On May 5, the Wonderlin family celebrated the one-year anniversary of the opening of their “Inspiration Center” at the KRATEs with their Budget Blinds family and members of the North Tampa Bay Chamber. (Photo by Charmaine George)

When Tara Leblanc bought her home in Lexington Oaks, the blinds were old and outdated. She knew she wanted an upgrade, so she called “a bunch of different companies” to come to her home and give her an estimate.

After four consultations, she says it was an easy decision.

“We went with Budget Blinds,” says Tara. “They were absolutely amazing.”

She says she’s “not good with decorating” and notes that her Budget Blinds design consultant made many helpful suggestions. There was great communication throughout the process, and when the installers came out, they were friendly, didn’t make a mess and cleaned up after themselves. Tara was thrilled.

The local franchise of Budget Blinds is owned by Wesley Chapel residents Adriane and Mike Wonderlin, who are marking five years of owning the business, since they purchased it in June 2018. Their territory stretches all the way north to San Antonio and south to Palmetto and includes showrooms on W. Fletcher Ave. (near I-275, two exits south of Wesley Chapel’s S.R. 56 exit) and in Riverview, covering nearly 90 zip codes.

Whether you’re looking for beautiful new drapes (above) or motorized shutters with drapes you can control with your smartphone (next page), the local Budget Blinds franchise has you covered. (Photos provided by Adriane & Mike Wonderlin)

Budget Blinds also has an “inspiration center” at the KRATE container park at The Grove in Wesley Chapel. As people wander through the rows of converted containers to sample food and check out tiny shops, they also can pop into Budget Blinds to see how they might transform their homes with a huge variety of available blinds, shades, shutters and drapes.

A quick visit to Budget Blinds at the KRATEs will allow you to see the many possibilities, with videos of the products in motion on the TVs, consultants available to answer questions about how something functions or how it would look, and education about the different types of window treatments.

The KRATE location has been open since May of 2022, and the Wonderlins had the opportunity to celebrate their innovative shop with a one-year anniversary North Tampa Bay Chamber ribbon cutting event on May 5 (photo above).

As the local franchise continues to grow, the Wonderlins also are building a 7,500-square-foot warehouse and design center in Ruskin. When that opens later this year, the existing Riverview showroom will move to that new location.

But, for most people, a trip to one of the showrooms isn’t even necessary.

The Wonderlins employ a team of nearly 40 people, including design associates who come to your home with what Adriane describes as “a ton of samples” to help determine the best look and functionality for window coverings in your home.

There is a variety of styles from which to choose. Blinds come in vinyl, wood, fabric, faux wood and aluminum. Shutters are made from real wood or composite material that will not fade or warp.

If you prefer shades, you can choose from roller, pleated, Roman, cellular, woven wood, bamboo, sheer, solar or graphic, plus a variety of panels, valances and drapes.

The trends they continue to see, Adriane says, include motorization and lots of customers adding draperies.

“The functionality of the shutter is great and the look is classic,” she says. “But now, we’re adding a soft piece of fabric, too. In the 1980s and ‘90s, draperies were everywhere, but in the 2000s, no one did drapes because it looked like ‘your mother’s house.’ But now, it’s back.”

The Appeal Of Motorization

She says that window covering motorization continues to improve, with motors that are nearly completely silent and a trend that continues to make these “smart home” features more affordable. 

Adriane says that for high places you can’t reach, motorization is ideal. It’s also great for businesses to set their timers to automatically open as the business opens, or at home to automate window shades to help kids or teenagers wake up for school in the morning.

With these options, you can use a smartphone, remote, wall switch or even voice command to open or close your window coverings.

What you won’t find at Budget Blinds are outdated blinds that are raised and lowered with cords. A new law was passed to eliminate dangling cords that are known to be harmful to children, because they can get tangled in them.

“In Canada, you can’t sell your house with cords in the window,” explains Mike. “We don’t know if that’s going to follow here in the U.S. But, our sales team continues to educate customers about the laws in the U.S. and why it’s important to replace those window treatments.”

In fact, that’s one reason Tara was impressed with the Budget Blinds consultant who visited her home.

“I’m an ER nurse and I have small children,” she says. “So safety is really important to me.”

She says the consultant was knowledgeable and helpful, and that her understanding of the new law and how to keep her kids safe made Tara feel confident in choosing Budget Blinds.

For her family room, Tara chose a motorized roller shade and smart drapes, safe options that also are incredibly convenient for her. To open and close her window coverings, she just pushes a button on her phone.

Mike says that’s in line with what he and Adriane are seeing across their business. “About 70 percent of our orders have motorization now,” he says.

Tara says Budget Blinds offered the best value of all the companies she evaluated, and her choice was easy once she heard about the company’s warranty, which includes a one-time replacement, no questions asked.

It’s been six months and she hasn’t had any problems, but she says that knowing the warranty is there if she needs it gives her peace of mind.

“I have two boys and two dogs, including a Great Dane,” Tara says, “so somebody’s about to destroy something, I’m sure.”

Budget Blinds was founded in 1992 in Orange County, CA, and today has more than 1,000 franchises in the U.S. and Canada. The Wonderlins’ North Tampa franchise, which they purchased in 2018, was awarded Budget Blinds’ national Franchise of the Year for 2020, which was the franchise’s third such honor since 2016.

To schedule a complimentary in-home consultation, call (813) 968-5050. Visit the KRATE location on Mondays from 2 p.m.-8 p.m.; noon-8 p.m. on Tuesdays-Saturdays; and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, follow @BudgetBlindsofGreaterTampa on Facebook or Instagram or visit BudgetBlinds.com/NorthTampa.

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