Window Treatment Ideas


©Decorating Den Systems, Inc. A sweep of fabric rises from the lower window with a and a turn to the upper compatible 
©Decorating Den Systems, Inc. A sweep of fabric rises from the lower window with a and a turn to the upper compatible 

If eyes are the windows to the soul, then surely the windows of a house are a gateway to the essence -- the soul -- of the home. No wonder that the way windows are dressed is one of the most important decorating decisions facing the homeowner.

In this article, you'll be able to see dozens of window treatments for a variety of rooms, complete with helpful pictures to capture the essence of the room. From flowing curtains to matchstick shades, you can find the perfect window treatments to decorate your home.

Window treatments are more than a decorating decision; they are also a very practical one. Curtains, shades, blinds, shutters -- or any combination of these window dressings -- must also serve a functional end: to admit or block sunlight and to provide privacy. Window treatments need to do far more than look good. They must work well, in addition.

Before deciding on a style or look for window treatments, homeowners must first analyze their needs. How important is privacy? First-floor living and dining rooms facing the front of the house, with a street view, require a greater privacy shield at the windows than rooms to the rear or upstairs. What direction is the room's exposure? If it's to the south or west, window treatments that screen or block intense sunlight may be desired. In cold climates, windows with a northern exposure may need a window treatment with a high thermal factor for energy efficiency.

And some windows require one additional practical consideration: the window's architecture. Some windows are inherently more attractive than others. When the window itself detracts from rather than adds to the space -- whether it's squat, too thin, devoid of appealing wood trim, or awkwardly positioned -- the window dressing can camouflage the architectural imperfections, making the window a more visually appealing feature.

At the opposite extreme, some windows are the grandest architectural statement of the room. In this case, the modernist "less is more" philosophy can be embraced, even if the room's design is 18th-century traditional. It's a shame to hide the beauty of a window under scads of swagged, draped, and puddled fabric. An overzealous window treatment can even overpower the architecture. If leaving beautiful windows bare is not an option, they can be dressed in more understated treatments that complement the architecture.

Once the windows' utilitarian needs are addressed, the fun begins: How to make the solution sizzle with personal style, enhancing the overall decor of the room. Perhaps the windows can even make the strongest decorating statement as the room's pièce de résistance.

First, decide on the room's style: contemporary, traditional, country, or eclectic. This will provide parameters for finding the appropriate window dressing. Damask draperies ornamented with velvet braid, silk fringe, and decorative rosettes obviously are not a consideration for a streamlined, contemporary style. For a traditional room, vertical blinds may be too contemporary a solution, unless a touch of contemporary's clean, unfussy style is desired. In a country room, treatments that carry forth the style -- tab curtains, simple panels made from retro fabrics, or nostalgic lace panels -- can be effective.

One-of-a-kind window dressings that defy convention, stepping out on a limb for self-expression, should also be considered. These are especially appropriate in an eclectic public space, or in a bedroom, where more personal ideas can be used. Mural-painted trompe l'oeil or custom-cut wood valances, for example, can add character to a room in a way no furnishing, no matter how creative, can provide.

Color, pattern, and texture are other design tools that play an important role in window dressings. If the room already features a bright, bold color at the walls, a more subtle palette may be preferred for the window treatment. Or, to avoid a deluge of one color in the space, the color wheel may be consulted to find the right complementary or analogous colors to be used on the window dressings.

In a room without much pattern on the walls and furnishings, the windows make available an ideal opportunity to provide the space with the visual movement and rhythm that a pattern can give. Remember, too, that window treatments can include more than one pattern, with complementary prints used as the main fabric, lining, and trim. Conversely, tread lightly with pattern at the window when an abundance of prints has been included elsewhere in the decor. A cacophony of mixed prints creates a visual discord that's hard to live with.

Make sure window treatments inject the appropriate texture to balance a room. Too often, texture is overlooked as a consideration, even though it can entirely alter the ambience of a room. For a hard, predominantly wood-filled space with few upholstered pieces, select soft, voluptuous curtain fabrics. In a carpeted room with plain drywall or plaster at the walls, consider wooden blinds or shades to inject the warmth of natural wood tones. Or create a mixture of textures in a single window treatment to provide textural richness and depth.

When both practical and decorative issues are addressed, window treatments become one of the most effective design statements in the home, expressing the personality of the owners while working to meet their lifestyle needs. In the pages that follow, you'll learn how to strike the perfect balance between necessity and design, creating beautiful and functional window treatments that will make any room uniquely yours.

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Neutral Zones

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An earthy essence pervades when windows are dressed with old-fashioned tab curtains in unbleached cotton.

Absence of color in a room's decor doesn't have to mean a lack of style at the windows. Approached creatively, a neutral window treatment can be one of the home's most provocative. Drama can be created with a large-scale pattern juxtaposing the opposite neutrals of black and white.

When the only pattern in the room is repeated on a chair, the window treatment stands as the room's single most compelling design ingredient. For paler neutral schemes aiming for tranquility rather than visual rhythm, sand- or cream-colored panels that are tied back or tabbed at the top suggest serenity with their demure hue and simplicity of design.

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Classic single-panel draperies are pulled to one side with elegant fringed tie-backs, exposing just enough window to convey a sense of the outdoors.

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Casual Comfort

©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. Floral chintz is the definitive fabric for the English country style. English country merits more decorative furbelows at the windows, as evidenced by this pouf valance and balloon shade.
©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. Floral chintz is the definitive fabric for the English country style. English country merits more decorative furbelows at the windows, as evidenced by this pouf valance and balloon shade.

The best living rooms reflect the lifestyles of the homeowners, and for many people, the trend is toward increased comfort, which can translate into a more casual decorating style. In window treatments, formal detailing and fine fabrics will be replaced with fresh, creative styling and more exuberant, durable materials.

Colors can go bolder, too, without fear of violating timeless traditions. Unrestricted by a traditional style's constraints, a casual room can include livelier patterns, setting the mood for more kicked-back fun for family and friends.

©The Warm Company ©The Warm Company
©The Warm Company
For a living room with a country-French flavor, a large Roman shade and valance integrates the room's multiple windows and pulls together its design.

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Shades of Shades

© A balloon valance shade, all the embellishment this window needs, conveys traditional decor with its jewel-toned fabric.
© A balloon valance shade, all the embellishment this window needs, conveys traditional decor with its jewel-toned fabric.

Just as window treatments in general encompass a plethora of materials and styles, window shades can come in a range of diverse looks and executions. Compatible with virtually any decorating and architectural style, shades can be clean-lined and simple or highly decorative and intricately shaped. They can be translucent or opaque, flat or rounded, patterned or solid.

For a palatial living room that recalls the grand halls of Europe, a sheer shade may be all that's needed at the window, allowing the furnishings and architecture to command full respect. In a living room on a more normal scale, shades can call more of the decorating shots as the focal point, with their exuberant pleats and folds.

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©
Translucent shades on arched windows filter the harsh rays of the sun without obscuring the view.

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Framing the Blinds

© Stained blue, with the charming irregularity of color that characterizes stain and sets it apart from paint, wood blinds dominate the windows in a traditional living room.
© Stained blue, with the charming irregularity of color that characterizes stain and sets it apart from paint, wood blinds dominate the windows in a traditional living room.

Blinds, now available in a range of good-looking materials from natural and painted woods to metal and fabric, are one of the most effective solutions for privacy and light control. For contemporary spaces, they are often a satisfactory window dressing on their own, with no need for additional window treatments. But in a dressier decor, especially one with rich, traditional flavor, blinds can look out of place unless given a finishing touch of drapery -- or, just for fun, faux drapery.

Because the blinds provide all the privacy and sunlight function necessary for the window, a drapery treatment over them really can be for appearance only -- a decorative frame that gives the necessary ornamentation previously missing.

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A swag and side panel drapery of elegant silk moiré accented with rosettes and braid-and-fringe streamers adds a formal flavor to the blinds in this living room.

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Free-Flowing Fabrics

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Weighted where it touches the floor, a single piece of striped fabric in a rich jewel tone extends over the top of a metal rod to form a swag with side panels.

