Window Fashion VISION May + June 2021

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W I N D O W T R E AT M E N T S & I N S P I R E D D E S I G N

Get Outside!


Ideas for Draperies and Shades Tips for Installing Awnings Best Materials for Fabricating Outdoor Products







570 Nevada Street

Suite K Redlands CA 92373 TUBULAR MOTORS LLC


T (909) 307 2320



40 NEW COLLECTION roller shade fabrics

Discover the collection and order samples



President | Grace McNamara Editor-in-Chief | Sophia Bennett














Get Outside!

Creative Director | Nichole Day

Ideas for Draperies and Shades Tips for Installing Awnings Best Materials for Fabricating Outdoo

r Products

VP Marketing & Sales | Ania McNamara

Copy Editor | Maude Campbell Social Media Lead | Corina-Elena Buzdugan

CONT RIBUT ORS IN T HIS ISSUE Sophia Bennett, Jude Charles, Amber De La Garza, Kathryn Dillon, Welton Hong, Roger Magalhaes, O’D McKewan, Grace McNamara, LuAnn Nigara, Jana Platina Phipps, Kathy Wall, Michele Williams

DESIG NERS IN T HIS ISSUE Jill Ballew, Laurence Carr, Eric Cohler, Vita Vygovska, Claudia Clobes Yudis

SUBSCRIPT IONS 877.344.7406 •

Window Fashion Vision magazine makes every attempt to credit each person involved in the process of creating a window covering and will not be responsible for crediting any person whose name, company or participation did not surface during the information-gathering process. Crediting disputes between parties other than Vision magazine are solved at the discretion of those involved. Window Fashion VISION (ISSN 08869669) (USPS 708930) published bi-monthly by AIM Communications LLC, 3159 Hidden Lake Pointe Drive, St. Paul, MN 55110; Tel 651/330-0574; Fax 651/756-8141. Visit our website at Periodicals postage paid at St Paul, MN and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Window Fashion VISION, PO Box 15698, North Hollywood, CA 91615-5698. Allow 60 days for address change. Subscription rates: $22/yr. U.S. and possessions; $29/yr. Canada; $90/yr. Foreign (includes airmail postage). Single copies/back issues $6 each, except for special issues, which are individually priced. (Payment must accompany order.) Copyright © 2021 by AIM Communications, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission prohibited. Canadian Publications Agreement Number: #40036514. Canadian Return Address: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, ONT N9A 6J5. May + June 2021, Volume 42, Issue 3.


Industry Liaison Editor | Gail Gutsche FRAMING THE CONVERSATION










MAY + JUNE 2021

VOLUME 42, ISSUE 3 ON THE COVER: This high-end home showcases a motorized Zipscreen system in white from Rollease Acmeda. The retailer/ supplier for this project was Décor Blinds QLD Australia. CORRECTION FROM THE MARCH + APRIL 2021 ISSUE: The designer and photographer for the cover photograph were incorrectly identified. The room designer is Julie Terrell Design. The photographer is Jean Allsopp. We apologize for the error.

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contents : volume 42, issue 3

in this issue INSIGHT 18


Learn about the different options for battery types, external and internal battery packs, and more.

Grouping menial tasks together and accomplishing them all at once is good for your mental health and business.

The Latest in Rechargeable Motorization Systems

by O’D McKewan



What Is an ADA-Compliant Website and Do You Need One?

How a Professional Community Can Help Your Business Thrive

Creating a network for yourself is invaluable for both personal and professional reasons.

Make sure your website complies with necessary legal guidelines to increase your customer base and avoid penalties.

by LuAnn Nigara

by Welton Hong

by Amber De La Garza


Find Compelling Stories to Market Your Business to Clients Three ideas to help you show—not tell—potential clients why they should work with you.

by Jude Charles



Develop a plan for where each dollar in your business will go to avoid problems and maximize profits.

Considerations for anyone hanging outdoor drapes, shades and other window coverings.

Managing Your Money So It Does Not Manage You

by Michele Williams

8 | MAY + JUNE 2021

Tackle Your Task List with a Power Hour


9 Tips for Successful Outdoor Window Treatment Installations

by Roger Magalhaes

BRING INDOOR ENTERTAINMENT OUTDOORS Designed for alfresco entertaining areas, pergolas, verandas and balconies, Zipscreen provides privacy and offers protection from the elements without interrupting the view. Zipscreen is easy to operate with manual or motorized control. Complete the solution with Automate™ FT motors and Texstyle X-Weave exterior solar shade fabric.




contents : volume 42, issue 3

in this issue





An interview with Julia Noran Johnston, founder and president of Business of Home.

Zipscreen offers the ultimate shading solution for any outdoor area or window.

Cozy Up for an Effervescent Year



Useful products for creating outdoor window coverings, pillows, cushions and similar items.

Inspirations drawn from the 2021 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.

Lessons in Leadership


The Great Outdoors, Inside

How pandemic lifestyle shifts have influenced design trends.

by Jana Platina Phipps

by Grace McNamara


Rolling into 2021

2021 Trends: Customization, Technology, Eco and Wellness

Threads and Cording and Foam, Oh My!

Coulisse introduces a new roller shade collection and shares other plans for this year.

by Kathryn Dillon

by Kathy Wall


All the Rage in the Outdoors


A window covering professional and interior designer share thoughts on window coverings for outdoor living.

Framing the Conversation

Why shutters remain a go-to product for window treatment professionals.

by Sophia Bennett


by Sophia Bennett


Coming Out on Top

Trends, colors and motorization options for a perfect summer product: awnings.


by Sophia Bennett



Grace Note

A word from our publisher.


Letter from the Editor Get outside! And other issue highlights.


New or Noteworthy Editor and reader picks for top products.

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Photo courtesy of Modern Matter


Product Spotlight


What’s Next

We pull back the curtain on our next issue.


welcome : grace note


his issue celebrates one of the most important trends that came out of the pandemic: our need for the outdoors. Sure, this trend has been

steadily growing for a while, but this year it is

exploding. Whether you live in an apartment in a large city or a home in the suburbs, everyone is craving the outdoors. Our outdoor spaces are becoming important extensions of our homes. They are essential for our well-being, spirit and energy.


What an opportunity for our industry! We have the chance to “show our stuff”

with the amazing products we have to offer our customers:

See the latest trends in customization, technology, eco and wellness on page 50.

outdoor shades and shutters, sun-shading products, gorgeous performance fabrics

for draperies and upholstery—and wait until you educate them about automated products! Start there and they’ll have to have them. I hope you enjoy our articles on outdoor living in this issue. We are busy preparing some great resources for you, including the new VISION Buyer’s Guide: Product Finder and Solution Resource, which

we are launching in June. Keep your eye out for opportunities to include your company, services and white papers in our interactive

on what you need to know, subscribe to the VISION Business Newsletter and magazine at

Personally, I’m looking forward to many things this year, but at the top of my list is “revenge travel”—a retribution against the pandemic! Being a road warrior for many years, it feels strange to have not traveled for a

year. I’m not going to go crazy, but I miss the family I haven’t been able to see. Now that I've had my vaccine, I’m feeling comfortable to venture out just a bit. I hope you are all doing well personally and professionally. I always look forward to hearing from you, so drop me a line and share some of your stories. Warm regards,

resource for the window treatment industry. A few more announcements about our plans for the future are coming soon. To keep up to date

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MAY + JUNE 2021 |

Grace McNamara Publisher

The SheerWeave app is available for free download to all mobile devices.

The office has never looked so good.

welcome : letter from the editor


OVID-19 has changed multiple aspects of our lives, including our relationship with the outdoors. Depending on where you

live, it may have been too cold to regularly utilize patios, porches and stoops in the winter and spring months—until the pandemic forced many of us to gather with friends and loved ones outdoors. Since October, I’ve spent several afternoons bundled in my warmest clothes, crouched over a fire pit or huddled under a blanket because it was the only way I could spend time with my parents.


The outdoor living and furnishing industries were seeing serious growth before the pandemic, but the outbreak has caused these categories to

grow even faster. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to bring

you our second-ever outdoor living issue. Beginning on page 52, we talked to several professionals about best practices for designing and specifying outdoor draperies and screens. For those of you who are constructing curtains, pillows and other outdoor products, Kathryn Dillon shares recommendations for the best materials, including pillow forms, foam, thread and cording (page 56). If you’ve ever thought about adding awnings to your product offerings, we have a look at what’s new and exciting in that space, along with tips for installing these colorful outdoor features (page 60).

Spring is also a great time to examine fresh trends.

Kathy Wall brings you perspectives from the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, which took place in February (page 50). Jana Platina Phipps assembled three big-picture themes that are driving home décor right now (page 46).

I hope you enjoy these letters. If you do, it turns out you aren’t the only one. These letters from the editor won a regional award in the prestigious Azbee Awards of Excellence competition. It was an honor to be recognized by my B2B publishing peers.

Shutters always remind me of warm destinations, so our May + June issue seems like an appropriate time to dive into what’s happening in this vertical. Our story on page 38 provides perspectives on products, materials and styles that are popular in different regions. Websites, just like retail locations and workplaces, must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—especially now that so much shopping has moved from brick-and-mortar stores to the internet. Besides helping and avoiding a lawsuit (and they do happen), making your website more accessible will bring in new clients by ensuring more people can learn about your business. Welton Hong shares information on ADA-compliant websites on page 26.

In June, we will begin accepting applications for the second annual VISION 20 Under 40 Awards. Do you know

a young person in any part of the industry who is a leader and skilled professional? Make sure they are recognized through this program. Keep an eye on for more details on how to nominate them. You want to get in the habit of checking the site regularly anyway because we are adding original articles and news on the window covering industry all the time.

Sophia Bennett Editor-in-Chief

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Insect Resistant

Fire Retardant

Greenguard Gold Certified

welcome : new or noteworthy




16 | MAY + JUNE 2021


Are you aware of a product that’s premiering soon? Do you have a favorite product you’d like to tell others about? Let us know! Email New or Noteworthy submissions to |


4. 1. Jewelry for the home from Modern Matter, a sister company to the jewelry brand Addison Weeks that creates hardware from metal, acrylic, gemstones and other precious stones.

2. Visualize Phifer products in your home or commercial facility. The

SheerWeave app makes it easy to save clients’ preferred fabrics for quick reference. It is available on Apple and Android devices.

3. Disappearing exterior screens that won’t “haunt” homeowners.

Unlike conventional fixed screens, Phantom Screens makes manually operated retractable window screens that disappear out of sight when not in use.

