A Quick History on the Origin of the Window Shade

While we have so many different kinds of window shades and treatments available today, believe it or not there was once a time when nobody used window shades.  Well, if you think about it, the very first windows were more like slats carved into masonry to allow sunlight (and moonlight) to find its way inside a building.  You may recognize this strategy for interior illumination from pictures of ancient adobe dwellings and even castles. The very windows, in fact, have been found in Egyptian, Greek, Near East, and Roman temples, in addition to massive palaces and fortresses.

Over time, though, people continued to advance technology and quality of life to develop what we know today as windows. In the Middle-Ages, of course, Europeans began to add stained glass to these empty notches—turning windows into gorgeous works of art, too. But then, eventually, we began to develop window treatments aimed at both improving aesthetics and functionality.

The first Storeurbain.ca window coverings, of course, were shutters. These were typically made of wood and opened outward. They were also around during the Middle Ages (and, of course, much later).

The first type of window shade, however, was the roller shade. It is believed that this type of shade started to show up in human history, perhaps, as early as the seventeenth century, in Holland.  This has not been an easy fact to verify, as window shades like this were extremely popular during the eighteenth century in not only Holland but also France and England.

Window shades first started to appear in America towards the end of the eighteenth century; maybe around 1780.  These roller shades were made out of translucent cloth or paper, so their aesthetic designs could actually be enjoyed by both those within as well as without the dwelling. These painted—and, eventually, stenciled—decorations often depicted landscapes, flowers, and other scenic imagery.

Towards the middle of the next century, a spring mechanism was added to the roller shade, allowing for faster deployment and collection of the material. This technology is still in use today, actually, though it is more common to smaller windows, as we know use various types of blinds and curtains for larger windows.

These roller shades remained popular but did not go into mass production until about 1858.  Unfortunately, at that time, America was becoming largely influenced by European style and more modern tastes prevailed, pushing the practical roller shade out of focus to develop things like the Venetian blind.