Shari Hiller / Home & Garden Television
Window treatments are both practical and beautiful. They provide privacy, block out light, and offer a bit of climate control.
My decorating partner, Matt Fox and I have decorated countless rooms, and it is often the window treatments that are the most challenging element of the room design.
There are so many choices of window treatments that choosing just one can be so difficult!
Window treatments are both practical and beautiful. They provide privacy, block out light, and offer a bit of climate control. They can also enhance the beauty and style of your room decor.
Window treatments are typically divided into two types: hard window treatments and soft window treatments. Light and privacy control are major considerations when making your choice.
If you have a great view, or want to maximize the amount of natural light in your room, hard window treatments allow great flexibility. Hard window treatments include blinds and shades of all kinds.
Natural woven shades are constructed primarily of grasses, raffia, bamboo, or jute. Woven shades can be combined with a soft window treatment or used alone. They softly filter the light coming into a room and help to create a very warm, inviting environment.
Horizontal blinds can be made of wood, aluminum, and vinyl. They are available in a variety of slat widths and can be made to fit most windows.
Vertical blinds are frequently used on large picture windows and patio doors. They are most often made from plastic, but are often covered with a textured fabric. They are a very versatile choice because they can be set to control light and maintain privacy, or they can be opened fully.
Other examples of hard window treatments include shutters, which add architectural interest to a room while providing excellent light control. Pleated, roller, or cellular shades are elegant when pulled down, and practically disappear when they are raised. For added interest, they can be combined with soft window treatments.
Soft window treatments, including curtains and drapes, can easily change the look and feel of any room. Sheers are soft window treatments used to create an open, airy feeling. They can be layered and combined with other plain or printed sheers.
If your goal is to bring natural light into your room, sheers are a great choice. They provide virtually no privacy control, however, so they are often combined with shades of some kind. Fabric choices for sheers include cotton, silk, polyester, and laces.
Semi-sheer window treatments diffuse light as it enters a room, providing privacy during the day, but virtually none at night. Semi-sheer treatments can also be paired with shades to provide adequate privacy control at night. Appropriate fabrics for semi-sheer window treatments include layered printed sheer fabrics and lace.
Semi-opaque window treatments partially block out light when the curtains are closed. They provide very good privacy control; only shadows can be seen from outside. Semi-opaque treatments can be achieved with blinds or with the use of drapery fabrics.
Opaque window treatments block most of the light entering the room through the windows, while providing total privacy. Drapery fabrics are lined to create this effect.
Curtains and drapes come in three standard lengths: to the window sill, to just below the window sill, and to the floor. Extra long draperies, which pool on the floor, can also be used to create an especially elegant look.
Heavy fabric draperies on large windows create a more formal feeling, and usually look best at floor length. Lighter, sill length curtains are a better choice for kitchens and bathrooms.
Some curtains seem to work well with specific design styles. Ornate treatments, including valances, cornices, tiebacks, and shirred Australian shades, work best in a traditional room. In a small room, however, elaborate window treatments may overwhelm the room.
Contemporary rooms are best suited with simply styled window treatments. Plain or textured fabrics, Roman shades, or blinds are good choices.
To complement a country design, simple cotton or textured fabrics, cafi curtains, or wood shutters work well. French Provincial or Colonial furniture generally calls for more traditional window treatments.
As you can see, decisions about window treatments can be quite challenging. You'll find, however, that your final choice was well worth your time, as you will have a window treatment which not only adds beauty to your room, but also functions beautifully.