Don’t worry, this won’t be another tutorial on how to make your own faux shade. Instead, I’ll explain what the term “faux Roman shade” means, so you’ll know what all is possible with this style.
So what is a faux Roman shade? It’s simply a stationary valance that’s made to look like a Roman shade. Its length cannot be constantly adjusted like a shade, and it cannot be pulled up or down. Sometimes it’s also called a mock Roman shade, fake Roman shade, or Roman shade valance.
Here is an example of what a faux Roman shade looks like (my favorite that we’ve made in the workroom as of recently):
It even looks like a Roman shade when viewed up close and from the side:
But if you stop at this example, you’ll miss out on the nuances that this style has to offer. There’s definitely more to this window treatment than what’s currently shown out there.
Valances that look like Roman shades…
The Types of Faux Roman Shades Available
There are many types of Roman shades out there, yet each time it’s shown as a faux shade, somehow it seems to always be just one or two styles.
The red faux shade above is just one way to do a faux Roman shade, but it isn’t the only one.
Let’s take a look at some of the different styles that can be turned into a faux Roman shade.
Flat Roman Faux Shade
This is the simplest form of Roman shade style, so you may come across it first when shopping for Roman shades. A flat Roman shade is just pulled from the bottom, letting the folds stack on top of each other and form naturally as you pull it up. Because of this, it’s also sometimes called a stacked Roman shade.
The upper part of the shade leaves most of the rest of the fabric flat.
(Source: Stacked Roman Shade Valance)
Black and white faux shade with black grosgrain ribbon. Check out more semi-custom faux shades.
You’ll have to think carefully what length you’ll want in case you’d like this style as a faux shade. If your chosen fabric is a large pattern, this is a great opportunity to center it on the faux shade and show it off. Make sure your faux shade isn’t too short, so those large patterns don’t get cut off.
(Designer Tip 1: Most large-patterned home decor fabrics typically have a vertical repeat of no more than 25 1/2 inches or so. Check the vertical repeat of your desired fabric to determine how much length your faux shade needs.)
(Designer Tip 2: Home decor fabrics have a standard width of 54 inches usually. If your faux shade is wider than about 50 inches or so, chances are it will have a seam. Make sure you’re working with a professional who knows how to pattern-match across seams and are buying grade A fabrics only that aren’t printed off-register, bowed, or otherwise faulty. Adding interlining or blackout lining will also help conceal the seam if your window gets a lot of sunlight. If you want to avoid seams, look for railroaded fabrics.)
Spruce up that flat Roman shade! This one has a pushed leading edge, meaning that the folds start higher up on the shade to expose a wide piece of yellow banding. The faux shade also has a center pleat for added interest.
Hobbled Roman Faux Shade
The folds in the back of a hobbled Roman shade are measured out with a deliberate gap. That way, instead of stacking up at the bottom of the shade, the folds are evenly distributed across the entire length of the shade. And because of this gap, there’s also more fabric left over for each fold.
As you can imagine, there won’t be much opportunity to display a large pattern on the fabric in this case.
Hobbled shades have more of a dimension, and can have a beautiful waterfall shape when viewed from the side. To really pronounce this effect, I always try to recommend to my clients to add interlining in addition to lining when creating their hobbled (faux) shades.
By the way, this shade is sometimes also (appropriately) referred to as a waterfall shade or soft fold shade.
Here’s one we did for a client’s breakfast area. She was worried about being able to open the patio door, but luckily, she had 9-foot ceilings to help install the faux shade high enough.
(Source: Hobbled Faux Shade)
Remember, this is a stationary valance, so there’s nothing stopping you from adding embellishments to it without worrying about its ability to be raised or lowered. Consider adding ribbon and tassel details to your faux shade.
Did I mention the simplicity of these faux shades allows them to work on very narrow windows like this one in a kitchen?
Use tassel tiebacks to make your faux shade even more unique.
These blue faux shades were made using a tab top header. The folds were brought into focus by adding white piping trim.
Slatted Roman Faux Shade
Here’s another Roman shade that goes by several names. The slatted Roman shade is named so because it has wooden batten or dowels inserted where the folds on the shade naturally occur.
This takes away from the depth that we’ve seen in shades like the hobbled shade. It flattens the shape when viewed from the side and gives it sharp, straight lines on the folds.
Depending on where the batten is installed, this style may be called a batten back or batten front shade.
A toile fabric was made into a slatted shade. Banded trim in a dark green was added, which is a popular embellishment on shades nowadays.
Relaxed Roman Faux Shade
Roman shade needs small rings in the back in order for their shape to form once they’re raised.
But what happens when there are no rings in the center of shade? A relaxed Roman shade, that’s what happens. Some refer to this shade as a European shade, while others call it a relaxed balloon shade, shade with a pouf, or shade with a smiley face (you realize how creative your clients are once you’ve been in the business for a while).
It’s best to explain with pictures.
Your faux shade can be layered under draperies. Each of these draperies were custom-made to each have a double width. When spanned out, the total drapery width for both drapes adds up to a generous 200 inches.
If you’d like a soft bottom hem, consider only a few folds at the bottom. This translates to no more than 4 rings on each side of this faux shade. The rings will also need to be spaced more closely together.
Black banding on a solid white relaxed Roman faux shade.
Once a generous amount of fabric starts being added to the overall design, the window treatment becomes an interesting hybrid between a relaxed Roman shade and balloon valance. We had no choice but to call ours a relaxed Roman balloon valance.
The trick that makes the relaxed pouf even more pronounced is a lot of fabric and a lot more folds that are spaced apart more. This obviously can be done just by using a longer piece of fabric and creating more deep folds.
Another clever way to sneak in more fabric into a relaxed faux shade is to introduce a center pleat like the ones below.
But Why Choose a Faux Shade Instead of a Real Roman Shade?
Now that you’ve seen quite a few beautiful examples, you might be wondering, why not just get a real Roman shade?
It primarily has to do with cost.
You see, functional fabric shades can be rather costly, at least the real, custom-made ones. A custom fabric shade not only requires a lot of fabric, but it also requires a lot of hardware in order to make it functional. Many of them nowadays are cordless, and some are becoming technologically advanced, even working together with your smart home.
A fabric shade should serve one of two functions. First, it should be able to provide you privacy by pulling it down when needed. if you live in a busy city or want some privacy in your bathroom or bedroom, a fabric shade is a smart choice.
Second, a fabric shade can block out extreme heat or cold coming through the window. Granted, this feature has had a bad reputation as of late because a lot of manufacturers are using thin and flimsy fabrics and substituting ordinary lining for what should be real blackout outlining. But if you’re having a custom fabric shade made by a professional workroom, you should expect this feature to hold true.
But what if you need no privacy or thermal insulation?
Simple – don’t pay for those extra features.
A great way to save on an otherwise expensive fabric shade is a faux shade valance. It still has the plastic or metal rings in the back just like a fabric shade does, but it doesn’t have the fully functional cord and pulley system that can move it up or down.
This lack of the cord and pulley system could actually be an advantage. It means that not every faux shade needs to be installed on a wood board. You can simply have them made with a rod pocket. This allows you to install the valance on a drapery pole if outside-mounted or on a tension rod if inside-mounted.