Window Dressing

Window Dressing

The proper window treatments are key to a successful interior design. Like makeup for the eyes of your home, the right touch is entirely personal but, when it is done well, flaws can be covered, good features enhanced and, most importantly, the result is entirely appropriate for its function and your décor.

Deborah Campbell of Portsmouth Curtain Call started her career as a fashion designer. Now she uses her skills in designing, pattern making and drawing to create “ensembles” for windows from drapery fabrics, rods, trims and a myriad of stitching details. In fact, her treatments often contain couture details, such as inverted French pleats, horizontal tucking, “cuffs” and piecing. She loves the details, and that is how she constructs treatments that are as individual as the homeowner. She is able to determine what people like and, just as important, what they don’t like. From there, it is on to making their home look its absolute best.

We asked her advice on selecting window décor.

Need privacy? Maybe only a laminated shade is necessary. Shades can be constructed with custom fabrics and decorative trims can be added. Prints could look good with light passing through them, like something with a toile in the center. Good shades use a clutch system, not a spring. One also could use a Roman shade that folds up from the bottom, or top down. Hunter Douglas has many basic options, but you can add trim to make them more individual. If the woodwork is beautiful that may be all you need.

Too much sun? New sheers with stitching and cutouts can look stunning when the light is filtered through them.

Windows too small? Setting the rod well beyond the window frame can enlarge the look of the window when the drapes are pulled or open.

Have only one window in a room? Make it the focal point with extra details like jabots, cornices or extra trimming details.

Need to camouflage the view? Translucent blinds or shades can be custom made from new designs in embroidered sheer silks or voiles.

Other advice? Avoid trendiness. Quality draperies can be quite an investment, so you will want to make sure you love them, they reflect your taste and they are appropriate to the architecture of your home. Adding detail with texture, instead of patterned fabrics, can make the treatments more long-lived and be an added value that the next owner will appreciate. Remember, there is already a pattern in the trim and hardware and it may not be necessary to have a pattern in the fabric.

In the end, quality window treatments will certainly add to the value of your home when it comes time to resell. NH

Deborah Campbell, Portsmouth Curtain Call, 295 Maplewood Ave., Portsmouth, (603) 427-5522

Window Shopping

The patio door is a classic that first appeared in the ’50s ranch home. The concept of a door as a window has since morphed into a variety of interesting configurations. By Susan Laughlin

Warm weather is here and it is time to access the back yard through your new patio doors. But, oh my, there are a myriad of options to make your back entry stylish, energy efficient and safe — one is perfect for every home, from contemporary to Colonial. Here are a few things to consider.

Swinging or Gliding?

The swinging door is very popular as it looks perfectly natural with a Colonial home. The gliding door is still very functional, especially if there is not enough interior room to swing a door open on the inside. Optionally, out-swinging doors are available from many manufacturers, including Andersen and Marvin.

A new choice, folding doors on a gliding track, are now available from Jeld-Wen in a variety of configurations.

Insulating Glass

With the patio door being a relatively large expanse of glass, you need to consider the type of glass and its energy-saving qualities. Most window makers provide a simple dual-pane construction for their base models. The double pane improves the window’s efficiency because multiple layers of glass increase the window’s ability to resist heat flow in or out, but coatings, like low-e, additionally help to slow the transmission of heat back out of a window. Low-e coatings — a microscopically thin, virtually invisible metal or metallic oxide layer deposited on the glass during manufacturing — also filters UV rays and reduces fading of interior furnishings. The second generation, low-e II, is currently being used by Marvin Windows, and Paradigm Windows of Maine has just announced a new multi-coated low-e with slightly better insulating qualities. The addition of argon gas, available from most window manufacturers, helps inhibit the transmission of cold air.

Other types of glass include heat-absorbing and reflective glass that limit solar gain, but these types are more important in sunnier climes. Sound-deadening glass and bullet-proof glass are also options.

The other value to look for is the solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC), or a window’s ability to block warming caused by sunlight. The lower an SHGC number, the less UV rays that cause heat gain are coming through a window. These numbers vary with the type of low-e coatings used. Look for an SHGC number of 0.40 or lower for unshielded south-facing windows that may cause overheating in the summer. For north-facing windows, or south-facing windows with shade trees nearby, or windows with a generous overhang, you would want to maximize the solar gain for heating purposes in the winter.

Other factors are visible transmittance (VT), or how much light gets through a product. A VT number is a direct percentage of available light coming through a window — the higher the number, the more light coming through and the clearer the glass. A good percentage is about 55 percent. Obviously, coatings have an effect on the light coming through, but the low-e products have improved greatly in the last 10 years.

