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Top 10 Solutions for Fabulous Window Treatments

Aug 4, 2008
Making the right choices for window coverings is a big decision, and with so many choices available, which treatments are right for your home?

With these 10 easy guidelines, you'll be able to choose just the right treatment for every window and make your home more beautiful, while adding to it's market value.

1. Easy and Budget-Friendly

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to dress windows is to start with an inexpensive window treatment and improve on it. We like to use a simple, rod pocket panels as a base for the following solutions because they are readily available, inexpensive and can be modified a dozen ways to look like a designer window treatment. Softline has the most extensive line of panels we've found, and their quality and pricepoint are excellent.

Adding trims to panels is easy and can be used in so many variations. The more elaborate and upscale your trim selections, the more upscale your panel will look.

Clip rings and grommets are the next most popular tools for our design team. With clip rings, you can easily fold in pleats and clip them; or you can layer sheer panels over solid or textured panels. Create tab top panels using flat 2" - 3" braided trim.

You can also use flat braided trims to create a Specialty Valance, by fan folding the panel and using the trim in loops to hold the folds.

2. Alternatives to Wood Blinds and Shutters

Ok, so every house on the block has wood blinds or shutters -- boring! And what about cleaning -- each of those slats needs to be dusted every month or so -- yuk!

Try Woven Wood and Roman Shades. Shades are a dramatic addition to your design and are much easier to clean and maintain. Shades add texture, color, pattern and beauty to a room.

Woven Woods are available in hundreds of styles and finishes. Unlined, they offer a light filtering component; and lining them gives complete privacy and light control. You'll be amazed how rich and elegant they look.

Roman Shades are great for adding color, texture and pattern. You can choose virtually any multipurpose weight fabric to coordinate with the other fabrics in the room.

3. Odd-Shaped or Odd-Sized Windows

In dealing with small windows, create the perception of larger windows by hanging side panels over the wall, so that the panels just barely cover the edges of the window.

For two-story tall windows, use side panels just on the outside of the windows, rather than in between or on both sides of multiple windows. Also, it works well to create a dramatic topper like a large Specialty Valance or Kingston Valance to draw attention to the top of the windows.

For those pesky arches, try hanging side panels at the height of the top of the arch, but at the width of the lower window. Cellular shades also work well here, mounted between the arch and the lower window allows clear viewing through both windows, but adds beauty and color to your decor.

4. Light Control Issues

The level of desired light control varies from filtered to black out.

Sheer panels and cellular shades are excellent solutions for filtering light. You can adjust the amount of light and visibility you desire by increasing or decreasing the number of panels on a rod. The tighter they fit on the rod, the more light and visibility will be filtered out.

Cellular shades have come a long way from their early roots. Hunter Douglas has the best selection and highest quality that we've found. There are shades that have internal flaps, similar to blinds, that are encased in sheer fabric. With these, you can enjoy varying degrees of light and visibility filtering -- from see through to total privacy. Don't overlook cellular shades until you've seen the latest styles and trends. An added bonus is their ease in cleaning.

Blackout features are available in virtually any style window covering. You can have panels, Roman shades, cellular and Woven Woods lined in Blackout lining. There are some fabrics that have the blackout qualities worked right into them, Fabricut has an entire book dedicated to different colors of blackout fabric.

5. Privacy Issues

Nothing is more bothersome than having your neighbor's window looking right into yours. While most of us think immediately to products that completely block visibility and light, like blinds, shutters and heavy panels, it isn't always necessary to resort to those extremes.

Remember, that during daylight hours, a filtering product will give you privacy because it is lighter outside than inside. However, at night, the light in your home will create a fishbowl effect and your neighbors will see into your home easily. So it is important to combine solution that give you total privacy control.

Today's traverse rods aren't your grandmother's rods anymore. They are decorative, adding to the overall beauty of the room with finials and wood finishes in virtually any color and style. Adding rings, either clip-on or sewn on, is another easy way to get working panels. The rings glide easily across the rod for opening or closing.

6. What If You Already Have Blinds Or Shutters in Place?

If you already have blinds or shutters and don't want to replace them, you can easily add additional treatments that will enhance your room's beauty.

Adding toppers and/or side panels is the easiest solution. For added pizzazz, try the modified solutions in #1, above.

Another option is to consider hard cornices. A hard cornice is really simple -- it is a wood frame with quilt batting and fabric stapled to it. Knowing that, you can imagine how easy they would be to make yourself.

It is easy to be creative with hard cornices. You can run one long cornice over several windows to unify a wall. Even in bay windows, the corners can be mitered to create a single long cornice.

You can use hard cornices over panels, as well. They are exceptionally good at creating the perception of bigger windows. Make a cornice extra wide, then mount a rod and panels on each side. This will make your window look bigger than it really is.

7. French Doors -- A Special Problem

French doors are a special problem. They ruin traditional blinds and shutters, because the doorknob interferes with the slats.

The single best solution for French doors is the Roman Shade. The shade cam be mounted so it is flush with the window/door and can be raised during the daytime. This completely eliminates the doorknob problem and gives you the look of a valance/topper during the day.

Roller Shades are coming back in style -- not the kind you remember, but decorative, stylish window dress-ups. By applying fabric to a roller shade, it becomes a beautiful accent to any room.

8. Wholesale Custom Window Treatments

Wholesale custom window treatment programs typically offer you a select number of styles, combined with a select number of fabrics to give you an overall cost savings of about 40% - 60% off designer custom window treatments. Some companies refer to their wholesale program as Custom Selects or Made-to-Measure.

These programs offer you the ability to choose a style, choose your fabric and have your window treatment custom made. However, just because these are "wholesale" with limited selections, doesn't mean they are not fabulous.

9. Designer Custom Window Treatments

Custom window treatments give you the most options for handling all of your needs -- beauty, light control, and privacy. An interior designer will typically visit you in your home and consult with you about fabrics, styles, functionality and budget.

You can expect that this solution will be more expensive than other options, but you will have the ultimate in service, style and value added to your home.

10. Choosing the Right Hardware

So many homeowners make the mistake of creating fabulous window treatments, only to choose the wrong hardware. Many big box stores offer only the basics -- a dozen styles, a few colors and 2 or 3 sizes. A specialty store will carry thousands of options and will have products for every budget.

We recommend going beyond your local big box stores when you choose your window hardware. Most of the big box stores offer only a limited selection of styles and colors. Find a local store that specializes in window treatments; they will have numerous window hardware resources that will give you unlimited selection at all price points -- from budget-friendly to elegant, designer quality hardware.

The bottom line is don't scrimp on hardware. Using a 2" rod because it is available at a big box store, instead of a 3" rod is the difference between using generic brands over name brands -- sometimes it doesn't make a difference, but you've got to know when the name brand is necessary to pull it off successfully.

With these Top 10 Solutions, you've got everything you need to create dramatic, designer window treatments on virtually any budget. Find dealers near you that offer the best options for you. Use the Internet to visit manufacturer's websites, research options, view catalogs and locate a local dealer near you. Then enjoy yourself and create window dressings that you will enjoy for years to come.
About the Author
Melody Foster of The Cozy Home, an interior design firm with services for the Average American Family. You can get Step-by-step Instructions on creating the window treatments in this article or Ask An Expert for help, on your window dressing challenges. You can purchase Softline panels, at The Cozy Home.
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