Room with a view | Drapery Connection

Window treatments can be overlooked, but they can often set the mood in a space.

Fussy, traditional draperies (far left) have given way to design elements such as a cornice board with streamers and bracelet accents.

By SUE DOERFLER Gannett News Service

Ah, the lowly window. It's all too often the last element we think about when we decorate a room.

Perhaps it's because we're too busy trying to decide wall color or we've spent all our extra cash on a new sofa.

In reality, a window treatment such as a shade or drape is just as big a decorative element as a wall or piece of furniture. Dressed up or understated, the treatment can set the tone of a room or function as a complementary accent. Either way, it makes a fashion statement.

The latest in window fashions are panel tracks.

"They're the 2006 version of the vertical blind," says Ian Gibbs, co-founder of the Shade Store, an online window coverings store.

Resembling shoji screens, panels have a clean look. They typically come 18 inches to 36 inches wide and work well as coverings for sliding doors, Gibbs adds. You get to choose the fabric and the number of panels.

Panel tracks are ideal for homes with views, says Kit Flores, manager of Bixler & Co., a Scottsdale, Ariz., window fashions firm.

Also big are stationary drapes. As the name implies, these drapes don't move. They hang from decorative posts, often at the side of shades or blinds. They are like icing on a cake: They are the decoration, not the blinds.

Other window-treatment trends:

Traditional draperies are out, says interior designer Valerie Borden-Busker. They're too fussy.

Hard window treatments, such as blinds, now come with increased functionality, Flores says. Slats in fabric blinds are wider than ever so you can see better; wood blinds and shutters are following suit, she adds. Also, you can now lower blinds from the top, as well as raise them from the bottom. This also aids in capturing views, Flores says.

Solar shades are coming of age. Initially a commercial window treatment, they've become more popular for residences, particularly as interest grows in energy efficiency, says Gibbs. Solar shades block sun, heat and ultraviolet rays and control the glare on a television or computer screen.

It has helped that solar fabrics have become more fashionable, Flores adds. Forget having to choose among light gray, dark gray and tan. Now, you can pick shades of red, green and blue, among other colors.

New window treatments also offer a choice of sun blockage. For example: 3 percent, 5 percent or 10 percent. The lower the number, the more of the sun's rays are blocked, according to Gibbs. For example, 3 percent product means 97 percent of the sun's rays are blocked. Most homeowners choose the 5-percent or 10-percent shades, he says.

Sensors that make wood blinds easier to operate. Touch the bottom to raise the blinds.

Vertical and horizontal blinds are passe. Simpler shades, such as roller shades, have taken over, Gibbs says.

Shades have grown up. You can find them in textural fabrics, such as silk, wool sateen, suede and cotton.

Click here to see our client project job photos.