Guide to 11 of the Most Popular Window Treatments

Few elements of interior design seem to confuse people as much as window treatments because windows vary so much from house to house. The question of décor, the amount of privacy required, how much light to allow in or block out, and whether or not there is a view are all questions that need to be addressed.

  1. Wooden venetian blinds, in wide (my preference) or narrow slats, are a terrific choice. They look chic in a study, library or bedroom. You can find wooden blinds in lots of finishes, from lightly pickled to dark mahogany. Their fabric tapes, which come in a wide range of colors, can be coordinated with the fabric on upholstered furniture. In a kitchen, for example, white blinds with red tape can immediately brighten and bring cheer. Make sure the cord is on the less conspicuous side (and in the kitchen, away from the stove.)
  2. Metal blinds, which are still ubiquitous in office settings, have a harder look to them. Lately, with so many homeowners leaving the high-tech look behind in favor of a warmer, cozier feel, they are not used as much for residential interiors.
  3. Shutters can darken a room well and offer a lot of privacy. Standard-size shutters are best for smaller rooms and are compatible with country -style interiors. Painted white or stained dark, these window treatments work well in libraries too. For larger eclectic or contemporary-style rooms, wide plantation shutters, from floor to ceiling, can make quite a dramatic statement. Shutters can be costly because they are generally custom-made but make truly elegant window coverings.
  4. Sheer curtains can be used in many situations. Not only do they allow light in, they offer privacy as well. Sheers can flow to a windowsill or the floor. When gathered together on rods inside the top and bottom of a window frame, they can offer additional privacy. Choose a plain sheer, without any pattern, that doesn't draw attention to itself and away form the room. It will give you a soft, dreamy impression of the view outside.
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  6. Lined curtains in heavier fabrics will always remain a beloved classic, but more and more people are opting for a lighter look, requiring less maintenance, even in the winter months. If you choose to use a lined fabric on your windows, hang it on wooden or metal poles with coordinated rings and finials for a more polished look. This option is usually not sufficient without additional window treatment. Lined curtains that are swagged or simply hang straight down to the floor require another veering over the actual window such as shades or blinds. Most of the treatments mentioned here will do, with the exception of balloon or Roman shades.

Excerpted from Use What You Have Decorating by Lauri Ward.

  1. Balloon shades work best in traditional homes. These romantic shades block more light and view in the "up" position than any other treatments because they cover one-third to one half of a window's top surface at all times. Bedrooms are the best place for these fabric-heavy treatments.
  2. Roman shades give more light control while using less fabric. They can be made from a dreamy, gauzy material that allows a lot of light in our heavy cotton duck or canvas that will block light.
  3. Bamboo blinds in a tortoiseshell finish have become a classic. Hung with lined curtains in a traditional home, they add an air of elegance. Hung alone, they convey a tropical look. In country houses or second homes, matchstick blinds are an inexpensive alternative that are easy to maintain. It's best to hang these blinds inside the window frame, even if there are not curtains, for a custom-size fit.
  4. Duette shades are very popular, for good reason. Available in transparent, semi-opaque, opaque and blackout densities, these custom-made pleated honeycomb shades have built-in dust and soil repellents. Light sleepers especially appreciate their blackout shades, which block out 99.5 percent of light. This is also a good option for windows that don't have a deep frame or windowsill. Duette shades can even be used on greenhouse and fanlight windows.

    Their dual control, which allows owners to have the top "down" or the bottom part "up," is an added plus. For instance, if you live on a street close to another house or building, or one that has a lot of passing traffic, keeping the bottom half of the window covered while the top is down will offer you privacy while still allowing light and sky in. Duette shades come in small, medium, and large pleats and a number of colors. For the best effect, choose one that matches your wall color.

  1. Silhouette shades are one of my favorites. These ideal shades, also custom-made, are soil and dust repellent like the Duette shades, and can transform a room very quickly by offering a lot of flexibility. IF you have a view, the transparent mod adds a not of softness, giving the effect of a sheer curtain. If privacy is an issue, they will give you maximum coverage: by simply pulling a cord they will be come opaque. Bon Soir Silhouette shades are available for the bedroom. Constructed with denser center blinds, they offer greater opacity.

    Silhouette shades require just 3 1/4 inches of depth to be hung inside a window frame; otherwise, they can be hung outside of it. Available in lots of colors, they are most effective when matched to your wall color, giving it a smooth soft, transition between your windows and walls.

  2. Luminette vertical blinds are most appropriate on a sliding door or with a sliding door and window combination. The effect is just like that of a Silhouette shade.
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