Yes, you read that right. Paper window shades. Disposable/temporary ones even. I never knew such a thing existed. The first time I read about them online I thought, What in the world? Are they crazy? Who in their right mind would ever use a paper window shade? Well, turns out they aren’t crazy at all and I ended up buying them for both of my daughter’s rooms as well as for the kitchen up at the mountain house. The best thing about them is that they are so inexpensive. About 5 or 6 dollars per shade. I purchased half a dozen of them on Amazon for about $25 dollars and that included free shipping! The ones I bought were Redi Shade, but there are several different brands available out there. The idea behind these is that you can use them if you haven’t yet decided on a permanent window treatment, or if you’re renting an apartment and want to quickly and inexpensively cover up bare windows, or if you just want to change the color of your blinds every few months.
I had originally wanted traditional horizontal window blinds to hang underneath the lacy curtains in my daughter’s rooms. I’d had these beautiful lace curtains stored in plastic bags since the 80’s (I kid you not) when my mother lived in Europe and she purchased them for me in England. I was thrilled that I would finally be able use them. The only drawback was that they were quite see-through. Especially at night. They would need privacy blinds underneath. So I called several companies that specialized in blinds and to my dismay they quoted a price of $550 dollars for the least expensive style which I didn’t even like much. So I figured now was as good a time as any to give the paper shades a try, at least until I decided on a long term solution for those pesky windows. I placed my order and promptly recieved the six window shades from Amazon in a long rectangular box which I carefully opened. The blinds were neatly and crisply pleated and they had an adhesive strip on the top which was to be attached inside the window frame. Each shade came with two small white plastic clips which would be used to hold them up and to make them longer or shorter. I was doubtful. Maybe if I added a bit of color to them they wouldn’t look so…well, papery. Armed with several bottles of acrylic crafts paints and one of the shades under my arm I carried everything out to the back yard. Thank heaven for sunny Costa Rican mornings. That always means things dry fast. I decided that sponge painting would be the quickest and most hassle-free way to go. After cutting out a couple of flower shapes from an old piece of sponge, I laid out newspapers on the ground and set the window shade on top of them. Then I carefully smoothed out all the pleats with my hands.
After the shade was extended and smoothed out over the newspapers, I poured a bit of the acrylic paint into some plates, diluting them with a bit of water as necessary. Then carefully dipping my flower shaped sponge into the paint, I began to apply the color to the white paper blinds. I began with the yellow first, and covered the entire shade with yellow sponged on flowers.
After the yellow flowers and the green flowers were completely dry, I sponged on hot pink flowers followed by dark aqua colored ones. Then I took a stiff paintbrush dipped in gold acrilic paint and randomly painted on quick brushstrokes in between the flowers wherever there were white spaces. Let me tell you, Picasso I am not. But this didn’t look bad at all, much to my surprise. After the shades were completely dry, it was time to pleat them up again. That wasn’t hard and all I had to do was to gather them back up where the pleat lines were. Once they were folded back up I used the plastic clips to hold them in place until it was time to hang them. Meantime, I began to paint the blinds that would go in my daughter’s rooms underneath the lacy curtains. I didn’t use flower shapes on these. I just used an old shapeless sponge and applied several different colors of paint. What the heck. They were paper. And temporary. And cheap.
After the green latex paint had dried, I applied yellow acrylic paint on top of it. Then I sponged on pink paint. Finally I added random brushstrokes of turquoise paint. By this time the beautiful morning sun had decided to hide behind several angry black clouds that had rolled in, and huge raindrops threatened to ruin my artwork. So I quickly carried my paper blind inside and stretched it out on my daughter’s bed where it could continue to dry near the electric fan.
The windows up at the new house are really wide. They don’t make paper shades that wide, but fortunately it’s very easy to overlap two shades and thus cover the entire window. It’s also very easy to trim them down to any window size. You can cut the width or the length or both to fit your window. Just use a cutter or some scissors. There is one thing you need to watch out for if you plan to overlap two shades however. Before you paint them, make sure that the top edge (i.e. the edge that has the sticky adhesive tape) is facing the same direction on both of the shades. Otherwise you will end up painting one wrong side and one right side and the shades won’t overlap. You can place the top edge of the shade either facing inwards towards the window glass, or facing outwards away from the glass. But either way, both shades must have the painted side facing the same direction. I discovered that the hard way. Now it was time to hang the shades. This was a piece of cake. I simply removed the protective film that covers the adhesive strip and pressed the shade to the top of the window frame with my fingers, applying firm pressure. This adhesive strip is remarkably strong and surprisingly it holds quite well.
These are cordless shades. This means that they don’t open and close by pulling on a cord. You just lift them up with your hands and clip them in place at the height you want. That’s what the plastic clips are for. They can be decorated too. I used hot glue and glued on party streamers for one of the bedroom windows, and white silk daisies on the clips of the other bedroom window.
For the kitchen windows, I decided to add a colorful lightweight fringe trim to the bottom edge of the shades. I just used regular Elmer’s glue because it works quite well on paper. I overlapped two shades on this window as well.
I made different colored rosettes out of thick shiny paper and used them as a valance on top of the window. Instructions on how to make these paper rosettes in a future post.
I must say that these little paper shades are remarkably durable. They do hold up, and I have read quite a few online reviews where people have had them for several years. I am very pleased with mine and have found that it’s a great temporary solution for problem windows that need a quick fix. By the way, if you don’t really want to bother painting your shades, they are also available in black-out paper. The black out shades are made to block out sunlight (for late sleepers) and they’re made of black paper. Maybe I’ll get those next time. Not because I like to sleep in, but because I’m thinking that they’d be an amazing backdrop for some flourescent paints….and even a black light. Kind of like those old psychedelic Peter Maxx posters. How groovy would THAT be. Yeah, baby.
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