Window treatments are fabulous.
Why? For one, well-dressed windows add wow to any room in the house. And they’re functional too-they can be used to block light, create privacy, soften sounds, draw attention to great views (or conceal less pleasing ones), and more. And they look darn good doing it.
To help you figure out which window treatment styles are right for your home and tastes, here’s a rundown on the basic types. Don’t want to spend a fortune? I’ll throw in some easy DIY ideas for dressing up your existing curtains and shades too.
Curtains typically hang on rods from rings, tabs, or ties and are pulled open or closed by hand. This type of window treatment is made in a variety of styles and fabrics to fit windows large and small, in settings formal or informal.
Drapery panels tend to look more formal than curtains. Drapes are attached to a rod with hooks that allow for opening and closing simply by pulling a cord. They usually hang from the top of a window or even the ceiling to the floor.
Blinds help control light and privacy and may be used with other window treatments or alone. All sorts of materials-including vinyl, wood, and faux wood-are available to match the style of your spaces.
Shades are used to block out light and provide privacy too. Styles include simple roller shades; top-down shades; Roman shades with sleek, defined folds; and balloon shades that billow when they are pulled up.
Cornices are affixed to the wall at the top of the window. Typically made of plywood and dressed up with paint, fabric, wallpaper, molding, or other embellishments, cornices are used to add architectural detail to windows.
Valances, much like cornices, are hung across the top of windows, cover curtain rods and add structural interest. Fabric valances may be tailored to create a distinctive shape or draped loosely across the top of the window.
The tricky part about window treatments is deciding which ones to use and in what combination. A few questions to ask yourself:
What is the style of my windows and the room they’re in?
Formal, floral-print window treatments may look absolutely ridiculous in a contemporary home, while inexpensive blinds probably won’t do justice to a bank of windows in a formal setting. I prefer simpler shades and curtains over gaudy layers of fabric in my own home, but there’s something to be said for a well-designed, formal living or dining room with exquisite folds of fabric framing a window.
What is the function of the room?
This may guide the materials you select for your window treatments. For instance, it’s smart to pick fabrics that stand up to moisture for bathroom windows and ones that are easy to clean for windows near heavy-use areas of the kitchen.
What size are my windows?
Trick your eyes into thinking your small windows are larger by positioning the curtain rod above the top of the window. Are your windows too narrow? Extend the rod beyond the sides of the window frame. Or if you’re lucky enough to have large windows, but they’re out of scale with the size of your rooms and the furnishings in them, opt for simple treatments with minimal layers and patterned fabrics to downplay the expanse.
What functions should my window treatments fulfill?
If you love natural light as much as I do, you might want sheer fabric panels and nothing more. But consider issues such as: privacy (so the neighbors can’t see you making coffee right after you stumble out of bed in the morning), light control (if you want it as dark as possible when you sleep, window treatments with blackout lining may be the way to go), and temperature regulation (in drafty rooms, honeycomb shades are a good choice for providing a level of insulation).
Oh, and don’t forget to consider how your windows look from outside too!
THE DIY OPTIONS
Formal window treatments with their many layers and multiple fabrics and patterns require more sewing and decorating know-how than this Know-It-All is willing to jump into at the moment. But informal window treatments are a breeze to make over yourself. The key is to keep it simple, functional, and fun.
Add oomph to store-bought curtains (or panels you’ve sewn yourself) with ribbons, buttons, bows, beads, tassels, cording, or whatever other embellishments suit your style.
Paint wooden blinds a vibrant color.
Sew your own café curtains-they’re easy to make with funky fabrics or leftovers from other projects.
Create a custom roller shade by purchasing a DIY roller shade kit from a craft or fabric store. Or purchase plain roller shades and decorate them with acrylic paint-try stamped shapes, freehand flowers, polka dots, or stripes. Still feeling crafty? Hot-glue ribbon along the bottom edge of the shade, create a shade pull with leftover ribbon and a charm, and voila! you’re done.
Or if bare windows are calling your name, tear those drapes down like Scarlett O’Hara did in Gone With the Wind and make yourself a dress.