How Do I Choose The Right Window Treatments For My Home?

Window treatments can be easy to select, or can be one of the trickiest decorating dilemmas for any space. What fabric do you choose? How do you deal with multiple windows or really large picture windows? What type of window treatments will control the amount of light and the level of privacy you desire? And please realize that whichever type, style or color you choose, your window treatments will have a significant impact on the décor of your room.

By customizing your window treatments, you can create a unique look that suits your personality and lifestyle. Custom window treatments allow you to use exactly the colors and motifs you want without having to compromise on your style, as pre-made stock blinds and drapes do. Have a custom sized window? You will definitely to have custom window treatments made to compliment the window, not overshadow it.

When embarking on finding the right window treatments for your home, first, consider the uses of the room. If the room is busy, the curtains should be simple. Similarly, if the room is simple, the curtains should stand out.

One of the first elements to consider is whether there is a view you want to accentuate or hide.  If hiding a view, you may want to consider shutters, wooden blinds, horizontal or vertical blinds made from fabric, PVC or metal.  Another option is to use privacy glass over the windows. This allows the light to enter your home but obscures the view.  Then there is always sand blasting or utilizing a stained glass overlay for the windows.  These more elaborate options will vary based on your taste, style and budget.

If you have a scenic view, the goal should be to accentuate it.  One way is to extend the curtains beyond the windows so that when the curtains are opened all the way, they do not block any of the view. To make a window appear larger, hang curtains all the way to the ceiling and allow them to puddle or drape on the floor. If the window isn't large enough, you may want to add a valance at the top. You can enlarge a window by hanging hardware close to the ceiling above the window. The hardware should be wider than the window to give the appearance that the window is bigger. The goal is to call attention to the window, so the treatment acts as a frame or a piece of art, complementing, but not overpowering the view.

Another major consideration is privacy and light. Your window treatments should afford you the exact amount of privacy you want, and be flexible for use during the day or night.  Light is a major consideration. It alters moods, affects, colors, and changes the entire feeling of a room.  Many window treatments are designed to diffuse and draw light deeper into the room to help illuminate your home naturally, without the need for artificial light.  Sheer panels can be a great choice when you want to allow natural light into a space but still offer privacy.  Natural light is warm and welcoming, but over time it can fade and damage a room's furnishings, flooring and décor.

There are many products to help filter the harmful effects of sunlight.  By tilting louvers, slats, vanes, and blinds and sliding panels, you can direct incoming light where it is needed the most. That's called daylighting; getting the sunlight as deeply into the room as possible

Valances are one of the most versatile elements of a window treatment. They serve a multitude of purposes by hiding the mechanisms of the curtains and shades and when hung above the window, allow you to trick the viewer into thinking the window is larger than it is.

Valances can be made of wood or cloth or combinations of the two. Valances should be about 1/5 of the total drapery effect so that they are in proportion. They come in many styles, from traditional, oriental, country, southwest, contemporary and transitional. There are many creative options to using valances.

When brainstorming for different ideas to add to your window treatments, consider non-traditional items such as bamboo poles, ribbons, or hockey sticks to hang your curtains. Whatever you choose, custom window treatments should match the purpose of the room.

French doors are another window like area that you may want to screen. Positioning rods at the top of the wall will give the look of elongating the area and add a sense of impressiveness. Choose fabrics, styles, and hardware that will easily slide across the drapery rod to provide access to the outdoors.

If you are looking to add visual interest and customize the levels of light you allow into your space, layered drapery panels may be a great choice. Sheer or translucent panels allow light into a room. Complement them with heavier, darker colored, opaque panels that will provide privacy and block out any light coming in through windows and doors. You don't always want light streaming into a bedroom or media room.

There are many things to consider before choosing products for your windows. Does the window need to keep the light out as in a TV area or bedroom? Will the window be the focal point in the room? Multiple windows need treatments that flow visually. A lining will help keep out the cold air that comes through the window while protecting the fabric from sun and from outside weather when the windows are open.

Before you start:

1. Collect images of window treatments that you find interesting and attractive. Use these images to help you determine the effect you want to achieve with your window treatments.

2. Create a list of the functions your window treatments need to accomplish. Some need to control light and privacy, while others are used solely for décor and aesthetics. In general, if light and privacy are an issue, blinds or shades of different types can be used behind drapes and valances as the functional part of the window treatment.

3. Look for motifs in the room that can inspire your design. A motif is a shape or pattern that is repeated in a room.  Often a motif is selected unconsciously when a homeowner is repeatedly attracted to a similar pattern or design- i.e., a star, fleur de lis, circles, scrolls or others. Use this as a possible design starting point by intentionally bringing the shape to the window.

4. Before you choose fabrics, collect sample colors and photographs of all the items used in the room. Make sure that you view the fabrics in your home, in the room and in the lighting in which they are being used. Try to see them in daylight and evening because they will appear differently at different times of day. Bright colored fabrics draw attention to the window. Soft colors help your eyes flow to other areas of the space. Select textures that complement the room. Use casual fabrics like chenille, denim, or linen for a relaxing feeling. Use coarse fabrics like muslin, canvas or other to create shadows and make a light room darker. Shiny fabrics, like silk, velvet, and many others bounce light and make a room appear larger and more luxurious.

5. Mixing colors and fabrics is a great look called pattern blending. Be careful when choosing patterns because each color will have an effect on the other in the pattern. Choose one large scaled pattern, one repeated pattern, and up to 14 minis to create a designer look. Large scale could be large flowers, circles or other designs with a lot of background. Repeated patterns are stripes, plaids, and flame stitches. Mini patterns are any pattern on a small scale and with a small repeat.

6. Budget is important. If your budget is limited, do a little at a time. Put up shades or blinds now, buy sheer panels later. These will be a foundation for your window masterpiece. Later, add luxurious panels and hardware.

Or, call an expert who will help you get the perfect window treatments to create a room you'll never want to leave.

Tips: You can create different effects with panels of curtains by pulling them back with tiebacks, puddling them or adding bishop sleeves. Read the cleaning instructions on the fabric before buying. Make sure that fabrics in heavy traffic areas are scotch guarded or Teflon coated. If not, buy a can of scotch guard spray and use it regularly.

There are many types of lifting systems that offer a variety of control options including top down, top down and bottom up, and remote programming via a remote control. They let you control privacy and light, and ease of movement where and when you need to. Remember all window treatments are designed with safety in mind. One lift system called lite rise eliminates cords for child safety.  All window treatments are not the same. The quality and warranty periods will typically vary from company to company, with a price point reflective of those traits.

Sonny Golden, President -  Golden Key Interiors, Inc.

(718) 761-2366     sonnygolden@msn.com