Whatever style of home you have, windows are one of the first things you notice and the way you treat your windows creates an ambience which enhances your particular style. Like all aspects of good design, I want to give you the best advice, ideas and photos to inspire you to make the best choice for your windows. Since I love windows, I have created an easy way to think about windows to encourage you to discover a new view. Remember that window treatments are simply swaths of material, arranged or draped or pleated over an opening to the outside, a space waiting for you to unwrap!
I initially think of wood blinds in a den or library, but really, they’re at home in most rooms. Wood blinds are simply natural wood slats that are either painted or stained. They are a classic treatment, complementing many decorative styles and their simple construction makes them easy to operate. Many finishes are available ranging from light pine to bamboo to richly stained ebony. Different slat sizes are offered depending on the degree of control you’d like with regards to privacy and light control. For a stylish look, I like to layer wood blinds with drapery or topped with a valance.
For the best value and for an uncomplicated look, faux wood blinds are always my first choice. Why? Here are some of my favorite words: affordable, efficient, attractive, and easy maintenance. That means no fading, or fraying and just a quick swipe now and then. I mean really, what’s not to love? Faux wood blinds look and feel like wood blinds, but are less expensive and more durable. Since these blinds won’t warp or fade, they are the best option for humid climates or high moisture rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Shutters are dynamic as an architectural statement and are not only functional and beautiful window treatments, but they can also add value to your home. Shutters help to control incoming light, offer privacy when closed and help to insulate against heat, cold, and sound. Shutters add timeless, traditional sophistication to any room. Shutters are so impressive; they make me feel like the Queen of England in my country manor or a totally hopeless romantic in my beach cottage.
If you’re looking for the lowest cost option in window treatments, mini blinds are your answer! They are a basic blind that does the trick of providing privacy and controlling the light with a simple twist of the wand. Mini blinds are available in an array of colors, different materials (aluminum and vinyl) as well as different thicknesses to solve all your light issues. Mini blinds offer minimal treatment.
Panel Track Blinds
Panel track blinds are the best thing to happen to sliding glass doors and large picture windows since vinyl vertical blinds! You can’t beat these when covering a large space. A cross between drapery and vertical blinds, a series of panels slide open and closed on a track system. So cool. When mounted to the ceiling, panel track blinds can also be used as a room divider. The variety of materials offered range from basic vinyl to solar screens to natural woven woods. Once your sliding glass doors are outfitted with smashing fabric panels, you will become a panel fan.
Drapes and curtains are the most decorative window treatment and the terms are often used interchangeably as full length panels of material. Drapes add extreme personality to a space, transforming a room in the form of breezy sheers or lush velvet. While decorative, they also filter or block light and may be lined for thermal insulation. Hung high near the ceiling and draped near the outer edges of a window, drapes can make both the room and the window feel larger. Drapes become a perfect companion when paired with another window treatment such as a timeless wood blind, an insulating cellular shade, or a rustic woven wood shade. Drapes are the dessert of window treatments!
For insulation and energy efficiency, cellular (honeycomb) shades, with their little pockets of cells (think beehive and honey) keep your temperature serene. All of those little pockets trap air and help keep the heat out in the summer and the warmth in during the winter. Those bees are smart little hummers! Available in every possible color, they’re an ideal fit for most rooms and the cordless options make them great for families with kids or pets. Top down bottom up features are a must have option for maintaining privacy while still letting light stream in.
While you may think of woven wood shades, commonly referred to as bamboo shades, as a match for tropical décor, they really are incredibly versatile. Woven wood shades run the gamut from casual and rustic to tailored and elegant. Made out of renewable materials such as bamboo, reeds, or grasses, they are an environmentally responsible selection. Woven wood shades bring wonderful texture into a room and are effortlessly chic. I love the nubby, tweedy look of wovens, even if I can’t do the Rhumba.
Roman shades give the rich impression of drapery with the functionality of a shade that opens and closes easily. When closed, they hang like a panel, like a good solider and when raised, they fold up and look similar to a valance, like a cloud. Roman Shades are available in so many fabrics, creating a burst of color or texture in your room. Different styles fit seamlessly into décor styles such as traditional, family-friendly, and even contemporary. And don’t think form wins over function. With roman shades, there are options galore to choose from like top down, bottom up or cordless or thermal liners. Romans are happy to roam on all of your windows.
