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Archive for December 2011

Happy New Year’s to all our customers, readers, friends and employees!

At we look forward to some exciting changes in early 2012 — we’ve got a new shade style, some fantastic new colors, and — we trust — the same great customer service. Join us!


A ‘Made in the USA’ company, is thankful to everyone who contacted us in 2011, made comments on our product, needed help with shade solutions, or just wanted to say ‘hi’.

We appreciate your patronage, and send out this THANK YOU to one and all!

In his lastest MARKET READY column in The New York Times, Tim McKeough answers the reader question:

Q: — “We have cheap temporary blinds. Is it worth investing in better window coverings before selling?”

Jennifer Ferland, a real estate agent, tellingly suggests: “‘[I]t’s funny the little things that can steer buyers away from feeling comfortable in a home.’ … If your blinds are lackluster, ‘You should absolutely invest in new window shades,’ she said. Adding upgraded window coverings would help it show better.”

Celerie Kemble, an interior designer, adds: “‘But it’s an investment… To elevate a space, you obviously need to pick something that’s a step up….'”

One customer who purchased from a few months ago was going through this same dilemma. In a tough housing market, this seller knew that new cellular shades not only gave her an additional selling point, she also gained the benefit of living in the house with the shades!

Better than my friend who put in hardwood flooring — which she had LONG wanted — then moved out of the house and let the realtor do his business.

Rather than checking out the box places the article suggests (The Shade Store, Smith & Noble, Janovic, Pottery Barn), check out our selection of fabrics, lift options and blind style combinations at!

Only yesterday morning I was talking with a gentleman in Randolph, Vermont, who said, “If I had realized was in Vermont I’d have ordered long ago.” Yep, each shade in an order is individually produced and hand-assembled, right here in our Williston, Vermont, home. And our blinds cost less than you might think, especially with our current 20% off sale (until 2 January 2012).

Mr. McKeough’s September column is discussed here in Market Ready?

As owner of an “older home” (c1948), I’ve an interest in stories on replacement windows. The noise reduction! the increased insulation! As a Blindcrafter Team Member, found on the web at, the conversation also includes how shades can help older windows — which are often better built windows — out of the landfills.

Over the weekend, I watched a 60 Minutes episode on the demolition of foreclosed home in the Columbus, Ohio, area — truly, a great waste – of money, energy, goods; not to mention the foolishness of removing people from their homes which now are fodder for criminals stripping a property for items of a little worth (the guy on the segment mentioned: “They’ve even taken the kitchen sink!”).

So it was with great interest I read about a Vermont man who has been in the business of “redressing” older windows. The story ran in the free weekly newspaper, 7 Days, and was written by Amy Lilly. The company — which is bound to get some much needed publicity, is Open Sash, owned by Christopher Pratt. Amy’s story really tells you all you need to know, so I will let it speak to you – just click on the photo:


Other posts on similar subjects, include:


On this First night of the Festival of Lights:

Spotting the above photo, I was immediately transported back to an apartment I lived in just prior to my current home. It was three stories up — a vast amount for northern Vermont, where there are few multi-story, multi-family buildings. And the flat was reached via a series of stairs / landing / stairs/ landing / stairs / front door. How on earth to get furniture up there? And what large pieces the space could have accommodated. As in the picture, everything was open, large, white walls, natural-wood-toned floors. I had seen a GORGEOUS over-stuffed couch – six-feet-long; it would have looked quite classy…

My dilemma was that my tenure in the apartment was probably going to be short: I was renting as the condo awaited a sale. It had been on the market a good year before I moved in; it sold three months after I moved in!

But, to get back to the SPACE…

Like the picture above, the condo’s living room had a slope ceiling, with skylights. The owner’s solution had been to place the couch up against the wall. My solution had been to make the immediate area a dining room space and pull the living room out into the “area of full height” — ie, the opposite side of the room. That left my seating area, much as in the picture, in the middle of the room.

