How To Select Window Coverings: Different Window Treatment Styles
Remember those old orange floral curtains…or those boring white roller shades? Well, they’re popular again!
I’m just kidding…did I scare you? The old adage, “What’s old is new again” should never apply to ugly window treatments. Ever. Because today we have so many options; it’s become almost a joy to shop or create treatments that will not only dress the window, but address design challenges and enhance the look of the entire room. You don’t have to settle for ugly anymore.
So before you staple up a cotton sheet to the window frame in total desperation, read on for a bit of know-how on how to select window coverings.
You’ve Got Style!
Presumably, your home already follows a particular design style; if not, or you’re in the market for a change, this post should help. Each design style reflects the personality and character of the homeowner; and therefore capitalizes on features and details placed to impress or stir an emotional or physical response, like comfort, excitement, relaxation, etc. There is much more to this process; so plan to unify the space using these five critical principles. But first, some basics.
Elementary, My Dear
Of these key design elements – Color, Line, Texture, Form and Space – can you guess which is important when considering window treatments? All of them. They are all powerful tools, and it pays to learn more about them. And window treatments, unlike general decorative items, play on all the elements. Use this to your advantage!
Color has a capacity for conveying individual taste and experience, but also cultural meanings and interpretation. Check out my post on color.
What does line do? The eye will follow a line. Diagonal or jagged lines may create drama or tension, wavy may invoke energy or activity, verticals may direct the eye upward and lengthen or formalize, horizontal lines are casual and open or widen the space. These may be in the form of piping, pattern, or edges of fabrics or treatments (think of the loose, casual wave of a swag versus a formal vertical pleated folds of drapes. See the difference?)
Form is created when lines intersect to create shape. Think how something circular in form is more restful than, say a symmetrical, rigid square. There are organic forms, too…not every shape is geometric. But maybe geometric is what you want…like in mid-century modern style. Go for it!
Texture gives form depth and delivers visual or tactile dimension. It can be in the form of light, reflective silk…or rough, scratchy burlap…or anything in between.
Space – it is not the final frontier in this circumstance – it is the project area you’re designing within. Floor to ceiling, yes…and also the space outside your window. Space is your three-dimensional canvas.
Now you have the basics…You have selected your design style for your project, and you’ve read about how the elements and principles of design work together to create a cohesive look – and how window treatments play a critical role in the presentation.
That’s all fine and good…but let’s step over to the practical side of things, shall we?
When deciding what kind of treatment to use, first consider function. What do you want your treatments to do for you? What do you want to accomplish, and what challenges do you need to address?
Uncovered windows can make one feel on display…like fish in an aquarium or chicken salad in a deli case…aside from the fact that a bare window is just…boring.
If you’re like me, you require total darkness for a good night’s sleep.
And what about the view of the neighbor’s brick wall…isn’t there something better to look at?
These are just a few problems a good window covering can solve.
Privy to Privacy
Folks generally don’t like being ogled, even if just cooking, cleaning or reading. Your space is yours, unless you’re a reality TV star. Then all bets are off.
Consider Using: Full drapes or opaque-fabric curtains, blinds, roman or roller shades, window films or decals, honeycomb shades, shutters. Use more than one in combination if you have other issues to address.
Design Ideas: To preserve natural light but still protect privacy, opt with decorative films or decals placed strategically on the window. There are thousands of options available, temporary and permanent, that are low-cost and can be applied yourself. Also, “top-down bottom-up” shades cover only part of the window so you can get dressed or brush your teeth in peace.
Let the Sunshine In…or Not…
Since you have a window, you probably have some degree of natural light (unless you’re a cave dweller or a vampire, or both). Perhaps you want to let in natural light to your bedroom when you’re not there sleeping…but block it entirely for a better snooze.
Consider Using: Blackout fabric or lined drapes or curtains over sheers, rollers, blinds or romans. Blackouts or thermals are energy efficient options as well (be sure to cover the window frame for best results), if you wish to keep the heat out in summer and cold out in winter.
Design Ideas: It’s okay to layer, as long as the styles and fabrics play nicely together (see this post), and the purpose is functional. For example, an elegant treatment could be sheers, then heavier drapes, topped by a cornice or valance. A more casual look may be a plain matchstick roller or roman topped by billowy linen panels and an asymmetrical swag. See? Not once did I mention ugly orange floral. Not once.
My Design Style: “Eclectic Anxious”
Choosing a design style is crucial for creating the desired ambience, mood or experience in your room, and the treatment should fit with the overall style. If you’re a complete eclectic like me, there are few colors, patterns and decor options you DON’T like…making it difficult to plan and choose, so you choose a mix…thus creating total anarchy in your space, and perpetuating the anxiety and overwhelm. Sound familiar?
Pick a design style that is reflective of your loves or desires. Make sure you like it, and give it a chance. Is it formal or casual, exciting or relaxed, lighthearted or brooding…or somewhere in between? Read and learn about it. Once you have the style, then you can create a space that speaks to your spirit. *OHM* Your options for window coverings will pleasantly and reasonably narrow to a manageable array.
Consider Using: Anything that resonates with you and is practical for your design style and lifestyle. Study your design style and functional need, and the treatment will emerge.
Get to the Point!
Perhaps that fantastic view or unique window can be assigned the most prestigious honor of focal point in the room. Every room should have one…it gives the eye a place to start!
Consider Using: Color, pattern or dramatic treatment forms and lines to direct the eye and keep it lingering on the focal point – it could be the window itself, or the view outside.
Picture Perfect View? Not Really…
Ceilings too low? Is the view unsightly? Are windows an awkward shape or size, or are they placed or spaced irregularly? Treatments do not have to follow the exact shape of the window; they can extend beyond the frame! Remember the design element of “space”: your canvas is not limited to the confines of the window. Think outside the [glass] box.
Consider Using: Drapes or curtains wider or longer than existing window to create a spatial illusion, reshape or even out the window space. Vertical lines heighten, horizontal lines widen. Mount hardware 4-6” higher than window frame to give short windows height. Windows too high? Cover only one or two thirds (see how The Rule of Thirds makes for a more interesting composition).
Treatments With a Purpose
Window coverings employed as a design element can powerfully transform a space and should live comfortably with the rest of the decor, not compete with it. Once you’ve decided their functional purpose and have an idea about how design elements can boost their overall impact, it becomes easier to choose the right style.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for deciding on the proper window treatment? Comment below!