The idea of a roller shade is pretty simple. When lowered, the shade hangs flat near the window pane and when raised, it rolls up onto a cylindrical rod. Lots of fabrics are a plus here: blackout material, sheer fabric, and linen and a palette of patterns. Technology today even allows you to print your own images, photos, art or design on a roller shade. I have friends who have a hip café with their logo and menu printed on a shade and is mounted on the window facing the street for instant advertising. A cordless lift option creates an additional clean look. Roller shades are a straightforward, budget friendly window treatment option.
Sheer shades are the best 2 for 1 window treatment on the market. You get the look of a fabric shade with the functionality of a blind. They are light and airy and elegant. When the shades are closed, the vanes can be tilted open for a filtered view or completely closed for privacy. Of course, sheer shades can be raised for a full view of your beautiful garden or kid’s playground or rambunctious pets. Beautiful in living and dining rooms, your bedroom is just as important, as sheer shades in a room-darkening fabric guarantee you the sleep you deserve.
Solar shades are really just a roller shade made with a screen material. If you have a stellar view or just want to bring the outdoors and light into your house, but you need to cut the glare and control the UV rays that stream in from your windows, solar shades do the trick. They do a fine job of filtering the sun, yet your view to the outside is preserved. Of course, the huge plus is the energy efficiency as we all want to save the resources of our planet while lowering our personal energy bills. Solar shades are another “on trend” window treatment in our light obsessed world.
A more affordable alternative to cellular shades are pleated shades which are actually constructed with crisp pleats cascading down your window. The insulation benefits don’t match a cellular shade but the look is quite similar. Many people object to the light that comes through the holes made by the cords as the shade is lowered. However, an option is now available to decrease those unsightly slivers of light, the “no holes pleated shade.” You don’t need an iron to keep those pleats sharp!
Outdoor shades are innovative, lightweight and just shout easy living. Made from a solar screen material, outdoor shades block the heat, glare and damaging rays. The airy fabric lets the wind move through for a cool breeze, yet protects and offers privacy. If you live in a climate with extreme sun, outdoor shades can be mounted to the outside of the house to prevent the sun from even reaching your windows and heating the place up like an oven. Outdoor shades are de rigueur (means you gotta have them) for patios, porches, and other outdoor spaces for ultimate outdoor living and entertaining.
Room Darkening Option
Top Down Bottom Up
If you’re going modern then you’re over your grandmother’s fuss and fluff. You want sophisticated, understated and clean. Lucky for you, contemporary window styles are taking over. Pick a hue contrasting your wall paint to start your modern look. Going cordless also ups the ante on your modern factor, since the look is not only sleek and downplayed, but also safe and clutter-free. Cellular cordless shades are particularly clean looking. For a dramatic focal point, go with oversized geometric or graphic patterns on any shade—I prefer them on Romans if you want to get the fabric feel into your space. Pick steel hardware like chrome or nickel materials, and the ultimate in minimalist modern is a motorized blind or shade. A remote control to operate anything in your home brings instant cool and hands-free luxury. Presto modern window treatments!
The sky is the limit with how creative you can get with your window coverings. Literally put any design you want on a shade—a photograph, a logo, or your art. A print-on –demand program provides you this outlet for a totally personalized shade that creates a memorable picture from your own photograph gallery, or design a menu or logo or capture any moment in time to view everyday. If you’re the DIY type, you can get cracking at your own stitched or no-sew drapes or roman shades. Add ribbons, cloth tapes, iron on hems, bows, ruffles, contrasting fabric with trim or sew together vintage scarves, tablecloths, napkins or stencil away with your favorite shapes. Your imagination is only a shade away.
To achieve a graceful look on windows usually starts with your fabric choice. Roman shades and drapery are a no-brainer here. Softness, layers and deep, decadent folds are the key. Oversized drapes that hang floor to ceiling are particularly elegant since they make your room appear to have higher ceilings. You can also easily add a shade behind the drapes to give the layered effect. Bonus points: use different textures and colors on the layers and your elegance factor shoots up.