Nobody ever said curtains had to hang from rods in fixed fashion. One of the newest currents in window treatment design, and one that promises to be long-lasting, calls for the drapery ideas of old to shake off their rigid structure for one that's fluid and spontaneous.

This fresh look isn't exclusive to windows in contemporary or eclectic spaces, though it's a natural for these decors. The idea of a loosely draped fabric is as ancient as Rome, which explains the classic look this window treatment imparts. With a curtain fabric rising up from the floor to a rod, draping over the rod in a gentle swag and perhaps draping over again before falling back to the floor in a second side panel, the treatment is, in fact, the definitive drapery. Dressed up in fine fabric and fringed braid, the free-flowing drapery coexists harmoniously with the most elegant traditional furnishings. Left without embellishment in a clean, white fabric, the drapery suggests a contemporary sensibility.

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Shuttered Spaces

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A custom shutter includes an inset panel of leaded glass at the top, for the effect of a 19th-century window transom without having to replace existing window panes.

No matter how unusual the shape of the window, wood shutters are a viable option as window treatments. For irregularly shaped windows, shutters present the possibility for a custom design that goes beyond a window dressing alone and approaches a more permanent architectural presence.

For an arched, Palladian-style window, shutters can create one of architecture's most enduring motifs, the classic sunburst. Standard louvered shutters and gate-swing shutters add an interesting linear dimension to rectangular windows. And they are practical: Shutters can be adjusted for sunlight blockage and privacy as need dictates.

© Shutters unify this arrangement of a large central window flanked by tall, thin side windows. A custom sunburst design repeats at the tops of the three windows. © Shutters unify this arrangement of a large central window flanked by tall, thin side windows. A custom sunburst design repeats at the tops of the three windows.
© Shutters unify this arrangement of a large central window flanked by tall, thin side windows. A custom sunburst design repeats at the tops of the three windows.

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Southwestern Style

© Wide wooden slats on a shutter treatment in this Southwestern living room create a strong linear pattern at the window without a trace of print, fabric, or color.
© Wide wooden slats on a shutter treatment in this Southwestern living room create a strong linear pattern at the window without a trace of print, fabric, or color.

One of the hottest looks in interior design, Southwestern style obtains its depth from a mix of influences -- Native American, the culture of the old West, and pioneer furniture. The style mandates a window treatment that's robust, masculine, and strong, with a natural, earthy texture. What results is a charming mix of rusticity, nostalgia, vivid earth colors, and bold, geometric patterns.

In the living room, this often means considering a blind or shade instead of a fabric curtain window treatment. Woven draperies of Native American geometric motifs and more whimsical cotton bandana prints are notable exceptions. For a living room already lively with exuberant pattern and color, wide wooden shutters in their natural finish are the perfect companion, adding warmth and a rustic ambience.

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In Timely Fashion

© There's nothing new in a drapery traditionally mounted from rings on a rod. But when the fabric is gauzy sheer, the look is transparently contemporary.
© There's nothing new in a drapery traditionally mounted from rings on a rod. But when the fabric is gauzy sheer, the look is transparently contemporary.

Adding window treatments to the dining room often proves a challenge, yet contemporary dining rooms need not rely on hard geometrics, with their sharp angles and straight lines. The terse forms and unadorned planes of up-to-the-minute furnishings can exude a grace all their own when given gentle curves at just the right places. The role of a window treatment in such a space is twofold: to echo the subtle, soft edge of the style to make dining a sensual experience while remaining clearly fresh enough to be timely.

A traditional treatment can be successfully interpreted in an unlikely sheer fabric and dressed beneath with a uniquely shaped shade. Or give tradition a twist -- by turning the fabric on end to span from one lower window to another above for a look that's anything but expected.

© An irregularly angled window above a standard rectangular window poses an opportunity for a little contemporary creativity. The drapery is trimmed with fabric-covered tubing and decorative cord. © An irregularly angled window above a standard rectangular window poses an opportunity for a little contemporary creativity. The drapery is trimmed with fabric-covered tubing and decorative cord.
© An irregularly angled window above a standard rectangular window poses an opportunity for a little contemporary creativity. The drapery is trimmed with fabric-covered tubing and decorative cord.

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Pattern Without Print

© This sliding wooden window grid echoes other geometric motifs in the dining room. The vertical lines of the framing boards repeat the linear sweep of the banquet table.
© This sliding wooden window grid echoes other geometric motifs in the dining room. The vertical lines of the framing boards repeat the linear sweep of the banquet table.

For dining rooms in which texture is the dominant design element, wood is the natural choice as a window treatment material. But it's also more: It's an opportunity to embellish the window with graphic pattern -- without a single swatch of fabric.

Just as fabrics provide a nearly infinite number of patterns to pick from, wood can bring a surprising variety of looks. It can be configured in a small-scale grid pattern; it can go long and lean with wood blinds, which, massed in a single space, make a bold horizontal statement; or it can be restrained to Japanese-style, large-scale grid-work panels backed with translucent paper or fabric. Each wooden treatment has an entirely different effect, keeping its own beat in the rhythm of the room.

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When Formality Reigns

© Twist rods outlining the tops of these arched windows are covered in two formal fabrics, white satin and green moiré, perfect companions for the scarves atop them.
© Twist rods outlining the tops of these arched windows are covered in two formal fabrics, white satin and green moiré, perfect companions for the scarves atop them.

As the space where guests are entertained, dining rooms require putting the best decorative foot forward. And when the room carries a formal flavor with dark, polished 18th-century-style mahogany furniture, rich carpets, and gleaming, gilt-encrusted chandeliers, its formality should be carried out in its window treatments as well.

These are the windows for finer fabrics, stately drapings, and refined colors. Golden damask that puddles voluptuously to one side before cross-tying at the top makes one such regal statement. Other formal fabrics -- satin and moiré -- are used in tandem in shorter treatments that gain their elegant presence from draping and material choice rather than abundance of fabric.

© A formal dining room drapery uses classic damask fabric to cross-tie in a swagged valance before falling off to a shorter length at one side. © A formal dining room drapery uses classic damask fabric to cross-tie in a swagged valance before falling off to a shorter length at one side.
© A formal dining room drapery uses classic damask fabric to cross-tie in a swagged valance before falling off to a shorter length at one side.

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Winners By Yards

©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. This treatment features rich folds of fabric on a balloon shade topped by a tapered valance with a central swag.
©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. This treatment features rich folds of fabric on a balloon shade topped by a tapered valance with a central swag.

More than any other public space in the home, the dining room is for indulgence. When the decorating goal is to create an ambience in which foods and wines can be enjoyed at leisure, the scene requires a lush setting: nothing spartan in window treatments or at the walls.

The surest way to reach this goal is to use generous expanses of fabric as window treatments. Ample yardages of fabric can puddle to the floor in panels or be scooped up into generous folds of shades for a traditional design; country French decors can feature double curtains and valances in different fabrics for a lavish but not overdone look; and even a contemporary dining room can gain a sense of opulence with a deeply ballooned shade crowned with a tightly gathered valance on a shirred fabric rod -- in contemporary's crisp white palette.

© What's good once is better twice -- that's the logic behind this window treatment. Curtains in a printed fabric have their form repeated in a solid, contrasting fabric. © What's good once is better twice -- that's the logic behind this window treatment. Curtains in a printed fabric have their form repeated in a solid, contrasting fabric.
© What's good once is better twice -- that's the logic behind this window treatment. Curtains in a printed fabric have their form repeated in a solid, contrasting fabric.

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Heart of Country

© One of country style's most appealing qualities is its ability to tug the heartstrings. This typical curtain in muslin tieback panels trimmed in ball fringe does just that.
© One of country style's most appealing qualities is its ability to tug the heartstrings. This typical curtain in muslin tieback panels trimmed in ball fringe does just that.

With its insistence on casual comfort and its gentle reminder of roots in the past, country is America's fastest-growing decorating style, and window treatment style is no exception. It's not a single look, but many looks, from dark and primitive to sunny and whimsical. For a style with so many interpretations, any specific brand of country is greatly aided in definition by the statement made at the windows.

For a light, whimsical country style free of a literal replay of the past, the windows can feature fresh, upbeat colors instead of a more somber historic palette. A romantic, cottage country look favored in many dining rooms has its stage set with patterned curtains with knotted swag valances. Or, for a country look that's brimming with old-fashioned flavor, a simple set of panels trimmed in ball fringe says it all.

