Window dressings can make a big impact on the look of a room, yet they tend to be a bit of an afterthought. If you’re over the look of the same old curtains, blinds, and shades offered in just about every home goods store, you’ll definitely want to check out a few outside-the-box options that give you more opportunities for creative expression — or just a sleeker, more modern result.

Fresh and creative window shade designs range from hand-cut paper blinds and custom printed blackout shades to robust and colorful sliding glass panels. Here are a few of our favorites:

Artistic Cellular Paper Blinds

Someone unfolding Natchar Sawatdichai's Cellular Paper Blinds. Someone unfolding Natchar Sawatdichai's Cellular Paper Blinds. Natchar Sawatdichai's Cellular Paper Blinds, as seen when folded up.

Upon creating these surreal-looking blinds, designer Natchar Sawatdichai took the typical cellular concept and freshened it up with fun pleated patterns. She notes that most materials used in home decoration are “over-qualified” and could be replaced with materials like paper, which is “often overlooked and not commonly used in home decoration because of its low-value appearance and doubts of its durability.”

“In some ways, we might not have found the appropriate applications yet, which can enhance its value and change the belief about this material.”

Designed to work with consumer cycles of disposability rather than trying to fight them, these blinds allow the user to recycle or compost them when they want something new, all the while keeping the reusable hardware. Each one is cut and folded by hand, and all of them can easily be trimmed to fit various window sizes.

Custom-Printed Window Shades

Custom-printed window shades by Creatively Different. Custom-printed window shades by Orange Piel. Custom-printed window shades by Creatively Different.

When shopping for window dressings, there’s no need to limit yourself to the solid neutral colors offered by most retailers. Virtually anything you can envision can be custom-printed onto the shade type of your choice, including light filtering, blackout, and solar screen fabrics. Companies like Creatively Different Blinds, Blinds Galore, and Orange Piel make it easy to design and upload your own artwork or choose from libraries of premade graphics and patterns. Either way, you’re sure to end up with works of art that are entirely your own.

Glass Curtains

Sprinz' ultramodern glass curtains, pictured here in bright orange. Sprinz' ultramodern glass curtains, pictured here in bright orange.

If you’d prefer something much sleeker and more durable with ultra-low maintenance to boot, these modern sliding glass curtains from Sprinz are definitely worth considering. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns from transparent to opaque, these “curtains” offer shade, privacy, and heat reduction from sunlight streaming in through the windows. Functioning much like sliding glass doors, they follow a track and can easily overlap each other when you want them out of the way.

City Skyline Roller Shades

Closing set of blackout blinds, with the New York City skyline etched into them for decorative effect. Closing set of blackout blinds, with the New York City skyline etched into them for decorative effect.

Turning day into night with a flick of the wrist, blackout shades are essential for anyone who works overnight shifts, lives in a place with high light pollution, or just loves a good nap. Cut the shapes of cityscapes into those shades and you’ve got instant scenery, not to mention the ability to see how bright it is outside without letting in too much light.

What was once a noteworthy concept design is now available for purchase internationally from a Ukrainian company called HoleRoll. The collection includes the skylines of London or New York, each featuring iconic landmark architecture like the Gherkin and the Empire State Building, as well as a dazzling night sky effect.