Study the photo closely. What an absolutely brilliant solution to an awkward situation!

A shelf that runs seemingly around the room a few inches from the floor gives much-needed shelf space for the TV, magazines, books, trinkets like that copper kettle. The area rug defines the “TV AREA”; and the seating is cleverly kept close to the ground — although not everyone need go with this solution; there is plenty of wall height to mount the TV and have conventional seating.

In short, rather than a cramped “under-the-eaves” area, what has now been created is an area of great intimacy. You can turn your back on the cares of the world — or the house — sit and enjoy a book, the TV, a snack.

Click on the picture to see MORE of this exception home; its website is HOME DESIGNING.

This guest blog was written by Michelle – part of the Service Team.

This holiday season I’m proud of myself. I didn’t get overwhelmed by the pressure to buy lavish gifts for everyone I know.

I made an effort to buy from small local stores and spend less time in lines and waiting to get in and out of parking lots.

After a year of moving several family members, including cleaning out my childhood home, I realized that we all have too much stuff. This gave me a fresh perspective on what people use and what ends up in the back of a closet. I started by making a list of the people in my immediate family, in laws, siblings, etc. I did not focus on very specific gifts, but did ask for wish lists from everyone to give me a guideline of what they wanted. As usual I received only a few lists and started there. I also thought of what my family members asked to borrow from me this year. Not that I mind, but obviously it is something they may need and might like to have their own!

Avoid malls and tourist areas with crowded parking lots
Avoid malls and tourist areas with crowded parking lots

My goal was to avoid the mall (with all of it’s parking woes) and our touristy overpriced downtown boutiques. We have an outlet center with some small businesses mixed in just down the road from my house. I began at the kitchen shop, where I crossed off a few things on the list. Much to my surprise, I found gifts for quite a few people there, totaling under $100. I can’t mention them here as it might ruin the surprise in a few weeks! I moved from store to store, checking sales on certain things like gloves and thermal underwear, returning to one of the first stops to get the best deal and value. I asked how long things were on sale so that I didn’t feel rushed to BUY NOW! After about 2 hours, I managed to cross off 75% of the people & items off my list. I returned home victorious!

To avoid overspending on one person, I tallied the cost for each person. I ordered several items online (with free shipping) that I couldn’t find locally. Since it was early December, I did not let myself worry about what was left. I knew in my journeys I would be inspired for those last people and gifts. I attended an international festival that had many booths with items for sale. I felt good that some of the money I spent might go directly to people in that country rather than a big retailer. It was really fun to shop there and people were receptive to questions. The next week, while I was at the grocery store, I spotted a gift card center and finished off my shopping. It may not have been shopping local, but it saved me some time and ensured that my family would like what they got.

The added bonus is that I live in a town that does not charge the optional 1% Vermont tax. That means not only did I avoid crowds, I saved 1% more on almost all of my purchases.
 So here are my 10 tips on how to shop for the holidays without going bananas:

  1. Shop at places that are easy to get in and out of and where finding parking is easy. Don’t forget the grocery store, most of us have to go there anyhow!
  2. Shop in the evening, lunchtimes or take a weekday off to avoid crowds. Don’t get stuck at the mall on Saturday afternoon, everyone else is there too!
  3. Limit who you give gifts to. Cards with family photos are as thoughtful as something that might just fill up a closet. Don’t forget to write on the back of the photos, dates, names, etc!
  4. Start early on paper. Did someone ask to borrow something from you this year? Do you think they might want their own?
  5. Keep track of how much you spend on each person; you’d be surprised how fast it adds up.
  6. Use boxes to wrap gifts so you don’t feel like it doesn’t look like enough stuff. Plus it makes your wrapped corners look really nice! Even better, use a reusable gift bag and limit 1 bag per person.
  7. Gift certificates may not be instant gratification for the recipient, but at least you know that they can buy what they didn’t get over the holiday season. Make sure it is to a place in their area and try to support small businesses if at all possible. Most gift cards can be ordered online! Grocery store gift cards are great for those on a fixed budget!
  8. Treats like homemade Chex Mix or cookies can be a great last minute gift for those people that come out of the woodwork. My bachelor & foodie friends loved it last year. Buy the inexpensive reusable/recyclable containers so you don’t have to get it back. Holiday tins are cute, but are not very reusable and cost almost as much as the ingredients.
  9. Keep an open mind. The years I tried to focus on very specific and sometimes imaginary gifts were the years I went nuts searching for the perfect item I had envisioned.
  10. Remember that being there for people all year is more important than meeting a quota at the holidays!

