Dressing the window is something that should always be considered when designing a space. It will complete the look, soften the edges, add sophistication or whimsy and offer function: acoustic value, added insulation, filtering of light and/or privacy.
As with all design genres, interior styling undergoes cyclical changes based on evolving trends. Window treatment styles follow along, gradually changing over time. The overall trend today is a clean, uncluttered look on windows while addressing the desired function at the same time. With this in mind, the window treatment should accentuate the interior space without drawing a lot of attention or creating too much “fuss” at the window. Designers will often strive for a blended overall look with the walls and windows, adding subtle decoration or color rather than large, bold statements.
Styles are moving far away from swags and jabots, ruffles and overall “frilly” and heavy looks for window treatments. It should be noted that in New England where there are so many historic homes, these styles may still apply in some cases. But generally, the more transitional, minimalist look has gained in popularity and the simpler lines have taken over.
Window coverings fall into three basic categories: ready-made, manufactured and custom.
Ready-made window treatments are previously manufactured and come in several standard sizes. They can be purchased from retail stores or on-line. The main advantage is the cost: they are clearly the least expensive option. However, the disadvantages are: they often don’t fit properly; too long, too short, not full enough or too full. The selection is limited to the fabrics and colors offered and the level of workmanship is inferior to custom widow treatments.
Manufactured treatments are predominantly limited to shades and blinds, shutters and valances. There are many more styles and colors available today than ever before. The advantage is they can be ordered to the precise dimension needed and they usually come with a good warranty. They are generally more expensive than ready-mades and generally less expensive than custom. The colors and fabrics are more plentiful than before but still limited as compared to custom. With the proper measuring and installation, manufactured window products can successfully add texture and function (light control, privacy) to a second softer treatment layered over or above it. Designers know how to coordinate the use of manufactured treatments with custom treatments to compliment the décor and provide the desired function.
Custom window treatments are limited only by the imagination. They are hand-made by a “workroom” of seamstresses, precisely styled (designed), exactly fitted to the desired height, width and fullness and there are millions of fabrics and drapery hardware options to select from. They are the most expensive choice. But, when we consider the expense that goes into a room design and furnishing it, the relative cost is easily justified. The treatment won’t be duplicated anywhere else and the fabric, workmanship and overall quality is obviously superior.
The most popular window treatment styles today are: roman shades (in several looks), drapery panels (in various simple headings and installation types) plantation shutters, padded cornices 9in simple shapes), pleated valances, butterfly shades and woven woods
The incorporation of the window treatment material(s) and style(s) into the interior design is integral to the success of the overall space. It is too often done incorrectly. The use of pattern, color and texture is very tricky and requires a trained eye. Always consult with a professional designer for your window treatment ideas and installation.