It’s time to get out of the boring blind and shade funk of thinking you can only do a neutral, blah window covering. Get unique and think top down bottom up shades that let you decide when and how much light to let in from above and below the shade. For unique drapery ideas, I suggest holdbacks, jabot corners, drapery swags or dual material drapes either in color-blocking or wide stripes. Or, if you want off the beaten path blinds, think mirrored, etched glass, leather (yes, really) bulletproof (yes, also, really), or have any design your heart desires printed on a shade. You can also use blinds and shades in other places besides the window. Think room dividers, inside awnings in alcoves, canopies around beds and focal points behind headboards.I know I have sparked your imagination here and check back soon for the next chapter in these cool ideas. I promise.
The kitchen is your hub, your ground zero. We all have to eat, and let’s face it, as much as you may plan for guests and kids to gather in another part of your home, they come find you in the kitchen, because that’s where all the fun happens. If your kitchen is anything like mine, it’s also the room where the temperature is up and down and experiments happen more often than not (I think of mine as more of a lab).
Since there is high moisture and potential spillage in the kitchen, faux wood blinds are a great choice since they will not warp or fade. They are natural ventilators and are durable even for the rowdiest of chefs. They also clean easily, to boot. I hate it when I drop my hand mixer into by buerre blanc (delicate butter sauce) and the egg yolk mixture explodes everywhere, but with a quick swipe, my blinds are clean again and ready for my next disaster.
Since you’ll be covering windows above sinks and stoves, I also recommend a cordless shade in the kitchen. Long winding cords getting stuck in the disposal or singed off into your soup are no bueno. If your kitchen faces out on the street, you might like shutters since they give great curb appeal. Shutters are naturally cordless, too.
Your bedroom is your sanctuary where you wake up and wind down every day. Bar none, your first thought should be privacy, and how much of it you want. Blackout shades are great for pure darkness, especially if you don’t rise and set with the sun. If you are not a vampire and would like a little light, go with day/night shades that give you the best of both worlds—room darkening on one end and light-filtering on the other. These shades are way amazing and some of us think this is a secret blind, for the underworld.Cellular shades are naturally calming with their soft diffusion of light and their fabric touch. They insulate during any season, and they come in patterns stimulating enough to wake up to, but still serene enough to fall asleep to. To keep it serene in this room, add motorization—your shades will practically operate on their own. In the end, a blind or shade that makes the ambience feel warm to you is your best bet in the bedroom.
In here, you’ll be making a statement about your home, entertaining, and protecting large furniture that you don’t want to fade. Solar or cellular shades are the great protectors from direct sunlight, and you can pick how much light you want coming in while still preserving your view outside. On stark bay windows, roman shades are soft and elegant. On tall windows, or ones you want to seem tall, pick any shade and then overlay long drapes to really give reach and a finished look. Add a valance and you’ll really have a wow window. I give you permission to think outside the box in this room—make it a signature room with color, bold patterns and mix and match fabrics. It’s your living room—make it feel like you want to actually live in it!
This is where you celebrate the best things, either your nightly family ritual, or your big feast that comes a few times a year. If you’re going formal, I suggest tall drapes because you can do a floor-to-ceiling effect where you’ll bring a feeling of height and importance. It’s dramatic but still inviting. If you’re going more laid-back, roman or roller shades will keep the space warm and private with a soft, home-y feel. Cellular or pleated shades are a great pick for anyone in between who uses the dining room for all celebrations, big or small.
The search for window treatments for doors, especially sliding glass doors, always seems to perplex people. Well, it shouldn’t, as there are many alternative options to finding the solution that fits your style. Your first choice might be vertical blinds, which are installed on a track across the top of the window and can be pulled closed just like drapes. Many people choose popular verticals but Panel Track blinds are a modern and versatile choice as each panel slides effortlessly on a track, so clean and smooth. I love Panel Tracks because so many colors, fabric patterns and even woven woods are offered. Since heat loss is a big concern with large glass doors, I often choose vertical cellular shades. They work just like a regular cellular shade, only sideways and bigger. Hanging drapery is a popular style to decoratively cover your sliding glass doors, as long as you don’t mind the push and pull every morning and night! It’s always a workout with drapes.