These insulating factors will increase a window’s U-value. U-values range from .50 to .10, with lower being better. A value of .34 or less on a patio window is necessary for an Energy Star rating and possible tax credits and a rebate from PSNH. To put this in perspective, the U-value is the inverse of the R-value that is commonly used for walls and ceilings. Here, we are familiar with ratings of R-12 to R-40. The inverse of .50 would be an R-2. So windows are still obviously a weak link in a home’s insulation, explains Don Bealko of RIVCO Windows in Nashua.

But yet, Energy Star-rated windows will save the average homeowner in New Hampshire $375 a year in heating and cooling costs over single-pane windows. Replacing simple dual panes would mean savings of $65 per year for the average 2,000-square-foot home.

This may sound complicated, but all the numbers (U-value, R-value, Solar gain (SHGC) and Visible Transmittance (VT) are listed by the manufacturer for each window type that has been tested by the National Fenestration Ratings Council. On its Web site ( you can find statistics for each manufacturer and each window type they make.

Other factors that increase a window’s efficiency include tints, construction and glazing techniques. Air filtration numbers tested by NFRC reflect the quality of the construction and glazing techniques.

Window Aesthetics

You want the door’s framing to match the architectural style and personality of your home. Patio doors and windows are available with wood interiors and exteriors, wood interiors with aluminum clad exteriors, and most economical, vinyl inside and out. Marvin Windows has a variety of wood grains available for both inside and out.

For a basic unit, Rivco and Harvey windows, both made locally, have all-vinyl patio doors available in white or almond with all the energy savings of more expensive models. These models can be customized with grilles or beveled glass for a custom look.

Harvey additionally offers a Seacoast Hardware Package with stainless steel components. Their patio door comes with a heavy-duty screen.

Finally, look for fiberglass construction for the ultimate in weather resistance. It can be made to look like wood, but not have the maintenance issues that make wood exteriors a cautious choice.

Grilles or Not?

If you want the look of Colonial or Prairie-style windows or patio doors, grilles can be added in a variety of options. True divided lights can challenge a window’s efficiency, although Marvin makes models where panes are individually insulated. Wood or fiberglass glass grilles can be added to the interior or exterior and removed to wash the glass. Between the glass grilles are another option. For a cleaner look, beveled cuts in the glass add a linear line design detail.

A door labeled as French-style means the uprights or stiles and bottom rail may be thicker for a traditional look, but they can still be available without grilles.

More Light

Beyond the door itself, sidelights, transoms and archtops are available from many manufacturers to extend the window qualities of a patio door. NH

Patio Door Resources

National Fenestration Rating Council
An independent organization that tests and rates windows from many manufacturers for energy efficiency and overall strength.

Efficient Windows Collaborative
A site developed to promote a clear understanding of proper window choices

Energy Star Program
Government site promoting energy efficiency in windows, appliances and more.

Andersen Windows
400 Series Frenchwood Outswing, gliding and hinged patio doors with options for Prairie-style or Colonial grilles and art glass or divided lights. Archtop transoms and sidelights are available. New is an archtop and Springline doors with curved tops. Exteriors are Perma-Shield (clad wood) with a choice of wood interiors.

Marvin Windows

Aluminum clad, with bare wood interiors, Fiberglass exterior and wood interiors and all fiberglass lines. Beautiful archtop available in their top line.

Infinity Windows by Marvin
The Infinity line by Marvin Windows is built with a pultruded fiberglass they call Ultrex®. It is far less conductive than aluminum (500x less) and insulates much like wood and PVC (vinyl). Used on both the inside and out, it is virtually maintenance-free.

Fairview Millwork
Millwork specialist serving customers for more than 50 years with a wide selection of windows, doors, cabinets, floors and stairs. Locations in Amherst and Seabrook

Millwork Masters
Authorized dealer and installer of Marvin windows with showrooms in Keene and Nashua

Portsmouth supplier and installer or custom doors in almost any size and wood species, HeartWood doors are custom crafted in mahogany, cherry, walnut and many other species, all Marvin lines and many more options.

Local manufacturer of Energy Star-rated all-vinyl patio doors, also carries Hurd clad-wood products. Their energy-savings program will put you in touch with all current government and energy company rebates.

Harvey Windows
Local manufacturer of Energy Star-rated all-vinyl windows and patio doors. Their door includes the screen. Seacoast package also available.

Paradigm Windows
Local manufacturer of Energy Star-rated all-vinyl windows and patio doors. Their door includes a heavy-duty screen. Seacoast package also available.

Jeld-Wen has a new folding patio door available in many sizes and configurations.

Pella Windows
A Pella exclusive is a new screening material called Gore that is finer for a clearer view.