Shades as a primary window treatment have the advantage of compatibility with a bleached, neutral design without much color. A starkly contemporary living area with crisp, white walls would fight against a heavy, eye-jolting window dressing. Even for a more traditional or transitional setting that exploits the tranquility of a monochromatic palette, shades are a natural, subtle option.
When the room's contemporary architecture includes tall, single-pane, stair-step windows, shades can provide the necessary privacy and sun-screening without causing visual discordance. Curtains would call attention to the irregularly spaced windows, disrupting the room's clean-lined flow. Matching shades add only a slight accent, disappearing unobtrusively into the pale environment.