4. New option for solar fabric. Rollease Acmeda’s Texstyle brand recently launched a solar fabric ideal for green buildings and customers. Ambient Renew is a PVC-free fabric alternative to a traditional solar screen that is made with 85 percent REPREVE Recycled Polyester, which is manufactured using recovered plastic bottles.



insight : motorization playbook, part 3

The Latest in Rechargeable Motorization Systems

Learn about different options for battery types, external and internal battery packs in part three of our series




n our last article, we discussed all the different options for powering a motorized window covering. In this article, we will take a deeper dive in the very specific category of rechargeable battery-powered

I state “systems” because there are different ways to utilize rechargeable batteries. The first is the DIY rechargeable battery system. This is where you have a low-voltage motor that can be used with standard batteries and, instead of using disposable batteries, the client uses offthe-shelf rechargeable batteries. Most manufacturers warn against this, as the motors are very sensitive to voltage drops and rechargeable batteries fluctuate in voltage significantly depending on the charge. So, we do not recommend using rechargeable batteries in a standard battery system. Instead, you can use a rechargeable battery pack. This is different in that the manufacturers use a separate battery pack that has small electrical circuits that regulate the amount of energy sent to the motors. This enables the motors to use the rechargeable battery packs without issues to the motors. Today, these battery packs contain lithiumion battery cells that can hold their charges

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much better than the old-style rechargeable batteries. Thus, manufacturers provide the proper rechargeable battery packs that will work best for their motor systems. It is not recommended to use universal rechargeable batteries for any motorization system on the market. When it comes to manufacturers’ rechargeable battery packs, not only are they brand specific, they are generally motor specific as well. Certain motors require different voltages and amperages to properly power the motors. The manufacturer also determines the housing location and the charging options for the battery packs. Some manufacturers have external battery packs and some have internal battery packs. An advantage to external battery packs is being able to mount them in locations that can be easier for the client to reach to recharge. You can also sell additional battery packs so the client can have a spare battery pack charged and ready to use when the motor pack dies. They can just switch them out and there is no downtime for the client’s usage of the motors. They can then charge the used battery pack and have it ready for the next time. Lithium battery packs have a very long shelf life when fully charged. A fully charged battery pack stored in a cool, dry place

should maintain almost all of its charge for six to 12 months. The downside to external battery packs is the extra space required to mount them and the extra work needed to conceal them. If you have a limited amount of space in the window (especially in an inside-mount application), the battery pack can create a challenge for mounting space. There are two types of internal battery pack systems. The first is an externalstyle battery pack mounted in the headrail system of the window covering, eliminating the issue of mounting. Some manufacturers have an external charging port that allows you easier access to charge the battery. The other type of internal battery pack system is the embedded battery pack. This system has a rechargeable battery cell inside of the motor. This is mainly found in tubular motors. This option eliminates all the mounting issues. The charging port is either on the motor head or a short wire connected to the motor head. Being able to access the charging port is absolutely necessary. Your client needs to be able to plug in the charger preferably without having to dismantle a covering or top treatment. Whether you use an internal or external battery system, charging the system is a mandatory recurring event. The amount of

time needed for a charge and how often you have to charge the battery is different for every system. Most need four to six hours to completely charge, and most systems need to be charged every nine to 12 months. This definitely varies by the size of the window covering and how often it is used, but these are fairly accurate expectations. One very important aspect of charging any system is that all rechargeable batteries have memory. To get the most life out of your rechargeable system, make sure to follow your manufacturer’s directions for charging. Improper charging will greatly diminish the life of the battery system. Some of the higher-end systems have electronic components that regulate the charge and keep the batteries from overcharging. As I mentioned above, offering extra chargers so that clients can charge multiple motors at the same time can be a good idea as well. One other option for charging the battery packs is a solar charging kit. With a solar kit, the solar panel creates the necessary power to keep the rechargeable batteries charged. The solar panel does not actually power the motor; it just charges the battery pack that is connected between the solar panel and motor. Although this does eliminate the need to plug in a charger, it also can create a mounting issue, since you will now have to mount a solar panel and battery pack if you are not using an internal battery system. Lastly, there are two important concepts to consider when offering any rechargeable battery system. The first is the client’s need to access the charging port or battery pack. Consider the fact that your client may need to get on a ladder to charge or change the battery packs once or twice a year. Is that something they are willing and able to do? You might consider offering the ever-elusive service package plan where you offer to charge their systems on a regular basis. Just remember that unless you are going to hang around for four to six hours

while the packs charge, you will have to make two or more trips. The second important concept is that all rechargeable battery systems have a limited life span. By design, rechargeable batteries can only take a certain number of charge cycles before they stop accepting and retaining their charge. This means that once the battery has reached its life cycle limit, it will need to be replaced. If you are using an external battery system, you only need to replace the battery pack when it no longer takes a charge. If you are using an embedded battery system, when the battery cell stops taking a charge you will need to replace the whole motor. With an average rechargeable battery life cycle of five to seven years, you can expect to have to replace the battery systems accordingly. As a salesperson, if you properly explain this to your clients, you can eagerly await their call in a few years to help them update their systems. As you can see, there are some important concepts to consider before offering rechargeable systems to your clients. Just make sure that you both are on the same page and that you are setting the proper expectations for the smoothest possible outcome. In the next edition of Motorization Playbook, we will discuss wiring specifications and options for hardwired motorization systems. V O’D McKewan, the product coach for Window Covering World, is a master of motorization and a leader in the motorized window covering field. He has over a decade of hands-on experience with motorized window coverings, including fabrication, installation and selling. Interested in learning more about motorization? Sign up for the Window Fashion Certified Professional FastTrack course on motorization at



insight : amber de la garza

Schedule Power Hour!

Tackle Your Task List with a Power Hour Grouping menial tasks together and accomplishing them all at once is good for your mental health and business BY AMBER DE LA GARZA


o you often feel overwhelmed by tasks that never seem to get done? They could

be pesky little ones that take only three minutes or colossal ones that could change the course of your business. In this digital era, we have every sort of productivity app imaginable at our fingertips, and yet most business owners still feel exhausted by the extensive number of tasks on their plate. If you’re willing to repurpose just one hour each week to execute a power hour, you can greatly reduce the frustration and stress you feel juggling your never-ending tasks. Whether you desire more family time, more focused time to take your business to the next level, fewer emergencies as a result of forgetting a minor task or just less overwhelm, a weekly power hour is a must.

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Consistently executing a weekly power hour gives you the ability to be laser focused so you can efficiently complete the tasks that seem particularly hard to knock off your list. It also cleans the slate by clearing your desk, and possibly even your task list and inbox, so you can return to work on Monday feeling renewed and ready to tackle anything. To get started with power hours, schedule an hour of time at the end of each week to knock out as many small items on your list as possible. Most tasks should take only a few minutes, like replying to an email, reviewing a document or scheduling a meeting. If you were to do those tasks throughout the week as they popped up, they would disrupt the flow of working on your high-priority tasks that generate revenue. They would also waste precious time because after work is interrupted for whatever reason, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.

Determining whether a task should be completed during your power hour should take less than one minute. For every small, quick task that comes up, simply ask yourself, “Can this wait until my power hour?” If there would be no repercussions from waiting, the answer is yes. Add the task to your power hour task list, then put all documents needed for it in a file folder or digital folder labeled “Power Hour.” That will allow you to find and tackle your power hour tasks quickly when the time comes instead of having to rummage through all your paper piles and search your computer. Organization is key. There is a time-saving benefit to grouping tasks together, but there is also a strong business reason to do this. Accomplishing menial tasks instead of ignoring them or putting them off until later greatly improves the state of your business. That is because of the sheer fact that if these tasks do not get done in a timely manner, they pop up sporadically as urgent, potentially causing fires that need to be put out. Don’t let low-priority tasks lag from week to week until they become pressing issues that cause you undue stress. Putting off making a doctor’s appointment, paying a bill or responding to an email for too long risks your health, a late fee and losing a potential client, respectively. Capture all those low-priority tasks throughout the week, then tackle them during your power hour. After your first power hour, you are going to gain a great deal of freedom because you will have removed the incessant, nagging voices that remind you about all the random tasks needing your attention. By clearing your head, you will also be making room for more productive thoughts. You will be able to accomplish tasks with ease and have more time for what matters most. Schedule time to execute a power hour each week and hold yourself accountable for working through your task list intentionally during it to set yourself up for greater success and less overwhelm the following week. It’s just one hour. Make the time! V Amber De La Garza, aka The Productivity Specialist, is a sought-after coach, trainer, speaker, writer, host of the “Productivity Straight Talk” podcast and creator of the S.T.O.P. Leverage Formula. She helps small business owners improve their time management and elevate their productivity to maximize profits, reduce stress and make time for what matters most. Facebook: TheProductivitySpecialist Instagram: Amber_DeLaGarza

Looking to gain more clients and grow in 2021? Joining the WCAA is one of the best ways you can invest in your business year-round.




insight : luann nigara

How a Professional Community Can Help Your Business Thrive Creating a network for yourself is invaluable for both personal and professional reasons BY LUANN NIGARA


y business was built on community. Window

Works was actually a franchise started back in the late ’70s. We jumped in pretty early; Vin opened our Window Works franchise in 1981, I joined him the following year and Bill joined us the next year.

Being part of a franchise was appealing for many reasons. There were the obvious ones, such as building on a successful concept and collective buying power. But one aspect that stood out right away was the support. We weren’t alone in those beginning years when we were finding our footing. We weren’t alone when we hit our

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first big milestone. We weren’t alone as we started growing. We always had access to high-level education, information and support from the home office of Window Works led by Fred and Bob Florio, Jeff Janke and Mark Young. There were meetings, interactions, conversations and opportunities to collaborate with our peers. Every year, we held a conference where we could meet people who did what we did and understood it. We learned from each other and we helped each other. When the franchise eventually fell apart, the relationships we formed didn’t. They stayed as strong as ever.

To this day, we lean on those relationships. Just this past July, when we found ourselves drowning in work, with an increase in sales of more than 40 percent three months in a row, we were unprepared to say the least. We weren’t expecting business to boom like that, and we just didn’t have the manpower in our existing staff to handle it. So, what did I do? I picked up the phone and called one of the people who owned a Window Works franchise 30 years ago who’s still in business and asked her, “Do you have any extra installers or recommendations for who I should call?” And she did.

RELATIONSHIPS FOR A LIFETIME Successful businesses don’t get built alone. If you have talent and drive and

determination, you certainly can get a lot done on your own. But at some point, you’re going to hit a wall. Maybe you just don’t have enough time in the day. Maybe there’s something you don’t know how to do. Maybe you just need someone to look at your business with an outside perspective and say, “Yep, that right there, that’s what you need to change.” Whatever it is, you need relationships. You need community. You need people to collaborate with, communicate with, grow and celebrate with, and learn from. It’s not just in business, is it? We’re wired to seek community. In the introduction of my latest book, “A Well-Designed Business: The Power Talk Friday Experts Volume 2,” I write about this idea. I’m the kind of gal who loves going out to eat with a group of friends, gathering together to laugh and share a good time. It’s why we form groups of friends, why we gather together in huddles when we’re at conferences or events. It’s why we’re pulled toward sports, clubs or organizations in our neighborhoods, at our kids’ schools and in our work. In the window treatment industry, we have some terrific opportunities to be part of wonderful communities with likeminded people. To begin with, I hope you’re a member of the WCAA (Window Coverings

Association of America). I’m honored to be on the national board and can tell you firsthand that it is a place for learning and improving your skills whether you are selling, designing, fabricating or installing window treatments. Another place to find a community is through Facebook groups. Groups run by Window Fashion Vision and WCAA, as well as designer groups like Claire Jefford’s Interior Design Business Strategies, Veronica Solomon’s What They Don’t Teach You in Design School and my own group, LuAnn Nigara and Friends, are places where you can ask questions, offer advice and support, and uplift your friends and colleagues. In a lot of ways, it’s what my entire podcast was built on. I wanted to teach people how to design successful businesses, but I wanted that shared wisdom, the ability to learn from others and the chance to soak up knowledge from those around you. From the podcast, we have created a community. It’s the designers who now collaborate with each other and give referrals. It’s the experts who I’ve brought back time and time again (who have now become our own group: The Power Talk Friday Experts). We’ve formed a community that helps each other grow,

learn, change and succeed. Another organization Vin, Bill and I came across four years ago was Exciting Windows!, a nationwide networking and education organization for window treatment professionals. Being part of this community gives us the same excitement we felt back in our franchise days. We know we aren’t alone. Each month, we get to be around business owners who have been through what we’ve been through.