Sheer shades are perfect on French doors for letting filtered light into your home. They are so light and breezy. Roller and solar shades are another great option. Roller shades come in so many colors and textures and solar shades are best if you need to control some of the incoming light but still want to have a bit of a view to the outside. If the doors are frequently used, you will want the hold down brackets that keep the bottom of the shade in place so the blinds won’t bang around every time you let the dog out. For interior French doors, which might separate an office or formal dining room from the rest of the house, sheer horizontal or sheer roller shades are a chic way to provide a little privacy. Sheers are “sheerly” wonderful!
Patio Doors are an ode to the outdoors and whether your patio door is a huge slider leading to the backyard or a standard door with a window leading to your deck, you have many ways to keep the sun in or out and your view and privacy intact. Vertical blinds and panel track blinds are durable and are the “working horse” for large windows as they are strong but fluid. Lined drapery or vertical cellular shades are the best way to go if temperature control is a priority. You could also opt for sheer vertical shades which I recommend for the look and appeal of sheer drapery, but also have vanes that can be tilted opened or closed. Whatever you choose, let the light be your friend and not your enemy.
Whether in a living room or breakfast nook, I love how bay windows always add a little more breathing room to a space and fill up the room with light. A bay window is composed of three parts and the windows are set at an angle to each other. Just the name, “bay,” makes me think of a calm, tranquil spot, softly whispering simplicity. For this clean and natural look, shutters or wood blinds are a good window treatment choice and coordinate well with decorative the window trim on your bay window. Fabric roman blinds add softness to the hard angles of a bay window and can bring in some liveliness with color and pattern. If your view is too lovely and bright to cover up, sometimes all that is needed is a decorative valance or an upholstered cornice.
Tall windows can be dramatic but most styles of blinds and shades will fit just fine on these windows. What you need to think about though is: how on earth am I going to operate these long, tall window coverings? Do I need a ladder and a parachute to get me through the day? Really, what this usually comes down to is the blind or shade lift options. Motorization is always my favorite choice if your shade is out of reach when raised. With a motorized shade, it can be easily operated with the click of a button and you won’t have to move that ladder around. Motorization is so brainless, smooth, fast and hip. Another way to make it easier on yourself is with a continuous cord loop to lower and raise your shade. The length of the cord stays the same regardless of the shade’s position, so you don’t have to dance around the windows too much when operating it. If you feel like enhancing the height and space in your tall window room, you might want to select some smashing stationary drapery panels for even more drama.
I know, you fell in love with those beautiful large windows which were one of the main selling points of your home, but now you realize the sun is really bright in the morning or your neighbors have been peeking at you at the wrong time or even at the right time. You have to cover those windows. Vertical blinds and panel track blinds are the best at covering large windows. Panel tracks operate similarly to vertical blinds but they have larger panels in place of the smaller vanes used on vertical blinds. If you find a roman shade you love but the fabric isn’t wide enough, most shades have the option of a 2 in 1 headrail which consists of two shades on one headrail. So, you can style your window with your favorite fabric and double the fun. Traditional drapery is also lovely on large windows. Alternatively, there is even drapery made out of natural woven woods available. Anyway you look at it, tall windows demand special attention.
Another unique window shape that is beautiful but seems hard to cover is the arched window. Arched windows are strictly decorative and often placed above a double hung or a fixed window. They are a unique and challenging element but should be covered to prevent sun damage to your furnishings and to provide better temperature control throughout your room. Cellular shades are available in a perfect arch shape or can be custom made into an irregular arch. You can even complement and cover additional windows in the room with coordinating cellular shades. If the arched window lives above another window, they can both be covered with drapery panels mounted above the arch. An arched window is such a classic design, don’t pass up the chance to enhance the brilliance and the light that streams through its form.
A valance can be a simple band of fabric or can be a mass of pleats and folds. Curtains can accompany a valance or it can be the star all by itself! They’re really meant to keep the eye focused upward and to help soften the look of the hard edges of a window frame. I love them because they’re a quick and affordable way to add or repeat a room color, introduce a pattern to the room, or add some neutral texture.
When people ask me for window valance ideas, I first ask them what is missing in the room. If a soft or traditional look is desired, I usually recommend a pole-mounted valance. Like drapery, pole mounted window valances hang from a decorative drapery pole, which expands your design possibilities. They’re like really short drapes if you want to think of them like that, and they offer a light and flowing fabric look for your room. There are hundreds of styles, finishes and colors of drapery poles so you can really customize the look. If the room is more contemporary, I think the architectural look of a board-mounted valance is a much better choice.