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Draping the Doors

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French doors bring the outdoors in while increasing a room's architectural interest. But unless they're located in a private part of the house, removed from neighbors' views, they require privacy protection through window treatments, just as windows do. The idea of outfitting French doors with their own treatments doesn't have to be daunting.

Considered as a pair of long casement windows, an easy drapery solution is the answer. Fabric panels dress each door, just as they might a single window. A cornice or valance in a matching material situated above the door frame, to permit opening and closing the doors easily, acts as an umbrella that unifies the pair. When pulled open, the panels allow the charm of the door, plus sunlight and the outdoor view, to spill into the room.

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Bridging the Bay

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The natural golden wood tone of these bay shutters underscores the warmth of the herringbone-pattern parquet wood floor and dining chairs in the same wood finish.

Baywindows enhance the dining experience by capturing the outdoor views from three directions. Enclosing the room like outstretched arms, they also create a cozy nook that's a natural home for a dining table, yet may pose a challenge for applying window treatments.

Although fabric window treatments are an option, bays retain their crisp angles when outfitted with shutters, which precisely follow the lines of the windows. Wooden shutters offer the advantage of light control. Even when their louvered panels are pulled shut, the shutter slats can be opened to admit filtered sunlight. Shutters can be left in a natural wood finish, stained any color, or painted airy white -- options that lend themselves to working with any palette, any style.

© This tall bay window combines wooden shutters of three different lengths. Bright white paint provides visual connection with the white dining table and chairs. © This tall bay window combines wooden shutters of three different lengths. Bright white paint provides visual connection with the white dining table and chairs.
© This tall bay window combines wooden shutters of three different lengths. Bright white paint provides visual connection with the white dining table and chairs.

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Traditional Theatrics

©Thomas Lighting
©Thomas Lighting
This traditional treatment is deceiving. Despite its elegant looks, it's a snap to put together with a no-sew drapery-and-glue approach.

Taking their cues from the theater, dining room window treatments aspiring to a formal effect emulate the grand curtains of the stage. In a classic form, red is the color of choice, executed in a fine fabric perfect for an elegant room. To underscore the regal look, gold-colored hardware and silk tassel trim are standouts against the solid red draperies.

When the walls are part of the stage, covered in a vivid green-and-red striped covering, care must be taken not to overload the eye with too much pattern. Solid fabrics at the windows in a contrasting color are the answer. Elegant, pearly-white draperies that fall in full form as side panels with an upper swag relate to the room's white crown molding, weaving into the overall decor.

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Shades of Versatility

© With these stagecoach-style bamboo shades on lower windows, no window treatments as companions on upper panes are required for a totally finished look.
© With these stagecoach-style bamboo shades on lower windows, no window treatments as companions on upper panes are required for a totally finished look.

Dining is an occasion requiring just the right atmosphere, and window treatments can play an integral part in attaining it. It's no coincidence that dining room lighting is often governed by a rheostat, allowing the artificial light to be controlled to fit the mood. What works at night also works during the day. Controlling the amount of sunlight spilling onto the dining room table during the daytime hours helps bring the desired mood for dining.

Shades are one of the most versatile window treatments and therefore merit special consideration in establishing the appropriate ambiance in the dining room. Bamboo shades, even fully closed, allow trickles of light to dapple the table. Fabric-covered or woven shades, pulled up only a little, permit just enough natural light to stream through at the bottom. Shades that roll down from the top instead of the bottom serve yet a different function, allowing in the light from upper windows while retaining privacy below.

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Swagged Nooks

©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. Two coordinated fabrics in miniprints wrap across a center rod as casual scarf swags.
©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. Two coordinated fabrics in miniprints wrap across a center rod as casual scarf swags.

Running a close race with fireplaces and capacious closet space, eat-in kitchens are fast becoming one of the most sought-after features in today's houses, and demand appropriate window treatments. In the farmhouses of old, the kitchen table could be plopped almost anywhere in the big, square room. But today's kitchen eating area is typically a special nook sidling up to a large, sunny window or wall of windows all its own.

Since flooding the breakfast nook in golden sunshine is the object, ceiling-to-floor draperies that hide the light defeat the purpose. Shorter swags that dip across the width of the window with minimal intrusion -- perhaps nothing more than a nod at the center -- are the better answer. They can be knotted at the sides, draped over a rod in multiple fabrics, or swagged more formally with rosettes in a contrasting accent color. Whatever the specific treatment, these curtains provide a finished flair that's sunlight-friendly.

© Solid red curtains span this breakfast nook bay in the form of valance swags held in place by large rosettes in a contrasting fabric. © Solid red curtains span this breakfast nook bay in the form of valance swags held in place by large rosettes in a contrasting fabric.
© Solid red curtains span this breakfast nook bay in the form of valance swags held in place by large rosettes in a contrasting fabric.

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Clean-Lined Contemporaries

© In a contemporary kitchen with a natural wood floor and exposed wood ceiling trusses, wooden blinds in the same natural finish provide a completed look to the space.
© In a contemporary kitchen with a natural wood floor and exposed wood ceiling trusses, wooden blinds in the same natural finish provide a completed look to the space.

Some kitchens are the coziest rooms of the house, where touches of whimsy, nostalgia, and even comfortable clutter can safely be indulged in. Other kitchens are the polar opposite: streamlined paradigms of efficiency, where contemporary crispness means leaving nary a ruffled edge in sight, making window treatment selection an exercise in clean lines.

In these sleek spaces, architectural blinds or shades -- paired with no other dressing -- make a compatible supporting statement. Whether in natural or stained wood, solid fabric, or the ever-popular classic white miniblind, these linear dressings echo the long, lean lines of the kitchen counters and islands and retain the minimalist aesthetic operative in the room design.

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V is for Victory

© Imitating a tablecloth at the window, this triangular valance in crisp white linen is trimmed with a deep edge of crocheted lace.
© Imitating a tablecloth at the window, this triangular valance in crisp white linen is trimmed with a deep edge of crocheted lace.

A frilly, feminine touch at the window is in order for kitchens aspiring to a soft and friendly atmosphere with a hint of the past. Before contemporary architecture and design introduced their spartan, clean-lined looks, nearly every kitchen was adorned with a fluffy bit of fabric in the window treatments. By returning to the earlier ideas in dressings, windows can make the kitchen a truly safe haven, where time slows down and tradition abides.

One curtain design that brings a festive, old-fashioned feeling to the window through its shape alone is the V -- a form that spirals up or down the window to create a V from either negative or positive space. More than serious, straight-falling panels, this shape is ebullient. Typically trimmed with a ruffle at the bottom edges, it covers only a portion of the window, to let in light and views through the balance.

© A country-style opera valance in pure white is given a softening touch with a decorative scalloped edge trimmed in lace. © A country-style opera valance in pure white is given a softening touch with a decorative scalloped edge trimmed in lace.
© A country-style opera valance in pure white is given a softening touch with a decorative scalloped edge trimmed in lace.

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Looking Back

© In a creative stroke of adaptive reuse, a 1940s tablecloth fabric brings high-spirited nostalgia to the window as a cafe curtain and matching valance.
© In a creative stroke of adaptive reuse, a 1940s tablecloth fabric brings high-spirited nostalgia to the window as a cafe curtain and matching valance.

Walk into almost any antiques shop and you're sure to find a section devoted just to them: furnishings, fabrics, and accessories from the 1940s and '50s. Window treatments are no exception. Baby boomers will remember some of these oddities first-hand -- the bright colors, chromes, and plastics that represented modernity, as it was known then.

But what was once a new design style has now become a vintage classic, not quite old enough yet to be strictly defined as antique. Brought into the home, these flavors of the not-so-distant past produce one of the hottest looks in design. Blending with today's kitchen appliances and architecture, they are infectious, spreading their good mood. Whether captured in spirit only, as a hand-painted valance that recalls the epoch's designs and palette, or in actual vintage fabrics reenlisted in a new role as window dressings, the retro looks at the window appear anything but old.