Why, exactly, is community so helpful? What drives us to seek these communities? What do we really get out of them? Here’s what I’ve seen them provide. SOCIAL CONNECTION. Relationships are an important part of business. You need to build relationships with designers, vendors and other window treatment professionals—not just for networking or partnership purposes but also for the social connection. Let’s face it: Business ownership can be a lonely road. One moment, you’re on top of the world, and the next, you’re sure you’ve made a terrible mistake and you should throw in the towel and become a barista.


Introducing the Zero Gravity shade that can be raised and lowered with the lightest touch. ZeroGravity is new and unique technology (patent pending worldwide) that allows the spring tension to be quickly and simply adjusted to perfectly match the weight of the roller shade, regardless of shade specifications or fabric selection. As the newest addition to our roller shade program, Turnils continues to be the leading distributor of components for custom window coverings to fabricators across North America. Want to see ZeroGravity in action? Visit the Turnils YouTube Channel. For more information contact us at

insight : luann nigara

There’s something comforting about being around people who believe in you, understand what you’re going through and like what you’re doing—not to mention people who aren’t going to stare at you like you’re crazy when you say you’re a “window treatment professional.” ACCOUNTABILITY. There’s also power in having someone to hold you accountable. According to the Association for Talent Development, you become a whopping 95 percent more likely to meet a goal when you have someone to regularly check in with. Communities give us that built-in accountability so we can reach our goals. ONGOING LEARNING. Thirty-eight years in business and we’re still learning every day. I’m learning from others at Exciting Windows! I’m learning from the guests on my podcast. I’m learning from partners that I work with. I’m learning from my staff. You never hit a point where you can say, “That’s it, I’m done. I know everything there is to know.” (And if you do, call me, because you’re either lying to yourself or you’ve tapped into something magical that I need to know about!) MENTORSHIP. I can’t overstate the value of mentorship—whether that comes in a formal coaching relationship or a casual one. We all need a sounding board, a guiding hand, someone to kick us in the pants when we’re going off the rails. It also helps to learn from someone else’s mistakes. That’s an instant shortcut in your business.

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A NETWORK. It might be an obvious benefit, but it’s still worth noting. When you build a network, you have someone to send referrals your way and someone to send referrals to. There’s no stronger way to build your business than by building up a strong network. Communities give you that on a silver platter. A CHALLENGE. Communities are also a way to challenge yourself. It’s one thing to read online about someone whose business is at the level you want to be at. It’s another thing entirely to be in the same room with them (or in the same Zoom room). That’s powerful. It helps you see not just the possibilities, but to also see a realistic path for how to get there.


Communities are something we crave, and for good reason. We need other people. We need relationships in our personal lives and in our business lives. Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple alone. He had a support group that helped him bring his dream to life. So, my challenge to you today is to think about where you can build community in your business. A mastermind, a professional organization, a business networking group— find a place where you can be a part of something bigger than yourself. On that note, I have a very exciting (pun intended) announcement to share with you: In February, Vin, Bill and I became the majority partners of Exciting Windows!

We are so excited to work alongside Steve Bursten and Steve Wishnow to grow this organization to its fullest potential. Vin, Bill and I know we owe so much of our success to community and relationships, so this venture is dear to my heart. We are thrilled to be a part of this community, and we are so happy to see where we’re going next. If you’d like to join us at Exciting Windows!, our doors are open. We can be the community that challenges you, teaches you and provides the relationships you lean on now and as you grow. If you’re like us, you’ll still be calling everyone you meet in 30 years. V LuAnn Nigara is an award-winning window treatment specialist, a board member of WCAA and co-owner of Window Works in Livingston, NJ. Her highly successful podcast “A Well-Designed Business” debuted in February 2016. She has since recorded more than 600 episodes. Facebook: WindowWorksNJ Twitter: WindowWorks_NJ Instagram: WindowWorks


A Forward-Thinking Manufacturer We strive to make things simpler and easier for our customers, with innovative service, quality products and hands-on dealer support.

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insight : welton hong

What Is an ADA-Compliant Website and Do You Need One? Make sure your website complies with necessary legal guidelines to increase your customer base and avoid penalties


BY WELTON HONG f you have offices or stores, you likely know that your public-facing business premises must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Your window fashion website obviously isn’t a physical location, but as commerce increasingly occurs online, it’s critical to understand how website accessibility factors into the equation. Businesses whose websites are inaccessible to certain people leave the window open for disability discrimination lawsuits.


According to Title III of the ADA, businesses with areas that accommodate the public must remove barriers that might keep people with disabilities from accessing business services or goods. The language of Title III doesn’t literally mention websites (it was passed in 1990), and you might think digital locations shouldn’t count as “areas that accommodate the public.” But the courts tend to disagree. In lawsuits and regulatory action on the matter, U.S. courts and the Department of Justice have repeatedly interpreted Title III as also applying to websites and mobile apps. That makes sense, especially in the COVID-19 era. Depending on the business, digital channels might be the only touch points currently

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available for consumers. People who can’t fully access your site and its information and functions are at a disadvantage.


How do you ensure your website is ADA-compliant? The technical requirements are spelled out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG document is long. It’s also been updated a number of times over more than a decade, with another update expected in 2021. The updates are necessary because technology keeps changing. Most of the mobile app options available today didn’t exist when the WCAG was first created. Tons of information and a moving target can make it challenging for window fashion brands to ensure their websites are ADA-compliant. Here are some of the things required by the WCAG. Text alternatives for all content. The ability to hear written content read aloud and have images described can be important to those with disabilities. All images should have descriptive alt text so text-to-speech programs have something to interpret. For example, where others might see an image of a woman hanging a curtain, users with a need for auditory processing might hear alt text that

states, “Image of a woman hanging a red curtain in a residential living space.”

fashion website. But if you’re still on the fence, here are a few other potential benefits:

Captions for videos, written explanations of charts and graphs, and alt text for navigation items are other examples of this requirement.

Improved SEO. ADA compliance requires working on alt image text, meta tagging, transcripts and other elements that can improve SEO performance.

Ability to use all functions from the keyboard. Functionality on the website must work with keyboard commands and interactions for people who cannot use a mouse. Information available in multiple or simplified formats. Complex information on your site should be available in various formats to ensure people can find an option they’re able to engage with. For example, if you have a step-by-step window cleaning graphic or an infographic on how to choose blinds, the page should also include text versions of that information. Support for programmatic language applications. Machine learning and artificial intelligence support a myriad of software programs and other tools that help people engage with online content. Many of these involve programmatic solutions that read the content to help users make decisions or convert information into audio formats. Natural communication that’s easily identifiable as a certain language is just one requirement for supporting such solutions. Support for other assistive technologies. ADA-compliant websites should also support other types of assistive technologies, including browser extensions and solutions users have invested in to help them navigate the web.


Staying compliant with the few things listed above probably sounds like a daunting task, and we’ve only made the smallest of dents in WCAG technical requirements. Start by reading up on ADA requirements for websites. You can find the entire text of the WCAG with explanations and examples related to each section online at Numerous software companies provide ADA-compliance checkers: tools that crawl your website and return information about areas you might need to address. WCAG requirements are so complex that automatic tools can’t check for all requirements. They can save you a lot of time checking elements such as images for alt text, though, and ensuring you’re meeting many of the other simpler requirements. To get into the nitty-gritty of ADA compliance on the web, a manual audit might be necessary. Small businesses might consider working with WCAG experts. These individuals are extremely familiar with how the ADA relates to digital solutions and what courts and others have decided in previous cases. They also usually have processes for conducting comprehensive website audits to ensure everything lines up with the WCAG.

MORE BUSINESS REASONS FOR ONLINE ADA COMPLIANCE Reducing the risk of expensive lawsuits is obviously a compelling business reason to look into ADA compliance for your window

A more functional website. Sites that function well for people with disabilities tend to function well for everyone because thought was put into the navigation and other elements. This can improve customer experience, a major driver for conversions and revenue. Greater customer reach. Ensuring your site is accessible by more people helps you reach out to more potential clients. Never heard of ADA compliance for websites and wonder if there’s really a danger you might be sued? Just ask Beyonce, Harvard, Burger King, Nike, Domino’s and Fox News. These are just a few of the brands that have been sued for this reason. Window fashion businesses—even small ones—aren’t immune from ADA-related lawsuits and penalties. So, take some time this year to handle this marketing housekeeping task. V Welton Hong is the founder of Ring Ring Marketing and the author of “Making Your Phone Ring with Internet Marketing for Window Covering Companies.” Facebook: RingRingMarketing

insight : jude charles

Find Compelling Stories to Market Your Business to Clients Use these three ideas to show—not tell—potential clients why they should work with you BY JUDE CHARLES


n late March 2020, producers at ESPN were scrambling to figure out how they would fill TV programming as the entire world came to a screeching halt. Sporting events were canceled, most people began working from home and reruns of past games were quickly becoming stale. So, quickly, producers decided to move up the premiere of the 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan called “The Last Dance.” When the docuseries debuted on April 19, it broke records, averaging 6 million viewers for each episode. Do you want to know the crazy part? After its release, sales of every product associated with Michael Jordan soared. For example, an autographed pair of Jordan’s shoes sold for $560,000 at auction. Nike’s Jordan brand saw its first billion-dollar quarter in 2020. Scottie Pippen, Michael’s teammate who was featured in the first two episodes, also saw sales of his sneakers and merchandise increase by 50 percent.

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Why am I sharing all of this with you? This is a testament to the power of storytelling. Plus, it shows why you should be leveraging the power of storytelling for yourself.

Here are three ways to find compelling stories that will help you stand out, connect with your customers or clients, and build trust.

In the last issue, we talked about why you should start creating videos that share your story and demonstrate your expertise. It’s what I call a Dramatic Demonstration of Proof. It can help you quickly and effectively set yourself apart from your competition.


In this month’s issue, before you even pick up a camera and press record, I want to take a step back and help you find compelling stories to tell about you and your business. As a quick reminder, a great story tells me about a specific moment in time. You’re not stating facts and figures. Instead, you’re bringing me into the exact day something happened to you. “The Last Dance” told the story of what it was like for Michael Jordan to play and win his sixth championship in his final year in the NBA. It was about a specific moment in his life.

Bring me into the specific moment when you realized you needed to start the business. What were you thinking, feeling or saying? What happened next? This one is pretty straightforward and the easiest to come up with. It answers a simple question: How did you get started in your business? It also gives a glimpse into the kind of person you are and what you’re about without directly saying it. For example, I often talk about the moment in high school when my TV production teacher handed me a yellow envelope with my first set of business cards. I was 17 years old and didn’t know anything about starting a business. But when I first saw those business cards, it gave me the courage I needed to take the risk.

Or go back to the sports reference that we started with. Most athletes will talk about the early days of playing the sport and what it felt like for them. Did you know Michael Jordan initially thought he would be a professional baseball player instead of playing basketball?

My friend LuAnn Nigara talks about the moment she was driving home from a client meeting and had a strange thought: “What am I really doing? What is it going to say on my obituary about the kind of impact I was able to make in this community?”


Now, LuAnn wasn’t dying and didn’t have a near-death experience, but it was the specific moment of driving in her car where she was able to tap into something bigger. It’s the moment she realized her why.

Instead of saying, “Trust me, this is the best option for you,” it would be best to share a client success story. Start by talking about the specific moment in time another client walked into your showroom or office. This is before they ever started working with you. Talk about the challenge or problem they were facing and concerns or objections they had before working with you. (Ideally, this would be the same objection you’re getting when talking to the current potential client.)

