What’s Your Shade?
Whether your room design is trendy or classic, here are tips for choosing and installing the perfect window treatments. Window treatments have a tremendous impact on a room. They can instantly warm up a cold, uninviting dining room, add a punch of color and sophistication to a Plain Jane bedroom and bring life to an otherwise ho-hum interior. They can also solve a multitude of problems by softening hard lines and uniting odd-shaped windows together in harmony. Dressing your windows is easier than ever thanks to an astonishing selection of high-tech shutters, shades, blinds and fabrics in an array of colors, styles and finishes. There is something for everyone and every budget. Let’s take a look at the basics …
Function FirstWindow coverings are made to provide privacy, light control, protect against heat or cold (and sometimes noise) as well as add an additional element of decoration to a room. Will the windows in your home need one, two or all of the requirements listed above? Do you want the windows to stand out or blend into the background? Once that has been decided you need to look at the style choices available – from blinds to drapes and everything in between. I often find that clients fall into one category or the other – bring it on or less is more! Choose styles based on function first, then design.
What Style is Right for You?Almost any style window treatment you love can be made to work in formal or informal settings. Consider the color and style of the furnishings. Are you happy with the current look and feel of the room? Are the windows a focal point or should the windows be a subtle backdrop to art, antiques or furnishings in the room? The answers to these questions will help you determine what’s most appropriate.
The trend toward cleaner, less fussy looks makes shades, shutters and blinds the most popular of all window coverings. These styles allow you to control light, provide privacy and can be the foundation to all sorts of other window covering options.
You can use interior window shutters in any room and seldom need a fabric valance or drapery to dress them up. They are attractive, help regulate light, insulate and fit into almost any décor due to their simplicity and clean lines. Although available in numerous colors and stains, shutters look best when painted or finished the same as the rest of the window frame.
Clean-lined, tailored blinds work especially well to control light and provide additional protection against sunlight. Updated woven materials have taken them out of the office and into our homes with style.
Bamboo or tortoise-shell shades are extremely popular and have become a window fashion classic. They add rich texture and a worldly appeal to every room, making them perfect for a seaside cottage, traditional interiors and everything in between.
Roman shades will add a casual elegance to your room. They are made from fabrics that are pulled up into neat folds or gathered, and hang flat. They provide excellent sound insulation, complete privacy and light control. Use them all by themselves or as an under treatment with drapery panels or valances.
If you love textiles then drapes are for you. There are many gorgeous hues in fabrics that will bring energy and pizzazz to any room. Drapes help to soften the lines of the window, add color and texture, filter sunlight or darken a room and can also ward against the cold.
Generally you’ll want to select drapery lengths based on function and aesthetics. In kitchens choose lengths that fall approximately 1-2″ below the bottom of the frame so the treatments don’t interfere with work space. Full-length treatments are considered more formal and hang from the top of the window and gently grace the floor. Tall windows will accept a more dramatic treatment, and drapes can puddle just slightly or in great billows depending on the look you’re trying to achieve.
Valances are a great alternative to rods and finials. They look wonderful by themselves over a kitchen sink or as a window topping to drapes, shades or blinds. Just make sure they don’t look too top heavy and end up swallowing up the window.
Custom or Not?Beautiful panels made from equally beautiful fabrics may be all you need to create a simple, yet elegant look. You can find an array of designs in catalogs and in the home décor section of many department stores. I love to embellish simple ready-made panels with dressmaker details, like bullion fringe, pom-pom trim or contrasting piping to give them a one-of-a-kind, custom look on a budget.
However, sometimes custom is the only way to go. You’ll have your pick of fabrics and styles along with all of the bells and whistles you can think up, all designed to fit your windows perfectly. Going custom means getting what you want right down to the tiniest detail.
Decorative HardwareToday’s decorative hardware can easily become a focal point for contemporary window fashions. You’ll find all kinds of appealing, useful and affordable decorative items, such as rods, poles, finials, scarf holders, rings and clips.
Use decorative hardware to give the finishing touch to your window and your room. For example, you can pair wrought iron, brass or pewter rods with decorative brackets and finials to complement any décor. Enhance top treatments such as swags and scarves with stunning swag holders that pull the entire window treatment together. The larger the pole, the harder it will be to fit ready-made treatments over them, so choose with care. It’s better to choose one – the treatment or the hardware – to be the star of the show.
InstallationMost people make the mistake of installing hardware right on the window casing or just beyond, so the question always remains: how high do you hang it? As a general rule you should hang drapes approximately 2″-4″ wider and 4″ higher than the window casing. This helps to elongate the window and creates a nice fluid line from top to bottom. You can raise the drapes as much as 8″ above, but anything more than this tends to look out of place even in rooms with high ceilings. Look to the lines in the rest of the room for clues to guide you. You also need to make sure there is enough room when the drapes are stacked back, so plan on using 1/3 the width of the window as your guide.
And this is just for starters! Now that you’re armed with the basics; consider adding new treatments to your home and make it beautiful. NH