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Watching the Garden Grow

© A window shade hand-painted in a lattice pattern overgrown with blooming vines is the ideal companion for a colorful display of potted plants on the sill below.
© A window shade hand-painted in a lattice pattern overgrown with blooming vines is the ideal companion for a colorful display of potted plants on the sill below.

Work in the kitchen consists of the all-important tasks of nurturing a family through the preparation of food. To be done right, these tasks require ample light, and proper light management requires proper window treatments. And because of the almost spiritual dimension many people associate with food preparation, most homeowners insist that their kitchens be cheery spaces bathed in as much natural light as possible.

As the light-filled, functional hub of the home, the kitchen can be spared formality at its windows with no sense of loss. And because kitchens are often at the back of the house, where privacy is greater, their windows may not need protection with a total privacy shield. Instead, window treatments can be completely casual and sparingly covered. Potted plants lining the sills can be dressing enough. With their greenery and blooms, container plants invigorate a kitchen with real life while the plants themselves thrive in the sun.

©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. Topped with only a pennant valance in sunny yellow and white checks with blue trim, this kitchen window is left bare except for three herb topiaries gracing its sill. ©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. Topped with only a pennant valance in sunny yellow and white checks with blue trim, this kitchen window is left bare except for three herb topiaries gracing its sill.
©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. Topped with only a pennant valance in sunny yellow and white checks with blue trim, this kitchen window is left bare except for three herb topiaries gracing its sill.

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Seamless Tradition

© A window like the one in this bathroom would be overshadowed by any treatment with a lot of material. Instead, a fabric strip valance echoes the print of the shower curtain.
© A window like the one in this bathroom would be overshadowed by any treatment with a lot of material. Instead, a fabric strip valance echoes the print of the shower curtain.

In historic or older houses in which antique bathroom fixtures are an integral feature, a streamlined look for the bath may be inappropriate, which directly affects the choice of window treatments. The design goal is to create a bathroom decor that seamlessly integrates this room into the remainder of the house. Traditional design, replete with patterned wall coverings, arrays of objects, and fabric window curtains, is the optimum solution.

At the windows, this means selecting traditional prints for curtain patterns, then executing them in shapes that are timeless but still stylish. Success is determined by how familiar, versus how fresh, the window treatments look. Both choices shown here are winners.

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Austrian Ambience

© Juxtaposed with walls painted a pale clover, deep crimson Austrian shades over clover-painted shutters make a bold statement along a wall of windows.
© Juxtaposed with walls painted a pale clover, deep crimson Austrian shades over clover-painted shutters make a bold statement along a wall of windows.

Ruched from top to bottom, Austrian shades billow into puffy, cloud-like segments when raised, making them one of the prettiest window treatments in home design. They can accent any public space in the home, but they're especially suited for the bedroom, where their airy, sculpted shape suggests a lulling serenity.

Unlike a standard drapery panel, which has only as much dimension as the width of its yardage permits, the Austrian shade inherently has dimension when raised, with its bunched folds of scalloped fabric bringing depth to the window. The raised shades have the appearance of a decoratively shaped valance. But whereas a valance is stationary, the shades aren't fixed, but can be lowered to cover the entire window for privacy.

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Shimmering Shades

© An iridescent glow results from outfitting windows in matchstick shades painted white. Decorative drapery panels in matching white are secured with knots on thick poles.
© An iridescent glow results from outfitting windows in matchstick shades painted white. Decorative drapery panels in matching white are secured with knots on thick poles.

Nothing dapples sunlight like matchstick window shades, making them one of the most versatile window treatments. In the bedroom, harsh light can be reduced with the shades closed while sun streams in through the cracks. The patterns of shadow and light that play upon the room are an ever-changing nature show. But there is one drawback: Because of their translucence, these shades won't provide the total privacy many bedrooms require. In that case, a supplement of opaque drapery is needed.

But for a bedroom that faces a private courtyard or an outdoor area otherwise concealed from the public's eye, nothing prevents matchstick shades from taking center stage at the window. Painted white, then paired with fixed, jumbo-knotted drapery panels that never close but really just frame the window, matchstick blinds create an ephemeral effect that's mesmerizing -- a plus for a private retreat. For a bedroom in which skylights are a major light source, the shades serve the practical end of screening light with no sacrifice to privacy.

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Tied and True

© Old-fashioned ticking stripes are drafted into service on this bedroom window's insulated shade and matching curtains with tiebacks, creating a yesteryear feel.
© Old-fashioned ticking stripes are drafted into service on this bedroom window's insulated shade and matching curtains with tiebacks, creating a yesteryear feel.

Just as hair frames the face, tieback curtain panel window treatments frame the windows, accentuating them while providing some desired protection. Unlike straight-hanging draperies that fall vertically from the curtain rod, tiebacks -- an amazingly easy addition to any curtain panels -- allow the fabric to take shape at the window, creating more visual interest than plain, straight lines. When privacy is desired, one end of the tieback can be released to free the drapery panels into closing fully at the center.

The options for tiebacks are wide open, but a favorite treatment is sewing the drapery accoutrement from the same fabric as the main curtain. To dress up the tieback, consider trimming it in a border tape that's perhaps repeated elsewhere on the curtain -- as the valance hem and inside trim. Or omit any stitched-on trim, keeping the tie-backs in a single fabric matching the curtain panels. Decorative flair can be added with a brass star pin.

© Wide, patterned hanging shades tied back with matching ribbon form the perfect complement to the floral print on this rooms furniture and pillows. © Wide, patterned hanging shades tied back with matching ribbon form the perfect complement to the floral print on this rooms furniture and pillows.
© Wide, patterned hanging shades tied back with matching ribbon form the perfect complement to the floral print on this rooms furniture and pillows.

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Masculine Style

© A one-of-a-kind baseball-cap valance over a long window matches the room's black, white, and red palette. Privacy is guaranteed by white blinds trimmed in black tape.
© A one-of-a-kind baseball-cap valance over a long window matches the room's black, white, and red palette. Privacy is guaranteed by white blinds trimmed in black tape.

Decorating boys' bedrooms takes a slightly different mind-set from that used in designing younger children's rooms, and window treatments are no exception. As the maturing boy is coming into his own identity, he wants a personal room environment. Window treatments need to be more streamlined and to-the-point without froufrou decorative embellishments that may work for a younger child.

Shades or blinds, which have a more architectural appearance than fabric draperies, provide a streamlined, undecorated look and a masculine effect. Printed vertical shades in dark colors, neutral blinds with an unusual baseball-cap valance, and plain white shades tied with black ribbons over white miniblinds are all answers that meet the needs of a boy.

© Faux finishes are perhaps the single most important decorating trend in home design. These vertical shades are printed in a dark-toned faux stone design. © Faux finishes are perhaps the single most important decorating trend in home design. These vertical shades are printed in a dark-toned faux stone design.
© Faux finishes are perhaps the single most important decorating trend in home design. These vertical shades are printed in a dark-toned faux stone design.

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Stage Stops

©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. The complementary colors yellow and blue team up on this window treatment for a look that's a hit for either a boy's or a girl's bedroom.
©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. The complementary colors yellow and blue team up on this window treatment for a look that's a hit for either a boy's or a girl's bedroom.

A stagecoach valance is slightly indented by two straps hanging from the top to create a large central scallop. As a window treatment, it creates a playful look especially appropriate for children's rooms and gives a finished decorative look appropriate for either boys or girls.

A valance frees up the remainder of the window for a treatment that provides privacy and sunscreen, such as standard white blinds or miniblinds or even a simple lower tab curtain. In the room shown here, the stagecoach valance is made important with powerful patterns and special treatments.

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Primary Learning

© This child's room is given a circus feel with a single window treatment for the pair of adjacent windows: blinds covered by cotton curtain panels and a patchwork valance.
© This child's room is given a circus feel with a single window treatment for the pair of adjacent windows: blinds covered by cotton curtain panels and a patchwork valance.

As a palette for a child's room, the primary colors -- bold yellow, blue, and red, in their clearest, most undiluted forms -- are visually stimulating, attracting the eye of even the youngest child, encouraging him or her to investigate the environment. As colors for window treatments, an additional advantage is one parents will appreciate at budgeting time: Their purity make the primary colors safe choices for a lifetime of living.

