How to reclaim the semi-outdoors with blinds

PHOTO: Facebook/ZiptrakSingapore

If you seldom or rarely use your balcony, you might want to rethink the design to maximise it.

In 2013, interior designer Shu Ong was looking for a way to maximise the use of balcony spaces when she discovered Glass Curtains, a frameless, retractable, sliding glass system from Europe, and became the first to make it available here in Singapore.

Ong Shu Huai, managing director of The Glass Scape Group of Companies and Durablinds Trading. 
PHOTO: Facebook/EnterpriseSG  

It was so warmly received that she decided to look for other products and discovered Australian brand Ziptrak’s outdoor blind system with a patented design that glides smoothly and stops at any height in 2017. She formalised her distributor business by founding DuraBlinds with husband Kevin that same year.

The company aims to help businesses and homeowners maximise usage of their outdoor spaces by protecting them from UV rays, rain, wind and haze. We invite Shu to tell us more.

Durablinds aims to help singapore homeowners reclaim their living spaces. Can you elaborate on this?

Since URA introduced a scheme to facilitate high-rise greenery in 2001, we have observed an increase in the presence of large balconies and patios across many developments. Living and dining spaces are getting smaller, while balconies and patios are getting larger.

In our climate, these semi-outdoor spaces are often hot, wet and very dusty. As a result, many homeowners have found them unsuitable for family activities. Using blinds that protect them from the heat, rain and dust makes them accessible in any weather.

PHOTO: Facebook/ZiptrakSingapore 

How is Ziptrak more innovative than traditional blinds?

Unlike traditional cabled blinds that are exposed at the sides and the bottom, Ziptrak blinds can fully enclose a semi-outdoor space.

They move down a track on the left and right sides without leaving a gap for rain, dust or insects to enter or for cold air to escape. Blinds also allow homeowners to transform clean, dry and cool balconies into a study, play area or a dining or workout room.

Even better, results from recent tests also show that Ziptrak’s blinds from its using RainOut fabric range can effectively reduce external noise.

We’ve found that homeowners who have noisy neighbours, live in areas with high traffic or are close to areas where there always seems to be construction work going on truly appreciate this quality.

The brand’s no-gap system, coupled with its PestOut pelmet, also stops flying insects from invading the space.

How is Ziptrak smart?

With a choice of either Somfy or Dooya tubular motors, you can operate the blinds via remote control or pair them with smart operating systems using voice commands such as Alexa or Google Assistant.

Ziptrak can also be automated through the use of sun and rain sensors for the weather-based activation of blinds. These motors come with features like smart obstacle detection to prevent damage to the fabric by obstacles when the blinds are descending. 

PHOTO: Facebook/ZiptrakSingapore 

What are your tips for selecting the right blinds?

Selecting the right blinds for your space depends on how you intend to use it as well as the level of rain and sun your home gets.

For instance, homeowners who are blessed with a fantastic view and hope to use the space as an outdoor dining area may opt for blinds with 1 per cent PolyWeave or FiberWeave fabrics.

These allow you to enjoy the view even when the blinds are down, and particularly when your unit is not exposed to high wind conditions that may cause rainwater to mist through.

When deciding between manual or motorised, we encourage you to think about your family unit and who is likely to be operating the blinds.

If you are looking to use smart home hubs or have family members with limited mobility, we would typically suggest motorised blinds.

If you have small children, the manual system. The blinds remain below the railing height once the child safety latch is activated.

Can homeowners convert their balconies into an additional workspace by using blinds?

PHOTO: Facebook/ZiptrakSingapore 

Certainly. For this, we recommend blinds using the RainOut Frosted fabric. It allows light through but is entirely waterproof and protects documents and electronics from the rain. 

This article was first published in Home & Decor.