string was gone and I absolutely loved the clean look of its cordless simplicity. 

Until that evening when I had to pull it down and realized, I wasn't tall enough to reach over the couch to grab the bottom bar.

Even at 5 foot 8. And a half.

Nope. I just couldn't reach. I had to step on the sofa to make it happen and, clearly, that was no good.

I mean right now this sofa is tattered and torn.

It's on its way out, but when the new couch shows up, I will not be stepping on it for any reason.

Plus, it's just not a practical way to handle that task.

Major bummer.

That got me thinking about the remaining 1%. The stringed shades in the kitchen.

Those have been a thorn in my side for years.

Red Curtains With Blind Strings Draped Across

They've been rebuilt more times than I can count and I was sure they'd be out of here in 2022.

But after the sofa shade incident, I started having second thoughts.

Oh, there's nothing blocking the kitchen windows, I could easily reach them to raise and lower.

Those windows are big though, floor to ceiling, which means I'd need to bend down, to the floor, to grab the bar each time I wanted to open them or close them.

Twice a day.

Every day.

Hmmm.

Even my husband was like, well that's not ideal.

No, it isn't.

Cottage Style Kitchen Decor With Pleated Shade Strings

Maybe if I were 20 or 30...or 40...or even 50, it wouldn't be a roadblock. But.

Honestly, between the step routine I had to perform in the family room and the potential squats I'd be doing in the kitchen, I started missing the strings. 

Unfortunately, they don't even sell those anymore.

And the kitchen blinds are one break away from being beyond repair. So it looks like I'm back to the drawing board.

The obvious answer is replace those three problem shades with motorized ones.

And they sound good in theory, but they're not without their own issues.

First of all, they're much, much more expensive and they have motors, which can be temperamental and are more difficult to repair than a simple string pulley. 

Plus, they need power, which means they have to be plugged in and/ or charged and most have a remote.

Something else I need to keep track of, which is why I never use electric candles without a timer.

And yes, I know that they can be operated from a phone app, but what happens if my phone's dead and I just want to see the sun?

Clearly, there's a lot to consider.

I guess I really need to put my thinking cap on.

Put function ahead of form this time.

Waverly Fabric Paisley Verveine Spring Green

Do my research and make a decision.

Where cords aren't the biggest factor.

All I really want is something that disappears during the day, doesn't distract my eye from my lovely fabric.

And goes up and down easily.

Without the need for workout clothes.

Now that would be dreamy.

What's on your windows?
  1. I have bamboo shades that lift and lower without cords. Just raise them with your hands or pull them down. I do not like much on my windows so these work well. You have privacy when you want or wide open windows. I flank them with drapes. Your window treatments are always so pretty. I love your french country patterns. xoxo Kris

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    1. Thanks Kris! I l love playing with the fabrics and now that I have panels in the kitchen those cords don't show. That window over the couch is a problem though. I either need to get taller or get a string! Haha!! xxoo

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  2. We used to have blind. They were a pain to keep clean. We got rid of them in the back of the house - nothing but trees there anyway. In the bedrooms in front we still have blinds, but in the living room I have curtains that we close and open. It's still not a winner though. I don't like the way the curtains look closed and it gets old closing them when the couch is in front of them. I'll be anxious to see if someone has a great idea!

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    1. That's funny, Mari, I made these curtains to close, but it does get old opening and closing and i don't like the way they look closed either. I'm sorry you have the same issue, but glad to hear I'm not alone.

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  3. I've got cords or chains to pull most of the shades in my NJ home, but most of them are hidden behind drapes. Here in Florida, let's just say I rushed into a decision, and now I'm plagued with 3 cords per window because the windows are so wide, the fabrics didn't come long enough to make one big shade. It doesn't bother me too much, but then again, I try not to look at them too much., lol. Let's just say hasty decisions have consequences, and I wish I had taken my time. That's me - I either rush into something, or can't make a decision for years!

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    1. I hear you, Amy. I think I'm stuck in the "can't make a decision for years" camp right now. I keep hoping some kind of new shade will show up with a magic solution. Doubtful, but you never know!!

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  4. I have on some of my windows the wood blinds that have the string and other windows are roller shades. I see in your kitchen the blind string but it's white and hardly noticeable and I think it looks fine with the fabric shades.

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    1. I remember your large window shade when you shared you new living room this summer. So pretty, I love that look. For now, I think I do have to stick with the strings, because all that bending is not going to keep happening!!

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  5. I just put in new windows a few months ago and in the living room I am loving the look of no shades but just the curtains embracing the edges of the windows. Of course I am going to regret that decision come summer when the hot sun is beating down on us. I see some cordless shades in my future as well. I don't bother pushing them all the way up so I can reach them without a step-stool. I'll be curious to see what sort of solution you come up with.

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    1. I love the look of wide open windows, Mary. I totally get it. It's just beautiful. I'll keep you posted, but right now, I'm still stumped.

