We invited Gerard back to discuss a popular product in smart homes today: motorized shades (also known as motorized blinds).
For people who might not be familiar with this technology, can you tell us about it? Why should they consider it? What's cool about it?
GERARD LYNCH: I think there's a lot that's cool about it. There are motorized shades that are almost silent. You can connect motorized shades to a lighting control system. You can connect them to an app or a smart home system. It's just like anything else that benefits from motorization or automation. You can walk into a room with five or ten windows and hit one button and those shades can go up or go down. Or they can go up or down on a schedule. They can even be set to come up or go down depending if the sun is out. It offers real convenience, not to mention the wow factor.
More and more people seem to be drawn to this technology and these products.
GERARD LYNCH: Yes, absolutely. People enjoy having window treatments that are automated because they don't have to go from window to window to close them. It's the same with a lighting control system; you don't have to go one light switch at a time. The same theory applies here.
If someone is interested in motorized blinds for their home, what should they keep in mind as they begin to consider their options?
GERARD LYNCH: Like any other design decision, you have typical things to consider:
- How many windows do you have?
- How big are the windows?
- What fabrics and style of window treatments do you like?
- What colors do you like?
From there, consider the technology behind the design:
- How much light do you want to let through?
- How do you want to power the shade? If it's new construction, a very simple little wire will take care of it. If it's existing, you can opt for wireless and battery—or, as I call them, "wire-free" shades.
How does installation work?
GERARD LYNCH: Typically, we install the motorized shades, since they are a specialty item. People could install the shades themselves, and a few do, but mostly people want to have the turnkey service. They also need some help in coaching in terms of wires, including termination of the wire and building of a pocket to conceal the shades. When it comes to motorization, having an expert install it makes a lot of sense. We offer installation services for all the products we sell.
How does pricing work? If I'm a homeowner and I'm trying to think through budgets, what should I keep in mind in addition to the number of windows?
GERARD LYNCH: There is a huge range. You can have a three-by-five window and a battery-operated shade that could be $300. For a powered shade with controls and custom fabric, that shade could be five times that amount for the same size.
Here's a good rule of thumb that I like sharing with customers: A manual shade is, on average, about 25% to 35% of the cost of the motorized shade.
That is a good rule of thumb. Are there any things people should keep in mind?
In addition to motorized roller blinds, we also have motorized roman shades. Motorized drapery tracks are popular as well. People should consider all the options out there.
You have a storefront, The Boston Shade Company. Where is it located? Can people go in and browse products?
GERARD LYNCH: Yes, The Boston Shade Company is a division of System 7 and it's part of this merger with Wolfers Lighting. The Boston Shade Company is located in the Boston Design Center, Suite 627. We have a big south-facing window that overlooks cruise ships boarding. On this one large window, we have 25 different applications that we can show. Think different opacities, different colors, sheer and solar, eco-friendly materials, blackout materials, decorative materials, and so forth.
Soon, you'll be able to go to the Wolfers Lighting showrooms and experience similar displays with our motorized shades. Choose whatever is convenient to you. You can opt to visit Allston, Waltham, or Boston.
Will the same thing be happening at the Boston Shade Company storefront? Will you display fixtures from Wolfers Lighting?
GERARD LYNCH: That's definitely part of the plan. We recently remodeled our showroom at The Boston Shade Company, and we used fixtures from Wolfers Lighting.
Obviously, we won't be able to display all the lights that the Wolfers' showrooms currently carry. There's just too much square footage required for that, so if someone wants the complete light fixture "experience," they should head to one of the Wolfers showrooms. But if they want to get a sense of some light fixtures as well as motorized shades, they can absolutely stop by The Boston Shade Company.
Thanks so much, Gerard!
GERARD LYNCH: Any time.