Few items in your home are as instantly noticeable as your windows, and nothing amplifies the beauty of a well-decorated room like the perfect window treatments. Professional interior decorators recognize this and make window treatments a high priority when discussing remodeling budgets with their prospective clients. If your home is over twenty years old and still has the vertical or venetian blinds in place from when you purchased it, you may want to consider an upgrade.
Older blinds or curtains can give even the most modern home a dated look, and as manufacturer inventories change, it can be more difficult to buy replacement slats or matching drapes. How can you be certain that once you purchase, customize and install window coverings, you’ll be happy with the result? What if you buy blinds or shades that have to be left all the way open to allow enough light into your home? Or the curtains you choose are too transparent to provide any real privacy at night?
Before you start vetting your short list of window treatment experts and decorators, it’s to your benefit to evaluate your priorities with regard to light, shade, privacy, décor and function.
A Few Things to Consider About Window Treatments
Privacy — No one wants to have the feeling of living in a fish tank, so it’s important that by-passers can’t see into your home when you don’t want them to. Ground level dwellings are much more exposed to pedestrian traffic — particularly if you live in a housing development or in a row of townhouses. If you are on the third floor of a high-rise building, you may not be as visible from the street, but people in other buildings may still be able to see into your living room when your blinds, curtains or shades are open.
Your ultimate happiness with your custom window treatment installation will, in large part, depend on whether they provide you with the privacy that you require. Fortunately, there is such a wide range of options, you should be able to select a look that suits your aesthetic as well as your need for privacy. Heavier materials like wood or black-out linings afford the most privacy, where thinner drapes may need accompanying shades or inner drapes to reduce outside visibility, particularly at night.
Light — There’s very little point in having windows if you’re not going to occasionally let the light shine in. For that reason, you will want to select window treatments that look great in your rooms when you open them up — when they become frames for sunlight.
For instance, you can completely shut slatted custom blinds to restrict light, open them by varying degrees to allow partial light or draw them up or to the side to allow full exposure. A more affordable option is pulldown shades, which still allow some of the versatility of horizontal and vertical blinds, but are a little more restrictive in terms of your ability to see out while they’re down. Or better yet, fabric shades like Duettes and Silhouettes from Hunter Douglas allow for the best of both worlds, light dampening and the ability to see out at the same time! The amount of natural light you’re going to let illuminate the different living spaces in your home is determined by the windows you have available in each room and the types of window treatments that you pick.
Décor — No one wants to replace all of their window treatments and not have them look great. So, it’s essential that you find treatments that match with your overall design vision for each room. For instance, if you want to decorate your home with contemporary furnishings, rustic window shutters may not be well suited for your purpose.
On the other hand, neutral-colored roller shades maybe exactly what you’re seeking. Of course, there are no rules in home decorating that can’t be broken. You may decide to infuse decorating styles that are not traditionally associated with one another, or you may want to maintain a consistent theme throughout the house. In the end, it’s your home and your decision. Among the items that you should consider when trying to choose the color and design of your window treatments are:
- Flooring material and color
- Wall color and style (paint, wallpaper, paneling, et cetera)
- Furniture style and color
- Style and color of fixtures (mounted lighting, ceiling fans, et cetera)
Room Function — There are rooms in your home that require varying levels of privacy and natural light. If you intend to use a room primarily for watching television or sleeping, solar glare can be distracting and hard on the eyes. You may want to think about darker curtains, shades or shutters to create an atmosphere conducive to those activities. If you’re intending a room for artistic endeavors, such as painting, sculpting, crafts or sewing, natural light is essential, and you’ll want window treatments that allow for maximum illumination.
As we previously discussed, bedrooms and bathrooms require privacy, so your window treatments need to take that into consideration. In addition, bathroom window treatments should consist of materials that can handle the additional heat and moisture. There are solutions for every room in your home. It’s just a matter of selecting the right combination of custom window treatments to enhance the utility of all your rooms.
Energy Savings — Did you know that your choice of window treatments could save you money? According to Energy.gov, an “initial analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy and the window covering industry suggested that window coverings — blinds, shades, curtains and awnings — could save significant energy at low cost.” Reducing the sunlight coming into your home during the hotter times of the year reduces cooling costs. Moreover, when the cooler months come, your window treatments can provide additional insulation against the cold.
Your Guide to The Different Types of Window Treatments
While the varieties and combinations of window coverings are limited only by the imagination, there are four general categories of window treatments: Curtains/drapes, shades, blinds, and shutters.
Curtains and Custom Drapes — Few people need an introduction to curtains. They may be one of the most common types of window coverings in North America and have been around since Ancient Egypt. Usually made from cloth fabric, curtains come in an endless array of colors, patterns and thicknesses, and can be adapted to most types of windows. If you’re decorating on a budget, you may want to consider simple side panels or semi-custom drapes as an alternative to more expensive options. Decorative curtain rods can enhance the beauty of the drapes and add a distinguishing accent to the room. The four basic types of rods are:
Classic Rod — One of the most common types of rods, it’s an adjustable pole that’s held in place by brackets that are anchored to the wall. The pole usually has decorative pieces at either end.
