It's curtains for you! (And drapes, and blinds, and shades...) Window treatments are essential to completing the look of a room, so our designers have compiled this handy guide.
Remember the days in college when a window was covered by a sheet pinned up with tacks? Or even better, you tossed care to the wind and said, “I don’t need curtains; let the world see my home!” Well, sorry to break it to you, but you are an adult now. And part of growing up is getting proper window treatments.
The problem is that there are a multitude of options when it comes to window treatments… curtains, drapes, shades, Venetians (ok, we would stay away from those in general). Having so many possibilities can be paralyzing, and that’s only talking about the type of shade, not the color, the dimensions, and the hardware that goes along with it. However, once you make the move to install window treatments, they can not only serve the functional purposes of privacy and light regulation but also the aesthetic purpose of adding more depth to your room. With the help of our Homepolish designers, we’ve put together a crash course in how to dress your windows like an adult.
Where to Start
We’ve said it before, but function comes first. Are your curtains providing more of a functional purpose such as privacy or blocking out light? Then, you’ll need to find curtains with a heavier weight with a lining. This is usually the case in rooms such as the bedrooms and bathrooms. If your curtains are serving more of a decorative purpose as in the dining room or living room, however, a lighter, unlined version will be acceptable. (This is why you see those sheer curtains with the beautiful diffused light streaming through them in common spaces, but rarely in private, personal spaces.)
Something to keep in mind for lined curtains: linings shield from sun damage and allow for longer durability. They will also more effectively block a room from drafts and allow drapery to fall more luxuriously to the floor.
It’s also important to consider the function of the room as a whole, what types of activities will be happening inside. As Homepolish’ssays, “I always think about what will be happening underneath or near the window. Based on the room layout, it may be inevitable that furniture will need to be placed under the window. Drapery either crunched behind or sitting on the edges of your furniture looks messy and poorly planned.” Safety should also be considered in children’s rooms and nurseries.
Room by Room
Every room has a different function, so it only follows that each room will have a different window treatment. As Homepolish’spoints out, “The first question that needs to be addressed is how much privacy you need in the room you’re applying the window covering to, followed by how much light you want to let in.” Opaque window treatments in the bedrooms and bathrooms is a general rule, but treatments in common areas such as the living room, dining room, and kitchen can play more aesthetic roles. The style of the shade itself (whether you’re looking at Roman style or vertical blinds) is a matter of personal taste.
The first question that needs to be addressed when installing window treatments is how much privacy you need in the room you’re applying the window covering to, followed by how much light you want to let in.
Speaking of personal taste…
Should drapery perfectly match the interior décor? Not necessarily. Neutral colors will impart a modern, minimal feel to the room and can help balance out a space if there are already several statement pieces. On the flip side, patterned drapery or ones that are richly saturated with color can be the showstopper in a room that is full of neutral furnishings. It’s a matter of whether you want the window treatments to blend with the room (within the same color scheme) or pop (starkly different than the room). Just make sure you don’t overdo it with pattern and color.
At Homepolish, when it comes to fabric content of window treatments, we are big fans of cotton and linen, lighter fabrics which will allow natural light to flood the space. However, that is not to say these are your only options. The mood of the room should inform your choice of fabric. For a formal and moody space, heavy silk or velvet are luxurious choices. (If those fabrics are too expensive, try cotton sateen or rayon blends.) For a bright and airy vibe, linens, crushed velvet, or cotton will work well. Wool and wool blends also have a timeless feel that will work in most spaces.
The Technical Matters of Dimensions
When it comes to curtains, tailoring is very important (just like any outfit you sport). As Jennifer notes, “Length-wise, I normally recommend something that skims the floor. If you have a wide area to cover and don’t want to go custom, see if you can find double-width curtains, so they don’t lie flat when pulled closed. That extra fullness really makes drapery feel high end.” Similarly, if you can splurge for some extra fabric, pooling extra length at the bottom of the curtain can make a space look especially lush. Just don’t go too short–it’ll look like a pair of high-water pants, and this ain’t the 70s. However, in the matter of length, be mindful of any radiators or heating elements on the floor. Considering hanging height and width are essential before making any drapery purchase.
When it comes to curtains, tailoring is very important (just like any outfit you sport).
What about hardware?
Choosing the fabric and pattern of the window treatment is only the halfway point. Next comes hardware. The type of rod and hardware you choose should match the overall aesthetic of the room, and there are four classic types:
The Classic Rod: An adjustable pole that is capped with finials (decorative end caps) that is held to the wall with brackets
The Return Rod: An adjustable U-shaped rod that is screwed directly into the wall. This is a favorite option for Leah.
The Track Rod: A rod that is attached to the wall or ceiling with drapery hooks attached to pulleys inside a track. This allows for easy movement of the curtains.
The Tension Rod: A favorite of temporary spaces since it requires no hardware drilling into the wall, this is the easiest and cheapest option (however, it cannot hold as much weight). These rods adjust to the window and is held up by an interior spring mechanism.
Ultimately, the hardware comes down to what type of drapery you’ve chosen and your personal taste.
The (not-too-scary) matter of installation
Drilling into your walls (unless you’re using a tension rod) can be scary, so get a seasoned professional to help you with this step. When it comes to exact placement of the rod in relation to the window and the wall, Jennifer clues us in on a designer tip that will make your room and your window appear to be larger. “Hanging drapery higher than the window is a common trick for making a space and the windows themselves seem larger. Done well it definitely works, but don’t go overboard, especially if you have high ceilings. If you don’t have the room, sometimes a more effective trick is to actually have the curtains extend beyond the window width-wise. This gives the impression that the window extends farther than it really does.”
Favorite Homepolish Sources
So where do our designers go when they need some window décor? The Shade Store, Loom Decor, Decorview, and Restoration Hardware were all listed as favorites, though Leah pointed out that she used Target curtains for this beautiful ombre curtain DIY. If you want specialized trims, contrasting fabrics, or banding, a custom drapery workshop can’t be beat. Just keep in mind that your wallet will take a hit.
For more help on window treatments (and all other parts of the room), hire a Homepolish designer.