Everything You Need To Know About Classic Woven Wood Blinds

Dear Laurel,

Did I miss your post on shades and blinds? Because I need to know if wood blinds ( or faux wood) must match the hardwood floor stain color.

We are slowly (budget 🙁 ) restoring our 1926 Tudor cottage, but need to stop flashing the neighbors!
Old school venetians are a little too authentic for my husband, he likes matchstick style. They just look wrong to me because they are lighter than the walnut floors.

What are the rules about this? Mother says never to have more than 2 wood tones in a room (painted wood doesn’t count).

You may not know it, but you’ve been guiding us every step of the way! I practically hold my breath until your Sunday posts.

We are so very grateful for you, and wish we could bring you down to Philadelphia.


Hi everyone!

This is a real comment from a real reader, so today, I’m going to focus on…




group_2_swatch_compilation best window treatments.com

Best Window Treatments


First of all is there a difference between a shade and a blind?


Well… strictly speaking yes. A blind has slats of some sort and a shade is a single piece of fabric. But sometimes I’ve heard people say roller blinds. And sometimes the distinction is blurry. So… I give you permission to use the terms interchangeably.


So, What Are Woven Wood Blinds or Shades?


  • It’s a classification of window blind/shade made of materials such as bamboo, straw, natural grasses, jute and other natural materials.
  • They come in various price-points from insanely cheap to pretty expensive but not nearly as bad as some window treatments.
  • Often folks call them matchstick, but the real match sticks are like the two in the above image in the back.
  • They are beautiful, classic and usually very affordable– Sometimes– actually dirty cheap.


Today, I’m going to give you some helpful tips, tricks so that you get the most beautiful look.


blindschalet.com woven wood blinds tortoise shell bamboo

Via Blinds Chalet

My favorite of the woven wood shades are the ones made from bamboo slats often referred to as tortoise-shell because of the natural mottling that occurs. (see above) The slats are usually about a half-inch. They come in different shades. Many have a greenish or khaki cast which looks great with all colors.


An important note with most woven wood shades is that if you desire privacy, they absolutely must have a liner.


I found that out the hard way with a client some 11 years ago. Fortunately, the company Smith and Noble was able to retro-fit the liner and it wasn’t a total redo but did set me back a few dimes.

Below are some examples of the tortoise-shell bamboo woven wood blinds used in different applications


(if no attribution is given, it is because I could not find the original source. If you know what it is, please let me know and I will add it.)


house and home white drapes with black trim bamboo blinds

A beautifully balanced composition of white linen draperies trimmed with black over the tortoise-shell blinds.

Babette asked a very good question.

Do the blinds have to match the floor?

No, they do not.
They certainly need to coordinate in terms of tone, but the blinds like all window treatments are usually most closely aligned to the color of the wall. Not always, but usually.

And that could mean coordinating in a tone-on-tone way, a complementary color or high contrast. We’ll be looking at all three.


It depends totally on what else is going on in the room.

Remember that all of elements of a room are part of a composition

Beautiful neo-traditional design incorporating bamboo blinds. They work beautifully in both spaces; one with a complementary color scheme and below in a more monochromatic scheme.

He also chose a honey stain for the floor which I think is perfect in both rooms.

As an aside. If you have a hardwood floor, please make it the same stain throughout the home, unless you are doing a painted floor in one room.

Jill Danyelle Lonny bamboo blinds dining room

Jill Danyelle of Verdoier via Lonny

Here, the blinds do align with the floor, but I think this was the right decision in this case, because a dark shade would’ve been too heavy and not in balance. The only way I could see a dark woven wood shade working is if the drapes were in a brown or white silk.

And what about Mom’s rule that there can only be two different colors of wood in a room?

We’ve already been through this many times on laurel home.

And this is one of my most steadfast rules:


Never, Ever listen to your Mother.

(well, almost never) ;]


I feel that you can have one shade of wood or 5! What’s most important is that they coordinate with each other. In other words, you wouldn’t put an ashy stain along with golden oak, red mahogany and walnut. But you could have the last three together.

It also depends on the concentration of other wood tones. You could certainly have accents in different shades. But again, they should coordinate with each other.

Story Time

Many years ago, I was helping a lovely family in New Rochelle with a massive renovation. The clients found a burl-wood walnut chest for their master bedroom, but the floor was a reddish mahogany. The bed was a dark stained teak and then there was a dark cherry TV cabinet. The burl chest would’ve been too much and when I explained it, they understood.

