What’s The Difference? A Spotlight On Roman Shade Varieties

Roman shades are a go-to choice to add elegance and sophistication to any space. Their posh appearance features gentle folds and stacked fabrics that cascade beautifully when lowered. Roman shades come in diverse styles and materials to mix, match, and customize based on your unique needs and room vision.

Keep reading for a helpful guide on the most popular Roman shade varieties to consider:

Flat Roman Shades

The standard flat Roman offers that quintessential gracefully draped look. As it lowers, the shade fabric neatly folds into flat, cascading layers. Flat Roman shades come in linen, velvets and sheer fabrics with options for banding along the top and bottom edges.

Flat Romans provide excellent light filtering and privacy control. Lift them up fully to welcome bright daylight, or lower partially to dim incoming rays when desired. Flat Roman shades work beautifully dressed up with decorative cords or tassels for extra personality.

Hobbled Roman Shades

Hobbled Roman shades utilize a back cord system to create an alternating high-low stacking effect as the shade lowers. This height variation occurs from ring to ring down the entire length of the shade. The unique hobbled method allows more folds along the window for increased insulation and light control.

Choose from solids, patterns and textures like velvets, linens and embroidered sheers. For added luxury, pick a shade with contrasting bands along the alternating folds. Hobbled shades make a seriously upscale style statement.

Relaxed Roman Shades

A relaxed Roman shade incorporates spacers between fabric folds to create a more casual, subdued look. Rather than tight, overlapped bands, the relaxed Roman features separated folds in a smooth, orderly formation down the length of the window. This gives off an effortless vibe.

Relaxed Romans still allow excellent control over privacy and sunlight entering a space. Materials like linen, cotton and polyester work nicely to complement the laid-back aesthetic. Layer in some delicate sheer fabrics as an airy accent.

Pleated Romans

Pleated Romans

Pleated Roman shades utilize crisp knife pleats neatly stacked atop one another from top to bottom. The sharp folds create dimension and visual interest with light play. Pleated shades can feature asymmetrical pleats or varied widths for more organic shaping.

Pleated shades come in sheets along with woven woods, linens and jacquards. They pair nicely with other shades like cellulars or rollers to soften the crisp lines. For a playful variation, look for pin tuck detailing along pleated shades.

Two-Tiered Romans

Two-tiered shades feature—you guessed it—two layers of Roman shade fabrics split horizontally across the window. Typically, you’ll find darker opaque fabric along the top-tier and breezy sheers along the bottom. This style essentially gives you two looks in one for the perfect balance and economy.

Light streams gently through the sheer portion to provide optimal visibility, while the top layer blocks stronger rays. Two-tiered shades work great in living spaces, kitchens and home offices that need deeper privacy controls lower down.

Roman Shade FAQs

Here are answers to some common questions on the different Roman shade varieties:

Yes. A standard Roman features flat, overlapped folds of shade fabric, so flat and standard Roman shades refer to the same product. “Flat Roman” helps differentiate from Romans with more texture like hobbled and pleated varieties.

Flat Romans tend to lift and retract the smoothest, given their simple stacked folds of fabric. Pleated options can catch easier along the edges of sharp knife folds, while hobbled Romans have more layers to maneuver. But any high-quality Roman will operate relatively seamlessly for an easy user experience.

Absolutely! Work with shade specialists to design custom Roman shades modified to your personal preferences. Tweak details like fabric textures, the addition of contrast bands or embroidery, hardware finishes, top/bottom treatments, and layered elements. The possibilities abound!


Roman shades ultimately share that core DNA of gracefully draped fabrics, cascading into elegant folds as they draw up and down. But the unique variations highlighted here allow you to customize the overall vibe. Play with texture combinations, alternate high-low bands, and introduce crisp pleats or double-up layers.

Ready to explore which variety works best area by area? The shade experts at IUS help guide you to the right Roman solution for each space. Contact us today for a free consultation on selecting and installing custom shades tailored to your distinct needs and style! Let’s create a beautifully dressed window vision that’s uniquely you.

Bob Doolin

Bob Doolin

A leader in smart home technology, specializing in motorized window treatments, lighting controls, and automation solutions. Over 20 years of industry expertise.

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