Furniture may be updated to meet the maturing child's needs and wants, but the colors -- especially at the window -- can remain unaltered. A final bonus of a primary color scheme is its flexibility. Unlike a pattern-themed room, one decorated in primaries can take in all kinds of furnishings and accessories -- newer, more grown-up items can always be found in these three colors.

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Free-Falling Tabs

©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. A long bank of windows is given a treatment in exciting red. The double-pennant valance atop the cafe curtains ties the space together by echoing the room's fabric.
©This End Up Furniture Co., Inc. A long bank of windows is given a treatment in exciting red. The double-pennant valance atop the cafe curtains ties the space together by echoing the room's fabric.

No curtain rings are required with these stylish curtains. Tabbed panels that fall straight down as cafe curtains form a clean and classic window treatment that is easy to make yourself. For a child's room, a vivid primary color will give the tab curtains attention-getting style. In home design, red is known as the power color.

Studies have shown that red stimulates the appetite -- and the imagination, actually priming the adrenal glands to get busy and go to work. Or you can try detailing that makes a difference -- a bright button fastening for each tab that relates to dots on the wall. Or you can choose a lively pattern that can't help but have an eye-popping effect.

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Padded With Personality

© Two wide walls of windows wear neutral, understated semisheer curtains indented at the middle for an interesting hourglass sculptural shape.
© Two wide walls of windows wear neutral, understated semisheer curtains indented at the middle for an interesting hourglass sculptural shape.

Family rooms are where the family spends most of its time, and they demand window treatments that will stand the test of time. This is the space for kicking back and relaxing in an environment that looks like home -- and the personalities of the owners -- without pretense. A family room should be as inviting as possible by capturing the flavor, interests, and lifestyle of the owners, and it should be comfortable for real-life activities without high-maintenance decorating treatments that require kid gloves.

The window treatments are designed to meet both goals. The hourglass semisheer curtains in this family room give a one-of-a-kind feel to the room. Padding the cornice is a floral fabric that adds a sparkle of pattern and color without appearing fussy or in any way overdone.

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Taking Shape

© A paper pleated shade is topped by a jester valance in an irregular-striped print repeated on the accent pillows.
© A paper pleated shade is topped by a jester valance in an irregular-striped print repeated on the accent pillows.

Although color and pattern both inject interest into a window treatment, an additional element that's just as effective, though less explored, is shape. Instead of the expected straight-falling or tieback panels or architectural shades, shutters, or blinds that are flush to the wall, try a unique shape.

Fabric treatments that take their beauty from unanticipated folds of textiles bring visual life to windows. For the family room, curtains that use shape to express individuality don't have to rely on formality or a vivid pattern or color. Easy to live with, these shaped curtains add a sense of style to the family room while still allowing the space to be casual and comfortable.

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Curtsey to Living

© Flanked with floral print tieback side panels that drop to the floor, this swagged valance gets its shape from a pinch pleat without the necessity of draping or knots.
© Flanked with floral print tieback side panels that drop to the floor, this swagged valance gets its shape from a pinch pleat without the necessity of draping or knots.

Most family rooms strive for a mood of graciousness and warmth, and need window treatments to match. As the space in the home where the family spends the most time together, the family room is ideally a beckoning area that invites plopping down and relaxing. Pressures of the world outside disappear, and family members can be themselves. Windows provide an opportunity to establish and enhance the mood of welcoming comfort.

The traditional swagged valance, with its dip in the center, serves as a metaphor for a bow or a curtsey to the important business of life -- being together with family and friends without inhibitions or pretense. The swagged valance pictured here is mounted in a simple, classic fashion, inviting families to get on with enjoying home life to the fullest.

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Recreational Rooms

© On this rec-room window, the natural wood frame and cornice establish the mood, completed by a red shade and a trout border that swims across the wooden cornice.
© On this rec-room window, the natural wood frame and cornice establish the mood, completed by a red shade and a trout border that swims across the wooden cornice.

The skimpily furnished, half-finished basement "rec" rooms that appeared in the '50s have grown into family rooms that are important fixtures in most homes. Increasingly they acquire more one-of-a-kind personality in their decor to reflect the interests, passions, and pastimes of the homeowners, and demand window treatments that accent and compliment this personality.

The sports enthusiast need no longer hide his or her zeal in the closet along with the tennis racquets and golf clubs. Instead, sports paraphernalia can be brought into the family room as a legitimate part of the decor, and the passion can be reflected in other design elements as well.

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Lodge Style

© A horseshoe ties back plain curtains hung shower-curtain-style from a wooden pole. With the curtains tied back, privacy can still be ensured with neutral sliding shades.
© A horseshoe ties back plain curtains hung shower-curtain-style from a wooden pole. With the curtains tied back, privacy can still be ensured with neutral sliding shades.

Popularized by a number of manufacturers and designers several years ago, the lodge look is enjoying continuing success as a home decorating style, necessitating stylish and appropriate window treatments. A hybrid of sorts, the style is a cross between the decorating motifs from the turn-of-the-century Adirondackscamps -- rustic summer playgrounds for America's elite -- and ever-popular Southwestern style with its Native American and cowboy themes.

Log walls or pine siding, stone fireplaces, and casual furniture including any number of country antiques are elements of the look. At the windows, treatments that work can range from wooden blinds beneath a Southwestern-style cornice to simple country-style muslin curtains or plain panels tied back with horseshoes.

© A Southwestern design and the green-and-red lodge palette on a boxed cornice add the right touch over wooden blinds, using natural materials to complement the style. © A Southwestern design and the green-and-red lodge palette on a boxed cornice add the right touch over wooden blinds, using natural materials to complement the style.
© A Southwestern design and the green-and-red lodge palette on a boxed cornice add the right touch over wooden blinds, using natural materials to complement the style.

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On the Lighter Side

Soft-fold shades over combination windows and glass doors are the ideal solution for treating both doors and windows without visual confusion.

Shades as a primary window treatment have the advantage of compatibility with a bleached, neutral design without much color. A starkly contemporary living area with crisp, white walls would fight against a heavy, eye-jolting window dressing. Even for a more traditional or transitional setting that exploits the tranquility of a monochromatic palette, shades are a natural, subtle option.

When the room's contemporary architecture includes tall, single-pane, stair-step windows, shades can provide the necessary privacy and sun-screening without causing visual discordance. Curtains would call attention to the irregularly spaced windows, disrupting the room's clean-lined flow. Matching shades add only a slight accent, disappearing unobtrusively into the pale environment.

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Time-Tested Traditions

A multicolored fringe goes a long way in finishing a simple traditional drapery with great style. The fringe is used only as a border trim.
A multicolored fringe goes a long way in finishing a simple traditional drapery with great style. The fringe is used only as a border trim.

For a living room decorated with a classic camel-back sofa, a deep-tufted wing chair, and an 18th-century-style secretary, the window treatment must also be a classic -- time-tested and traditional. The trendy, the casual, and the contemporary are strictly off-limits in so traditional a space.

The perfect effect could be a double-tiered treatment -- either a stately shaped cornice board or richly undulating folds of swagged fabric at the crown of the window, flanked with generous expanses of fabric at the sides.

A shaped cornice board with geometric curves and angles creates a sense of craftsmanship compatible with the room's other traditional elements. A shaped cornice board with geometric curves and angles creates a sense of craftsmanship compatible with the room's other traditional elements.
A shaped cornice board with geometric curves and angles creates a sense of craftsmanship compatible with the room's other traditional elements.

More finely finished draperies will bear dressmaker detailing such as a fringed border along the seams and at the top. To hang professionally, the draperies may be lined and weighted at the bottom. The final effect: a window that is appropriate for the traditional room.

The double-swag drapery with lined cascades and a center double cascade combines traditional styling with a breath of spring. The double-swag drapery with lined cascades and a center double cascade combines traditional styling with a breath of spring.
The double-swag drapery with lined cascades and a center double cascade combines traditional styling with a breath of spring.

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Arched Answers

To define the graceful arch of this sunburst window, a fabric-covered pelmet                                  follows the window lines to form a horseshoe shape.
To define the graceful arch of this sunburst window, a fabric-covered pelmet follows the window lines to form a horseshoe shape.

