Experts Uncover Tips For Windows

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by Jim Keyworth

roundup staff reporter

She bills herself as a "window fashion consultant," and after listening to her talk about her craft, you can see why.

Dani Rosensteel, as she herself puts it, "lives, breathes and sleeps window coverings."

In fact, she works out of her home, which is just full of blinds and shades and all manner of things used to cover windows.

"There's basically two kinds of window treatments; louverable and non-louverable," she said. "(The latter) are like shades, and shades are either up or they're down or somewhere in between. They really don't allow for a view or allow you to see out and not let people see in at the same time."

Because both types have drawbacks, manufacturers are hard at work creating the ultimate window covering one that "incorporates the sheer with a workable blind."

"They're kind of trying to bring the two together," Rosensteel said. Her company, Blinds & Designs For You, has been covering the Rim country's windows for five years. "They've come out with products that try to combine louvreability with a shading or a sheer fabric."

While most of her clients still cover their windows in neutral tones, she encourages them to express themselves in color, especially if they are going to stay in the house for awhile.

"Sometimes I can persuade them to get away from that neutral concept and go with something fun, happy, warm exciting," she said.

It's all part of making window coverings an integral part of the home.

"I do in-home consultations, so I get to see the dynamics of the home, the family, if they have children, if they're retired," she said. "My job is to make their window treatments match their personality, their lifestyle and their budget."

The least expensive item Rosensteel offers to cover a window is an aluminum mini-blind. The most expensive are wood shutters.

But while shutters cost the most, they're likely to bring you more when you sell your house.

"Shutters add real estate value because they're built in," Rosensteel said. "Other window treatments are usually regarded as personal property."

Fortunately, all kinds of window coverings are "in" right now.

"Mini-blinds are usually put in when there's a budget issue," she said. "They're serviceable. They meet the need. Verticals, which had become kind of dated, are back in because there are new fabrics to choose from. And what's really nice is they have textured, vinyl verticals which are scrubbable, especially for people with children."

Rosensteel's most popular product is horizontal two-inch slats.

"Whether they're made out of wood, aluminum or vinyl, they're very popular," she said.

Barb Felzer, owner of Interior Designs by Barbara, splits her time between clients in the Rim country and in Scottsdale. Her perspective on what's "in" is a little broader.

"In Scottsdale, you see more of the full-fashion window look. Up here, people are more into their views, so I try to do things that are more invisible," Felzer said.

While Rosensteel, who worked as an early childhood development specialist when she moved to the Rim country in 1992, loves her work, there are some frustrations.

"Nobody ever thinks about covering a window when they're building a building," she said, "and architects are doing a lot of weird stuff. The biggest problem is they put these huge, gorgeous, sloped cathedral windows way up high to make an architectural statement. The homeowner just wants them so bad. Everybody loves them, but then they move in and realize that the sun pours in six hours a day and is totally ruining all their furniture, carpeting, paintings. Those are the biggest challenges because I

have to rent a cherry picker ladder and all the options are very expensive."

Felzer said she sees a lot of those same problems.

"I don't like to deal with the upper windows above the main window," she said. "They get put in for architectural interest and then people go and cover them."

Diana Atchley, owner of White's Interior & Design, likes to handle upper windows before they become a problem.

"I push tinting more than covering," she said, "so I like to get to them before the windows are even bought."

There are two tinting processes, she said, one that is done in the factory and the other that is topically applied.

"Unfortunately, there is nobody up here right now who does it," she said.

While Atchley also recommends shade screens as a possible solution, Vince Keller, owner of The Blind Man of America, likes another option: awnings. "Dani and the girls down at White's, they're really into the decor thing," he said.

"But we have a lot of cabins up here, and I sell a lot of awnings to people who like that look. Heat from the sun is a big issue, and that's just about the best way to stop it."

People cover windows for a lot of reasons: to give their home a finished look, to prevent sun damage, for light control, and for security. But Rosensteel believes the most important reason is privacy.

"Sometimes people think they have privacy when they don't," Rosensteel said.

One reason is a Rim country phenomenon that she has discovered in the course of her business.

"Everybody seems to have a telescope up here, and they usually confess they don't use it just to watch the stars," she said. "When I do consultations, I try to bring out the possibility of covering the windows people think are the most private."

Next to windows that are vulnerable to telescopes, the privacy afforded by glass block is the most common misconception she encounters in her clients. "There are several kinds of glass block, and some provide privacy and some don't," she said.

Felzer had a similar experience.

"I had this client with glass block in her bathroom whose husband was working outside while she was taking a bath. He came in and said he could see everything."

One of the things that keeps Rosensteel's business interesting is the new James Bond-type technologies coming onto the market.

"There are motorized window treatments that are operated by remote control, things like that," she said.

Keller agrees that the window covering business is evolving, citing the new honeycomb products that actually trap air and have insulating properties. But he also notes that some of the old products are being rejuvenated.

"Even that bamboo stuff is making a comeback," he said.

For Rosensteel, nothing quite matches the satisfaction she gets when she installs real wood shutters or blinds. "There's just something about wood that looks so good, and I take a lot of pride in that," she said.

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