A Brief History Of Window Blinds

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We installed a set of window blinds recently, and the customer raised an interesting question; where do blinds and shutters come from? We’ve been working with blinds for years, and they’re a normal part of our everyday life, but who invented them in the first place? 

We have a few curious staff here at Appeal, and this question piqued their interest. They couldn’t resist looking into the origins of window blinds and found a few interesting things. So, if you’ve ever wondered how we wound up using blinds to control the light and shade in our homes, here’s a brief explanation.

history of blinds


The Origins Of Window Blinds

It’s sometimes assumed that the Romans invented the first true blinds (hence, ‘Roman blinds’), but their origins go back further than that. In ancient China, people sometimes tied strands of bamboo together and hung them over their windows to keep cool. Similarly, the ancient Egyptians would take papyrus reeds and use them to stop hot air from coming into their homes. These people lived on opposite sides of the world but developed the same solutions to the same problems. 

Later, the Romans developed these ideas, and their shading solutions started to resemble what we now know as blinds. These were different to modern window blinds and were initially used to keep dust and debris from roads out of their homes. As their shading benefits became apparent, their popularity grew. 

This was also when window blinds became more than just strips of fabric to block dust and light. The elite of Roman society loved their home decorations, and as blinds became more fashionable, the Romans covered them in elaborate patterns and designs. They transformed window blinds from purely functional items into luxurious status symbols and created innovations like the first drawstring mechanisms.

The Industrial Revolution

Window blinds spread throughout the Roman Empire and continued to be used after its collapse. The next big leap forward occurred during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th Century. The technological innovations of the time led to the widespread use of cotton, and soon, blinds were being mass-produced.

Much like their Roman ancestors, the Victorians were fond of decorating. Wealthy Victorians could decorate their homes with richly embroidered and beautifully decorated cotton blinds, but blinds weren’t solely for the upper classes. You could also find cheaper ones in plain colours in poorer homes. The industrial revolution brought window blinds into everyday people’s homes, and they were no longer an exclusive item.

wooden venetian blinds

Modern Window Blinds

Modern window blinds have come a long way since the reeds and bamboo of ancient times. The most powerful Roman senators would have been astonished if they saw modern inventions like our remote-controlled Smart Blinds, but the goal of great shading and privacy remains the same. 

So, if this little jaunt through the past inspired you, why not start designing your window blinds? You can download a free brochure to learn more about our products or book a design consultation. Our staff can’t wait to hear from you.