Choosing Window Treatments

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Long gone are the days of windows dressed in plain and dull curtains. Smart window dressing is the name of the game nowadays, that gives a new life to a room. It is one of the most powerful tools in a designer’s arsenal in putting together that collected look and it’s easier than you think. I will share now all the advice you need to know for choosing your window treatments.

A stylish bright sitting room with windows from floor to ceiling and really long curtains pulled to the one side. Image: Luxdeco.
Via: Luxdeco.

Where to start

The beauty of window treatments is the interaction between the interior light and space. They lend visual and tactile texture in a room, while their (thermal and acoustic) insulation qualities add a quality to our living experience. But of all the curtains, swags, valances, roman shades, Venetian or roller blinds – which window treatment will work for you? The following tips will stir you in the right direction.

That curtain! A sitting room with bay windows and a curtain hanging. Image:
Via: Wool Glacier curtains hanging from a rod, gently brushing the floor.


Curtains dress up a space and can even add drama, but having said that, you don’t want them announcing themselves every time you step into the room. Heavy curtains can take away from a room, making it feel stout or worse, stifling. Instead, think and treat them like a long shift dress; one that can even correct the proportions of a “bad” window and room. Hang your curtains high (as if they’ve fallen from the ceiling) and let them drop, and graze the floor. Your room’s proportions will improve instantly.

A stylish contemporary sitting room with an off white sofa next to a door window with a curtain. Image: Sofology.
Via Sofology.

The next big design dilemma is: Do you want your window treatments to frame your vistas of your windows or do you champion simplicity.

Innovation is what makes this world far more interesting. A curtain is always an opportunity to do something fun and out of the ordinary with a window. If you are a maximalist, think prints, (embroidered) trims, fringes, valances, swags or pelmets that will also hide the curtain hardware. In fact, a good pelmet can even create the illusion of interior architecture, so be creative. This approach works for interior styles like Old World, shabby chic, transitional, and traditional. The fancier the frills, the more formal your space will feel.

A formal dark satin pleated curtain with a tie back paired with a roller blind.
A curtain paired with a roller blind.

On the other hand, simplicity has a timeless appeal. Window treatments, like sheers or linens, that are simple, modern and relaxed create a softer look and allow the light to fill the room with its magic. If this resonates best with you, then think of the window and wall as one seamless surface with fresh looking, flowy curtains somewhere in between – no swags, no valances and no motifs except maybe a thin stripe. This concept works exceptionally well for Scandi, minimal, rustic, transitional, contemporary, and even industrial style interiors.

A lifestyle image of a bedroom with the Louis Poulsen PH Artichoke Suspension Light featuring. Image:
A dining space with an industrial vibe situated by an opening covered by a curtain panel. Window treatments work even in industrial spaces. Image:
Via: Even a space with an industrial vibe can look better with a window treatment.

In every case, curtains are something worth splurging on. Unless, you purposefully choose flat panels drops, be generous with the amount of fabric. As a rule of thumb you need at least twice the width of your window for each panel. It sounds like a lot of fabric, but it really isn’t if you want the perfect ripple drop. (Personally, I go for three times the window width, for I like that fullness effect).

Furthermore, lining them is necessary to hide the hems, to protect them from fading from the sunlight and to give them structure and weight. Your curtain’s beautiful motif should not show as dull and patchy from the outside. Also, blackout lining can reduce the rate of color fading considerably. Finally, make sure they have a beautiful finish like a trim to edge the curtain. It’s that little detail that can make all the difference in the world.

Roman shades

Roman shades are ideal window treatments for windows that you can’t possibly hang curtains that drop to the floor. They can be used in any room, mainly because of the homely feel to them, including kitchens and bathrooms. Yet, when you place them in a room with potential dampness like a kitchen or bathroom, you must select with care the fabrics in order to lessen the accumulation of dust and mold due to humidity.

A beautiful light blue sofa with pink velvet throw pillows. What a relaxed space with all the light coming through the window that is covered by a Roman shade with a print. Image: Sofology.
Via: Sofology.

There is a variety of styles to choose from: flat, relaxed (or European), hobbled, plain fold, soft fold, etc. The flat style for instance is ideal for shades with patterns and prints for the fabric stays flat. The plain fold, one of my favorites, is simple and clean – ideal for contemporary spaces. The soft fold though, looks more opulent, because it involves more fabric loosely pleated for a softer look.

A beautiful and serene bedroom with an organic vibe and a Roman shade hanging from the side window. Image:
Close up detail of a striped Roman shade. Image:

Framing a window with Roman blinds coupled by sliding curtains is a popular trend that I’m totally on board with. It is an extra layer of softness and texture to play with. Hence, if you do adopt this idea, then create a sense of balance and cohesion between the blinds and curtains. A word of caution: Don’t go for roman shades if your room’s height is relatively small (<2.75m); it could block out too much of the needed natural light that makes a room look and feel more spacious.

A vibrant and colorful living room with a velvet green sofa, a yellow throw in front of two windows with white an blue striped roman shades and a yellow, blue and green shade floor lamp. Image: Delightfull.
Via: Delightfull

Ask for fabric swatches and put them up against the window and let the light through them, before you make your final choice. Note that fabrics appear completely different when they are flat on a showroom table as opposed held up against the light in your own space. Also, consider if and how you will hide all the unnecessary curtain hardware, i.e. a box pelmet. If you go for a rod, then measure the length from the rod to the floor and add a few extra inches for that “puddling” effect.

Roller shades

Roller shades were once as plain as plain could get (not that I have anything against plain). But that is not the case anymore. They may come with charming prints, a variety of materials including rattan, and may also have acoustic and light absorbing qualities. They offer privacy without obscuring too much of your space or hampering your views altogether, blocking light to various degrees, usually denoted by a percentage rate. You get to choose how much you want to block out. They are also an affordable option that can pleasantly surprise you with its contemporary, clean aesthetic. Personally, I’ve placed a double roller blackout off-white blinds (with no prints) in my living room, in order to balance my visual heavy-weight walls.

A stylish workshop room with a roller blind as a window treatment. Image: Dunelm.
Via: Dunelm.

Venetian blinds

Some things, like Venetian blinds, are never out of fashion, even it they are not on the trend-wagon as we speak. Venetian blinds are ideal for regulating the amount of light obscuring a room. They are perfect in warm climate rooms, because they can reduce the indoor heat gain during the summer months too. Also, in rooms with a relative low height (<2.75m), Venetian blinds are an ideal choice. That’s because they can adjusted to direct natural light upwards to the ceiling and hence, diffuse it throughout the room more effectively. They also provide you with privacy without blocking out views that connect you to the rest of the world. And, they can be paired with curtains without hindering your style, but adding dimension.

Partial view of a kitchen with a window covered in wooden Venetian blinds. Image by Velvet Karatzas.
This is my kitchen where my husband used to have Roman shades. But, I replaced them with wooden Venetian blinds and never had a second thought over it – best decision by far.

Always, try to opt for curtains and/or blinds made to measure. The ‘ready to hang’ type are usually a temp solution and more often than not, they end up looking either too short or not wide enough. And as a last side-note, did you know that window treatments can be motorized? Oh yes, and as a matter of fact there are apps that will have your window coverings obey – just another step closer in the direction of a smart home.

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