Your Guide to Window Treatments
But window treatments are an important piece of the decor puzzle in any home. Sure, curtains, drapes and blinds can complement a decor scheme and look nice, but they’re also important for privacy, light, hiding awkward features, providing insulation and more.
If you’re thinking of upgrading your window treatments, this guide will help you navigate the process more easily.
Why: Taking your window coverings from something that merely suffices to something that makes a statement will help your space look its best. Imagine the living room shown here without the patterned drapes and it’s easy to see why window treatments can act as the icing on the cake.
But they’re not just decorative. As mentioned earlier, window treatments are an opportunity to better control privacy and light, hide awkward features and provide better insulation.
If you DIY, the material (and sometimes size) choices are more limited and you sacrifice professional expertise for the sake of convenience. You’ll need to do your own measuring and installing too.
1. Know your goals for privacy, light control and insulation. First determine the function of your new window treatments. There are usually three considerations: privacy, light control and insulation. You may be looking to satisfy just one or a combination of all three. Rate their importance on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not or minimally important and 10 being the most important, to help solidify what you’re hoping to achieve and better convey your requirements to a professional.
Privacy. Do you have nosy neighbors? Can passersby see inside your house? Or maybe you live in a rural area on a big plot of land and privacy isn’t a concern. Consider the room’s function and how much privacy you’re seeking. Are you comfortable with onlookers seeing distorted figures through semitransparent sheers at night? Or do you seek a completely opaque window treatment?
For media rooms and bedrooms, like the nursery shown here, you might want to consider adding a blackout lining to drapery panels and shades to prevent light penetration.
Cellular honeycomb shades and room-darkening fabrics can help increase the insulating factor. Also, you can use multiple treatments on one window to increase insulation — a shade paired with drapery panels, for example.
Is the window abutting a wall? Window cranks are likely to interfere with the operation of window shades. If you have baseboard heaters, you may or may not want to hang drapery panels in front of the heat covers. Ruggiero warns that doing so will prevent heat from easily entering the room and can contribute to dust buildup behind the panel. While it could be a maintenance and efficacy concern, she says it’s typically not a safety issue.
Inside versus outside mounting. Shades can be inside- or outside-mounted. Inside-mounted shades are good for allowing decorative molding around the windows to remain visible. Outside-mounted shades, as shown here, attach to the top of the window trim and tend to not show light through the edges.
Top down or bottom up. The option shown here offers the most flexibility in terms of light control and privacy, because the shade can be opened from the top or the bottom to create different openings that serve different functions.
Cordless. A manual option that raises and lowers shades without the use of a cord. Parents with young children or adults with grandchildren or expecting grandchildren should consider cordless treatments because they offer the highest degree of child and pet safety.
Continuous loop. This option replaces the conventional but dangerous dangling lift cords popular in the past. The loop is encased and offers precise positioning.
Motorized, programmable shades. These offer flexibility and will minimize wear and tear from physically handling the material. Plus they can be battery-powered and controlled by a customized app.
Fabric type. Fibers have different strengths and weaknesses. While you might like the look of a particular fabric, it might not suit your lifestyle or situation.
For example, Ruggiero warns against using linen for drapery in homes where humidity is a problem. When hung in a humid environment, they grow in length. “What was once a floor-length drape now puddles on the floor due to the humidity or dampness,” she says. Linen isn’t a good choice in dry climates either, she adds, as it will do the opposite: shrink.
Perusing images of window treatment styles is a great way to familiarize yourself with styles you do and don’t like before starting your project.
If you have multiple windows and are planning to use a patterned fabric, you’ll need to visualize how the pattern will play out in the space. Also plan to purchase extra yardage to accommodate the pattern repeat so the treatments are balanced side by side. Imagine how cockeyed these three shades would look if their patterns didn’t align.
Most online window treatment companies offer detailed measuring guides on their websites and indicate the dimensions of their premade products. You may need to adjust accordingly if, for example, you’re planning to use drapery panels with a header, rod pocket or drapery clips. A window treatment professional will provide measuring services.
How long will it take? When ordering a custom treatment from a designer or window professional, expect to wait about four to eight weeks. This can vary based on fabric availability and workroom and installation schedules.
Best time of year to do this project: Ruggiero says the spring and fall are the best times to get a jump-start on new window treatments, because most manufacturers offer free upgrades twice a year, like cordless or top-down, bottom-up options.
- Roller shade (fiberglass): $90
- Honeycomb shade (single-cell): $300
- Natural woven shade: $300
- Fabric Roman shade: $400
- Aluminum blind: $120
- 2-inch wood blind: $200
- 2-inch faux-wood blind: $180
- Wood shutter: $300
- Drapery panels (full-length, lined, not including hardware): $600