Return Rod — This is also an adjustable rod, but instead of using brackets, the ends of the rod curve to allow it to anchor directly into the wall. When properly mounted, this strong option can handle heavier curtains.
Track Rod — This option involves the use of curtain hooks. The hooks hold the curtain up and slide inside of a hollow, slotted poll. Curtains open and close smoothly by pulling on an attached string.
Tension Rod — These rods nest between the walls of the window frame and remain in place because of the tension of a compressed spring. This is by far the most affordable option, but isn’t suitable for heavier drapes. Curtains need to be measured to the length of the window so that they don’t hang over the edge of the windowsill. Most custom drape consultants discourage the use of tension rods for these reasons.
If you’re considering custom curtains, some of their pros and cons are:
- Nearly unlimited color and pattern options
- Come in a variety of weights allowing for maximum light or maximum privacy
- Easily replaced when it comes time to redecorate
- Need to be cleaned periodically to remove dust and dust mites
- Retain odors
- Susceptible to tears and stains from pets and children
- Sometimes transparent or semi-transparent
Window Blinds — Almost all window blinds are custom fit, and mounted inside the window frame to allow maximum light blockage when closed. Blinds come in plastic, metal, wood or composites. Because they’re made from solid materials, they are as effective as blackout curtains when it comes to mitigating sunlight, but they also provide versatility in that the slats can be rotated to allow the person to see outside. Among the more popular types of blinds are:
Vertical Blinds — These slatted blinds hang from the top of the window or doorframe and hang to the sill or to the floor. You can partially rotate these slats to allow light in or pull them to one or both sides and fully expose the window.
Horizontal Blinds — Like vertical blinds, custom horizontal blinds are fitted to the inside of a window, but are arranged parallel to the sill. They can rotate to allow light or the entire blind drawn up to expose the window. One advantage of horizontal blinds is that you can angle them downward to deflect the light of the sun, but still allow you to see outside. Some refer to these blinds as “Venetian blinds,” although they didn’t originate in Venice.
The pros and cons of getting custom window blinds for your home are:
- Wide range of materials and colors
- Easy to clean
- Maximum privacy
- Blocks as much or as little sunlight as you desire
- Can be expensive
- Discontinued product lines may be difficult to repair. However, many furniture retailers offer blinds that are under a manufacturer warranty, which makes replacing broken treatments easier.
Window Shades — People often use the terms “blinds” and “shades” interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. When window treatment experts refer to shades, they’re usually referring to a cloth or canvas material that’s drawn down from and retracts to the top of the window. Some models of shades come mounted on tracks so that you can adjust the height of the point of origin. This allows you to shade the bottom of the window and leave the top exposed. There are several basic types of shades:
Roller Shades — When open, a roll of fabric sits discreetly at the top of the window. You can pull it partially or fully down to reduce sunlight and increase privacy.
Pleated Shades — These shades have a ribbed appearance due to the creases in the fabric when closed. When pulled up to allow sunlight in, the shade folds neatly toward the top of the window.
Honeycomb Shades — The folds in these shades have pockets of fabric, which open up into a honeycomb pattern when the shade is down. When it’s up, the honeycombs collapse, allowing the material to occupy minimum space at the top of the window.
Roman Shades — With this type of blind, the strings pull the cloth up from the bottom, and it either folds or gathers near the top of the window. These are also called “roman blinds.”
If you’re thinking about custom shades, consider the following:
- Cheaper alternative to blinds and shutters
- Provides maximum privacy and sun blockage
- Dust and dirt can be trapped in the folds
- Susceptible to staining
Window Shutters — Although not a new concept, interior window shutters have been growing in popularity as an elegant and versatile window treatment alternative. Window shutters are usually made from wood, but can also be found in metal and composite models. They either fold or slide in front of the windows to block out light. In most cases, window shutters have a series of slats that are either fixed or adjusted to allow partial light into your room.
The Pros and Cons of Custom Window Shutters:
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Unparalleled elegance
- Total privacy
- Allows you to see out while still blocking the sun
- Among the more expensive options
- Limited colors and materials
- Discontinued product lines may be difficult to repair unless under manufacturer warranty.
Custom Window Treatment Services
Some people relish the thought of giving their new or existing home a window treatment overhaul, but for many people, home decorating is intimidating. If you have concerns about which type of window treatments you should consider for each room in your house, you should talk to professional window treatment consultants.
If you’re located in the areas of Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Reading, or Lancaster, PA, our custom window treatment experts can talk to you about the pros and cons of each type of window covering. We accept large and small contracts, and because we are a full service home furnishing and design company, we stay on top of the latest trends in home décor. We sell and install a full line of Hunter Douglas shades, blinds and shutters as well as custom and semicustom drapes. Contact David’s Furniture & Interiors and talk to us about how you want your home to look.