LuAnn discovered her why is to help designers learn how to build a business and not rely only on their creative talent. In order to fulfill that why, she started a podcast interviewing well-known professionals in the interior design industry. Creating her podcast helped her do the thing she was called to do.

Potential clients may hesitate to hire you because they aren’t sure if your product or service is right for them, or they’re worried about the process and how long it will take.

Finally, walk me through the journey of success. How were you able to help? What did you do? How did the client feel afterward?

So now it’s your turn. Pull out a sheet of paper right now and start jotting down ideas of stories you can share. Don’t wait to do this. The same kind of wild success Michael Jordan received from telling his story is the same kind that awaits you. V Jude Charles is a filmmaker and brand strategist. For more than 15 years, he has been producing stories for purposedriven entrepreneurs and brands such as Google, Steve Harvey and Coldwell Banker. He digs deep to find compelling stories that no one else knows and then leverages those stories to scale your business.


Your “why story” tells me the deeper motivation that connects you to the work you’re doing. What does the product or service really mean to you? Why do you wake up every morning and get excited about your work? “To help people” isn’t a great answer here. Many people want to help others, but why this and why you? You want to go deeper to find the specific moment in time when it clicked for you that you really couldn’t be doing anything else. LinkedIn: JudeCharles

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insight : michele williams

Managing Your Money So It Does Not Manage You Develop a plan for where each dollar in your business goes to avoid problems and maximize profitability BY MICHELE WILLIAMS

W services, not me.

e all love payday! I remember, early on, getting that check from the client and considering it my pay. And let me tell you something: That caused an issue. I quickly found out that the check from the client was to pay the company for product and

This was a big lesson, and I learned it the hard way. Over the years, I have met many entrepreneurs who did not understand the flow of money through their company and made similar assumptions. Without understanding where each dollar goes in your business, it is easy to spend money on all the wrong things and then not have enough for the most important items. Dave Ramsey, author of “The Total Money Makeover” and several other books about financial management, has two quotes that resonate very deeply with me: •

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”

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To begin managing your money, you must first be very clear that commingling funds is not allowed. What does it mean to commingle funds? It means to mix funds that are designated for separate areas. This could mean mingling your business and personal funds, or it could refer to using funds that are to be allocated for client purchases on a separate business bill. Each dollar that comes into your company has a job within the company, and part of money management is allowing it to do the work it was intended to do. Second, managing your money depends on you understanding the financials of your firm. This means knowing how your pricing is derived and ensuring that you are charging what is necessary to be in business and to be sustainable in business going forward. Good pricing is the beginning of good money management. Financial fluency also includes the ability to read your financial statements and know what they are “saying” to you. Analyzing this data for your company strategy is imperative to future success. The next thing you need to do is create a cash flow plan that allows you to be paid for the work in advance as much as possible. If you are not being paid in advance for work or product, then you are acting as a bank for your clients. This requires you to

use your own money on their behalf, either to pay your employees or subcontractors or to purchase from vendors. When stated this way, you can see the risk you are assuming. If you are able to get 50 to 100 percent prepayment from your client, you are using their money to do the work on their behalf, and that is always a great money management strategy. Now, create a budget for money coming in and going out. This is a little different than a cash flow plan. Each year, create a budget of what you intend to bring in from sales and then tell the money where it will be spent. I like to create at least two budgets. One is an aggressive budget, which has an aggressive sales goal with a bit more aggressive spending plan, including possibly a new hire or an acquisition. I also create a conservative plan that may be close to the prior year and allows me to have a more conservative spending plan as well. These are spreadsheets that can be monitored each month to see how the company is working compared to the plans. Next, make a plan to spend the profits in the company. When we have profit, this is a hallmark of sustainability. On the income statement, the net profit (income) can be an amount that is allocated in numerous ways, such as owner distribution, tax payments, invested profit in the company, bonuses for employees and capital expenditures. Having a plan for profit keeps us from overspending on the expenses. It is so easy as a firm grows to keep spending. But when we teach the business (aka us, the owners) to live within its means, then the profits can grow.

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Roger Magalhaes Founder & Chief Owl

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I use and teach a money management strategy called Profit First. In this strategy, we analyze the business and designate a percentage of our real revenue (similar to gross profit) to profit. We also set percentages for expenses, owner’s benefit and taxes on the owner’s behalf. By looking at each dollar as working in one of these categories, we are able to separate out the money of the company for the job it is intended to do. This allows us to make very informed decisions when we need to “switch up the job” of the next dollar. When we choose to manage our money so the lack of it doesn’t manage us, we actually relieve stress. Knowing what is required of my company financially and being aware of what it takes to achieve that, and then allocating the funds to pay those bills, is a relief. If you don’t have a money management system, check out Profit First. Your business will thank you. V Michele Williams is the owner of Scarlet Thread Consulting, an advisory and coaching firm focused on profitability for the interior design industry. She works with designers to scale and grow their firms with ease so that they can reclaim their time and be paid a consistent salary. She is also the host of the popular podcast “Profit is a Choice.” Facebook: ScarletThreadConsulting Instagram: ScarletThreadATL



insight : roger magalhaes

9 Tips for Successful Outdoor Window Treatment Installations From tools and people to insurance coverage, here are things to consider if you will be hanging outdoor drapes, shades and more



s the weather gets warmer, our clients will shift focus from the indoors to the outdoors. Due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, some may decide to “get away” in their own backyards as a way to relax and enjoy the longer days ahead. That brings to us, as installers, opportunities to offer outdoor installation services while enjoying the outdoors a bit longer. That is especially true for the installers in the Northern states. Our colleagues in the South do this year-round.

rated components are strongly suggested. Also, the communication and planning with the general contractor and/or electrician is crucial so the connections and power are supplied exactly as desired.





In windy regions, I strongly recommend wind sensors to retrieve products automatically. Cable guides provide a false sense that they will hold the shades in place, but they are not strong enough. You will need a stronger drill to drive longer screws and potentially drill into metal. In many cases, you may find it necessary to drill into masonry, so a hammer drill is also necessary.

Outdoor roller shades, awnings and outdoor drapes are some of the products on the list for installation. But before you decide to jump on the outdoor installation bandwagon, you should be aware of some key differences between indoor and outdoor products. Here are a few points to consider:


Depending on the dimensions of the shades or drapery poles, you must confirm that the surface has enough structural reinforcement to support the weight of the treatments.




If you’re dealing with motorized products, exterior motors and outdoor-

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Installation for exterior work in general is slower. You will deal with a lot of out-of-square openings. Make sure you charge enough for your time and extra work.

Anchors and wall plugs won’t hold the weight of the products, never mind the extra force produced by strong winds. You are required to have an assortment of extra-long screws for your installs. If it is a new construction or remodeling project and it requires housing (pockets), get ready to install the pockets months ahead and keep the shades at your warehouse until the project is completely finished (or order the products at a later date).

Outdoor products are larger and heavier than typical indoor products. It is almost impossible to work solo on those type of installations. Make sure you have assistance. Check with your insurance broker to make sure you have enough coverage and that your policy covers this type of work. V Roger Magalhaes is the founder of Trading Up Consulting, which provides installation training for window fashion professionals. Magalhaes draws on 15 years as a professional window treatment installer in the Boston area, where he received over 600 5-star reviews from satisfied clients. He is the installation instructor for the Window Fashion Certified Professional FastTrack program, serves on the board of directors of the Window Coverings Association of America and recently founded the Facebook group Window Treatment Installers by Trading Up Consulting.

industry : lessons in leadership

Lessons in Leadership: Julia Noran Johnston BY GRACE MCNAMARA


hat does being

were fired up by her dedication to making

new brands create an uptick in new

mean? It’s not the

a bigger impact in the interior design

interior designers entering the profession


who see it as a career path. Most come in

a leader really

same as being a

manager. It means you consistently

What inspired you to launch BOH?

show up, set an example and look for ways

My previously-held marketing and editorial

to grow. Most importantly, it means you

roles at Hearst Magazines at Veranda

don’t wait when there’s work to be done.

and Condé Nast at Architectural Digest taught me that interior designers are an incredibly valuable audience, and I saw the power designers had as a group: purchasing power, influence and market demand. At the time, there was no place or resource to connect everyone together. Magazines were folding quickly, but blogs and online communities were blossoming. I started thinking I needed a plan B. Being inspired by this field, BOH was born.

What does the future of the interior design industry look like? The future of design really follows the future of the residential real estate market. These qualities certainly apply to Julia

As long as the market is strong, I think

Noran Johnston, founder and president of

there’s a much greater appetite for design,

Business of Home (BOH). In 2009, Johnston

partially because people have houses to

founded BOH with the goal of creating

furnish that they’ve just purchased, but

a go-to source for insight and analysis

also because of the influence of seeing

on business trends for interior design

beautiful spaces online. We will witness

professionals and anyone working in the

a lot of new brands emerging into the

home category. Connecting with Johnston

market because unlike fashion or beauty,

virtually from her home office in NYC, we

there are not a lot of options still. These

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as newbies entering a creative market or looking for a career change. Additionally, buyers will be purchasing second homes, which will not just be for the wealthy anymore because of investments like Airbnb. Sustainability will continue to advance but become a requirement by demand of the consumers holding organizations accountable.

What do you feel are the most challenging issues for interior designers today? How does BOH address them? The two biggest challenges are pricing (how to charge) and lead times. The issue of pricing is such a complex topic, and there is really no perfect solution for designers. Hourly, markup, a flat fee or a combination are traditional charging methods, but a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t feasible. Finding the best pricing method fit for your business model is the best option. Additionally, lead times are through the roof. COVID-19 has thrown a huge wrench in the supply chain in general, affecting the home market and leaving serious delays.

Buying through consignment brands like Chairish and 1stDibs has become a popular solution because it’s available and fast. At BOH, we are focusing on providing the best advice and resources to help address these obstacles.

What does it take to be a good leader today? COVID was really the ultimate test in leadership. I witnessed a range of reactions among the community, from utter panic and denial to true leadership in the form of resilience and adaptability. I’ve learned these are important qualities for a leader to possess. Also, having a macro view of the

Lightning Round with Julia Noran Johnston

economy is important in order to have a clear idea of events that have a direct effect not just on business but on an industry as a whole. Personally, I have FOMO (fear of missing out), which plays in my favor because I want to know the latest trends and what’s happening, which keeps BOH in line or even ahead of the curve.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Fill in the blank: Leadership is… Hiring well and then getting out of the way.

I lead the way I like to be led, which is with a lot of autonomy. I try to hire people who are naturally self-starters and I know they can get the job done without a lot of micromanaging from above. There’s not a more motivating factor than doing well by your team and having your team respect and like you—especially when your colleagues are like family, which is how I feel about my team. I want everyone to feel like that as well.

Are there a few resources on leadership that you recommend? I’d definitely recommend Scott Galloway’s podcasts. One of his big quotes is “Greatness is in the agency of others.” I really believe one of the best things you can do as a leader is hire well. If you can do this, you can grow faster, have fun doing it and not waste time and energy. I would also recommend the BBC’s collection of podcasts for personal interest and development. Listen to a recording of the full interview at V

You’re called to do something brave, but your fear is real and stuck in your throat. What’s the first thing you do? Laugh. Then take a deep breath.

What are you most grateful for at this moment in your life? My two children that keep me laughing, honest and inspired.

Give us a quote that inspires you? “Never complain, never explain.” —Elsie de Wolfe

What’s the best piece of leadership advice you can give? Hire people that are better than you in some way.



advertorial : rolling into 2021

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Rolling into 2021 2021 has been an exciting year for Coulisse. The multinational Dutch company had been working with American window covering professionals in the U.S. for nearly a decade when it debuted a roller shade collection designed specifically for the needs and styles of the U.S. market. As its 10-year anniversary in America approaches, it is excited to premiere a new roller shade collection, announce an expanded presence on U.S. soil and show off new technology solutions.

