Your window treatment design as part of the room

So often window treatment designs are plucked from thin air, with no consideration for their surroundings. Here's how to avoid that mistake.

What's the room for?

Bathrooms and kitchens are two rooms where very practical window treatments might be the best options. And by practical I mean blinds or shades.

If the window is in a kitchen close to the sink and faucets, then installing well-made drapery which is going to get splashed might not be a great idea! The same applies to bathrooms.

This doesn't mean you can't have drapes - even elaborate ones - in either of these rooms. In a large bathroom I once fitted a set of drapes with swags, cascades and tied back drapes. The clients wanted a comfortable room, more like a sitting room with the facilities of a bathroom.

The character of your room

All rooms have character.

Sometimes this is due to the style. Your room could be Georgian, or have an Art Deco look to it. In this case you can go for a style of drapery which suits the room.

If you're adding drapery to a room which is already furnished, then the style of furnishing determines the character. Traditional loose covered sofas in floral patterns together with delicate wine tables don't suggest using a contemporary or modern style on your windows.

Get an idea in your mind as to the character of your room, then develop your schemes from there.

The size and position of your window(s)

Don't try and force a complex window treatment design onto a simple, small window with no space either above it or on either side.

If there's not very much space above it but you want to make a feature of it, use a thick pole. You can get them in various wood finishes, colors, elaborate finials, and the pole can be fluted or grooved.

To add softness and style to any room, try to go for floor length drapes. It isn't always possible, and if your drapes have to finish at a sill, try to make them so they finish a few inches below. This always look more attractive.

Top treatments

Top treatments are cornices, valances and swags, or a combination of these elements. Their degree of complexity, both in looks and construction, varies. From simple to complex, they are (approximately):

  • Straight cornice
  • Straight valance
  • Shaped cornice
  • Shaped valance
  • Adding trimming to all the above
  • Swags and cascades
  • Swags and cascades with trimmings

Obviously there are overlaps here. You could have a cornice with so much added - padded border, fringe, top trimming - that it could look as complex as swags and cascades.

All top treatments have one positive feature - they hide the drapery tracks and top section of the window. This results in a window treatment design which 'frames' the window in a very attractive way.

When to use them

Cornices

Use cornices when you want to finish off the window but not make it too elaborate. It's best to use the same fabric as for the drapes. This also keeps the cost down.

Valances

Use these when you want a softer effect than that provided by cornices. They give many design options, because you can select from many styles of heading.

Swags and tails

The ultimate in top treatments. You'll need space above the window for the best effect.

Decisions!

Make your decisions one at a time, and you'll be able to confidently select the best solution for your room.

  • What sort of room do you have?
  • What are the characteristics of the window?
  • How simple or elaborate do you want your window treatment design to be?
  • Based on these decisions, what will you use:
    • Simple track?
    • Pole?
    • Cornice?
    • Valance?
    • Swags and cascades?

Now you can go ahead and plan the fabrics and colors to use.