Forget wireless, go cordless
Los Angeles architect Christian Kienapfel would never call for traditional corded blinds in the high-end homes he designs as principal of Paravant Architects & Planners. Instead, he recommends motorized window shades that open and close at the touch of a button. "It's a better look for a high-end home," Kienapfel said. He's far from alone. A growing number of homeowners are turning from traditional corded Venetian blinds in favor of cordless blinds or motorized shades. Part of this is based on safety issues (small children can fatally injure themselves on the hanging cords), while part of this is based on aesthetics.To many homeowners, cordless blinds or motorized window shades simply look better. "Customers have so many options today when it comes to blinds and window coverings," said Joe Jankoski, vice president of merchandising for window covering manufacturer Hunter Douglas. A push for cordless blinds has come from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Established after a young Missouri girl was strangled on the cords of a window blind, the commission has asked blind manufacturers to somehow eliminate the risks from window cords. The manufacturers might face mandatory safety regulations if they don't take this move on their own, according to the safety commission. Regulations or not, homeowners are already investigating cordless and motorized window covering options. Michelle Graveline-Welch, a member of the customer service and marketing department for SymphonyShades.com, said that at least half of the customers of her company are seeking cordless shades. "That's the first question they have for me. They're looking for something cordless because of their children and pets," Graveline-Welch said. "Cordless is where a lot of people are starting today." Consumers can choose from cordless window coverings that completely block out the sunlight coming into a room to those that only slightly filter the light. There are motorized shades and blinds that are especially useful for windows that are located behind furniture, too high or in remote areas that are hard to reach. Some motorized blinds and shades even come with timers, so that homeowners can program when they want their shades to rise and when they want them to fall again. Such options can act as security measures, too, making it appear that homeowners are at home when they're traveling. Jankoski from Hunter Douglas said that many homeowners only purchase blinds once every five years. Because of this, they are often surprised by the plethora of choices. "Five years ago, a lot of these choices weren't available," Jankoski said. "They walk into a store today and it's a bit of a 'wow' factor. There has been such an explosion of new products that it can almost be intimidating. "These new products have been designed to give consumers a lot of options for a lot of different operations."