Arched windows that recall the Palladian style conceived during the classical age by architect Andrea Palladio are a favorite feature in new houses today and require special window treatments.

Though they bring character and charm, these oversized, round-top windows also pose a decorating challenge. Many homeowners skirt the issue altogether, opting to leave the arresting windows dramatically unadorned. Nevertheless, some approaches enhance Palladian windows without obscuring their inherent beauty.

One of the most elegant answers mirrors the window's shape in the window dressing. A rounded floral fabric cornice underscores the upper arch; vast vertical panels in a neutral fabric gracefully part, with tiebacks, to allow the majority of the window to be seen. Beneath the panels, a translucent valance dips down, cutting into the sunburst arch but not hiding it.

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A Long Stretch

Gold jumbo cording on overlapping swags gives a tailored look to this drapery treatment, which includes sheer panels for privacy.
Gold jumbo cording on overlapping swags gives a tailored look to this drapery treatment, which includes sheer panels for privacy.

To most homeowners, a capacious, long-reaching window or bank of windows in the living room is a coveted feature, and window treatments should be carefully considered. These types of windows orient the house to its site, taking in the view and the sunshine. And it affords a pleasant spot for situating chairs for light-filled conversation areas or nice retreats for curling up with a book.

Wider windows require careful thought in determining just the right dressing. Draw draperies, for example, would result in nearly an entire wall covered with fabric when the draperies are closed for privacy. An amiable compromise between too much fabric and none at all is to include draperies as the window's frame only, with side panels that remain just that.

For a crafted, braided look, this wide window features twisted, fabric-covered rods with open swags, side panels, and traversing sheers. For a crafted, braided look, this wide window features twisted, fabric-covered rods with open swags, side panels, and traversing sheers.
For a crafted, braided look, this wide window features twisted, fabric-covered rods with open swags, side panels, and traversing sheers.

The window can be topped with a valance that takes an extra dip or two to cover the wide space. Pleated or vertical shades, which are much less intrusive than fabric, can cover the window in its entirety, providing privacy without being a decorative burden.

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Valanced Style

A lacy valance with a pennant bottom adds an antique ambience to this country dining room, softening the crisp black-and-white checks of the walls.
A lacy valance with a pennant bottom adds an antique ambience to this country dining room, softening the crisp black-and-white checks of the walls.

Valanced window treatments can say a lot with only a little fabric. One of the least understood precepts of good design is that it doesn't take a lot to say a lot. This holds true in window treatment designs, too. To call the most attention to a window, the dressing doesn't have to be full and flowing. Instead, it can be nothing more than a well-designed valance that highlights the architecture of the window and dramatizes the room decor at the same time.

A sure approach in using the valance successfully is to go for the unexpected -- perhaps a valance in a beautiful vintage lace, to stand in soft contrast to the geometry of a country checked wall. Or the valance can be the room's focal point through use of a totally different pattern and color from the dominant covering at the walls. The key is to venture outside the norm, into creative territory.

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Familiar Faces

In traditional style, the classic floral print is continued from the walls to the window. The only break in the flow is the fringe-edged scalloped valance.
In traditional style, the classic floral print is continued from the walls to the window. The only break in the flow is the fringe-edged scalloped valance.

What's new, trendy, or clever isn't always what's desired in a room's decor, including its window treatments. Sometimes homeowners want their spaces imbued with the comfort of the familiar. Especially when dining, a homey atmosphere can be a plus, putting the entire family at ease. When this is the case, the windows, as one of the dining room's most important architectural features, have an obligation to set the mood with appropriate dressings.

Traditional prints call to mind memories from the past, even though they may not be exactly the same as yesterday's print. Curtains in a fabric with a navy background and a small, scattered print conjure images of an old-fashioned farmhouse. Used in a dining room with traditional mahogany furniture, they take the formal edge off the decor, making it warm and friendly.

But prints don't have to have a down-home look to be comforting; as classic patterns, they can still provide a cozy atmosphere -- even when the treatment is a formal floral swagged valance embellished with lace and flanked with floor-length panels.

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Good Cheer in Check

A simple gingham valance in red and white is gathered at the top to fall in graceful ruffles.
A simple gingham valance in red and white is gathered at the top to fall in graceful ruffles.

It's hard to be glum when greeted with sun-splashed kitchen window treatments checked in timeless red, white, and blue. Red and white checks are a classic country pattern that can be used in almost any casual environment to lift spirits with their simple, upbeat looks.

They're especially effective in the kitchen, where they recall the kitchen towels of youth, or the checked oilcloth tablecloths in intimate Italian restaurants. At the kitchen window, the favorite checked pattern is best delivered in a casual mounting -- as a cafe curtain loosely attached to the rod for a loopy look at the top, or, even simpler, as only a gingham valance dressing up the window with a few gathers and ruffles, kept carefully in check.

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Cafe Classics and More

This window treatment combines materials and styles, with a linen-covered shaped cornice joining shutters and simple, soft folds of linen cafe curtains.
This window treatment combines materials and styles, with a linen-covered shaped cornice joining shutters and simple, soft folds of linen cafe curtains.

Café curtains, small and casual panels of fabric attached to the curtain rod through a hemmed pocket at the top, are arguably the single most commonly used window treatment in the kitchen. Lending themselves well to smaller, more modest windows, they're especially popular for half-length windows above the sink or at an eating nook.

One of the easiest designs to make yourself, cafe curtains have been made by home seamstresses for decades. Although café curtains have a quaint look when used as the only treatment on the window, they are equally adaptable to coupling with another, fancier design.

A tall arched window above the kitchen sink has three distinct looks: the upper arch of leaded glass; below, a valance attached with rosettes; and at the bottom, a shirred lace cafe panel. A tall arched window above the kitchen sink has three distinct looks: the upper arch of leaded glass; below, a valance attached with rosettes; and at the bottom, a shirred lace cafe panel.
A tall arched window above the kitchen sink has three distinct looks: the upper arch of leaded glass; below, a valance attached with rosettes; and at the bottom, a shirred lace cafe panel.

Crowned with a scarf valance or a linen-covered shaped cornice, the humble favorites gain a new dimension, entering the realm of casual elegance.

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Pure and Simple

An oblong wreath of eucalyptus leaves and dried flowers tied with a bright red bow calls attention to this kitchen's sliding French doors.
An oblong wreath of eucalyptus leaves and dried flowers tied with a bright red bow calls attention to this kitchen's sliding French doors.

Window treatments don't have to be elaborate and dressy. Pure and simple window treatments are often the best kind to dress windows. Windows, especially those in a more private part of the house such as the kitchen, don't have to be adorned with swaths of fabric yardage or view-blocking blinds to be well-dressed. A handsome, hands-off treatment, with a full complement of variations, is a testament to the idea of simplicity.

Left as unaltered as possible, with the entire window frame and all lights fully exposed, windows in the kitchen are free to accomplish their most important function: admitting as much natural light as possible, showering the room in sparkling sunshine. One of several organic accents at the window is enough to give it a dressed look--a planter pulled up to the windowsill as an indoor window box, an above-the-window garland of dried flowers, or a dried wreath centered above French doors.

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Shades With a Splash

Canary yellow stagecoach shades tied with patterned fabric matching a print valance express blue-sky optimism at the windows.
Canary yellow stagecoach shades tied with patterned fabric matching a print valance express blue-sky optimism at the windows.

The right window treatments can brighten a room -- even one that doesn't enjoy much sunlight. As the place where the family or friends congregate while meals are being prepared, the kitchen should be cheerful -- a bright, happy space conducive to easy conversation and relaxed comfort. Windows play an important role in achieving that mood. Kitchen window treatments can brighten the room even at night, when no natural light is present.

Cheerful window shades that introduce a jubilant palette and pattern ensure that the kitchen is as pleasant as it should be. In a kitchen filled with pattern on the walls and furnishings, consider shades in a solid color picked up from the palette -- a hue that blends with the dominant scheme while standing out as the all-important color.

Yellow, with its sunny qualities and mood-lifting capacity, has long been a favorite for the kitchen. On shades topped with a patterned valance, it defines the room's atmosphere, as well as its windows. For kitchens in which the walls are painted a bold, solid color, consider the opposite approach with shades: a striking pattern that repeats the dominant color, but couples it with another to prevent overkill.

