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Photography by Eric Piasecki; Design by Gil Schafer, G. P. Schafer Architect

In most cases, window shades serve a purely utilitarian purpose. Most often they’re simple and white, maybe they’re the blackout kind, or perhaps they have a natural finish like bamboo or raffia. They’re meant to filter light. That’s what they do. They’ve never been the star.

Until now. We’re seeing shades in a whole new way lately. Bold colors not only look good on their own, they also cast a fun glow into your room that changes with the sun throughout the day. The trick for an effect that will brighten everything up: Choose a fabric with some transparency. Want to bring the Technicolor look home? Here’s some inspiration to add to your mood board.

The Bluesy Hangout

Photography by Laure Joliet; Design by Reath Design

Frances Merrill of Reath Design isn’t afraid of color. The designer went all out in this California living space, pairing a muddy teal wall paint with cobalt shades that beg to be left partially drawn for a dramatic, almost-underwater effect.

The Lipstick Shade

Photography by Simon Brown; Design by Beata Heuman

Instead of colored curtains and white shades, interior designer Beata Heuman flipped the script in this London bathroom and used ruby shades and white curtains. Next to her white-and-green iris floral wallpaper (the latest motif in her collection), the effect is unexpected and fresh. A yellow light fixture and chair balances out the daring combo. 

The Ray of Sunshine

Photography by Simon Brown; Design by Beata Heuman

In another client’s office, Heuman chose to stay with the wall color for the window treatment, choosing a slightly lighter shade of buttery yellow and lining it with coral grosgrain ribbon, a nod to the red shelves that accent the room. 

The One-Tone Wonder

Photography by Eric Piasecki; Design by Gil Schafer, G. P. Schafer Architect

Designer’s trick: A monochrome look won’t be boring if you play with tone. For instance, architect Gil Schafer went for sky blue roman linens against matching trim and built-ins, along with a royal blue damask wall pattern, in this Charleston, South Carolina, home. Together, the range works. It’s tone-on-tone at its best.

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