Acting Shady

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: At Home Issue: August 2014
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Block relentless sunbeams with these shades and screens.

Arizona’s painterly sunrises and sunsets are legendary, but the ceaseless sun can pose a problem for desert dwellers. To maximize protection from ultraviolet rays in your home and yard, design pros recommend you get shady.

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“Arizona is a critical place to address your windows,” says Athena Hatch, co-owner with husband John of Athena’s Window Fashions in Mesa. Hatch says shade options, like the custom drapery she designs and manufactures and the Hunter Douglas shades she sells, can reduce 80 percent of solar heat gain through windows in summer. The result is eco- and wallet-friendly during Arizona’s apocalyptic-power-bill season. “It’s not just comfort – it’s a lot more,” Hatch says.

Scott Boettcher, owner and technician at Surprise-based Veteran Tinting & Blinds, recommends window films similar to those used in car-window tinting for home windows. “It blocks out ultraviolet light, which causes the majority of bleaching to fabrics, furnishings, photographs, anything on the inside of glass,” Boettcher says. “Dual-pane glass will stop around 40 percent of the UV; film blocks 99.9 percent.”

Outside, shade options range from pool parasols to grand gazebos. “Most want it to be a coordinating fabric with their outdoor furniture cushion colors,” says Robin Rodriguez, exterior designer at Today’s Patio, where market umbrellas that tilt are bestsellers. “People who want a contemporary look will go for a square or rectangular umbrella or cantilevers.”

Gazebos and umbrella-style canopies lend a luxe look, says Simon Miller, sales manager at Phoenix Tent and Awning. “It creates an at-home holiday feel,” Miller says. “It’s dressing up the backyard a bit. There’s so much stone, metal and stucco [in backyards]. This softens the whole look.”

Athena’s Window Fashions
690 E. Warner Rd., Gilbert
“I was trying to show people options of making the room feel soft and elegant, a little bit romantic,” Hatch says of this vignette in her showroom. Similar window treatments (including cream sheer, embroidered linen side panels, swag valance and tassel trim) start at $1,000. Everything is handcrafted in her on-site sewing room.

Today’s Patio


Today’s Patio
Locations: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Glendale, Tucson
“Cantilevers provide great shade coverage without the worry of the center pole obstructing or hindering in the setup of furniture,” Rodriguez says. The 11-inch AG28 cantilever in Obravia fabric starts at $799. “They also tilt and angle to block the setting or rising sun. You can also add a valance to help define your space.” Rodriguez recommends hosing the fabric off regularly to prevent residue from baking into the fibers.


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Veteran Tinting & Blinds
West Valley: 623-255-8468
East Valley: 480-243-8468
“People still think they’re just for cars, but window films have improved,” Boettcher, a Minnesota transplant, says. The films come in different tint levels and block UV rays and heat to protect furnishings and aid in heat insulation. “You can clean [it] just like a regular window. It kind of softens the light in a house and makes it a home.” Price varies by project.


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Phoenix Tent and Awning
2829 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
Phoenix Tent and Awning uses a special poly-blend thread to sew together the Sunbrella fabric used in this gazebo (price upon request), which is manufactured locally with American-made products. The company, which opened in 1910, emphasizes “beauty, style and elegance,” Miller says. “People are spending more time at home than going out, so it’s nice to have that resort feel in your backyard.”