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  6. Well, since we have beautiful old walnut paneling in our family room, we have wood blinds!! I know all of this is decoratively incorrect, but it works for us!
    I have made cafe curtains for the remainder of the house.....so dated, but also perfect for our big OLD windows!
    For the huge 3 string blinds, I let them down as far as they can go, then cut the cords at that spot. I put the plastic thingamajigs back onto the ends of the cord with a knot. THEN, I put a small ribbon with Velcro on the back of the surrounding curtain panels or valances. When the blinds are up......80 % of the time..... the ribbon loop holds the cords in place....behind the curtain or valance.
    Hope this helps someone!
    Blessings,
    J

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    1. First of all, your home sounds perfectly charming! I love the idea of wood blinds and cafe curtains. I think they are the ultimate and often think about putting them on my kitchen sink window. Second, your ribbon hack is genius. I know you've heard this before, but you should have a blog. xxoo

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  7. I say go with the cordless shades in the kitchen. That way, when the Dr. asks, you can honestly say you exercise every day! See, I'm a problem solver. HaHa!

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    1. Well aren't you smart! You’re a true lemons to lemonade girl. I do need to do more exercise, I just never expected to be getting it this way!! Ha!!

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  8. Hi,
    We have blinds for our bedrooms. We have drapes for 3 of our windows. One has a valance. The rest at this time do not have anything, because I am still thinking of what I want to do.
    Looking forward to your ideas.. love the patterns you shared in the post.

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  9. P.S. I am back to say.. I just LOVE that rooster print. I will be looking at fabric for our two kitchen windows, my husband would like to do valances. We had ruffle curtains before, we both want more natural light to soak in.

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    1. Thanks for the messages, Carla! I loved my valances and those roosters were on the windows for almost a decade before I decided to switch it up. I can't wait to see what you choose for your sunny new room!!

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  10. Hi Kim. There are draw rods on the market made especially for hard to reach pull down shades. This may be the answer to your dilemma. I have vinyl cordless shades on most of my windows. They were already here when I bought my home. I don't really like the looks of them, but they're in good shape and for now I'm not going to replace them. I mean, I have so many things that need to be upgraded in my place that I have to prioritize where to spend my money. All your window coverings are so pretty. Hugs.

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    1. Nancy. I did not know this!! I had a feeling that one of you smarty ladies would have a solution. I'm going to have to investigate this, because the opening and closing aerobics are killing me!! Thank you so much!! BIg hugs!!

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  11. What a dilemma! LOL. I put up 2" 'wood' blinds in my windows (that need blinds). They don't have cords but do have the prerequisite wand to turn them open or shut. I can grab the bottom of the rail and raise the all the way up-but rarely do.
    Hope you find the perfect solution--OR--that the ones in your kitchen are there until death do you part. xo Diana

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    1. So silly isn't it?? I have those 2" "wood" blinds with the wand in my bathroom and I love them. Trust me, I wouldn't have anything on the other windows, but every night my husband goes around closing things up saying, "they're looking"...who exactly is looking in our windows is a mystery, because trust me, we're not that interesting! xo

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  12. Oh my goodness Kim...I'm seriously laughing here. As you know I'm always right in step with you. Sometimes I think you and I must share DNA. As I've told you we have been working in the Little Green Cottage and I've been dealing with window coverings. I told my husband that Kim doesn't have ugly mini blinds...maybe she has roller shades...or nothing. He said well just ask her maybe she opens and closes them everyday. To which I replied that would be a lot of work... because I guess I've had the new kinds of blinds for so long I had forgotten about the strings. I almost asked you about two weeks ago what you used for privacy but thought it would be such an odd question, so I didn't. Please keep us posted on your solution. Oh and my children have heard me talk about how wonderful old school drapes were when they were on the big Drea string rods to many times to count. I go on and on about how fabulous it was to just pull a string every morning and night and your drapes opened and you could also open and close the shears too. When they ask why I don't go buy them again...I always say " do you know how expensive those are" they just laugh at me. It's funny that I spend so much time reminiscing about drapery pull rods.....I'm glad I'm not the only one who spends so much time thinking about window coverings.

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    1. I remember those drapery pulls. That's all we had in my house growing up and my grandmother used to make the most beautiful drapes to dress every window. My mom would change them all out for the seasons. They are super expensive now, you're right. In this tiny cottage, I don't think I'd have the place for them, except on those large kitchen windows. I'm still perplexed, but I'll keep you posted. I definitely need a solution for the one behind the couch though. I'm getting tired of the daily calisthenics!

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  13. I'm so glad I found your article! My little cottage has corded blinds in almost every room. I want to replace them, but you're right -- ,motorized blinds are expensive and opening the unmotorized cordless ones can be a challenge. In one room I have drapes. And cat hair all over them where the cat sits on the windowsill. Ugh. So, I'm still looking for the perfect solution.

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