The 2021 collection comes with sample solutions for both fabricators and dealers. The complete collection is presented in five books, with three-ring binder fabric cards of each individual fabric collection. There are also memo samples. This flexible setup allows fabricators and dealers to mix and match in order to create the sales materials that work for them.

“Since 1992, Coulisse has been developing solutions for the residential and commercial markets,” says Managing Director Jop Vos. “Based on the belief that window coverings are so much more than just a functional product, Coulisse has always been on the cutting edge with very inspiring and forward-thinking collections.” The company began selling its new U.S. roller shade collection in March. Vos describes the new grouping as diverse enough to meet the needs of the residential, commercial and hospitality sectors—with basic must-haves as well as the ability to upgrade to exclusive luxury fabrics—but simple enough to deliver the best possible availability and delivery rate. “The new roller shade collection for the U.S. market is driven by a major shift toward the application of roller shades in commercial projects,” says Vos. “A large number of fabrics have been added to the collection with perfect properties for application in office buildings, public places, healthcare facilities and the hospitality industry. “Also, the latest trends for the residential market have been implemented in the new collection,” he adds. “It features a wide selection of refined textures and nature fabrics with soft color tones, creating a sense of tranquility and serenity in our bustling everyday lives.”

Each line within the collection comes with its own character in terms of functionality and appearance. The Light Filtering group includes plain fabrics, worked out in a variety of weaving textures and colors, as well as a jacquard woven fabric and material with a botanical print. The Black-Out collection also comes in a variety of weaving textures, colors and looks. This grouping includes blackout fabrics that completely darken the room, as well as choices with a white back side to reflect light. The Sheer, Solar and Screen TEXTILES line comes in a range of materials, including refined fabrics with a linen look and coarser fabrics with the texture of wool. “The color palette is soft and gentle, and perfectly suits modern as well as rustic interior styles,” says Vos. The Sheer, Solar and Screen GENESIS line combines the functional excellence of sheer, solar and screen fabrics when it comes to natural light management and heat control with subtle prints, natural colors and refined

textures that create a modern look. People interested in more rustic interiors may flock to the Nature Concept line, which offers fabrics in a variety of textures, including delicate linen- or cotton-look fabrics with irregular weaves and soft, natural colors. Purchasers’ products will be delivered from Coulisse’s new facility in Miami, which has been operational since March 1, 2021, and has increased the company’s warehousing space in the U.S. “Our expansion in the U.S. market has been exponential, especially in recent years,” says Vos. “This expansion offers the opportunity for further growth and the establishment of a more robust organization in the coming years.” Coulisse always aims to deliver customers the right products at the right time in the desired quantities. “In additions, we support our customers with our global experience and knowledge in the fields of marketing, concepts and optimization of the production process,” says Vos. The company has added several online training tools and digital assets to help window treatment companies educate staff. The company’s third piece of good news for 2021 is that its MotionBlinds technology will soon work with the Apple HomeKit, thanks to a partnership with Germany-based Eve Systems. Its first motorized roller shade motor will be the only one that operates from an iPhone without a bridge. It will be released in 2021, with more motors to follow. Of course, Coulisse is still proud to be offering the many quality products it’s sold for years. “We are the total solution for roller shades, offering a variety of fabrics, systems such as Absolute Roller 2.0 and motorization options such as MotionBlinds,” says Vos. That will stay the same even as many other things at the company change.



industry : framing the conversation

Photo courtesy of U.S. Polymers

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Photo courtesy of TWO USA

Framing the Conversation BY SOPHIA BENNETT

The case for whether window covering professionals need to pay attention to shutters is pretty open and shut. “The shutter industry is a $600 million business and is estimated to grow to $800 million by 2022,” says Viken Ohanesian, president of U.S. Polymers. “Growing at a rate of 5 percent a year, it represents one of the fastest-growing sectors in the window covering industry. We believe shutters will continue to grow as they are the only window covering considered furniture for your home.” Ohanesian rattles off a list of reasons why shutters are often called “the ultimate window treatment.” “They’re the only window treatments that add to the resale value of a home,” he reports. “No other window treatment makes quite the impression as quality shutters. Shutters keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer. They provide light control and privacy, giving you total command of your space. They also have a timeless appeal that can fit any decorating scheme, whether traditional or contemporary.” “There remains a strong connotation that shutters represent luxury,” says Cliff Stanley, CEO of TWO USA. “Therefore, they are still an aspirational product for many, and because today they are more affordable, their popularity has continued to grow.” Shutters are also a versatile product that come a variety of materials and looks and can be used for interior and exterior applications. Window Fashion VISION took a deeper dive into this category, examining what’s new and what professionals can expect in the coming years.

Shutter Materials and Trends In general, there’s been a shift away from wood shutters. “Poly is a very popular material because it is affordable, durable and easy to clean,” says Ohanesian. “It has become a fan favorite due to our WoodTex Finish, which looks and feels like real wood.” One World Shutters’ Hybrid line, which is made from a proprietary combination of solid poly material and wood, is its most popular offering, says CEO Steve English. “Consumers are always looking for the best value. Our Hybrid line offers a combination of product quality, features, benefits and warranty. Our titanium finish is a force to be reckoned with.” Dealers love the comfort level that comes with selling a product highly engineered to last and look beautiful for a long time. They also like the company’s “Shutter Shield Guarantee,” which creates outstanding consumer confidence. TWO USA’s bestselling product is still its premium wood shutter. “Unlike other window treatments, a plantation shutter has a classic aesthetic that stands the test of time,” says Stanley. “Shutters are considered a more permanent window treatment and are rarely replaced when a home is sold, therefore they’re seen as an added value to the house.” Neutral white shutters are performing best for the company. “Interestingly, stained shutters that highlight the wood grain are considered outdated or out of fashion, and so we’ve seen the demand for stains decrease,” he reports.



industry : framing the conversation

Stanley is also seeing a trend toward materials other than wood. “Aluminum is a versatile material as it’s very durable, even in wet areas, and allows for wider panels, which is an aesthetic many customers are looking for,” he says. “It is also more resistant to scratches because it is powder-coated.” The other shift Stanley is seeing is one away from the traditional frames, which have detailed, matching molding. Instead, consumers are demanding more austere, modern frames. “Windows are getting larger, and the design lines are getting cleaner, and this is reflected in frame choices,” he says. Shutters without tilt rods are generally more popular than products with them. “The ShutterSMART shutter is now available as SMARTVIEW, with completely hidden tilt rods for wide and unobstructed views,” says Ohanesian. Photo courtesy of One World Shutters

Sell More Shutters! How can designers and retailers sell more shutters? Stanley advises making them more central to the overall design scheme for rooms. “In other parts of the world, we see shutters used as a room feature,” he says. “Designers play with louver sizes, colors and framing choices to make the shutters stand out and become a focal point. When designers and retailers understand how the different specifications can make the shutter a stand-out feature, they will better recognize how and when to make recommendations to a customer. There’s no doubt that shutters can be as appealing, if not more so, than other window coverings when incorporated properly into a designer’s plan.”

Photo courtesy of TWO USA

From Sea to Shining Sea “Shutters have always been popular across the whole of the U.S., but they are most prevalent in Texas and the southern states, likely because of the nod to traditional Southern style and climate in general,” says Stanley. Preferred styles for shutters can vary greatly from region to region. English sketches out a large swath of America when he describes shutter trends, drawing an imaginary line from Sacramento, California, to the northern border of North Carolina, then down to Florida and back across the continent. “That’s where 75 percent of all shutters are sold in America,” he says. “The trends in those markets are large panels and the largest louvers you can get.” Most southern states, including Florida, Texas, California and Arizona, prefer a hybrid shutter. The exceptions are Georgia, Tennessee and Colorado, where wood shutters are in higher demand.

Stanley’s other tip is to think outside the box—literally. “The opportunity for selling shutters lies in external applications, where aluminum plantation shutters are used to enclose outdoor areas, create privacy or even over windows as Bahama shutters,” he says. “I believe these applications will increase as Americans continue to reimagine how they use their yards and patios and continue to expand their outdoor living space.” To English, the key to increasing sales is training. “You sell what you know,” he said. By getting to know the manufacturers, sellers can also do a better job of telling a story about where the products came from, their warranties and their reputation for quality. That will go a long way toward convincing clients they’re making the right choice and a smart investment. V

Northern states tend to favor smaller louvers—something that’s due to home construction more than aesthetics. “In Chicago and the Northeast, you have all wood-frame windows and a lot of casing to the window,” says English. “They’re a lot shallower in depth, so the louver sizes have to be smaller.”

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Photo courtesy of U.S. Polymers



advertorial : the great outdoors, inside

The Great Outdoors, Inside Zipscreen offers the ultimate shading solution for any outdoor area or window The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s lives in so many ways. Some are good (remote work, grocery pickup, cocktails to go) and some are not so good (restricted travel, limited indoor dining, minimal socializing). One thing is for sure: Our lives will be forever changed. The pandemic has accelerated a lifestyle trend that had already been emerging: shading solutions that enable more serene outdoor spaces. Down under in Australia, the climate is pleasant and mild, enabling a lifestyle that embraces year-round outdoor living. Aussies have generally been progressive in their outdoor shading approaches, often incorporating residential and commercial building designs that include flexible indoor/outdoor living spaces. One of Australia’s leading shading system providers Acmeda Pty Ltd, embraced the continent’s desire to spend much of life outdoors. In 1988, a team of Acmeda engineers landed on a system design they believed would redefine the balance between life indoors and outdoors. The system offered a retractable enclosure that

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protected people from all the elements (sun, wind, water, bugs) without impacting the view or engagement with the outdoor ambiance. The team submitted a patent for the

core technology of the system: Z-Lock, a specialized zipper system for the enclosure. The result was Zipscreen, a system that has since redefined the Aussie landscape and is now migrating to North America under the merged Rollease Acmeda umbrella. Over the next 30-plus years, Acmeda refined the system design into what is now the benchmark for the exterior tensioned product category.

Extending a Home or Business to the Outdoors

Zipscreen unlocks a business’ or home’s hidden potential without the stress and cost of traditional renovations. With Zipscreen, owners have the flexibility to add an outdoor haven, hassle-free. From summer heat to winter chill, Zipscreen protects any pergola, lanai, alfresco or balcony and allows people to indulge in open-air living yearround. Made from high-grade aluminum parts, Zipscreen is an ultra-durable solution that is made to last. Its signature no-gap finish ensures the perfect seal and complete protection from outside elements. The award-winning Ultra-Lock v2 mechanism adds safety and security to the space by securely locking the system in place.

