Natural shades | Drapery Connection

Pioneer Press

This natural woven flat shade from smith+noble illustrates the organic, minimal, earthly trend in window treatments.


For fall, trends in window treatments range from natural, woven materials to purple hues to panel track shades.

"A big trend for the season is the influence of bamboo," says Paula Thornton-Greear, Target spokeswoman. "Bamboo provides any room with a casual elegance. The palette is warm and inviting and won't distract from other key elements in your room.

Designers agree the natural look is in, whether it's bamboo or grasses or wood-pulp fibers.

"Woven wood shades seem to be one of the fastest-growing trends," says David Bernardy of The Design Studio of Gabberts. "Manufacturers have begun to offer these shades with special options such as decorative fabric borders or bead trim applied to the bottom edge of the shade."

Says Christina Manca of Drawing Board Design Inc.: "I find that natural wovens are really popular right now; you can buy them ready-made at most retailers (Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond to name a couple)."

"I also love the simple linen panels that can be easily found at most major retailers ” they've gotten so good you often can't tell the ready-made from the custom," says Manca, a New York interior designer who is about to launch a do-it-yourself decorating Web site,

For inspiration on the possibilites of the natural look, Brandi Hagen of Eminent Interior Design in Golden Valley suggests looking at Conrad Handwoven Window Coverings (www.conrad, which sells products like Korean-inspired Roman fold shades and draperies woven from natural arrowroot and grasscloth.

"Conrad has been doing this for years, and of course they are hand woven, but now they are becoming popular in general retail, too, as machine-woven products," says Hagen.

Conrad products are also sold locally at the Contemporary Blind Design showroom at International Market Square.


"We're also seeing movement toward natural hues and earth tones," says Thornton-Greear of Target. "Popular colors include golden browns, burnt oranges and soft yellows."

While earthy tones are in, purple appears to be on the horizon; Manca says she's been noticing lavender in design magazines, and purple curtains (from the Andrea Rand collection) have been selling briskly at the Twin Cities IKEA store.

"The Andrea selection, all of those are absolutely hot, hot, hot," says Mary Sorenson, local IKEA spokewoman.

(The Andrea curtains are a mixture of sheer background with raised stripes or a floral-like pattern providing a velvety-like overlay.)

"I always love neutrals or whites for window treatments it's a nice way to frame the view, but lavender is pretty and soft and comforting," Manca says.

Consumers could also pair the color with neutrals, says Manca.


Consumers can buy "window murals" for an instant trompe l'oeil affect in a room, creating the look of a window where there isn't one (with a seashore setting, for example, or a Tuscany scene). Go to for examples. Shoppers also like the removable decorative window films that let natural light in while providing privacy, especially appreciated in urban settings.


"The hardware has come a long way," says Hagen of Eminent Interior Design. "Now, instead of just wood poles, there are metal ones, square ones, round ones, twisted ones, and the finials are endless ” birds and rabbits and leaves. I have hardware catalogs that have 20 pages for the finials alone. I'll ask my clients, 'Do you want rabbits or dog or cats?' It's kind of fun."

Hagen suggests checking out smith+noble for ideas at www.smithand Or, call 1-800-560-0027 for a catalog.

Manca urges shoppers to take advantage of the variety now available.

"I always like to remind clients that the hardware is easier to replace than the window treament itself, so have fun with it ” you can buy several sets of finials and change them throughout the year to keep your space dynamic," she says.


For several years, the streamlined, minimal look ” including the Asian aesthetic ” has been fashionable in home décor, including window treatments. That continues, Manca says.

"Today's customer is so much savvier than the customer of years ago," she says. "With all the design education available on TV and in magazines, people are really developing a sophisticated sense of style and design in their homes. Simple window treatments are always elegant and easy to care for. I see most clients leaning toward Roman shades with some simple side panels as opposed to the heavier swags of the past."


On, one of the recent top sellers was the Simply Shabby Chic white matelassé window panels for $29.99, a simple but heavyweight cotton-blend fabric featuring a pattern of roses and vines on a ridged background.

Manca says she isn't surprised such a simple look is so popular; many times, consumers want an unfussy window treatment that doesn't detract from the view or the rest of the room. That's a smart idea, she says.

"The natural linen panels and Roman shades and sheers are really popular and really beautiful," she says. "It's a very classic window treatments that works in many decors; that's why they sell so well."


Taking a cue from those vertical panel strips that cover sliding-glass doors, sliding panels of fabric (some on motorized tracks) are now increasingly popular as a more sophisticated look for patio doors and extra large windows. The panel track shades are particularly a good solution for those huge great room windows in new construction homes.

"It's a really striking way to do a glass door or a large window," says Manca. "They're made for a much bigger window. I feel that's a really hot trend right now. We've been making custom ones for years, but they're more accessible now."

Manca says this modern look also provides great privacy.


"Electronic shades continue to gather more space in the marketplace," Manca says. "They aren't available ready-made yet ” so they are still for our custom clients, but I do see them becoming more available in retailers who sell directly to the public as opposed to trade-only workrooms. I see them more in hotels, and I have clients ask about them more and more often. Any type of window treatment can be motorized ” just ask your design professional, and you can have them installed in a day or two."


"Miniblinds still top the list, especially the plastic ones. They pain me," says Manca. "There are so many other inexpensive options out there. Roman shades install just as easily and provide a much richer aesthetic to any home."

Manca also recommends simple solar shades to block out the rays of the sun, especially in an office setting. That way, you can keep the glare off computer screens while keeping the view intact, she says.

Molly Millett can be reached at [email protected] or 651-228-5505.

Tips on window coverings

Interior designer Christina Manca (who will soon launch www.DIY decoratingideas.comand has appeared on HGTV and TLC decorating shows) offers this advice on choosing window treatments:

  • Always measure several times before you order. The most important part of selecting the right treatment is getting one that fits. We've all made that mistake.
  • Remember to take into account what's on the other side of the window ” is this a space that needs privacy? What about natural light? Do you want both? Do you want to maximize your view or minimize it? Have you considered insulation against heat and cold? What about sun protection? Before you go shopping, make a list of your needs.
  • Once you've narrowed the field of product choices, whatever makes you happy is best. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ” there's no right or wrong in what style you prefer. The only bad design is one lacking in function.


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