So, if the matchstick blinds seem to be too light, they might be if the dark floors are the only dark thing in the room. But there could be other reasons as well. OR, they might be perfect. Again, it’s best not to look at elements in isolation.

photo Paul Caddell Lonny bamboo shades

photo: Paul Caddell for Lonny

Yes, there are (cropped mostly out) dead animals on the wall. I very much like the photo otherwise. :]

One thing I love about woven wood blinds, just like I do with sea grass rugs is that they knock back the formality of a formal room and yet they happily co-exist with formal and informal rooms.

the lettered cottage tortoise shell bamboo shades hung high

The Lettered Cottage

Clever solution to allowing as much light in as possible. The shades are mounted outside the window frame, but higher up to allow as much light in as possible.

I do love it much of the time when using woven wood blinds in a contrasting color to do an outside mount and mount them right under the drapery rod. It makes for a cleaner look, IMO. But it’s not a hard and fast rule.

bamboo blinds white drapes with blue trim

via: NJ Monthly

I love the way the color of the woven wood shade warms up the cool blues of this pretty living room.

oriental furniture - cheap bamboo blindsOriental Furniture

Above is a very cheap matchstick woven wood blind made from bamboo. They do not come in custom sizes and I imagine they don’t hold up very long, but they are only about $22.00 for a 36″ wide blind, so for a cheap stylish solution, they could work. Especially behind drapes.

gs.sydney circa lighting matchstick blinds

GS Sydney

I’m not quite sure of the material of this blind, but do love the entire bathroom.


Jennifer Dyner matchstick blinds via lonny


Lee Ann Thornton Karyn+R+Millet_MG_9319R

Lee Ann Thornton

the wicker house blog white washed matchstick blinds

The Wicker House

This woman is white-washing her matchstick blinds. Love that.

woven white shades

Love these woven white blinds and how they harmonize with the white wall.

matchstick blinds with white linen drapes

Light comes from above so these light filtering matchstick blinds are a perfect solution for the transoms. Love the combo with the white linen drapes.


There are a zillion resources for woven wood blinds.


I don’t do them a lot and usually get them from Smith and Noble. Their quality has been fine and the prices are good. They also provide a measuring service if you need that. I’m pretty sure that it’s free, but not positive.

There are a couple other resources for woven wood blinds (and other types of shades) in Laurel’s Rolodex, but my recommendation if you aren’t in the trade is to get online and do a search.

And if anyone has a source they’d like to share, that would be terrific!

As always, I do recommend a professional installation. And of course, safety first. If you have young ones please make sure the cords are well wrapped up and out of harm’s way.


Gosh, it’s almost July 4th weekend.


PS: for more info about other window treatments click here and here.

49 Responses

  1. Hi Laurel- I have always loved the look of woven blinds and, although we don’t need many blinds for privacy here, I wanted some blinds to warm up the windows and cut down on the amount of light that comes in in the morning. I used Blindsgalore. They are out of San Diego- but ship nationally. I have had good luck with their cordless tortoiseshell woven blinds. I did use an inside mount, as I didn’t want to hide the window mouldings, (that I paid a fortune for!) We are probably moving in the next year- to be closer to my daughter who is getting married- so this blog post is coming at a perfect time. We are building a house in an over 55+ and since our neighbors are just feet away- I’ll HAVE to have window coverings!! That is if I can give up my privacy and gardens I have at my current home! Thanks again for another great post!! Ps. I did use the French return curtain rods in my entry and love the look!!

  2. Laurel,

    Really enjoy your blog and always gain some great tips. I have had great luck with Horizon Blinds. If you google Horizon Blinds and contact the company, they will provide the name of a local rep. Carried by independent store owners who may rep multiple lines like Hunter Douglas and others. Horizon Blinds are considerably less expensive than Hunter Douglas but good quality. All I needed!

  3. Laurel,
    Great post – good advice and great photos. One idea for a post – what to do when you don’t have a great view from your windows but want to get light. I know everyone used to have sheers, but i hate them and they seem so old ladyish. Also, what do do when that less than great view is out of a kitchen window. Anyway, if you ever have the time or inclination, i will look forward to your thoughts. Thank you!

  4. Thanks for the great post and many inspiring pictures! In budgeting for window treatments, how much do matchstick blinds cost in comparison to other types of window treatments such as wood shutters, drapery panels, and horizontal blinds?

  5. When you use a privacy liner do you match your blinds or do you match your exterior? So when they are down, do you want to see a tan if your house is all white or do you prefer to see white inset with all the white surrounding it?

    1. Hi Kendra,

      I almost always use plain white and here’s why.

