The Shade Store's Zach Gibbs on window treatments | Home Front

Zach Gibbs
Feb 09, 2017

Zach Gibbs is the general manager of the Shade Store, which has offered custom window treatments since 1946. Having grown up in the business, Gibbs has seen first-hand the evolution of window treatments, and the change in customer habits and needs. Ask him your questions about styles, fabrics and new products for your windows.

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Zach Gibbs is the general manager of The Shade Store, which has offered custom window treatments since 1946. They have 48 showrooms making custom window treatments around the country.  The Shade Store opened a Georgetown location in Cady's Alley last fall and they also have a shop in Fairfax.  Having grown up in the business, Gibbs has seen first-hand the evolution of window treatments. He's ready to answer  your questions about styles, fabrics and new products for your windows.

Good morning everyone! Thanks for having me... Excited to answer your question!

We are redoing our bathroom, but our budget is VERY limited. One thing we definitely need to do is replace our shower--the grout is crumbling and the tiles are an awful mustard yellow. We are divided on whether to replace with a solid surround (easier to clean, less likely to leak, less expensive to install) or tiles (nicer aesthetically, better for resale?). Is there a clearly preferable choice here?

Tile is indeed more classic and better for resale. But do you like that look? If you prefer the look of tile, then reach deeper into your wallet and do it. You will be happier every day and it will be something you won't regret.

Just moved into a condo, and we're using our second bedroom as an office and guest room. The sleep sofa is dark, grassy green, and the furniture is medium brown. Ideas for a paint color that will brighten this small space?

There is no better way to brighten up a space than to go all white! Some think its boring, however to me it creates a blank canvas as far as your decorating approach...smaller rooms are very easy to turn into a "cave" when dark paints, furniture etc are added. Stay bright, stay clean, and your furniture will add detail and impact to the room which would otherwise appear "clunky" and cumbersome when competing against darker-even muted paint colors. There are many different versions of "white paint" so depending on the color tones of the wood furniture, you may want to go a shade or two down from a bright white or "decorators white." This will help soften and blend the colors together without taking a bold stance

What is the best window treatment for a first floor bedroom requiring night time light control and privacy without curtains.

Great question- and one that often comes up in the window treatment world. As you note, a bedroom- particularly one that is on a ground floor requires both privacy as well as room darkening attributes. For these instances we typically suggest some sort of "top down/bottom up" product- which could be a roman shades, cellular shade, pleated shade etc- that offers duel control (raising from the bottom up as a normal shade does, as well as giving you the option to drop the shade from the top down- giving you privacy at eye level while allowing natural light to come in through the top during the day. All three of the product types I mention come with a blackout option to offer terrific room-darkening functionality. It really gives you the best of both worlds!

I am so excited to have a window treatment expert participating in the chat! I have a bow window, meaning the actual wall and window are both curved - it's not as angular as a bay window, and I need help finding window treatments. I'd prefer to have curtains on a track for ease of opening/closing - the window is 14 feet wide! But, I would need a curved rod for this. And, shades aren't an option because the curve means they can't be mounted inside the frame and align well. Zach, do you have any ideas? Can The Shade Store help with something like this, or do you make referrals if there's a job that you can't tackle?

Sounds like an interesting space! yes, The Shade Store offers drapery and drapery hardware that can be used in a curved space. It would require one of our Measure and Install professionals to take a template of the curve- which we would then have our workroom custom bend the hardware to meet the exact radius. We do it every day here and the outcome is truly breathtaking! Give us a call- we'll be happy to help!

I have two windows adjacent to each other (with about 4" of space in between) and I am searching for the perfect window treatment. Dimensions are about 38.5" width x 54" height. I've been eyeing the cellular shades and adore the top down/bottom up feature so i can control how much light/privacy I want. Question: do you suggest getting two shades (38.5"x54") OR one shade (81" width [to account for the two-38.5" plus the 4" space in between] x 54")? To add another level of difficulty: it is a north facing window and we do not have central air (window AC or portable AC). So, to consider the summer months and winter months, do you suggest light filtering or blackout? Fortunately, we have a portable AC so the big ugly window AC unit is not an issue.

A setting like this usually comes down to personal preference. Two separate shades allows you independent light and privacy control- which is certainly helpful if/when the light direction coming into your room changes throughout the day. However- 1 large shade covering both windows (plus the gap between) can make the window space appear larger- which can be a good thing. TSS offers a rendering service for instances like this- whereby we can digitally drop both options into a photo you provide...typically this instantly clears up any uncertainty when it comes to dividing up spaces, mounting locations etc. I would suggest using this free service. 

