“I don’t have a single curtain in any house, and I don’t think I ever will. I like cornices better than curtains. And I like jabots, which go down the side of a window, and swags,” says Martha Stewart. I happen to agree. When it comes to windows, I’m biased toward a minimal approach. However, I also dislike the look of black window panes at night. My compromise is to use plain white panels that are tied back during the day and drawn across the window at night. They blend with the wall color and are quite unobtrusive, but soften the window area.
If you need window coverings for privacy when you first move in, buy cheap plain white roller shades for every window. Then you can take your time planning what you want and where. Either leave the shades where needed, or replace them as you see fit.
Window coverings are referred to in the trade as “treatments.” These treatments come in the form of shutters, shades, blinds, curtains, draperies, valances, swags and cornices. They are used to provide privacy, light control and window dressing. They can be simple and tailored or elaborate and adorned with piping, ruffles, braiding, tassels and fringe.
Before thinking about the type of window adornment you’ll want in each room, take accurate measurements and enter them in your notebook for each room.
In order to buy the right-size roller shades, measure the width of the window inside the frame. You’ll find them in stock sizes at home centers and if they don’t have the exact size of your window, they will cut down a slightly larger shade to fit. This is a routine service that won’t cost extra. You will find shades in white, linen and colors, as well as those with room-darkening properties to block out light. These are most often used in bedrooms and are slightly more expensive.
An artist friend of mine installed shades at the bottom of his bedroom windows just above the sills. This is called an inverted roller. He attached a small hook at the top of the frame to hold the shade in place when it is pulled up. He needed privacy only to this level and didn’t want to obstruct the view of the treetops he saw upon waking. Wanting the clean look of blinds, he chose this solution rather than opting for curtains. This is a good way to gain privacy if you have very low windows.
Shutters are usually made of wood and are solid or louvered to allow for light and air adjustment. If you have very tall windows, you might need a double set of shutters, one for the top and one for the bottom. Accurate measuring is extremely important so the shutters abut perfectly when they are closed.
Shutters can be painted the same color as the window frame or a color to match the walls. Shutters are often found in old houses and provide good privacy and act as a sound barrier, especially when used on windows that face onto a busy street.
Miniblinds are ready made and available in home centers. The blades of the blinds come in two or three different widths and a multitude of colors. They are mounted on the inside of the window frame and provide a sleek look while allowing for the adjustment of light and air.
Wooden blinds are the latest decorating trend and they are quite good-looking. You can order these in different widths from very narrow to wide, and in different colors including natural. The tapes that run down the front of each side and hold the blinds in place can be ordered in contrasting colors or to match the blinds. I’m rather partial to this window treatment for looks and practicality.
You’ll find accordian blinds in different widths and colors. They are often made of a dust-and-dirt-resistant material and, while they provide privacy, they also allow light to filter through. They also come in room darkening material.
Roman and Austrian shades are made of fabric and operate in a way similar to roller shades in that they can be adjusted by a pull cord into accordian folds. Roman shades are generally flat across and pulled up in crisp folds, while an Austrian shade is fuller and pulls up into scallops of soft folds. These types of shades are usually custom made. Balloon shades have large poufs created by tailored pleats about 10 or 15 inches apart at the top; they create a luxurious full look.
These are inexpensive blinds made of natural materials that pull up by a cord into a roll. They are good for casual areas. Often referred to as slat shades or bamboo shades, they can be made of bamboo slats, natural mesh, sea grass and a variety of other natural fibers. Most natural roll-up shades are not totally private at night. For greater control, these shades are available with backing bonded to the material.
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