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Ever since humans started cutting windows into their houses, we’ve sought ways to cover them up. That’s because while these openings boast distinct advantages—views, daylight, breezes—they also admit undesirable things—blazing afternoon sun, middle-of-the-night streetlight glare, stares of passersby and that nosy Ned Flanders next door.

Like most improvements we make to our homes, window coverings serve as both function and decoration, whether as a ray-filtering shade or winter chill-blocking insulated curtains. And when it comes to decking out your windows, you’ll find so many choices, optional features, and price ranges that it’s easy to get blindsided by the process.

Here’s our guide to getting both the right stuff and a good deal.

Click here for ratings of local retailers. Below, in our article on getting a good price, you'll find costs quoted to Checkbook’s undercover shoppers when they sought prices for window treatments for four windows—including cellular shades, blinds, and Roman shades—at a sampling of local stores and online outlets. We found big price differences from store to store.