The windows in your home provide beauty unlike any art-an actual connection to the outside world. Learning to accent your view only adds to this natural charm. Read through our guide to window treatments and discover how you can take this already gorgeous piece of your home's décor to the next level.
Drapes are usually pleated, lined and floor length. They are often sold in panels intended to hang on a tension rod, curtain rod or traverse rod (a rod that allows the drapes to be pulled back from the side with the use of a string or cord). When you find a style or fabric you like, experts suggest measuring the "stackback" or the width of the panel when the panel is pulled back. This ensures a retracted drape won't cover a window.
Traditionally, drapes project a formal, dramatic feel. But contemporary styles are more relaxed and can be attached to a rod with easy-to-assemble rings and clips. Drapes are a good option when you like changing window treatments with the seasons, too. Available in a variety of fabrics, you won't have a problem finding warm, rich drapes for winter and lighter, airier versions for the summer.
Curtains are lighter than drapes, often not pleated, unlined and provide a more relaxed, casual feeling. Attach curtains to a curtain rod or tension rod with rings, clips or built-in tabs or rod pockets. Varied in length, they can puddle on the floor (three to five inches), hang floor length (like drapes), stop at the bottom of the window or be "café curtains" - curtains that allow light in only at the top.
Curtain panels with rod pockets (pockets for the rods to slide through) are ideal for swinging doors or windows. Keep the panels under control-they will be part of a moving unit, after all-by sliding tension rods through both of the pockets and fitting the rods in the window.
Shades versus Blinds
Shades, which block or filter light and are usually made from fabric, are a popular decorative option and offer clean and simple lines. They are customizable in shape and can be cut at most neighborhood hardware stores. Shade "upgrades" include color, patterns, hem trim, rods and shade pulls. Shades made from natural materials, such as bamboo, are gaining popularity, too.
Blinds, usually made from wood, vinyl or metal, allow for the best of both worlds: light can be kept out while a view of the outside is maintained. Options include mini-blinds, horizontal blinds, vertical blinds, the ever-popular "plantation shutters" and many more. Some materials, such as real wood, are often not recommended for rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms because they can warp in hot, humid conditions.
Think Outside the Box
Think about nontraditional ways to connect the hardware with window treatment choices. Curtain/drape tiebacks and hanging fixtures can be fashioned from existing materials such as cup handles, drawer pulls, coat hooks and doorknobs. Thin rings are trendy; look for rods being designed in not only round shapes but square, twisted and braided forms, too. Watch for other window treatment trends such as solar shading and motorized treatments set on timers, activated by the sun or operated with a remote control.
For a unique take on window treatments, try a napkin window valance. Just attach a thin wire curtain rod above a window, choose some decorative napkins and hang them using small metal rings with clips. This is a great look for your kitchen or dining room windows.
Try creating playful window treatments with geometric shapes. Paint circle or square pieces of wood to match your décor and glue them onto a wood valance. You can layer or rotate the pieces to create an uneven pattern.
If you want to get even more creative, design your own window coverings by stretching painted canvas over simple wooden frames. You can also try adding piano hinges to allow the canvas panels to open and close accordion style.
Add some color to curtains using grape juice. For this simple dye project, add concentrated grape juice, one part warm water and a cup of salt in a plastic tub or bucket. Place the fabric in the tub and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before drying and hanging.
Outside Matters Too
Your window will look great on the inside, but don't forget the view from the street. Consider painting the trim of your windows on the exterior of your home in a color that will complement the rest of your home. Windows on the first floor should be a good project you can do on your own, but get a professional to paint the window trim higher up.