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Matched Sets

There's a visual break between the valance and café curtain, preventing overwhelming repetition of a single fabric on the wall and valance.
There's a visual break between the valance and café curtain, preventing overwhelming repetition of a single fabric on the wall and valance.

One of the most put-together looks in a room's design is matching the window treatments and the walls. Repeating a fabric in both places creates unity, but it also requires a careful approach. When the walls are completely covered with a busy print that's fully repeated at the windows, the effect can end up resembling a motel room -- a space with not much character.

What's more, the room can unpleasantly encroach on our vision; no diversion is present to attract the eye. A better solution is to break up a single pattern by introducing another print or solid. This can be done on the walls, with one pattern above the chair-rail molding and another below, or with a different border print.

A wall covering's print below the chair rail soars to new heights at the window with its replay as gathered panels. The upper wall covering is a different print. A wall covering's print below the chair rail soars to new heights at the window with its replay as gathered panels. The upper wall covering is a different print.
A wall covering's print below the chair rail soars to new heights at the window with its replay as gathered panels. The upper wall covering is a different print.

Breaking up too much of a good thing at the windows can be done with a literal break in the pattern -- a valance can be followed by bare window for several inches before the curtain picks up again. Or a multifaceted window treatment can incorporate more than one print. The important safeguard to keep in mind is avoiding too much of one thing.

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The Handprint of Shades

A small-scale blue and white plaid fabric window shade relates to this kitchen's fruit-motif wall covering in terms of scale.
A small-scale blue and white plaid fabric window shade relates to this kitchen's fruit-motif wall covering in terms of scale.

Shades often prove to be the preferred window treatment for the kitchen -- their straightforward look is free of pleats, swags, and puddles that require maintenance. When presented in a snappy print, window shades accomplish two goals: They inject a carefree mood, and they fit into the working nature of the kitchen.

Although shades that match the wall covering or another fabric print found in the room can work when properly designed, contrasting prints reserved just for the shades ensure the window's role as a focal point of the room.

Deep rose on the lower wall and above the chair rail in the patterned wall covering appears again on the window in a different print that uses the same color family. Deep rose on the lower wall and above the chair rail in the patterned wall covering appears again on the window in a different print that uses the same color family.
Deep rose on the lower wall and above the chair rail in the patterned wall covering appears again on the window in a different print that uses the same color family.

The new print for the window shade must somehow relate to the other patterns in the room -- either by repeating the same color, or by picking up a color from the overall room palette, or by relating to the wall-covering pattern in terms of scale.

The window treatment echoes the walls with the same fabric and is finished at the bottom edge with lace trim in the same deep jewel tone used on the lower wall. The window treatment echoes the walls with the same fabric and is finished at the bottom edge with lace trim in the same deep jewel tone used on the lower wall.
The window treatment echoes the walls with the same fabric and is finished at the bottom edge with lace trim in the same deep jewel tone used on the lower wall.

A small-print wallpaper is handsomely matched with a small-scale plaid shade, for example. Or dark burgundy or rose in the kitchen palette bears repeating, in a different pattern configuration, on the window shade.

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Seamless Tradition

A shirred fabric strip valance repeats the floral print in the room, thereby weaving the tiny window into the design without overwhelming it.
A shirred fabric strip valance repeats the floral print in the room, thereby weaving the tiny window into the design without overwhelming it.

In historic or older houses in which antique or traditional bathroom fixtures are an integral feature, a streamlined window treatment for the bath may be inappropriate. The design goal is to create a bathroom decor that seamlessly integrates this room into the remainder of the house.

Traditional design, replete with patterned wall coverings, arrays of objects, and fabric window curtains, is the optimum solution. At the windows, this means selecting traditional prints for curtain patterns, then executing them in shapes that are timeless but still stylish.

The mellow-looking printed fabric hung on this tapered valance, in antique golden tones, suggests a vintage feel in keeping with the room's old-fashioned fixtures. The mellow-looking printed fabric hung on this tapered valance, in antique golden tones, suggests a vintage feel in keeping with the room's old-fashioned fixtures.
The mellow-looking printed fabric hung on this tapered valance, in antique golden tones, suggests a vintage feel in keeping with the room's old-fashioned fixtures.

Success is determined by how familiar, versus how fresh, the window treatments look. Both choices shown here are winners.

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Robust With Red

Brilliant ruby is important in the prints of both this window's cascading, fan-shaped shade and its valance swag with self-lined jabots.
Brilliant ruby is important in the prints of both this window's cascading, fan-shaped shade and its valance swag with self-lined jabots.

Red window treatments can add a punch of color -- and excitement -- to a room. In addition to capturing the eye, color also influences mood, actually altering the way a person feels.

Red, more than any color, acts as a stimulant, increasing the flow of adrenaline, appetite, and animation. Used as the dominant color in diverse prints, as in the bathrooms shown here, red is the single ingredient that grabs the eye on these innovative window treatments.

The fabrics featured in this window treatment are presented in two different tones -- one lighter and one darker. The fabrics featured in this window treatment are presented in two different tones -- one lighter and one darker.
The fabrics featured in this window treatment are presented in two different tones -- one lighter and one darker.

Coupled with the unusual shapes of these window treatments, red has double the impact, announcing high style with a siren timbre.

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Not-So-Precious Past

The checked fabric on this flat-panel curtain is a classic, blending with the old-fashioned tub. But a  fun fabric lining brings the entire room into the present.
The checked fabric on this flat-panel curtain is a classic, blending with the old-fashioned tub. But a  fun fabric lining brings the entire room into the present.

It's easy to update an older look by incorporating new window treatments. Old-fashioned bathroom fixtures such as a freestanding claw-foot tub and quaint pedestal sink are natural attention-getters, but their age doesn't call for deference. They can be fun.

When the past is honored but updated with a bold touch of the present, the effect has greater impact than letting yesteryear's features stand unaltered on their own.

Checked table napkins are given new use when stitched together as a window valance. The tassel trim is a perfect match for the faux-finished claw-foot tub. Checked table napkins are given new use when stitched together as a window valance. The tassel trim is a perfect match for the faux-finished claw-foot tub.
Checked table napkins are given new use when stitched together as a window valance. The tassel trim is a perfect match for the faux-finished claw-foot tub.

The upbeat mood in these two bathrooms starts with the tub, claw-foots teased into the present with bright finishes. The mood is then picked up and accelerated at the windows, where treatments are equally fresh and a little funky.

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All in the Family

Gray on mauve is the theme in this tranquil bedroom, which maintains its serene quality despite a use of multiple patterns.
Gray on mauve is the theme in this tranquil bedroom, which maintains its serene quality despite a use of multiple patterns.

Window treatments can an element of excitement or interest when they repeat colors or patterns found throughout the room. Used wisely, a multiplicity of patterns in a single space can energize a room with pulsating rhythm. Windows play a significant role in getting the job done, with the opportunity they afford for panels in one print and valances in another. The window fabrics need not be restricted to the windows only; often, they are found as accents elsewhere in the decor -- as throw pillows, comforters, bedsheets, or even wall borders.

But the two window fabrics don't have to literally repeat prints found elsewhere in the decor. By remaining in the same color scheme, they can take a bit of poetic license by mimicking other prints.

Rich with ethnic flavor and graphic design, this bedroom marries many different prints by relating them in color, graphic pattern, mood, and scale. Rich with ethnic flavor and graphic design, this bedroom marries many different prints by relating them in color, graphic pattern, mood, and scale.
Rich with ethnic flavor and graphic design, this bedroom marries many different prints by relating them in color, graphic pattern, mood, and scale.

The idea is to pay careful attention to color, scale, and pattern, keeping all ingredients in the same family.

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Painted Perimeters

Hand-painted leaves and flowers as a window treatment enhance this bedroom's garden scene.
Hand-painted leaves and flowers as a window treatment enhance this bedroom's garden scene.

Painting or stenciling is a popular option for window treatments. For the last several years, the full gamut of decorative paint finishes, from faux and trompe l'oeil to stenciling and freehand mural painting, have experienced a widespread renewal in home design.

Though centuries old, these techniques have been discovered anew, and the burgeoning interest in them only continues to grow stronger. Decorative painting offers special possibilities for dressing up the windows, complementing any attached treatment but also strong enough to stand alone.