      When the shade is down and light is filtering through it, a colored liner is going to affect the lighting in the room. And cream usually looks yellow.

      Also, glass itself, has a color.

      However, if for some reason, a white shade would look horrible down and/or the shade is only down at night, then, of course, another color liner would be fine.

  6. Something else I’d like to add… Not specifically about woven shades but about curtain rods. I was looking for one and because of my detail oriented obsessiveness when it comes to home decor, I couldn’t find one that fit all my ‘demands’. I wanted one solid piece, in the exact measurement I needed (100″), the perfect color finish, the exact number of inch projection on the brackets, and clip rings and screws to match the finish! Lol, I know, a bit much. But I found this company named ByHammerByHand , I was able to call and speak directly to the owner ( the wife of a husband and wife team), she was wonderful! Very patient and friendly, always got right back to me, and sent me samples of finishes so I could choose.
    Within two weeks of placing the order, my curtain rod and accessories were delivered. It was beautifully made by her blacksmith husband, the price was extremely reasonable for this high quality, custom rod set, and even the low shipping price surprised me! I very highly recommend them! When I find a great company who does exceptional work and everything they can to please their customer at very fair prices, I want to share with others because we all know that’s not easy to find.

    1. Hi Kim,

      Well, it’s an incredibly small world! I’ve worked with BHBH for 17 years!!! Everything you said is 100% true. Phyllis is an absolute doll! And yes, they are in my rolodex as one of the 36 sources I can’t live without. (shhhh…) ;]

      I found them when this dude in Manhattan was unbelievably rude to my client and me. She was 7 months pregnant and we were waiting forever for some sales help.

      I used to live only a short drive from BHBH’s charming shop, so had no problem picking up the rods and carrying them back in my wagon.

      Now, I’m 40 minutes away, so I have them shipped.

      They’ve made tables for me too. The one in my portfolio in my old living room with Peaches grooming himself on top of it was made by them.

      PS: There’s a photo of a living room with white drapes on their website from my old portfolio.

  7. Hi Laurel! Thanks for the great post. I love using woven wood blinds behind my curtains to trick the eye into believing the window is larger. We just moved to Minnesota and the windows are not so grand here! How well do you think they would work hung just at the ceiling under a rod over a sliding patio door? It’s in the basement and would also have curtains. It’s a rarely used entrance.

    1. Hi Suzanne,

      As long as the shade covers up the window casing at the top but isn’t so low that someone will hit their head walking out, then it should be fine.

  8. hi laurel, just wanted to pop in to say, I LOVE ALL YOUR POSTS! i always learn something new (as long as i’ve been into design, who knew there’s always more to learn…lol).

    also, love your humour.
    that’s all. ;p

  9. Laurel, this post came just on time! We are painting a new condo and have taken down the old curtains, rods and wood blinds. We were debating to reinstall the wood blinds (curtains are out) and didn’t know what to do since the painters are there now and it’s our chance to patch and paint all of the old holes. After seeing this, we are going to do woven wood shades mounted underneath the new drapery rods. There are nice, large recessed windows in the home but no casings around the windows, which looks bare. Doing an outside mount a little higher than the window will look great and will give the windows more interest. Thank you for the lovely pics and post.

  10. Oh my Laurel! many thanks for turning my question into a gorgeous post. I won’t tell mother,haha, but feel so much better about mixing woods after reading, and devouring the lovely photo inspirations. Now I have solid direction on how best to proceed.

    You, Sarah Richardson, and Barbara Barrie are my design guardian angels. With all of you on my shoulder, our house is going to become the cozy, serene and happy home we’ve dreamed about.

    I’m off to Smith & Noble…

    Have a glorious 4th! can’t wait for the podcast

  11. Thanks for this post! We are currently looking to find window treatments for every window in our house (right now we are using the wonderful paper shades lol). I never considered woven blinds until now! i was going to use faux wood blinds for budgetary reasons but these look pretty and are even less expensive! In rooms that you need more privacy what are your thoughts on faux wood?

    1. Hi Renee,

      My clients have used the paper shades for years. They’re not bad for 5 bucks or whatever they are now.

      I’ve never done faux wood blinds. I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve done wood blinds in 20 years. Usually, they are painted but once or twice we did wood in a library/office room.

      But woven wood shades are 100% private if they are lined. The only difference is that with a wood blind, one can have the slats open to see through.

  12. This is an amazing post! Love it all…. I am not in the market for shades at the moment, but do need to purchase some sea grass/ sisal area rugs. I will search your blog for a post on these beauties… if you haven’t done so already, I would love to see a similar post on area rugs. I am so over the patterned ones, I have too many and they must go. Ick. Love your blog Laurel!!!!!