As for the material- if it is not a bedroom, i would say stick to a light filtering material. you will still get the privacy and insulation , but not cut out all natural light from illuminating the room. This will keep things nice and bright! 

So what is a tasteful solution to covering a huge wall of sliding glass doors?

Without seeing a photo- whenever I hear "huge wall of sliding glass doors" i think there is some sort of beautiful view outside that we don't want to obstruct. With that being said, there are ways to cover the sliders so you don't feel exposed while adding some decorative elements to the room...Our Ripple Fold drapery is a simple/modern drapery style that gets hung from (typically) a ceiling mounted track system ...and this combination can cover very wide spans of glass/wall while still being fully functional. The ripple pleat adds a soft and modern accent to the room while not overwhelming. 

A simpler solution would be some sort of roller/solar shade that would stay down when you need light control/privacy, then tuck up into a tight 3" roll when you want full view out your sliders...once these shades are up they are hardly noticeable... 

How long should you expect window shades to last?

If its a well manufactured product and used correctly by the end user, a window treatment can last a lifetime! However, keep in mind faulty operation/misuse can quickly break down the componentry and delicate details of some products. I always recommend when going through the buying process, have your sales person show you how to properly operate the product so it can last a lifetime for you!

I am working on the finishing touches of a beach rental house. it is new construction with BIG vaulted ceilings and BIG Windows. Right now its all whitewalls with grey kitchen and sofas. Lots of great light. I'm almost tempted to leave the windows raw, but it does look unfinished. Privacy is not an issue, tv glare may be. some of the windows go right to the kitchen counters so drapery is not an option. I have white wood blinds with white fabric tape in my home and that seems like one way to go - but I cant help thinking that is boring. Any other ideas?

A simple approach would be to go with a roller or solar shade. Very clean/minimal , will not intrude on what sounds like a beautiful beach home, easy to maintain/clean (hello renters) and a very cost effective way to add some function and detail into the space. There are a bunch of fun and unique material options out today that will fit nicely into a beach home if you don't like the (highly popular) solar look. The Shade Store has a deep "Naturals" collection which bring unique (natural) elements into the roller shade category..and would certainly go nicely in a beach home. 

I have sliding doors off my kitchen. Currently I have vertical blinds, which I need to replace. However, I don't like drapes and would like something more interesting than just replacing them with vertical blinds. What is a practical and attractive replacement? Note: no kids, but I do have pets.

If you like the functionality of your existing vertical system- but just want something with some decorative detail...we have two systems that you may want to consider: 1 is the XL vertical which is a lager vane (10") and offered in an amazing variety of prints, solids and textures (system still allows you to tilt the vanes and/or draw open and close)... 2nd is our sliding panel system- large flat panels that slide left to right that are attached to gliders within a track system...think of it as a modern day drapery system. Finally, a large roller shade can certainly be used in the area. Easy to use, easy to maintain, comes in a ton of great material options ..and easy to clean.

We have a large (10 ft wide?) front window, flanked by two smaller windows. We'd like something that provides complete darkness at night and allows us a pretty clear view out during the day but still gives us privacy. Insulation a plus. Are we dreaming the impossible dream?

Its certainly not impossible, however it may require layering two treatments to give you the best of both worlds. perhaps a simple roller/solar shade to give you privacy during the day while still allowing you to maintain your view, then adding a pair of blackout drapery to close at night when you want to sleep in....the drapery also add that layer of insulation you are looking for! We can even add a layer of "interlining" (which is a fleece-like material) to the drapery for addition insulation value...

I have a Mid-Century split level house with very large rectangular windows with trapezoidal windows up above so curtains would look weird. I really want motorized shades / blinds since tall windows are a pain to do manually and I want them on a schedule to let in more light when I get up. Anyway the room is a light green SW Sea Salt so I want to keep the room light but still have some contrast. I also have large cedar ceiling beams in that room as well. Is there a style or color of shades blinds that you would recommend. I was thinking cellular in a neutral, but then was thinking solar shades might be an option as well.

Given the unique design of the room/windows- I would say less is more when it comes to the window treatment you are shades are a great solution for a simple application that can add subtle detail and great light control and can absolutely be motorized. The Shade Store has a motor solution that can work on a timer and/or handheld remote control- a very nice solution for hard-to-reach windows. 