Seamless Operation and Controls

What makes Zipscreen stand apart from other outdoor solutions is its zip-fed side fastening system. The fastener is welded onto the fabric and fed into the side rails of the system, allowing it to be securely

Project Focus: FROM ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY The Las Vegas Strip is an inspirational playground for architects and designers alike. The grounds of the various resorts are complete with breathtaking pools and lounges and stunning greenery, inviting visitors to indulge in a luxurious outdoor escape. Drawing inspiration from the XS Lounge and pool at the Wynn Las Vegas, Zipscreen partner and manufacturer Texton recently completed a backyard makeover that mirrored the popular property. The project’s focal point is a pool with beautiful waterfalls and a convenient swim-up bar attached to an octagon-shaped covered gazebo at the heart of the patio. Enclosed at the back of the property’s home, the gazebo offers four entryways situated between stone pillars staring out at the pool’s landscape. Within the gazebo, occupants can escape the sun’s harsh rays to unwind in a lounge containing a media entertainment system and wet bar, where the owners serve cocktails to swim-up patrons. For maximum utilization, the homeowner requested an environment that provided usable space regardless of weather conditions. To deliver on this requirement, Texton specified and installed four recessed motorized Zipscreen systems with side channels built into the stone facade for a discreet aesthetic, transforming the space into an enclosed oasis. They chose black system hardware and X-Weave Onyx 5 percent screen fabric to seamlessly blend into the stone while preserving a natural view-through, connecting function and design. Texton partnered with the project’s architect and provided all necessary technical drawings to ensure the planning and installation were successful. When in use, occupants can comfortably watch the big game in full clarity without the glare of the sun. In the evening when lights are on, insects are left out. Even on rainy or windy days, the space becomes a snug retreat unaffected by outside conditions. Automate motorization completes the system’s functionality by providing for harmonious seamless shade operation. The Automate Pulse 2 Hub adds a feature-rich experience to control all shades within the home right from any smartphone or tablet using the Automate Pulse 2 App. The technology accommodates motor grouping and sets limits so the shades move together. A schedule matched to the home’s geographic location introduced an automated experience, with the shade’s repositioning based on the sun’s natural pattern. In the morning as the sun rises, the gazebo opens to a new day. As the sun sets, the shades close and the party continues in an outside that’s been transformed into an inside. To learn more about Texton’s Outdoor Living systems, visit



advertorial : the great outdoors, inside guided up and down in operation. This unique fastening system provides the stability and protection needed in outdoor shades. Additionally, the zip welding technique ensures a smooth fabric finish that eliminates unwarranted wrinkles for a taut, sleek aesthetic. Usability and control are dependent on user preference and a project’s budget. Whether the product is operated with a manual, motorized or truly automated experience, users have several options to comfortably operate the system. For a cost-effective solution, manual Zipscreen systems incorporate Rollease Acmeda’s spring system technology for comfortable operation with low-pull force or a crank for crank gear configuration. For consumers seeking motorized products, Rollease Acmeda’s Automate FT line of motors allow for seamless operation at the push of a button using the Automate Push 5 remote controller. Automate fabrictensioning FT motors are made for external application with an ingress protection rating of IP44. They add a level of security and safety to Zipscreen with intuitive built-in obstacle detection technology that automatically redirects the shade position if the hem bar hits an obstacle. Additionally, they work with other Automate motors in the home for a cohesive whole-home shading system. For an automated experience, the Automate Pulse 2 Hub and Pulse 2 app support configuration of set schedules and timers or integration into third-party systems such as the popular voice assistants Alexa, Google Home Assistant and Apple HomeKit. They also work with more sophisticated home automation platforms including Crestron, Control4 and Savant. A sun and wind sensor also triggers operation of the system by conveniently opening or closing the shade depending on weather conditions.

The Zipscreen Family

In addition to Zipscreen, which can manage year-round shades of up to 19 feet in width, Rollease Acmeda supplies Zipscreen Extreme, which contains more robust componentry to produce a wide-screen

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retention solution. Shades can stretch up to 23 feet in width and have drops up to 16 feet. Utilizing stainless steel hardware, a premium aluminum cassette and a choice of 110 mm or 130 mm aluminum tubes, the Extreme system is durable but minimally designed for a modern finish. The Veue Straight Drop, Wire Guide, Channel Guide and Pivot Arm systems are entrylevel solutions suitable for a variety of applications, including sliding windows and doorways or undercover areas. Regardless of system selection, all outdoor solutions are contemporary in design for a seamless aesthetic when incorporating multiple solutions into a project. Available in six classic colors to blend with any exterior, Zipscreen system hardware can be combined with Rollease Acmeda’s fabric brand, Texstyle, for a complete solution through one provider. Texstyle’s X-Weave fabric is designed for the outdoors. Its heavy-duty 2x2 weave composition with a 5 percent openness factor makes durability and versatility its strongest characteristics. Its fire-retardant finish grants usage in both commercial and residential settings. Available in eight colors in 126-inch roll widths with the ability to

railroad, this is the preferred outdoor shade fabric selection for all applications, including large systems. External shades create a comfortable outdoor area in any season. They help minimize reliance on HVAC systems by maintaining a comfortable temperature in the sectioned-off area, therefore reducing energy consumption while helping the environment. Whether a client wants to stay cool on hot summer days, trap the heat in the cooler months or simply create a barrier to protect themselves from insects and inclement weather, Zipscreen is the go-to solution.

Zipscreen is currently offered through a select group of retailers and fabricators. Visit or contact sales@ to be connected to a regional sales manager or Zipscreen manufacturer.

We’ve missed you!

We can’t wait to see you in April 2022! detailS coming soon.


inspiration : cozy up for an effervescent year

“Repurposing vintage pieces into modern interiors adds character, warmth and soul,” says Claudia Clobes Yudis of Urban Loft Window Treatments, who specified these window treatments. Interior design by Kimberly Barr Interior Design. Photo by Jon Friedrich

Vintage and deadstock fabric from Elizabeth Allen Studio. Allen shares, “Through the pandemic, my fabrics started selling more than usual. I think people are having a sense of nostalgia. They get a thrill sourcing vintage and love the personal touch from a small-business owner.”

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Home redesign and redecorating continue to rise off the charts, which we could have predicted after an extended homebound period. What we couldn’t predict is exactly how lifestyle shifts would affect design and decorating trends. If you haven’t converted to a #VanLife year on the road, you have probably dipped into one of these tendencies, knowingly or not, which ultimately make our lives more beautiful, comfortable and celebrated.


With increased production lead times and supply chain delays, designers and design enthusiasts are turning to vintage pieces to lovingly rehab. Whether it’s a family heirloom or a unique piece thrifted or sourced online, reupholstering and refinishing transforms furniture into one-of-a-kind gems. Not only is the piece unique, buying vintage is critical to sustainability. It moves us toward a circular economy where repair, reuse and renewing is the norm. Shopping vintage and deadstock fabrics on Etsy or Queen of Raw is becoming a go-to tool of the trade with no wait times and a feel-good chance to rescue something from the landfill.

"A circular approach breathes new life into older pieces that just need a little love,” says interior designer Laurence Carr. “In rehabbing, reusing and recycling, we have the chance to elevate our personal style in unique ways while supporting our economy and our environment at the same time.” Linen drapery with hand-sewn silk ruffles custom-made by textile designer Maki Yamamoto. Gio Ponti circa bench with Dedar fabric and Carol Egan stools made of steel from Maison Gerard. Photo by Lisa Russman V ISION |


inspiration : cozy up for an effervescent year


In our effort to feather our nests, the first requisite consumers clamor for is coziness. From the new iteration of “sweats dressing” to sinking into a double-stuffed bouclé sectional, we want comfort. Enveloped in soft fabrics with unfussy silhouettes, wellness meets aesthetics with design elements that embrace us warmly during uncertain times.

RIGHT: Punch Card by Pollack is an opaque felted wool that has tiny laser-cut holes to allow the light to peek through. Design director Rachel Doriss notes, “There is nothing like wool at the window. It has the most amazing drape and can bring a sense of coziness and calm to the space.”

LEFT: The Waffle Series from Mia & Co. is a collection of chic and cozy handcrafted loungewear. Designer Sydney Taylor says, “The fabric is ethically sourced deadstock waffle-knit fabric and the clothing is sustainably handmade in Long Island.”

ABOVE: Torino crushed velvet from Yoma Textiles is as comfy-cozy as it gets. It’s a classic linen look, yet it is woven in 100 percent polyester, offering a rich palette and superb washability.

THE ROARING ’21s ABOVE: “What better way to embrace levity than to add some glass beaded trim to this top treatment for our client’s kitchen, bringing in playfulness and light,” says Jill Ballew, owner of High Country Drapery Designs. RIGHT: Embellished textile Gewa Fray by Fabricut in colorway Indigo is a charming matchstick embroidery with playful fringe.

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What followed the dark days of World War I? The Jazz Age! History has proven that the human race will celebrate vitality with much-needed levity. Ring in the Roaring ’21s, a “carpe diem” design approach embellished with effervescence and optimism. V Photo by Paul Dyer Photography

LEFT: Photo courtesy of Fabricut

The Classic Beauty of Plantation Shutters with One World. 877-539-9487


inspiration : 2021 trends

2021 TRENDS:

Customization, Technology, Eco and Wellness

From the Dekton Craftizen Collection Samsung's BESPOKE 4-Door Flex refrigerator


The 2021 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) revealed trends that speak to customization, technology and well-being—and that have profound implications for the world of window coverings.

Sherwin-Williams' paint in Tradewind 6218

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An LG InstaView refrigerator

be fire-infused on its apron-front sinks. Even bathtubs can be customized, as Victoria + Albert proves with its rainbow of color options. When it comes to color, neutrals remain popular, especially for countertops, where nonporous surfaces and light, easy-to-see-it’sclean hues play to a desire for hygiene. But against a calm canvas, deeper colors are popping. Organic blues and greens continue to trend on cabinetry—and those nature-based shades are also jumping onto appliances. True Residential debuted a gray-blue juniper for its refrigerators, while BlueStar has watched juniper and aqua—along with red, a hue that’s gaining traction, especially in Europe—became hot range colors.

Sherwin-Williams' paint in Heron Plume SW 6070

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the design industry—and on KBIS, which moved to a virtual format this past February. Those effects likely will remain long after the pandemic moves into the history books. One of those changes, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Design Trends 2021 study, is a move toward shaping floor plans and individual rooms to accommodate working from home and attending school or studying at home. That trend escalates the value of functional—and beautiful—window coverings that regulate light throughout the day, afford privacy when desired and set a room’s mood, whether the homeowner wants calm or energy. Hand in hand with this trend is the increased demand for indoor-outdoor living. COVID put a premium on connecting indoor living spaces to outdoor gathering areas, which has given rise to more sliding glass doors and entire walls of glass accordion doors—all usually in need of window coverings that can appear or disappear at the homeowner’s whim.

Sherwin-Williams launched a Living Well collection of naturebased hues that offer visual serenity and peace of mind, owing to the fact that the paint comes with air-purifying or sanitizing technology. It’s part of the biophilia trend that speaks to both aesthetics and physical well-being. The growth of the healthy home has taken the spotlight as consumers make upgrades that support well-being. That’s led to innovations like LG’s updated InstaView fridge, which has a water dispenser that kills bacteria, and the Studio Styler steam closet, which not only refreshes clothes after wearing but also sanitizes beddings, toys, masks—even curtains—and is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Fireclay Tile on a BlueStar Cooking range

As Americans pay more attention to their health, organic materials are on the hot list—and so is the emerging Organic/ Natural style, which placed ninth in last year’s National Kitchen & Bath Association design study and leapfrogged into the top three this year, trailing only Contemporary and Transitional styles. That shift in aesthetics opens the door to opportunities for window fashions. Organic fabrics and natural looks will be decorating homes for years to come. V

Often, homeowners want technology to elevate the function of their pretty window fashions. Remote-control operation is on many wish lists. The rise of technology in window coverings dovetails with a bigger trend seen at KBIS: more smart appliances that allow homeowners to operate a range by using their smartphone, turn on a faucet with voice command, peek inside their fridge when they’re at the grocery store or even control their entire smart home from their refrigerator (as with the new Samsung Family Hub 6.0). As homeowners’ expectations for technology grow, so does their demand for customization. Samsung has followed in the footsteps of GE’s Café Series and now offers the BESPOKE refrigerator in eight colors and two finish options. House of Rohl’s Shaws line allows consumers to choose from art that can

Samsung's BESPOKE 4-Door Flex refrigerator

inspiration : all the rage in the outdoors

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All the Rage in the Outdoors BY SOPHIA BENNETT

It’s no secret that interest in outdoor living has grown tremendously since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also well-established that people are paying a lot more attention to how they’re furnishing their outdoor spaces—including what types of window coverings and other shading products they want. “Outdoor window coverings are all the rage because everybody wants to beautify their outdoors,” says Vita Vygovska of Vitalia, Inc., a window treatment specialist in Richboro, PA. “We’re not traveling much these days, so everybody’s putting their money into their backyards because that’s where everybody’s spending their time.”

