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Help For Your Three Biggest Design Challenges: Window Treatments

"DRAPES". We all grew up with them, and most of us now run the other way. In this 2nd installment of a 3 part series, understand how to handle your toughest design challenges.

No matter the ZIP code, the size, or style of the house, there are three design elements that throw homeowners. Last time we covered lighting, today let's talk about window treatments.

Now before you roll your eyes and moan- I HATE DRAPES! (And yes, I know you are doing it, right this very minute!)-let me ask- did you actually read the word "DRAPES "? No, you did not. But this is where-and why-so many get stuck, so let's understand this first. 

Energy consciousness was not part of  homes built prior to the 1970s, and aside from Scarlett O'Hara's "Plan B", "DRAPES" were the original climate control system.

Windows were made of wood frames, with a single pane of glass; perhaps with another, slide-down panel as a storm window. In the winter the wood contracted, causing drafts; while summertime light cooked rooms unmercifully, and fabric covering the window was the fix.

SO-while building materials and practices have improved greatly in the last 40 years, most people don't think about window coverings that often. So "DRAPES" what many of us grew up with-is the vision most revert to.  But it doesn't have to be that way. 

Windows are a part of the walls, the biggest surface in any room. As such, they can be huge problem-solvers. They also posses tremendous potential to change the chemistry of the rest of the room...which is why I am so passionate about giving them their due.

Most folks most make one of two mistakes: They are 100% focused on the color, trying to hit the exact shade of ___,  or totally obsessed with function (PRIVACY! GLARE! etc). The best choices include both, but fabric and color choices abound, so here are some of the factors I consider first:

  • Function: What is needed? Privacy, light filtering, or sound absorption?  Temperature regulation? Or "just" frame a great view and add some drama?
  • Size of windows/room: Like when you shop for clothes-you look at the overall proportions, and the right amount of fabric and detail to flatter your body; same thing for windows. A triple window should have more fabric around it than a single window; a valence is perfect in the kitchen, but pretty underwhelming in a LR or DR.
  • Natural Light: Amount, and direction-bright sunlight will fade blue and disintegrate silk in short order. Cool colors will do little for a room whose main exposure is northern.
  • Surroundings: Are there radiators, baseboard elements or A/C units? Pets that will find window coverings entertaining? Young children with potential safety issue to consider?  Homes with heavy smokers, or enthusiastic cooks might do best with minimal fabrics, so as to not absorb/retain all the odors.
  • Aesthetics: Need to add interest, offset the monolithic sectional/wall unit/etc, frame the view, or just have the luxury of being pretty?
  • Budget: Impossible to adequately address in this venue* but a few things to consider: almost anything can be created and installed with the right people, but more and more the home stores are carrying really nice, ready-to-install options as well.
  • What you like: Yes, that matters too!

Even in homes I'm preparing to sell, I always consider the windows. First, they elevate the value of the room. A dining area becomes a Dining Room with a proper window treatment. Fresh, basic, updated treatments already in place for a new owner is a problem solved, and value added.

And nothing says welcome to the 80's like woven verticals; I have two jobs going right now where we took these down, and replaced them with soft-pleated adjustable shades in a gentle off-white. Rooms are immediately livable, and easy enough for new owners to frame the window with a color/pattern of their choosing, at their leisure.

These photos show another project I did last year. After being on the market for almost a year with little traffic and no offers, the 2.0 version sold the first day it was back on the market.  

We did some other things, but the windows were what was facing you when you first walked in. I added the blue stationary panels to call  attention to, and frame the view of the Hudson River.  They also added definition and purpose to that end of the LR, presence and balance to the DR. Panels and hardware, both windows. about $250.00 at BBB. Did I mention it got full asking? 

While it doesn't have to be a complicated process, it is a unique one, and difficult to address in the 500 word comfort level experts say blog readers prefer, but dear readers, I'm not going to leave you 'hanging'... (sorry, couldn't resist!!) 

*If you are still flummoxed, private consults are always available, but if you wouldn't mind your windows and situation being shared with the rest of the readership at another time, contact me directly and we'll work it out. Meantime, hope this helps you see your windows more confidently, through new eyes.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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