I have a modern house and have several very narrow windows, 10" wide, that I have been unable to find any window coverings for. The windows are deeply inset into the drywall so mounting on the outside would look very strange. Any suggestions?

If the windows are close together in a single run, then you may consider covering all with a single, large shade or pair of drapery. If the narrow windows are spread throughout the house, then individual shades seem like the best/only solution. All of our shade categories can be custom made to that size. Typically with a shade that narrow, the expectation is to pick a material that will be ok if left down most of the time as it does become a little tricky to operate such a small shade  frequently. Give us a call and we can talk through some of those options. 

What do you recommend to keep my bedroom very dark in the early monring hours? I am a light sleeper--and sensitive to the light coming in. I currently have room darkening shades but light still filters in from the sides. I do not want dark curtains. I've always envied the remote control room darkening systems I've seen in movies but don't know where to find them. Any ideas are much welcomed. Thanks much.

If opposed to adding side panels (drapery) then there are "side channels" that can be added to roller shade applications to prevent light leakage. We often see this in hotels etc. And certainly our roller shades can be motorized so you can control from a remote. One final detail you'll want to consider (if going with roller shades + side channels) is adding a valance to really prevent all light from coming through (this prevents the light leakage accross the top of the window).  

I have a 3 panel slider that I would love to make a focal point in a small lanai. The door opens in the middle. I have greens and blues but would like to add a brighter color to make it pop. Currently I have a curtain rod with 4 panels in a muted green color that I'm not crazy about. thanks, Susan

Sounds like a wonderful setting! First, I would suggest reducing the panel quantity to just two (rather than 4) so the Lanai really shows as the focal point. Framing out the slider with a pair of decorative panels (still nice and "full) will add the design element you are looking for - perhaps selecting a fun pattern to draw attention to the area and really stand out among the other vibrant colors you have going on in the opposed to a solid/muted color that you currently have. Side panels are a great way to add impact to the room and frame out a focal point you want people to notice while not overwhelming such beautiful views, casings etc. 

I just saw today's chat topic on the homepage and said out loud: Yay! The Shade Store! I am really glad to have found your Philadelphia location. I'd been looking for window coverings for the three windows in our bedroom for literally 12 years, and just couldn't find something that had modern fabrics, full blackout coverage, and was in our price range. Your in-store staff was really helpful, we were able to do the measurements ourselves with no problems, and we have been pleased so far!

Thanks so much for writing in! So glad you found us! Give us a holler if we can be of any further help with your project. 


What are the latest trends in windows and in window coverings?

Great question! I'd have to start with probably the most exciting thing that's happened in window treatments in quite a while- and thats motorization! With a touch of a button you can control your entire home- so why not window treatments? Whats most exciting (at least for TSS) is a new system that we developed that is a battery motor (meaning you don't have to rip open your walls/get an electrician involved), its quiet, it can handle enormous sizes, the batteries are re chargeable (you're not changing out AA batteries every few weeks) and last but not least, its affordable! We wanted to offer a motor system for all product categories that is completely user friendly...its quite impressive- be sure to check it out!

Aside from that- as we say- simple always sells. Whites/beiges/grays are what we sell the most here at TSS..this approach allows one to add the accents through furniture, paint, carpeting, accessories...However, we're seeing our patterns lately have a tremendous influence from the world of fashion...we've partnered up with top designer in both the home and fashion worlds to offer unique, stylish prints that can really transform a room like we've never seen before...some names like Kate Spade, Jonathan Adler, The Novogratz , and Diane von Furstenberg to name a few...Last but not least- we have an amazing partnership with Sunbrella fabrics which offers their super cleanable materials that are found in the outdoor furniture world, now available for interior product. who would have ever thought you can have white drapery in a house full of kids and pets :)

How can you clean those honeycomb shades that seem to absorb dust and dirt?

Definitely tricky...light vacuum attachment usually does the trick. Try knocking the larger particles towards the ends then suck out using the vacuum 

bye everyone- thanks for having me! 

Thanks Zach. I think you covered every type of window that's out there and gave great solutions. Next week we'll have Matt Blashaw from HGTV's Yard Crashers to answer your questions. Stay safe if you're in a blizzard today. See you next week.

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Zach Gibbs
Zach Gibbs is the general manager of The Shade Store, which has offered custom window treatments since 1946.
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