A patio designed by Vita Vygovska of Vitalia, Inc. Photo by Olga Belinskiy with Olga Belinskiy Photography

Vygovska and Eric Cohler of Eric Cohler Design—an interior design firm in New York that also services San Francisco, Palm Beach, Florida; and London—shared their thoughts for creating outstanding outdoor installations that are attractive and functional.



inspiration : all the rage in the outdoors

Outdoor Draperies Both professionals prefer outdoor draperies fabricated in neutral colors. Even though it’s possible to purchase fade-resistant fabrics, they will begin to lose color over time, Cohler points out. “When the drapes are closed, they’ll get sun on the areas that are exposed but not on the other areas. That will lead to irregular fading on the fabric and give almost a striped or blotchy effect.” If a client wants color in an outdoor space, add it through pillows, seat cushions or furnishings instead of curtains, Cohler says. Another option is to add a trim made from solution-dyed acrylic along the edge. It’s an easy thing to replace when it fades; DIYers who own a sewing machine can even do it themselves. Cohler prefers functional drapery panels to stationary ones. “People like to be able to adjust and move outdoor fabric around,” he says. Curtains help to keep out some sand and bugs, block light and provide a sense of privacy. He typically includes tiebacks so homeowners can secure the panels when they’re not needed. When fabricating outdoor draperies, “definitely use Sunbrella or a fabric that’s appropriate for the outdoors,” says Vygovska. “Use threads that are outdoor-appropriate.” (See the article “Threads and Cording and Foam, Oh My!” on page 56 for more details.) Cohler is a fan of solution-dyed acrylic or marine-grade canvas for outdoor draperies. What he chooses depends both on the look the client wants and the requirements in terms of durability. “In California, clearly fabrics are going to stand up better than in New

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England,” he says. “Down in Florida, we have to worry about mold and mildew on curtains.” Although he specifies many draperies from opaque fabric, Cohler also loves sheer versions. They create an ethereal, ephemeral space, one that’s perfect for relaxing and daydreaming. “There are so many great outdoors sheers that you can use that are spun out of solution-dyed acrylic. They’re fabulous,” he adds. No matter what type of fabric is used, it’s important to use curtain mounting hardware that’s specifically designed for outdoor use. “You cannot use your regular drapery hooks because they will rust and leave a mark on the drapery,” says Vygovska. Look for products made of plastic or metal intended for outdoor use.

To Cohler, outdoor projects should be an adjunct to

what he’s doing inside a home. “I like to think of the

dissolve between indoors and outdoors as seamless,” he says. “To me, an outdoor space is an outdoor room, whether a space is surrounded by landscape or physically surrounded by curtains and a trellis, for example.” Try to echo the aesthetic or theme of the indoor rooms in the outdoor spaces.

Planning to add motorized products to an

outdoor window treatment installation? “If

it’s a retrofit, then it’s a fairly straightforward scenario of putting up a roller shade like you would inside the house,” says Vygovska. “For new construction, the designer or builder should call in a window treatment specialist ahead of time. We can not only give them a budget to plug into the overall budget, but we can work with the builder and electrician to make sure the wiring is done correctly.” This page: A patio designed by Vita Vygovska of Vitalia, Inc.

Outdoor Shades and Screens “Roller shades really are a great choice for the outdoors,” says Vygovska. They’re easy to clean to remove dirt, pollen and insects, which is a big consideration for outdoor window coverings. “Roller shades can be motorized so they can be raised and lowered at the push of a button, so they’re super-practical.” When she creates them, she likes to use SheerWeave fabric from Phifer, which comes in a wide range of colors and opacities. Cohler is a fan of Phantom Screens, which can be pulled down when needed but disappear into a pocket at the top of a structure when not in use. “They can be motorized, or they can be manual on a clutch roll and you can roll them down,” he says. The question of whether to motorize these products comes down to client choice, of course, but also the region to some extent.

In Cohler’s experience, people in warmer climates—Hawaii, California, Texas—are more likely to want motorization because they’re using their outdoor spaces year-round. In cooler climates, like the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, people may balk at paying for motorization if they’ll only be using their shades a few months out of the year. Again, make sure to specify motorization hardware that is appropriate for outdoor use.

Outdoor Shutters and Blinds When it comes to shutters, Cohler likes to use long sets that can be pulled out consecutively and wrapped around a whole structure, closing off one side or even the whole area. “If you open the slats of the shutters, you can get as much light in as you want,” he says—or they can be kept closed for sun control. “There are also venetian blinds that are made of vinyl (that) look like real wood,” he adds. “We’ll use those sometimes inside a screened porch. You can close those for privacy, or you can open them to get the breeze, or you can use them to scoop the light in.” The benefit to vinyl blinds (as opposed to wood ones) is that they eliminate concerns about moisture and rot. V V ISION |


inspiration : threads and cording and foam, oh my!

All photos courtesy of Sailrite

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Threads and Cording and Foam, Oh My! BY KATHRYN DILLON


any years ago, a good friend asked me to repair his boat cushions for him, and I thought, “Why not?” I thought outdoor cushions would be similar to other indoor cushion projects, so it seemed easy enough.

I cannot remember all the particulars about this project, but I do remember that after the first season or two of use, the thread began to break. It never occurred to me that boat cushions used specific materials designed to prevent rot and handle extreme weather conditions, sunlight, harsh cleaning agents and salt water. Since that time, I have learned a few things about the fabrics and materials used to create outdoor furnishings that will last longer than a season or two. Let me simplify this for you.

Thread and Needle Sizes

The number you find on a spool of thread tells you how thick the thread is. The larger the number, the thicker and stronger the thread. Thicker threads make the stitching more visible, and the tension on your bobbin case and tread guide may need to be adjusted. There are three different measuring systems for thread. Tex – T: Tex uses a fixed length to measure the weight of thread in grams. The measurement is found by determining how many grams 1,000 meters of a particular thread weighs. The higher the Tex, the thicker the thread. An average weight of thread for outdoor cushions is 70 or 90 Tex. Denier Count – Td or d: Denier also measures thread at a fixed length. It is the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of thread. Commercial Sizes – V: Commercial sizes are determined by dividing the thread’s denier by 10. The sizes generally used in outdoor and marine applications are 69, 92 and 138. The higher the number, the heavier or thicker the thread.

Tex – T Commercial Size – V 46 70 90 135

45 69 92 138

Needle Size 14-16 16-18 18-20 20-22

There are many outdoor threads on the market that are polyester. Polyester threads have the same inherent properties as polyester fibers. They are strong and provide UV fading, as well as mildew and abrasion resistance. When selecting thread for outdoor use, make sure you select a polyester thread that is specifically created for outdoor use. For situations where cushions, shades, biminis or awnings are going to be exposed to extreme conditions such as long hours in the snow, sun or being placed near salt water, you will want to use a UV-bonded polyester thread. Sailrite has two different products in its Lifetime Threads line that offer a lifetime warranty when used in these types of situations. Sailrite Lifetime Threads can be used with a sewing machine that has an oscillating hook or a rotary hook. Tenera is best used with a rotary hook sewing machine. Another good option for outdoor thread is WeatherMAX outdoor sewing thread by A&E. This is also UV- and weather-resistant, very strong and easy to work with.


Fortunately, selecting cording to create fabric-covered welting is much simpler than determining which thread to use. The main thing to remember is not to use cotton cording for outdoor applications. Other materials such as polyester, polypropylene, vinyl and foam piping can be used outdoors with great success.



inspiration : threads and cording and foam, oh my!

Foam Terminology and Properties

Density: Foam density is a measurement that tells how many pounds per cubic foot polyurethane foam can support. The denser the foam, the more support the foam will provide, which will increase the life expectancy of the product. For example, if the density is 1.8, every cubic foot of the seating cushion can support 1.8 pounds.

easier positioning of the vinyl before the vinyl is stapled in place. You do not need to be concerned with air getting trapped in the cushion because the backer board has holes drilled into it that allow air to escape. A vinyl cushion cover paired with an antimicrobial polyurethane foam and silk film is the best defense against the growth of mold and mildew.

Compression: Foam compression is how many pounds it takes to compress foam by 25 percent. The higher the number, the firmer the foam; the lower the number, the softer the foam. Compression also refers to the softness or firmness of the foam, and how it feels when a person sits on it. For an interior residential window seat, for a 3-inch foam, 35 would be a good medium compression to select. If you were using foam under 3 inches thick, you may prefer a compression of 50 to make sure the seat is firm enough and not compressing the cushion too much. For a commercial space, 50 is a good compression because it tends to recover quicker after someone gets up. Open Cell Microbial Foam: This foam has large, open cells that allow for water to flow easily through it. It is quick-drying, antimicrobial, water-resistant and three times firmer than polyurethane foam. It has more plastic in it, which allows it to hold up in extreme types of weather. This type of foam is manufactured in #30 soft, #50 medium and #70 firm densities. Most vendors only carry one. Open cell microbial foam has several different brand names depending on where it is purchased. Sailrite’s name for this foam is Dry Fast; U.S. Foam Corporation of Indiana has named its Ever-Dri. Polyurethane Foam: This is a polyurethane-based foam product that will remain mold- and mildew-free unless it is left wet and outside for an extended amount of time. Cushions made out of polyurethane foam will soak up moisture, so it is recommended to use it in covered areas or bring in the cushions during rainy days. Polyurethane foam comes in a couple of different types. The one that is best used for outdoors has antimicrobial properties and is referred to as marine foam. High-density polyurethane marine foam is a good choice for boat cushions that are covered with vinyl, but not for woven fabrics, since the foam will soak up water like a sponge. Silk Film: Silk film is a noiseless plastic that makes cushion foam easier to install inside the cushion cover. It also protects the foam from moisture due to seam leakage. The silk film creates an airtight layer, allowing you to apply a vacuum to the foam and suck out the air, drastically shrinking the foam and making it easy to slip inside the cushion cover. If your cushion has a zipper, you will need to leave a section of the cushion (typically the zipper plaque) free from the silk film to allow air to escape when the cushion is sat on. For a backer board cushion, the slipperiness of the silk film allows for

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Floating Foam: This is a closed cell foam that is made from Polytech Vinyl Nitrile (PVN) and is typically found on boats. It resists moisture absorption, which makes it buoyant, and is antimicrobial. This type of foam is good for sailboat cockpit cushions because it floats, so the cushions can be used as flotation devices if needed. Closed cell foam is also very thin and firm, which makes it easy to step on as you are getting in and out of the boat.


For outdoor use, it is best to use a polyester fiber fill since polyester is inherently hypoallergenic, washable and resists mildew. Harris Pillows has a wonderful Micro Gel pillow that can be used indoors or out. These pillow inserts are made from very small pieces of fiber to give them the feel of synthetic down. You will love them. V

Albany Foam and Supply Inc., American Down & Feather, Harris Pillow Supply, Sailrite, has the most extensive published information on all the materials one may need to fabricate outdoor cushions and pillows. Check them out!

