Try these creative and eye-catching new looks for windows.
How to convert an ordinary window into a decorative accent
When it comes to interior decorating, dressing up your windows provides one of the best and most efficient opportunities to change or enhance a room’s look. A little fabric, some shutters, or even different hardware can convert an ordinary window into a decorative accent. And, thanks to today’s ever-expanding window-treatment market, consumers will find a wide range of materials at every price range to create a personalized look.
This dramatic treatment—ideal for a large window—was created by draping long satin ropes around a curtain rod.
Homeowners’ modern and unique treatments.
In the past, window treatments usually consisted of pleated floral damask panels or linen dropping from the window top to the floor, perhaps drawn back with tiebacks. Other tried-and-true favorites are valences hung on curtain rods, padded, upholstered cornice boxes, and Roman shades. And while many of these continue to be popular, homeowners branch out with more modern and unique treatments.
Inspiration in the everyday
Inspiration and materials for unique window treatments come from a variety of sources. “I have used clothespins in a laundry room to hang handkerchiefs to simulate clothing hanging on a clothesline,” says Pattie Trumbull, owner of Design Inspirations Inc.
In Kennesaw. “I have used two baseball bats glued end-to-end with a tab-top valence as the window treatment. I have used painted wooden stars hot-glued to a metal rod as a topper in a playroom. I have used sports pennants stapled to a board as a topper in a young boy’s room. Also, one could use a garland of silk flowers to add a simple touch to the top of wood blinds.”
Pattie Trumbull of Design Inspirations suggests using clothespins in a laundry room to hang handkerchiefs, simulating clothing hanging on a clothesline.
Liner to create a window shade
Creating personalized treatments is limited only by your imagination. Kim Haire of Kim Haire Interiors in Atlanta says she has used bamboo for curtain rods. A friend has sewed together several saris for a colorful treatment. For another friend’s house, Haire purchased an inexpensive 90-by-108-inch tapestry from Urban Outfitters and added a liner to create a window shade. “It’s one of my favorite things, especially for young people,” she says.
Dawn Anderson of Dawn Anderson Interiors in Atlanta sewed loops to the top of her son’s baby quilt, rigged it with pull-cords, and hung it on the window for a sentimental, meaningful, and inexpensive take on the traditional shade.
Customized window treatment
Scott Allen, the designer at Sacred Space, says even bed linens can become window-wear. To tie in a duvet cover with your window treatments, take an old-fashioned vinyl window shade. Cut the sheets to size and attach the material to the shade with spray adhesive for a customized window treatment.
When Atlanta area interior designer Tammy Vaughn was looking for a way to dress up the window in her baby’s nursery, she thought of function over form. “The room was small, so there was no room for large furniture or displays,” she says. So used the window itself as a display for her child’s dolls, mounting a ledge above the window and arranging them interspersed with her daughter’s name letters. She hung sheer curtains beneath the shelf to cover the window. She says her idea “gives an option of more display-type space without having to have more furniture in the room—and it looks cute!” Vaughn says.
The simpler, the better
If some of these ideas seem too far afield, not to worry. A key characteristic of today’s window treatments is simplicity. “The strongest trend in drapery design is still the simple drapery panel with a decorative rod in metal or wood,” says June Price, owner of Anew Design in Atlanta. “This design can be used in the most formal room, but can transition to a contemporary [room], depending on the type of fabric.”
Interior designer Tammy Vaughn dressed up the window in her baby’s nursery by mounting a ledge above it and arranging dolls interspersed with the letters of her daughter’s name. She used a similar concept in the basement, creating the look of a cigar room with an over-the-window display.
Room with warmth and charm
Anderson agrees that simplicity is the key to effective window treatments. “I always recommend timeless fabrics and drapery style—not a lot of overindulgence on fanciness.” She suggests getting a fabric sample and “living with it” for a few days before committing to it for a window treatment. “Make sure it fits the house and the room with warmth and charm. Too much color can get tired fast,” she says.
You can dress up these simple drapes with inventive-but-small touches. “Use contrasting fabrics instead of trim for a different look,” Anderson says. She also suggests layering windows with bamboo shades.
According to Allen, two of the most alluring trends right now are natural woven blinds and plantation shutters. These two options offer entirely different looks.
“The natural blinds give an organic presence that might be difficult to integrate, as in a modern interior,” Allen says. “Plantation shutters add structure and formality to a room.” And to take wood blinds further, Elaine Copeland of Designer Windows adds decorative tape or even tries airbrushing.
Consider this before you start.
Before deciding on a window treatment, there are some factors you should consider. “What function will the window treatment serve?” Trumbull says. “[Are they] purely decorative and fun, or does the treatment have a function such as blocking out light?” The answer to this question will make the difference between choosing a shimmering sheer curtain scarf or a lined cotton panel.
Like these crafted by Ramo Santiago, ornate iron shutters are a great way to high accent windows in a foyer or great room. They create a beautiful look when used in contrast with fabric treatments on nearby windows.
Also, Decorating on a Dime: A room makeover for less than $1,000 in which the window treatment will hang. “The whole ‘feel’ of the room should be taken into consideration for the window treatments,” Trumbull says. “Formal, casual, contemporary, rustic, kid’s room, etc., are some of the styles that should match up with the type of window treatment.”
Window treatments are like rooms’ earrings
Haire puts it this way. “Window treatments are the earrings for a room,” she says. “They are the accessories that bring everything together. Look at how it works with architecture and furniture.” It is essential if you’re using unusual materials in the treatment. “When using any extras for the windows, like twigs, fishing poles, oars, etc., make sure the product fits the room and the house,” Anderson says.
It’s essential to keep in mind the room’s proportions and furnishings when dreaming up your unique window treatment. “You want a nice accent that’s not overwhelming,” Vaughn says.
Price also cautions against fads in window treatments. “There are many new unique designs to choose,” she says. “When selecting a unique or unusual design, you run the risk of being too trendy and having a treatment fall out of style quickly or date your new design after a short period of time.”
Keep your budget in view.
One of the tremendous challenges in putting together unique window treatments is cost. Materials can be expensive, even if you’re using your creative materials or buying ready-to-hang components such as panels or drapery rods. Depending on where you shop, some manufactured curtains may start as low as $8 for a single meeting. And run into the hundreds of dollars for a specific set containing a valence and rod-top panels.
Likewise, hardware may run from $5 for simple white metal rods to hundreds of dollars for wrought-iron rods. Add in brackets, tiebacks, rings, and finials (the decorative pieces at each end of the rod), and the cost increases as well.
To keep costs down, try these suggestions from the experts. “Keep [your treatments] fairly neutral,” Haire says. “You can change out the tiebacks [or similar trim] to update or change the look.”
Careful about the fabric
Those making their treatments should carefully consider the fabric. “The best way to conserve money in choosing a drapery treatment is to lower the cost of your fabric per yard,” Price says. Trumbull also suggests shopping for fabrics on sale and buying do-it-yourself or no-sew books on window treatments.
If trying to create your window treatments is too overwhelming, consult a professional. “Think about budgeting a two-hour session with a designer to help pull everything together,” Anderson says. “A designer can help you to not make an expensive mistake. Also, designers will work by the hour, if that is all you are looking for.”
Overall, remember that coming up with unique window treatments should not be a chore. “Consumers should not be afraid to be creative when it comes to finishing off a window,” Trumbull says. “Think outside the box, using materials that are not common or ordinary. Have fun, and be a little funky!”