One of the easiest do-it-yourself techniques to apply at the windows is stenciling. With a stencil pattern, anyone can master this treatment -- even those who literally can't draw a straight line. Classic checks and simple floral garlands are two of the most popular stencil patterns, but many variations of possibilities -- plus the spectrum of color options -- ensure a unique look.

For the homeowner a bit bolder with a paintbrush, freehand painting of ivy or a blooming trailing vine embellishes the window perimeters with handcrafted charm. Even cornices offer an opportunity to experiment with art, with stencil or freehand designs hand-painted directly onto the cornice board. Whatever the approach, the finished window expresses one-of-a-kind craftsmanship.

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Double-Deckers

A theater-curtain valance provides a striking counterpart to sheer panels trimmed in burgundy fringe and tasseled cording tiebacks.
A theater-curtain valance provides a striking counterpart to sheer panels trimmed in burgundy fringe and tasseled cording tiebacks.

A thoughtfully-designed window treatment, such as one that's double-deckered and layered -- can be stylish in many types of rooms. In fact, one of the most finished looks in window treatment designs is a layered look -- a combination of a shaped valance and simpler tieback panels.

Though this treatment is too involved to work well in a contemporary decor, for a country English room, it can be an important tool in achieving the overall style. For bedrooms, the combination of an opulent valance and well-trimmed panels creates a lush, gracious look that's a perfect backdrop for an antique four-poster bed.

Floral draperies with a cloud valance continue the garden theme on this bedroom's walls and bed linens, announcing the space's gracious country English style. Floral draperies with a cloud valance continue the garden theme on this bedroom's walls and bed linens, announcing the space's gracious country English style.
Floral draperies with a cloud valance continue the garden theme on this bedroom's walls and bed linens, announcing the space's gracious country English style.

When a goal is to create a focal point at the window, consider a boldly fashioned valance in a deep color, contrasted with a pair of pair panels trimmed and tied back with the same rich valance hue. For a window treatment that's more integrated into the room design, use the same fabric on the valance and the tieback panels -- and maybe even on the wall covering.

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A Window With -- and Without -- a View

A canopy bed is created by repeating the window treatment's valance with banded edging over matching bishop's-sleeve draperies on the ceiling and walls.
A canopy bed is created by repeating the window treatment's valance with banded edging over matching bishop's-sleeve draperies on the ceiling and walls.

Bedrooms, more than any other space in the home, provide one trick of the trade from the decorator's grab bag: the opportunity to use window treatments to not only dress the actual windows but to create new "windows" where none exist. The key lies in the bed -- a natural for a crowned fabric treatment on the wall behind it, which echoes the idea of a window dressing and in the same materials.

To keep the room visually unified, simply repeat the dressings found on the windows over the bed on the wall behind, using the same fabrics and the same design. This technique creates a false window that makes the bed a focal point.

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Plethora of Pastel Patterns

The borders of this window treatment pick up the print from the bed                                  and chair, but white panels keep it from looking busy.
The borders of this window treatment pick up the print from the bed and chair, but white panels keep it from looking busy.

Pastel patterned window treatments don't have the riveting, eye-grabbing effect of the more intense primary colors, but they are an equally viable option for decorating a child's room. What pastels lack in brightness is easily compensated for in pattern -- especially by a decor that incorporates more than one print.

Because of the colors' subtlety, different prints can appear on the floor, furnishings, bed, and walls -- with the window treatments marrying them all in a multipatterned dressing.

In the country French child's room shown here, with its charming pine sleigh bed and mosquito-style netting overhead, tab curtains repeat the pattern found on the chair and comforter at the borders, with the inner panels taking a more demure stance in white. An interior window box is covered in the border print of the wall covering.

The numerous prints in this nursery are well tied together at the window. The numerous prints in this nursery are well tied together at the window.
The numerous prints in this nursery are well tied together at the window.

In the nursery with the numeral theme, the windows repeat two of the patterns found elsewhere in the room. The scalloped-edge fabric shade, for instance, repeats the broken-line block motif of the chair-rail wall covering. The rod-pocket curtains feature a smaller size of the numeral print that spans the walls. The tiebacks are in the same fabric as the shade.

In both spaces, the goal is to keep the eye roving in lively curiosity.

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Wedding Form to Function

Chintz hangs at valance length and is tied with bows to take a soft double-swag shape. The floral chintz fabric shows its blue lining as it cascades on the side.
Chintz hangs at valance length and is tied with bows to take a soft double-swag shape. The floral chintz fabric shows its blue lining as it cascades on the side.

Wedding form to function in window treatments can present a fun challenge if you have an odd-shaped window. With a little thought, these windows can inspire solutions that are every bit as unique as the windows themselves. It helps to look upon a window that goes beyond the standard rectangle as an advantage, part of the room's architectural riches.

The triangular corner window in this girl's bedroom, for example, has its unique shape underscored by a window treatment consisting of a double swag that drapes only on the long side of the window. For a nursery with a striking Palladian window, the unexpected solution is leaving the window in its natural wood state, then complementing that with natural shutters.

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Tailored Tiebacks

Simple white tieback curtains are accented with a punchy forest green. Alphabet-print strips at the top and bottom are entertaining designs for children.
Simple white tieback curtains are accented with a punchy forest green. Alphabet-print strips at the top and bottom are entertaining designs for children.

One of the simplest and most tailored window treatments is formed with plain, straight-hanging side drapery panels held open with cloth tiebacks. The well-designed child's room can incorporate a tailored, simple look and still convey enough stimulation to get any child inspired by life.

If you like, the curtains can fall evenly for a flush hem all the way across, even when pulled back, to provide the tailored look you want. Unexpected touches to this basic look will brighten the room and stimulate the child.

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All the Way

These floor-length curtain panels echo the fabric of the sofa and the border of the wall, pull the room together and making it a comfortable space.

Window treatments that flow all the way from the top of the window to the floor are elegant and simple. Long curtains without tiebacks, valances, cornices, or other decorative treatments are a mainstay in drapery design. For the family room, they are especially appropriate, providing necessary privacy and giving a dressed look without excess formality.

The large amount of fabric required in such a window treatment plays an important part in communicating the room's palette. When a print is the chosen material, the curtains are also a tool for imbuing the room with visual rhythm and should serve to unify the space through a repetition of color and pattern. 

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Stellar Shades

Tightly shirred fabric in a small print is the key to these successful Roman shades, which are framed by panels in a larger pattern topped with a triple ruffle valance.
Tightly shirred fabric in a small print is the key to these successful Roman shades, which are framed by panels in a larger pattern topped with a triple ruffle valance.

For stellar shades, be mindful of allowing light to filter through the window treatment while maintaining privacy. This is especially necessary for sunrooms facing the street or neighbors' curious eyes; some privacy is warranted, but not at the expense of admitting the sun and views when desired.

Shades present an especially decorative solution, and one offering huge creative latitude. Let fabric play a role, either through festive pattern, demure neutral color, or soft, interesting texture.

Take the straight form of the shade and improvise, shirring the fabric for a rippled, wavy effect, or go for a billowy, three-dimensional look with a bow-tied, swallow-tailed treatment. Or keeping the window simple for a clean-lined, contemporary space, pad a neutral fabric and shape it to bend at the edges for only the most subtle of design statements.

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Frosting on the Cake

A continental curtain rod that encircles this half-round window wall is purely ornamental -- even the flanking side panels are stationary, just for looks.
A continental curtain rod that encircles this half-round window wall is purely ornamental -- even the flanking side panels are stationary, just for looks.

Sunrooms with multiple-paned windows can resemble a wedding cake -- the rows of windowpanes forming the individual tiers -- and the window treatments can be the frosting on the cake. The windows themselves play the leading role here, gracing the room with the seemingly disparate qualities of richness and delicacy.

And in the best sunrooms, the window treatments are accordingly light -- only a frothy touch of frosting. For a half-round wall of windows, stationary panels trimmed with shirred tiebacks decorate the sides, with only a narrow band of shirred fabric punctuated with rosettes spanning the full width. No, privacy isn't ensured here, but with the garden views outside, who needs it? 

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