U.S. Foam Corporation of Indiana,



inspiration : coming out on top

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Coming Out on Top


BY SOPHIA BENNETT he past year has seen droves of Americans shift their entertaining and family time outside to comply with social distancing guidelines. With this trend, demand for all kinds of shading systems—but, more specifically, retractable awnings—has gone through the roof, says Franck Seguin, decorative fabrics and Solair sales manager for Trivantage. Window covering professionals should consider jumping on this trend by adding awnings to the products they carry or specify. “Awnings are an excellent fit for window treatment retailers,” says Larry Bedosky, director of marketing for Eclipse Shading Systems. “Like window treatments, there’s nothing to stock; the product is custom-made to order, and with a higher price point, retailers can make a higher profit margin. Their installers also have the skill set and typically require very little training.” Carrying awnings “adds another opportunity to be in front of a client who is initially looking for an awning but then asks, ‘Do you do interiors as well?’” says Jeff Miller, exterior product manager at Texton. Plus, “Having an exterior product that is affixed to the outside of a property is much more visible and attracts more clients than an interior product that can only be seen from inside of the property. It’s virtually a big billboard for a dealer or designer.” As with window treatments, there have been some significant advancements in technology that have made awnings more appealing to consumers and more profitable for sellers. “The exterior fabrics being made today aren’t your grandma’s fabrics,” says Miller. “With the advent of Nano-threading and coatings, the textiles being used today offer substantial benefits to the consumer. For example, silica nanoparticles create a water-resistant coating when inserted into the fabric or sprayed onto the fabric surface. When inserted into fabrics, nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide have the ability to scatter ultraviolet light present in the sun’s rays, reducing the risk of skin diseases.” “We’re seeing a rising demand for increased automation and home integration in the awning market, such as solar-powered motors,” says Seguin. “Lighting systems and heating are also good complements to any awning.” With so many advantages, is it any wonder the outlook for this category is so sunny? Here’s a closer look at awning trends and options.

Top awning constructions, colors and patterns “Trends in the awning industry for both residential and commercial

applications are retractable and rotating louver roof systems, retractable fabric pergolas and retractable shade sails,” says Eric M. Scop, vice president of sales and digital marketing at When it comes to color and style, there seem to be two schools of thought: austere or focal point. To the first point, Miller says, “People are looking for sleek and subtle awnings that blend in with the background and are virtually unnoticeable until they are operated.” In Seguin’s experience, “Homeowners and designers alike continue to gravitate toward the gray family. Beautiful beige, textured looks and blue and gray striped patterns are also popular, complementing an assortment of upholstery fabrics in the same line.” Other manufacturers are seeing a move toward bright, eyecatching colors and patterns. “Textured solid colors such as the Silica patterns offered by Sunbrella are what’s hot right now,” says Bedosky. “The awning fabric trends typically follow outdoor furniture trends. The basic stripes that you see offered online continue to drop as discerning homeowners look to add form, function and lasting value to their homes.” Favored awnings shades and patterns may be somewhat dependent on a home’s style, according to Scop. “For traditional homes, is seeing mostly forest green, navy blue and neutrals like black, white and gray in tweeds. For colonials, (we get more requests for) reds, greens and dark blues with accent stripes. For cottage-style homes, stripes are typically popular, and people with contemporary homes often order brighter colors in yellow and blue. For Southwest-type architecture, mostly installs or ships salmon and beige solution-dyed acrylic for retractable awnings.”

Installers Should Consider Awnings Too

Awnings are often installed by a licensed contractor (with assistance from an electrician if there is motorization involved). But window treatment installers with good construction skills should have no problem learning how to install them. Most of these manufacturers have training videos or programs for installers interested in learning about a company’s specific products. Check them out to see about offering this lucrative service.



inspiration : coming out on top

Popular awning products

When it comes to particular products, there are several that are flying off the proverbial shelves. In Trivantage’s Solair line, its entrylevel offering, the PS2000, comes in three ideal frame widths, a popular white color option and one 10-foot projection. The PS5000 is available in four frame colors and six projections. “In May of this year, we are excited to introduce the Solair Cassette Window Awning with a solar-powered motor option,” says Seguin. “All Solair products are retractable either manually or motorized, so they can also be closed during cooler seasons to allow for heat gain and to help lower heating costs.” “Our most popular awning, the Feng, is a fully enclosed cassette awning with no visible screws or brackets,” says Miller. It comes in today’s most popular finishes and has a fully recessed LED light package with 12 dimming settings and automatic wind and sun sensors that operate the awning when certain conditions present themselves. Also appealing to consumers is that it requires no maintenance.’s most popular product with residential clients is its folding lateral arm awning, which can be manufactured up to 52 feet, 6 inches wide and provide a projection of up to 16 feet with a single piece of fabric and motor. “These dimensions are the largest available in the world,” notes Scop. “The most popular products with commercial and institutional clients are retractable fabric pergolas available with a maximum projection of 32 feet, 9 inches—largest in the world—and rotating and retractable louver roofs available with the largest in the world at over 14 feet wide,” Scop adds. “Our Eclipse Premier is our most popular retractable awning with options like 13-foot projection, a semi cassette hood, a front drop shade and a lifetime frame warranty,” says Bedosky. The awning is powered with motorization equipment by Somfy, which is continuing to evolve. “By adding smart home technology like our myLink device, exterior motorized products can be operated with voice and app control,” says David Parrett, director of product marketing at Somfy North America. “Our upcoming TaHoma hub will extend integration opportunities for both interior and exterior motorized products as well.”

Photo courtesy of Trivantage

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Photo courtesy of Texton

Specifying the right awning

When helping homeowners choose the right awning, Scop has several recommendations for considerations designers and retailers should take into account. A big one is helping people determine what size their awning should be. “Larger units can accommodate more people, tables and chairs, so it’s important to consider if the space will only be used for a few people or for large gatherings such as barbecues and parties,” he says. Protection level is another. “If the client is looking for rain protection, do they want a product that is water-resistant or waterproof?” Scop asks. “If the client is looking to cover a patio or deck, are they also looking to protect the inside of the house or building from damaging UV rays, heat and glare?” Some awnings are intended for sun protection only. Others can help with sun and light rain, sun and heavy rain protection, or sun and heavy rain and snow, but it’s important to specify the right one. “Listen to your customer to discover their pain points and learn how an awning can solve them,” recommends Parrett. “For instance, maybe they’re getting a lot of sun on one part of their home and it’s driving up their energy bill. Most importantly, know the benefits of motorized awnings and be able to paint a picture of what your potential customer’s life will look like under an awning. By educating your customers about the benefits of motorized awnings, you’ll be able to show them why an awning can turn their outdoor space into their favorite place.” “When homeowners are exploring awning selections, we typically invite them to consider a few things,” says Seguin. “Are they seeing excessive air-conditioning expenses? Are they looking for a retractable awning option to provide and remove shade at the push of a button? Are they are looking to add a design element to a patio or yard area without taking up square footage on the ground?” These questions can help clarify which product is right for them. Once awnings become part of your product line, set up a working demo in your showroom to showcase their many benefits and functions. “Additionally, consider using real-time digital rendering software tools to show homeowners how they can customize awning covers,” says Seguin. “Solair has also developed the Awning Visualizer, a no-cost digital tool designed to help homeowners visualize how an awning would look on their home.” Being able to see the products and how they might look in their home should help seal any deal. V



Product Spotlight

Surewin – Quality components at competitive pricing from

The Forest Glasgow Collection

our Florida warehouse. Custom sourcing available. Plastic bead chain in rolls or continuous loops; numerous colors in all lengths, nickel plated and stainless chain in rolls and continuous loops in all lengths, stop balls, connectors, safety devices, c-clips, alligator clips, tassels, lift cord, vertical components, cord locks, and the easy-to-fabricate, low-profile Sure-Lift® Roman Headrail System for shades up to 50 lbs.

A stunning acrylic pole collection! Forest Glasgow features strong 1 3/6” hollow poles in 10’ lengths, or splice for wider windows. Choose polished chrome, polished brass, or graphite to accent your design. Glasgow is in stock and ready to ship.

Contact sales at or 678-721-0004. 239.362.3342

Alpha's WSERD30B 2Nm 31rpm

Insolroll’s New Quiet Li-ion Motor System.

Discover Insolroll's new quiet rechargeable motor with an embedded Lithium-ion battery, eliminating the need for an external battery wand and making motorization projects easier to detail than ever before. Offer your customer the quiet battery shade system with embedded Lithium-ion battery.

Learn more at

core-less motor and in-built battery” an industry game-changer. Whisper quote and lasting up to 750 cycles per charge. Test, compare, and see for yourself that anything else is a compromise!

One World’s Hybrid Shutters are engineered with the

insulation value of solid poly with the diversity and beauty of wood. Any shape, any size, any window. Free hidden tilt and large single panels provides clean sophisticated lines to the home. In addition to create move value, One World’s industry leading Shutter Shield protects the investment by covering accidental damage.

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Coulisse introduces a breakthrough antiviral screen for window coverings.

Screen kills coronavirus particles within a handful of seconds. The innovative screen, which is particularly suitable for public facilities with strict hygiene requirements, is the first in the market with a fast-acting and long-lasting antiviral and antibacterial effect, designed to effectively help contain the spread of corona-like viruses. Learn more at

ShutterSMART Thermocore

The fastest growing shutter, ShutterSMART Thermocore, cuts installation time in half. It arrives pre-framed and installs in minutes just like a wood shutter. To put your dealer business into overdrive contact us at: or 323-717-4072

döfix Cordless Roman Shades

For the finest custom curtain hardware, look no further than Morgik Metal Designs.

Serving the trade for 40 years, we manufacture custom curtain hardware to meet the needs of interior designers, decorators, fabrics workrooms, and architects. Choose from a selection of flat or round rods with bent or mitered return.

Discover more at MorgikRods or call 212-463-0304

Wilson’s new range

Wilson Fabrics will be releasing 6 new designs this summer. The new shade fabrics are inspired by the Australian landscape. They are made of fresh and modern color palettes and come in blockout and translucent. Wilson Fabrics has a warehouse in Missouri and sales teams on each coast.

The döfix cordless shade system is the solution for many problem windows. Since the shade is side tracked, it can be raised and lowered and be virtually stationed in any position of the window. Depending on the specific situation, the shades can be closed from the top down, like a conventional shade, or from the bottom up. This unique feature allows for sunlight without sacrificing privacy.

Ona Drapery Hardware Company is

your source for custom made drapery hardware. From contemporary to traditional, we offer an extensive selection of styles and finishes. We manufacture every rod set to order using only premium heavy gauge steel, wrought iron, crystal and more. Custom curving is available for all rod profiles. Be sure to look at our new Acrylic Rods, Art Glass finials and Polished Chrome finishes in addition to our popular French Rods and ONAVERSE™ Iron Cord Traverse Rods. We pride ourselves on quality workmanship, timely delivery and customer satisfaction. Select Ona Drapery Hardware and order with confidence.

For a free catalog please call 800/231-4025 or visit our website at V ISION |


In Our Next Issue… Technology plays an ever-increasing role in our lives. The July + August edition of Window Fashion VISION will dive into the latest in home technology, with pieces on window covering motorization, home automation, performance fabrics and more. For some inspiration, check out the first group of winners in the VISION Design and Workroom Competition Awards. We will also have the final installment in Jude Charles’ series on marketing your business with video, and the latest from columnists such as Michele Williams, O’D McKewan, LuAnn Nigara and Will Hanke.

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Photo courtesy Coulisse



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