Design Dilemma: How to Treat Your Windows
Homeowners put a lot of thought into choosing couches, area rugs and lighting fixtures, but there’s one design choice that many don’t give much thought: selecting appropriate window treatments.
Â Perhaps it’s a reaction to the overly fussy (and expensive) valances and drapes of yesteryear, or maybe it’s just because we’ve run out of steam by the time it’s time to think about windows, but many of us just don’t want to be bothered.Â And so, we opt for simple drapes or go withÂ a roller shade — missing the opportunity to add real punch to our homes.
But we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the power of window treatments. They can make a room feel larger or smaller, modern or cozy, elegant or rustic. Plus, they can help keep a room cool in the summer and warmer in winter.Â BesidesÂ giving us a little privacy, they can keep out noise.
If you have a modern interior, go for clean.
If your look is modern and sleek, look for simple treatments that can disappear easily. Some of the best-looking modern interiors have no window treatments at all. Rather, the emphasis is all on light and space. For city dwellers who can’t leave windows bare for privacy reasons, cellular shades are an excellent option. They disappear neatly when they are open,Â allowing for maximum light during the day while providing privacy when they are drawn.Â Cellular shades are made of layered fabric in a honeycomb shape, which explains why they also have excellent insulation capabilities.Â The newestÂ versions have no exposed cords, for an even cleaner look. One warning about cellular shades: they are a good choice for a parlor or dining room but not for a bedroom, as theyÂ WILL allow a soft light to filter into the room when down.
Other options for modern rooms include roman shades, pleated shades and shades in bamboo, hemp or woven reeds and grasses. Woven shades are especially effective in homes where a more casual, natural or ethnic look is desired. But please note: Roman, pleated and wovenÂ shades will not disappear completely and thus you’ll loose some light, even when they are up.
If you have a view, go for a treatment that will disappear.
When you’ve got something beautiful to look at, you won’t want a square inch of your window cluttered up by a window treatment. Opt for a cellular shade that will disappear completely, or for aÂ swag that will soften and frame a window withoutÂ infringing onÂ the window itself.
If you have something to hide,Â go for wooden blinds or shutters.
Wooden shutters and blinds have a nice finished look that can go modern or more traditional. But the great thing about these blinds and shutters is that they can let light in while minimizing the impact of ugly views. So if your windows overlook a highway, a water treatment plant or a brick wall, blinds or shutters could be the way to go. If you live on a first floor apartment, you might also consider cellular shades that are drawn from the bottom up — allowing you maximum privacy and maximum light simultaneously.
One note of caution: Because wood blinds have a bulky stack they are not a good choice where you want maximum light and minimum bulk.
If you’ve got small windows, disguise them. Try hanging curtains just below the ceiling and allow the drapes to dramatically pool on the floor. Go for bold color. A bold window treatment will give the illusion that a window is larger than it is, and that a ceiling is taller than it is. If you have a traditional home, you can pull out all the stops by opting for drapery in prints and patterns with interesting trim or fringe held by tassled tiebacks.
Use drapes to provide symmetry where there is none.
The beauty of a simple drape is that you can hang it where you want, independent of where windows may happen to be. So if you have an off center window or other defects you need to hide, a simple drape may be the answer. Simple drapes in a solid, natural material,Â is also a very clean look and can work in modern as well as traditional interiors.
Whatever you choose, be consistent.
A hodgepodge of window treatments is distracting. If you choose vertical blinds (most often used on sliding doors) consider using vertical blinds throughout a room. If you opt for cellular shades, use cellular shades throughout. Consistency helps pull a room together and adds polish.