Remember that a valance simply tops off your window and can soften the look of wood blinds, create a ruffled elegance to a plain window or add drama to panels. All your need is a swath of fabric.
Why choose custom window treatments? Unlike premade shades, which are already measured to a standard width and length, custom shades are measured to your exact window. Although two windows may look identical, mostly likely the measurements between the two will be slightly different. Windows are finicky and like to fool you with their odd shapes and throw you a curve ball whenever they can. Custom window treatments allow each shade to fit exactly right inside each window without the length being too long/short, or the width too wide/slim. Custom window treatments are handcrafted and fit each and every window like a beautifully made dress, your fabric, your size, your style, your price! Each window covering is meticulously designed in a workroom of real people, cutting, sewing, fitting all the components together to create that special piece that will complete your look. Whatever style of window treatments you choose, custom made, handcrafted window treatments are products that will create a balance, harmony and rhythm to your lifestyle and complement and complete your home. Don’t let the last thing you decorate be an afterthought, but let it be the finishing flourish! No more ugly windows!
One of the easiest ways to introduce texture in your home design style is with fabric.
Soft window treatments made from fabric are an easy way to add texture, color, pattern and dimension to any room. A window treatment can be made from just about any fabric, even a sheet, but you know I would never let you get away with that! A fabric can be crisp and clean like a cottony chintz that gives off a fine sheen or a gingham or stripe that is the ultimate in comfy cottage chic or a simple linen that is sophisticated and neutral. More elegant fabric textures are brocade, velvet or bouclé which impart a more refined, formal and luxe feeling. Roman Shades made from any of these fabrics can give a room a warm, mellow and casual feeling as the folds gently march down the window when they are lowered. Roman Shades are one of my favorite window treatment ideas as they are so graceful and refined and can be elegant but simple.
Poufs are “on trend” today and the “poufed cloud shade” is an intriguing style to create texture and draw special attention to your windows. A cloud of fabric billows beneath the top of your window. Valances made from fabric add color and interest and another unique layer of decoration. Fabric valances easily jazz up any window with a shot of pattern or color for a quick way to renew your windows. If the Parisian 18th Century is your style, think, Palace of Versailles (did you know that Versailles, Marie Antoinette’s country home, is still the largest residence in the world!), use satin, silk or taffeta. These fabrics all have a glossy, shiny and luxurious feel that I like to use in draperies for a formal look. Of course, you can always use any of the casual fabrics for curtains or drapes or for drapery panels for a more modern and clean look. Drapery panels are another trend alert as they are easy to install and offer a breezy and whimsical softness to your windows. Do remember that texture can affect the perception of a particular space. Thick and heavy fabrics can make a room seem smaller. So use these materials when you want to create a snug nest in your family room. Shiny and silky fabrics reflect the light and rustle in the wind and will make a room seem brighter, softer and larger. Let your creativity soar as just about any fabric can be made into a soft window treatment, even if you have to drag out that rusty sewing machine and finesse your favorite style.
HGTV.com is my go-to-place for anything DIY and the resources and ideas that are collected on the “Window Treatment “ section is a trove of “everything you wanted to know about window treatments but were afraid to ask”. CAUTION: don’t get overwhelmed by all the information from HGTV, but if you can nail down your specific questions, you will soon be an expert and be able to go online and select window treatments that match your particular style, price and function. HGTV offers trend alerts, videos, design theory, best looks, window solutions, all with a visual punch. The awesome gallery of photographs will inspire and energize your design sensibilities to create windows you will love. Once you are excited by the variety of designs, colors, patterns and styles of window treatments, be prepared to change your mind about boring window coverings. As Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven quoth: “Nevermore!” Custom, handcrafted window coverings are so appealing and HGTV does a great job of removing the mystery when selecting these special products. No more sitting on your couch, bored and depressed while staring at your bare naked windows, or ugly, frumpy, crooked, “fuddy duddy” blinds, or your rusty, dusty shades or heaven forbid, thick, heavy and faded, droopy drapes. HGTV will help you get the Treatment today.