One decorating move that will work on any window―adding natural shades. Here's an everything-you-need guide for shopping, measuring, and selecting a style.

Shades Have Come a Long Way
The downside of woven shades used to be the limited sizes they came in. Not anymore--you can order custom sizes to fit any window. Specialty shapes are even an option to fit arched windows. Light-filtering and darkening privacy liners can also be attached to the backs of shades. You'll have to pay a bit more, but you can better control how much light you let in a room and increase your privacy.
Another option: Decorative fabric bands come in many colors and styles. You get a finished look that coordinates with your decor.

How To Measure Windows for Shades
Measuring is pretty simple, but if you have any reservations, consider hiring a professional. Look in the phone book for drapery installers; keep in mind they charge by the hour. When measuring your windows, always use a metal tape measure. A yardstick or fabric tape measure will not give you an accurate number. First determine if you want the shades to be installed inside or outside the window casing.

For inside mount: To figure width, measure across the inside of the window frame at the top, middle, and bottom, and use the narrowest width. Find the height by measuring from the inside surface at the top of the window to the windowsill.
For outside mount: Measure the outside width of the window frame. Add 3 inches for overlap. Determine where you'd like the shade mounted above the window. Measure from that point to the bottom of the window. Hint: Add extra inches to mount shades higher and give the illusion of taller windows. Caring for your shades Natural shades will last for years. Periodically vacuum them with the brush attachment to keep them looking their best. Also, beware of using shades in damp areas such as a screened porch or bath, as they can easily mildew.

Page 106: Blinds made from grasses, bamboo, and yarns, including custom-size orders, are available from Kirsch,

"Home Tips: Natural Shades" is from the March 2006 issue of Southern Living.