Window Treatments

Guide to window coverings

The proper window treatment can really tie a space together and help create a complete look for any room in your home. But in order to find the perfect window covering, you'll have to take into consideration the space you're decorating and the effect you want to achieve.

Coverage

When choosing a window covering for any space, here is an important question to ask yourself: how bright do you want the space to be? Thick curtains in dark colors can often block out light and make a living or dining room seem darker, while simple blinds or sheers may let too much daylight into a bedroom – especially for light sleepers. It's a matter of placement and preference, but it's worth thinking about. It's also important to think about what the room will look like during different times of the day. Take some time before you settle on something. You'll be happier with the end result.

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Design

Certain window fashions can reflect Victorian design, with ornate curtain rods, hooks and tiebacks. Other designs are more modern, with a simple look that won't overpower a room. These modern designs are a good choice if you want to bring attention to something else in the room, like a key piece of furniture, while fancy curtains can help frame a beautiful view. As is the case with most interior decorating, there's no right choice. You should choose a design that reflects your taste and the overall feel of the room.

Color and Texture

Color and texture can help bring attention to your curtains; likewise, by choosing neutral colors and noninvasive textures, you can take the focus off of your window treatments and put it on something else in your room. The choice is ultimately up to you. Some people prefer traditional colors, while others look for something more contemporary. Rich textures work really well with Victorian curtains and baroque style window treatments, while country style curtains often look best if they're light and breezy.

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Blinds

Though window blinds are often misunderstood as neutral, basic, traditional items, there are actually several options for homeowners to choose from. Blinds allow homeowners to control the angle and often the amount of light entering a room from outside while still providing some privacy for whoever's inside. Blinds are made of slats with gaps between them, so they don't completely shield a room from natural lighting.

Roller blinds are great in Victorian rooms because of their classic look. Venetian blinds and aluminum blinds have become extremely popular in contemporary and modern kitchens. Other choices include wooden blinds, bamboo blinds (which look great in Asian-inspired rooms) and faux wooden blinds, which are made from slats that provide a wooden look but are convenient to clean. Small windows (often in a bathroom) can be fitted with mini blinds, while vinyl blinds are easy to clean, neutral and relatively inexpensive.

Horizontal blinds are probably most common, but vertical blinds work well on larger windows, such as sliding glass doors. And, though they're often more expensive, custom blinds can be made to fit uniquely shaped windows or suit a homeowner's particular needs.

Shutters

The addition of shutters can enhance the state of a home both aesthetically and practically. To choose an appropriate shutter type, homeowners should first identify their needs and consider where the shutters will be placed. Then, they should carefully consider which material the shutters should be made from. Even shutters that are simply for a home's décor need to be practical.

Wooden shutters are easily stained and painted, and provide a classic look in a home. However, they can be difficult to clean. Vinyl shutters, on the other hand, are easy to clean but difficult to color. Plantation shutters look best on bay windows and in the interior of a home.

Depending on the climate, exterior house shutters require recurring maintenance. While outdoor shutters add an aesthetically pleasing look to a home, they have the potential to fade, chip and fall apart over time. For those living in a climate with frequent hurricanes, shutters have become more than just decoration. Removable hurricane shutters are easy to install and put away and have been used to shield and protect the windows and doors of a home from devastating winds and flying debris during violent storms.

Shutters are a great way to control the amount of light entering a room, but it is important to identify the practicality of a shutter before purchasing it.

Curtains

The slightest hint of drapery can have a large effect on the décor of a room. Possibilities for drapery patterns, sizes, styles, colors and materials can seem endless. It's best to base the choice of drapery around the other décor items and the style of a room.

Lace curtain looks best in Victorian rooms, and sheer curtains add an extra touch of color without blocking too much light. Of course, sheers offer limited privacy on their own, so you might want to couple them with blinds or shades in a bedroom or bathroom. Retro rooms can be complemented using a beaded curtain.

Curtains have the advantage of providing a unique touch to a home, but they can be expensive, and they require accessories such as rods and hooks to mount them properly. A more affordable alternative for those with sewing skills is to purchase drapery fabric and make custom drapery themselves. Or, forego a full set of drapes and opt for the shorter valance.

Window valances are a popular choice for smaller or sectioned windows. A valance can be a longer curtain valance that covers half, three-quarters or even the entire length of the window, or it can simply cap the top of a window with blinds.

Durability

If you're shopping for a room that gets a lot of sunlight, remember that the color and richness of certain materials can actually be bleached out by the sun. Over time, this will affect the look of your window treatments, so it's worth keeping in mind while you're shopping. Light fabrics in neutral colors typically hold up pretty well when they're exposed to the sun, but these aren't for everybody. It's not worth compromising your own personal style for the sake of longevity, but it is something that you should have in mind before purchasing anything too expensive.