The Barcelona Blackout Shade Shuffle (Or... why automated shades are not just for lazy people).
Posted on Sep 2, 2011
When I mention automated window treatments (shades, drapes, Romans, etc.) to Clients as one of the many systems we offer, I am sometimes met with responses such as “The day I’m too lazy to get up off the couch and close the shades…” or “For that kind of money I can hire someone to close the shades for me!”
You get the idea.
Well… while automated anything can be inferred to be about laziness, I’m here to say that when it comes to reasons to automate your window treatments, lazy doesn’t even make the top 5.
Earlier this summer, I spent a couple of weeks abroad. That’s fancy talk for my family and I went to Europe for a Disney Cruise through the Mediterranean. Before we embarked on the over water portion of our trip, we spent a few days in beautiful Barcelona, Spain. We had originally planned to get a nice hotel room but discovered that as with many European cities a family hotel room for a few nights is either the price of a small car or you’re staying in tiny, adjoining rooms which does not work when you have a couple of world traveler’s under 7 years old with you. So we found a great place right in the heart of Barcelona only walking distance from Las Ramblas. It was a condo complex that operates like a hotel. For the price of a single night in a ‘family’ hotel room, we stayed for 4 nights in a 2 bedroom split level with kitchen, living room, dining room, washer/dryer, outdoor deck and 3 bathrooms that was bigger than my first two apartments in Los Angeles – combined!
What was especially unique about this particular vacation retreat was the floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows/sliding doors on both the living room and bedroom levels.
For the sake of convenience and comfort of their guests, they had outfitted these windows with sunscreen roller shades dual mounted with blackout roller shades. That’s great! Keep the place cool during the day, provide comfort from annoying glare and heat and provide both complete privacy at night and a darkened environment to sleep away the jet lag until 1pm each day.
Top 5 Reasons to Automate Window Treatments
1. Practicality - when your shades are unreachable or too large to move by hand, automation is not just a no hander, it’s a no brainer.
2. Protection - when you’re hardwood floors, rugs and furniture are subject to the damaging UV rays of the sun, you can’t be manually raising and lowering the shads all day. (You have to be at work so you can afford to pay for them!)
3. Energy/Money Savings - lowering the sunscreens on a summer day can avoid creating your own personal Greenhouse effect and save on high HVAC bills. In the winter, the shades can raise to allow in the sunlight to reduce the need to artificially heat your home.
4. Safety/Security - automated shades not only create privacy when you need it instantly, but raise and lower in conduction with your Security System during burglary and fire events.
5. Just Plain Cool - we’re humans. Stuff that moves is cool. Stuff we don’t expect to move that moves is even cooler. Don’t just impress your friends, impress yourself. Embrace your inner George Jetson.
There was only one problem. Now, granted I had just arrived after 23 hours of traveling from Los Angeles to Barcelona (via Munich). And while our kids who have more stamps in their passports at ages 5 and 6 than I did before I was 30 were extremely well behaved (did I mention I love the iPad? That’s for another blog), I didn’t sleep much on the airplane. So I was jet lagged, sleep deprived and just generally goofy. (Not to be confused with the long eared dog on the cruise ship that kept trying to dance with my wife.)
After arriving at the apartment, and dumping our luggage on the couches and chairs, we quickly got everyone ready for bed. I noticed that the sunscreen shades were down and being the experienced controller of light that I am, I knew this wouldn’t be ideal when the sun came up in just a few hours in Barcelona while we were still physiologically in Los Angeles and in need of some extra shut-eye.
I immediately looked around for a button on the wall to raise up the sunscreens and lower the blackout shades. No luck. I glanced for cords. No luck. So I squeezed my way behind the bed which was very close to the shade itself, I pushed the edge of the shade out of the way, bending it a bit and found a long pole hanging from the shade. It wouldn’t turn easily. I found I had to fold and twist the bottom of the pole to form a crank handle to get it to turn a little easier. But even then it was a bit of an effort to get the fairly light weight sunscreen shade to roll up. Of course it didn’t help that clockwise and counterclockwise (or right-tighty, lefty-loosey) meant nothing. So I actually unrolled the shade a bit before I reversed it and rolled it up.
When I got the sunscreen shade close to the top, I started wondering how I was going to get the blackout shade to lower. Then I noticed the other long pole/crank hanging from the shade on the opposite side of the room. This one was a bit hard to get to because of the bed and the nightstand. So I leaned over, grabbed it and held it in mid-air across the shade. I then started cranking away to lower the blackout shade. When the shade had descended to the point where it was about 30% of the way down, it started hitting the pole I was holding. But moving the pole out of the way of the shade only made it impossible to crank and continue lowering the shade. I tried to lean forward a bit more, but if you’ve read my other blogs you’ll now I don’t have the best back in the world and 23 hours of traveling hadn’t helped. So leaning wasn’t an option.
I finally gave up and climbed on the bed and stood on it while I lowered the shade. But even then the heavy blackout shade was hitting the pole and my hands as I lowered it. I stepped on the nigh-stand and tucked myself and my hands in the corner in an attempt to lower the shade while trying to stay out of the way as it descended down.
The truth is it sounds more difficult than it seemed at the time. But it was annoying enough that we left the blackout shades down in the bedrooms the entire 4 days we were there instead of raising them and lowering the sunscreens during the day.
So imagine at your home… Would you go through these gyrations? Are you prepared to do the Barcelona Blackout Shade Shuffle? Do you already? Would being able to hit a button to take care of this for you or even better have it pre-programmed based on time of day or the sun’s movement across the sky be the ultimate in not laziness, but in comfort, convenience, energy savings, safety, security and more?
Automated shades might be a stretch for some budgets, but if you’ve made the investment in your home and want to protect it and make it as simple and easy to enjoy as possible, then automating the window treatments might just be the right choice for you.
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