  13. I’ve always used The Shade Store for blinds. They measure for free and then install. And the blinds always turn out perfect and look amazing.

    1. Hi Anne,

      I used them once several years ago and I don’t remember what the issue was, but it wasn’t a good experience; maybe I just had some bad luck.

      I’m glad they’ve worked well for you though.

  14. Hi Laurel,

    Is there such a thing as blinds without the cords? I have two new kittens WHO GET INTO EVERYTHING, and I would hate to have any kitten fatalities. Thank you for your always witty and informing post.

    Lisa D.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Yes! There are cordless blinds! I’ve never done them, but they do exist. The other thing is that you can get either a cleat to wrap the cord around higher than the kitties can get to or there are other things. I have roller shades that came with my apartment and they have a continuous pull cord that is a loop, but is secured to the window frame.

  15. Great post! Years ago, when on a tight budget, I found some shades/blinds could be trimmed to fit a window, by me, with sharp scissors, a straight edge and attention to hanging mechanism. Also, for those that “roll up”, I added metal loops and cord to create Roman shade. Love the look of wood woven shades!

  16. Happy Dance! Didn’t have to wait until Sunday to get a spectacular post! Great advice and window treatments have been on my mind, especially wovens. Beautiful examples, can’t wait to start pinning! Do you have any preference with regards to online companies: ie smith and noble versus american blinds.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I don’t have a particular preference because I have maybe done some kind of woven wood blind for clients at most about 7 times over the years. 95% of the time we do fabric shades. And then another 7 times or so, I’ve done wood blinds.

      I looked at American Blinds and they look like they have a nice collection. I guess it’s best to compare prices and styles to see what one wants to do.

  17. Thanks for another great post. I’ve always LOVED wooden blinds like these and it
    was interesting to see in your examples how they worked in otherwise formal rooms. So beautiful.

  18. Hi, Laurel,
    I have lined woven wooden blinds installed in my upstairs guest room windows on the front of the house. They look beautiful from the inside but unsightly from the outside. Some of the hardware and the cords running down the length of the blinds are visible even from the street. Is there any solution to this or have I just made the wrong choice for my windows?
    I learn something new from every one of your posts. Love them!

    1. Hi Jane,

      Well, any shade with cords that are used to pull them up and down– like a Roman or these natural woven shades will show the strings– especially when all the way down.

      Fabric Roman shades that have a slight dip like mine in my living room have the rings and strings only on the ends, so the window frame should cover them up.

      But, you’re probably the only one who notices.

      The only other thing would be to put up screens behind the windows. That would probably block the cords from showing.

  19. I have always loved the appearance of woven wooden blinds. Well over fourteen years ago when my (single at that time) daughter purchased her first home and was on a very strict budget she required dressing of three windows that were partially visible from her dining room and located off her staircase leading to the second floor. Long story short; as sources for wooden blinds were also somewhat limited we fashioned said window coverings out of woven beach mats (of all things) which not only provided the colour and texture we wanted but were extremely easy to resize and customize using (dyed) Roman Shade cording. (We applied them as an inside mount.) If I recall correctly the total pricing was about $5.00 a piece well within her price range .. ☺ … and surprisingly enough she received many compliments on them.
    Totally enjoying your blog and appreciating your valuable expertise!

  20. Very timely as I’m picking blinds, lierally today, for my new house! You’ve expanded my horizons as I was originally going to use those flat woven shades everywhere to start with.

    Also appreciated the bit about different wood colors happily coexisting. My builder has had coniptions about my mixing wood tones, until its in of course.

    The only time I’ve ever been disappointed in decorating is when I ‘ve listened to purported “experts’ and ran with the current trends instead of my heart.

    1. Hi Abby,


      And I always say if you don’t agree with me, that’s fine! But some folks get very set in their ways. The world is very black and white.

      And it’s not just decorating. :]

  21. Laurel, I learn so much from you! You are the real deal, you truly know your craft. Thank you for sharing your talent, and all the very useful advice you give so generously. Can’t wait for the podcast! Kim

    1. Hi Kim,

      Thank you so much! I know because I’ve made so many mistakes – lol. That’s why I cringe a little when I hear somebody wants to go into this business without any experience. Best to work for someone else for a while. Just like a doctor. :]

  22. Laurel another staggeringly informative and beautiful post. I especially appreciate the idea of “outside mounted shades right up to the bottom of the curtain rod”. Looking forward to hearing your voice on the podcast.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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