Help For Your Three Biggest Design Challenges: Part Two, WINDOW TREATMENTS

No matter the ZIP code, the size, or style of the house, there are three design elements that throw  homeowners. Last time we covered lighting, today let’s talk about window treatments. 

Now before you roll your eyes and moan- I HATE DRAPES !!  (And yes, I know you are doing that!!)-let me ask- did you actually read the word “DRAPES “?  No, you did not.  But this is where-and why-so many get stuck, so let’s understand this first.

Energy consciousness was not part of  homes built prior to the 1970s, and aside from Scarlett O’Hara’s Plan B, “DRAPES” were the original climate control system.

Windows were made of wood frames, with a single pane of glass;  perhaps with another, slide-down panel as a storm window. In the winter the wood contracted, causing drafts; while summertime light cooked rooms unmercifully, and fabric covering the window was the fix.

SO-while building materials and practices have improved greatly in the last 40 years, most people don’t think about their window coverings that often.  So “DRAPES”-what many of us grew up with-is the vision most revert to…but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Windows are a part of the walls, the biggest surface in any room.  As such, they can be huge problem-solvers, but they also possess tremendous potential to  change the chemistry of the rest of the room…which is why I am so passionate about giving them their due.

Most folks most make one of two mistakes: they are 100% focused on the color, trying to hit the exact shade of ___,  or totally obsessed with function (PRIVACY! GLARE! etc).  The best choices include both, but fabric and color choices abound, so here are some of the factors I consider first:

  • Function:  What is needed? Privacy, light filtering, or sound absorption?  Temperature regulation? Or “just” frame a great view and add some drama?
  • Size of windows/room:  Like when you shop for clothes-you look at the overall proportions, and the right amount of fabric and detail to flatter your body; same thing for windows. A triple window should have more fabric around it than a single window; a valence could be perfect in a kitchen, but be totally under-whelming in a LR or DR.
  • Natural Light: Amount, and direction-bright sunlight will fade blue and disintegrate silk in short order. Cool colors will do little for a room whose main exposure is northern.
  • Surroundings: Are there radiators, baseboard elements or A/C units? Pets that will find new window coverings entertaining? Young children with potential safety issue to consider?  Homes with heavy smokers, or enthusiastic cooks might do best with minimal fabrics, so as to not absorb/retain all the odors.
  • Aesthetics: Need to add interest, offset the monolithic sectional, frame the view, or just have the luxury of being pretty?
  • Budget: Impossible to adequately address in this venue* but a few things to consider: almost anything can be created and installed with the right people, but more and more the home stores are carrying really nice, ready-to-install options as well.
  • What you like: Yes, that matters too!

Even in homes I’m preparing to sell, I always consider the windows. Counter-intuitive, yes. But fresh, basic, updated treatments already in place for a new owner is a problem solved, and value added. It elevates the value of a room…a dining area becomes a Dining Room.

And nothing says welcome to the 80’s like vertical blinds.  I have two jobs going right now where we took them down, and replaced them with soft-pleated shades in a gentle off-white.  Rooms are immediately livable, and easy enough for new owners to frame the window with a color/pattern of their choosing, at their leisure.

Here is another project I did last year.


After being on the market for almost a year with little traffic and no offers, the 2.0 version sold the first day it was back on the market.

Sure, we did other things, but the windows were huge, it was what faced you when you first walked in. I added the blue stationary panels to call  attention to, and frame the view of the Hudson River.  They also added definition and purpose to that end of the LR, presence and balance to the DR. Panels and hardware, both windows. about $250.00 at BBB.  Did I mention it got a full asking? 

While it doesn’t have to be a complicated process, it is a unique one, and difficult to address in the 500 word comfort level experts say blog readers prefer, but dear readers, I’m not going to leave you ‘hanging’ (sorry, couldn’t resist!!)

* IF you are still flummoxed, call me! (Yes, I do windows!)  But if you wouldn’t mind your windows and situation being a blog topic at another time, still contact me directly and we’ll work it out.  Meantime, hope this helps you see your windows more confidently, through new eyes.