So there you have it, Michelle’s tips and 2011 holiday shopping philosophy. Send it along to your friends and family. Stay sane, warm and avoid a financial holiday hangover in 2012!

To continue our previous post on Giving Your Home Stylish Appeal – Tips from Pro-Stagers:

Tip #4 – Balance. Avoid “lopsidedness” – the typical lining up of furniture along one wall, for instance. “‘Balance heavier furnishings with pieces across the room.'” And think about pulling items like beds and couches six inches away from the walls.

Tip #5 – Jazz Things Up! The article, written by Michele Meyer, quoting stagers such as Shannon Paige Boysen, Greg Wright and Annie Pinsker-Brown, calls Shades of Gray, White, Taupe, Beige and Silver soothing — and definitely NOT Boring! It all has to do with accent walls and adding, say, a couple antiques for character. Pop in color with accent pieces — vases, pillows and linens.

Tip #6 – Camouflage Flaws. Have a naked corner? Pop in a plant. Scarred hardwood floors? Plants or a well-placed throw rug will help. Unsightly air conditioning unit? Place some shelves right above it.

In short, all the advice talks up the idea of coordination: A “unified room draws the eyes”. And what could be more coordinating than cellular shades in an array of colors? Check Out the Free Samples of Cellular Window Shade Fabrics.

An article by Michele Meyer ran this past weekend in the USA WEEKEND section (included with our local paper The Burlington Free Press), which discussed Stylish Home Decoration TIPS from PRO STAGERS!

TIP #1 — Browse houses. This is a wonderful idea, based on the concept that builders “often use similar floor plans nearby”. Must admit to a bit of deja-vu the first time I stepped into a neighbors kitchen: we had the same “period” linoleum, just a different color. (My house is quite “retro”, keeping many of its 1940s features, and the furniture a mix of late 19th- and early 20th-century pieces.) The idea here, is that other home owners and decorators had to deal with the “same flaws” and you could see how the flaws were dealt with, — and whether you like their solution. Or, maybe it gives you ideas for a solution all your own!

In the above picture, I would consider the stand-alone column a bit problematic (or so it seems from the photo). The ceiling line is fabulous, with the tan paint offset by the white ceiling, and the slight arch shape. I would have hoped for a chunkier column. My solution there: Try a climbing-vine planter that surrounds the base. It would give a touch of the outdoors! I’d also close up the space near the chair with a slim “candle” table. That would keep stairway traffic off at a distance.

TIP #2 — Start from Scratch. This suggestion is not to move your furniture but to REMOVE your furniture from the room you are trying to stage or decorate. “It’s easier to think of new ways to arrange your furniture if it’s not right in front of you.” The suggestion is craft paper, cut to the dimensions (especially useful for larger pieces – dining room tables or couches, for instance). “Play around with where you can put it.” Then “return pieces bit by bit.” Don’t forget about other pieces now occupying other rooms! “‘Sometimes a table that used to sit in a hallway might look better …in the family room.'” Online design sites might also give you the ability to “virtually move” furniture pieces around [no links were given for that suggestion.

TIP #3 — Take a cue from Mother Nature. This suggests that window rooms, or rooms with patio doors, plan to coordinate — colorwise — items like rugs, pillows, vases, in order to create “‘one space'” with the outdoors.

The final three tips will appear in the next post!

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