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Property: Home Front: In style country, the blind is king

After years of dirty net curtains, knotted cords on boring and dusty Venetian slats or swags listing over to one side, blinds are making a comeback. Rosalind Russell takes a peek at what is available - including translucent glass for lavatories. Thank goodness for Alison White's little perforations. Punched through minimalist Swedish stiffened cotton blinds in colours like lime, steel grey and black, they offer a contemporary alternative to that scourge of suburbia, the net curtain. The tiny cut-outs are square, round or L- shaped, letting in pinpoints of light but keeping out the inquisitive.

White began four years ago by designing screens, but now works with Novatec to produce modern, innovative blinds. They are perfect for city flats, and loft apartments which do not lend themselves to frills and swags, and prices begin at pounds 49.

Blinds take up less room than curtains and are frequently cheaper to have made as they need less fabric. A blind made in Monkwell's new postcard range costs pounds 20.95 a metre plus the backing and making up charge by your local fabric shop, or a stockist such as John Lewis.

Blinds have the added advantage of diverting attention from an uninspiring view. It would be too obvious to leave curtains closed in broad daylight while showing a prospective home buyer around, for example. An interesting blind attracts less suspicion.

Some estate agents advise having a blind made to hide eyesores such as a brick wall, a view of your neighbour's compost heap or the tracks into Euston.

As your vendor is likely to have cleared off with his expensive curtains - or graciously offered to sell you his moth-eaten sets at a ludicrous price - window coverings are usually the first furnishings anyone needs to buy in a new house. It is worth pinning up a few old sheets to begin with and take your time considering the latest styles.

Launched this year at Decorex and 100% Design was the Corrazza roller blind, made by Silent Gliss. Every style-conscious pop star worth his fibre-optic-lit shower will lust after the unusual aluminium case into which the blind rolls up. It comes in anodised silver, black or chrome and can be operated by spring or an electric system. Very rock 'n' roll. The starting price for a metre width in silver case is pounds 317.

Even Venetian blinds have cleaned up their act: Novatec makes them in 70 colours, including marbled metallics. For a sitting room which doubles as a home office, or a galleried landing as a guest bedroom, a Venetian blind can be hung from the ceiling and used as a room divider.

If the last time you touched a Venetian blind it was made of bendy metal slats which almost sliced your fingers off when dusting, then you'll be pleasantly surprised by the next generation. Sunway Venetian blinds come in all colours, including black, and in suede or brushed silk finishes. Made-to-measure prices start at pounds 37 for a blind 610mm wide with a 610mm drop.

Novatec also operates a laminating service: you send it the fabric of your choice and the company will bond it to a white or cream backing cloth and mount it onto a roller blind headrail. That allows you to match the blind with curtains and upholstery. The prices for this service starts at pounds 78.

If none of this is minimalist enough, forget blinds and curtains altogether and replace the windows. The French have produced a clear glass which turns translucent when back lit. Apparently it is very effective in unisex lavatories.

Novatec 01843 604430 Silent Gliss 01843 686 3571 Luxaflex and Sunway 0161 432 5303 Monkwell 01202 752944.