Color and openness factor are two key factors in determining a shade fabric’s performance. But did you know they are both equally important in providing comfort in your home? Read on to learn how.

Openness and Comfort
Openness factor is a number describing the amount of open space in a shade fabric. So in a 3 percent open fabric, the spaces between the mesh yarns are 3 percent of the overall shade panel. The higher the number, the bigger the spaces.

One way openness affects comfort is the amount of solar energy it allows through. In general, the higher the number the more light gets through. That means that a lower number will typically mean less glare and also lower solar heat gain because less solar energy is passing through and hitting people or objects.

Openness also affects visual and psychological comfort. The larger the factor, the easier it usually is to see through the fabric, so a higher number makes it easier to see views of nature. If the views outside are nothing much to look at then a lower number will typically better disguise that fact.

Color and Comfort
Color also impacts both physical and psychological comfort. First let’s discuss the physical side.

In general, lighter colors reflect more visible light. That means they will typically reduce discomfort associated with solar heat gain better than darker colors. However, darker colors improve comfort because they are better at reducing glare.

Darker colors also typically provide a better view through to the outdoors, which can improve comfort and mood in the right surroundings. But beyond dark vs. light, there is some evidence to suggest individual colors or color groups can affect mood and psychological comfort.

 “Color and Visual Comfort” is the title of a University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture Center for Sustainable Development study authored by Cecilia RiosVelasco. While the study focused on office settings, there are some lessons to be taken for color and comfort in general. The paper looks at several studies that have been conducted on the subject.

“Based on these studies, the findings suggested that color scheme alone may impact occupants’ mood.”

The author also notes, “studies show that while the perception of warm and cool colors influences people’s subjective assessment of an interior space, it seems to have no impact on occupants’ actual thermal comfort. Therefore, the interior color has more psychological than physiological effects on occupants in terms of thermal comfort.”

And while there are conceptions about the comfort levels created by specific colors, that may actually vary between individuals.

Making the Choice
In the end it’s up to the individual to decide the combination of color and openness factor that creates the most comfortable space. The Draper@Home collection helps by making thousands of color/openness combinations available from American weavers like Phifer and Mermet USA. We can also print custom colors and patterns if you can’t quite find the right combination to turn your home into the comfortable haven you are looking for.

To check out our full line of fabrics and see online swatches, click here. You can also get a general idea of how color and openness factor work together in a window by using our online view-through simulator.

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