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Selecting Window Treatments for your Home

Updated on September 5, 2011
Rendering of Traditional 'Baroque' period room with drapery.
Rendering of Traditional 'Baroque' period room with drapery. | Source

You’re buying a house or condo or just decorating!

Yes you are correct, this is the same introduction as my other article, “Selecting Flooring for your Home.” I recommend your read both if you’re doing some heavy cosmetic renovations! The good news about window treatments; there is a lot more flexibility and lot more DIY (Do It Yourself) options than installing flooring. I have listed the options below with pros and cons to help you decide. I will cover the main issues: cost, view, light control and style as well as unique issues like safety with pets and young children.

Drapery

Pros:

  • There are about a million choices of fabrics that can create a look from French Country to the Renaissance period. Drapery is especially ideal for a formal traditional home. Only over the passed decades has the technology of blinds and powered shades been around. If you really want to stay within the architectural style of your formal colonial home consider tradition drapery.
  • With all the decorative elements that compliment the drapes like swags, cornices, lambrequins (Like a cornice, but fully framed around your window) and many others including decorative hardware. You can create a major focal point in a room which is ideal if your eye would first see your neighbor’s wall when you open the drapes.
  • Drapery can add warmth both visually and literally to a room, if you are in a cold climate, selecting a velvet or heavy textured fully lined drapery will buffer some coldness around the windows.
  • Design; you can incorporate the same fabric into the pillows, upholstery, etc for continuity and hang the rod higher to create a higher looking ceiling; don't forget to make the drapes longer if this is your goal or someone might be asking if there a flood somewhere?

Cons:

  • If you don’t install a motorized system with a remote control you will be closing and opening drapery at several windows at least twice a day. Remote power can make it a costly budget; about $100-200 per window depending on the system installed.
  • Controlling light is pre-determined if you go with full draperies. depending on the fabric compared with slats in blinds and shutters.
  • It is very time consuming to make them yourself if you have a lot of windows, but if you do, it’ll save you a lot of money. You don’t need a sewing machine, iron on tape works great. So this could also be an advantage. You need a lot of tape though and it can get as costly as the fabric. It costs a lot less than having a drapery workroom make them and it is personally rewarding.

Fabric Shades

Pros:

  • If you want the visual warmth of drapes, but like the way blinds and shutters have a neat architectural fit especially with an inside mount (within the frame of the window). This could be a good choice. You can also do an outside mount.
  • Shades often look better with light weight fabrics.
  • Transparent fabric roller shades are ideal for filtering light and are often specified for commercial use.
  • Pleated shades are an option and are available in a few different light control filter fabrics: standard, premium, room darkening, etc. They are ideal for clearstory widows and arched or round windows especially if you are dealing with direct sun. But, you want a consistent all day natural light to filter through. They block out a high percentage of UV rays. they can be opened and closed.

Cons:

  • You can’t control the light variation as much as blinds. The pleated and non-pleated fabric has more limited colors and patterns than drapery, but for this type of application, it is more ideal for the clearstory very bright sunny window and you are looking for a simple blend in look.
  • Cleaning can be a challenge. Avoid installing a light color shade in the kitchen above the sink or in food preparation areas.

Blinds

Pros:

  • For all types of budgets you can choose from aluminum to wood (Painted and stained). I especially like the light control anytime of day with blinds.
  • Also if you buy them from the same manufacture as shutters, the stain can match for the wood blinds and wood blinds are lot more budget friendly than a house of 100% wood shutters.
  • White and wood stain is the most popular and with an inside mount being the most popular. This look blends in with the architecture. Just make sure to measure your windows twice before ordering.
  • Easy to install and you can purchase them on line; they are all custom and have at least a 2-4 week lead-time. You can also purchase pre-made from the home improvement stores, but you are limited to a few standard sizes. It’ll save you money if you order them on line from a discounted factory rather than through a large chain store. They are very easy to install yourself.

Cons:

  • Some of them have a less favorable reputation as they are often found in the cheapest plastic form in cheap rental apartments. Vertical blinds are ideal for sliding glass doors, but the cheaper ones often break off and tangle, buy quality for verticals.
  • Horizontal blind often equire dusting every few days.
  • Also safety with both blinds and shades are a concern with young children. Oh! and cats just love to play with the wands and strings. Tie downs attached to the wall high up (so adults can only reach them) and keep the strings tacked away. Consider cordless, most of the time you just use the wand to open and close blinds for light control. Please do the research and buy these all important accessories if you have young children.

Shutters:

Pros:

  • Look traditional and very architectural. It'll help upgrade the value of your home.

Cons:

  • Most of you love the look of shutters, right? I am no exception! But they are by far the most expensive of all. They are custom, and a lot of work goes into making these. Unless you are an avid handyman or carpenter that can make and stain them yourself, they will cost a pretty penny! I recall having eight 42w x 72 picture windows and a slider in my family room in a previous home. Install included; it was around $3,800. A two story 3,000 square foot home can typically run around $40,000 dollars for wood shutters. Ask yourself if it’s really necessary to have shutters in every window in your house? So, how about a combination of wood blinds and shutters or even drapes?

Combinations:

  • There are so many options and combining decorative swags and cornices over blinds can give you a much more creative look. Each room can take on its own style.
  • It can save on the budget.

Tips:

  • Last, but most important: pay attention to how it all looks from the outside especially the front of your home! For a professional finished look, I would keep the same window treatments for each exterior wall and make sure it correlates with the rooms. Avoid the dining room having drapery, but the bathroom blinds if they both face the front of your house, continuity looks far better from the curb.Line your drapes with a high polyester count (at least 70%) to prevent fading and protect your drapes.
  • Views: If you have a beautiful view with privacy, you might want something very custom and simple that looks like there are no window treatments but there is! Power shades actually built in the windows, or tinted windows where you can see out but no one can see in similar to some commercial buildings. If you are building a custom home consult with your architect or contractor about these options.
  • If you’re in a tract home on a small lot, the more decorative the window treatment; your eye will stop more at this focal point. You won’t look so much beyond at your neighbor’s wall, just six feet away or the big air conditioning unit like I see just outside my kitchen window. Light filter shades are also a good choice for eye sore views.


Different Window Treatments

Rendering of a Tudor style interior window combined half shutters and heavy textured drapery with rope tie backs.
Rendering of a Tudor style interior window combined half shutters and heavy textured drapery with rope tie backs. | Source
Pleated light filtering shades, 'half moon' top window shade.
Pleated light filtering shades, 'half moon' top window shade. | Source
Living Room with traditional shutters
Living Room with traditional shutters | Source

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