The term window treatment refers to aesthetically pleasing and/or functional interior decorating element that is placed on, around, in or over a window. When shopping around for window treatments you will find an endless variation of styles, colors and materials used. Treatments are typically used as decorations to add elegance and beauty to a well designed room, but they can also provide privacy protection, light filtration and cold/heat insulation. Multiple dressings can be layered onto a single window to achieve a desired look or effect.
Types, Styles and Benefits
There are a number of different types of treatments available for every shape, size and placement of window. Hard treatments are made of rigid materials such as vinyl, wood and metal. Blinds, shutters and some types of shades all fall within this category. Soft treatments are also exactly what their name describes and include drapes/curtains and some other types of shades. Dressings that are placed around a window include valances, pelmets, cornices and decorative molding. Lastly, frosted, etched and stained glass window films and compounds are a few examples of treatments that can be applied directly to the glass. Selections range in style from modern, contemporary, retro, Art Deco, traditional, in addition to a number of ethnic and cultural choices. These styles can be tailored with/through piping, loose fabric puddles, box-pleated and folded, swaged, ballooned and gathered, shirred, tie-back, tie-up, and Roman customizations.
Before selecting a particular treatment, there are a number of factors that you should take into consideration. First is what room the window is in and what it is used for. For example, you’ll want to install treatments that are easy to clean and safe in rooms that are used by children. Next, what function (if any) should the treatments provide? Privacy is especially important on windows that are on the first floor and/or face the street and for bathroom windows with a view to the outside. On the other hand, make sure you don’t obstruct large windows or windows with a view (particularly those on upper levels) with excessive coverings, etching or window films. You’ll also want the ability to block sunlight in bedrooms, offices and living rooms to avoid sleep prevention and screen glare. Make sure you take into consideration the direction the window faces. North facing windows may need better insulation abilities and with west and east facing ones you have to worry about the amount of sunlight entering the room. Third, what is current style, decor and furnishing like in the room and the area surrounding the window? The treatment(s) you implement should fit with these other features and match the existing theme perfectly. Finally, you must determine how much money you are willing to set aside for your window decorating project.
One of the most common (and easiest) ways of hanging drapes are rod pocket panels (seen below). There are two channels sewn into the top portion of the drapes that are wide enough to slip a rod through. For a shirred heading effect, the rod is inserted into the top channel, for a ruffled look, the rod is inserted into the bottom channel. This can be paired with sheer panels for a delicate, light and airy background effect. Adding a simple tie-back or holdback adds even more to the charm of the curtains. If that’s still too simplistic for your liking, try adding a scarf valance to hang down along the rod (below) or an ascot or swag valance. This will add color and depth to the layout and soften the lines of the design. Don’t like that plain black rod? Swap it out for an bronze rod with matching ball finials. Need to spice up those flat, solid colored panels? Change them for an elegant pattern or ruffled curtains (below). The point of this is to illustrate that you can customize almost everything and that you are limited only by your creativity and imagination (and budget, unfortunately). Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Tie-backs are anything but boring if done right. They can even become the focal point of the window if the holdbacks are embossed, engraved, scrolled, glass or gold plated to match the curtain rod. For a luxurious look at an inexpensive price, consider using vintage doorknobs as holdbacks or simple silk tassel ropes as tie-backs.
There are many different types of curtains to choose from including: grommet top, shirred, panel/casement/rod pocket, sheer panel, tab top, sash, blackout/thermal, rod pocket, ruffled, cafe and pleated. These will all be discussed in more detail in upcoming posts. There are also a ton of styles of blinds to look at such as: roller, Roman, venetian, verticals, pleated, panels, honeycomb, wood, bamboo, mini, Persian/slat and Holland. These will also be explained in more detail in future posts. Etched glass and decorative/functional window films (vinyl, solar, security, stained glass, etc.) are great ways to add to your windows and without having to buy hard or soft window treatments.
Creating an etched look is an easy do-it-yourself project that can be customized to the exact look you want for your room. The design can be as simple or as complex as you want – from a solid frosted glass pane for privacy to an elaborate masterpiece (below) that matches the room’s theme. Etching is done using any pattern, contact paper and etching cream that can be purchased at your local craft store. An alternative to etching glass is to buy a removable window film to emulate the frosted/ etched look or serve as faux stained glass. They look great and are fast, easy and cheap. They are also a quick and easy solution to any privacy or UV protection issues and can even be used to hide cracked or chipped glass.
The most expensive window treatments are built-ins, but they are also the ones that provide the best energy efficiency, durability and return on investment. A popular built in is a double-paned window that has blinds or shades installed between the two pieces of glass. Two major benefits realized by this type of window treatment is that they stay stain and dust free and cannot be damaged by pets small or children. Smart glass is a relatively new type of built-in that allows the transparency or glazing of a window to be controlled by applying a voltage (switching a light switch).
Window Treatment Ideas by Room
We all have our own decorating preferences. Some people prefer muted and subtle while others bold and beautiful. Either way, almost everyone knows what they like and what they don’t like when they see it. The trouble is, most people don’t have the skills of a professional interior designer and can’t visualize what a room or window will look like when a particular treatment or dressings are applied to it. That’s where this site comes in! The ideas below are organized by room or window type and are all large, high resolution photos for your viewing pleasure. Create a new folder on your desktop, log in to Pinterest or fire up that printer, because you’ll want to take note of the great ideas you see!
Most kitchen windows are standard size and shape, but some can be box-windows, custom arched or multi-paned. Smaller, head-level or tilt-in windows have usually only need a valance. Standard sized and custom arched windows go great with a Roman shade or mini-curtains. Keep in mind that the kitchen is a room where window treatments tend to collect grease particles and kitchen odors. A simple hard treatment the same color as the walls or countertops can make quite a statement.
Bay Window Ideas
Bay window treatments do not create difficulties as long as they are easy and fast to move. A great treatment idea for bay windows is shutters. A two-fold set of shutters can be folded back at an angle to filter out the right amount of sunlight. If shutters are not a favorite of yours, install simple wooden blinds in conjunction with a valance. The colors should complement the nearby walls, tables and seating.
Sunlight is a rarely welcomed guest in the bedroom. Heavy drapery with a relaxing, yet luxurious pattern with color-coordinated sheers is a great combination. If the bed ensemble is a busy pattern, match the color of the walls or the floor with it and your windows will fade quietly into the background.
Living Room Ideas
The living room is where a gathering of friends or family can sit down and relax while enjoying each other’s company. A tip for getting the best window treatment for your living room is to stand back against the opposite wall of the window and take note of the surrounding furniture type, style, room layout and color scheme.
Window treatments should always compliment surrounding pictures, accent art pieces as well as the furniture and flooring. Don’t be afraid to experiment with accent colors and different styles. You never know, you might just accidently stumble upon a arrangement of treatments and combination of patterns and colors that fits your room perfectly.