Gentle Readers, have you ever been confronted with a naked window and been paralyzed with indecision? You knew in your heart that something must be done, but you didn’t know where to start.
Let me encourage you now: please do not ignore the unadorned window. Be strong, be brave, and try one of these, my 3 favorite types of window treatments. (And an unexpected runner-up!)
Always a winner: the clean, classic look of floor-length drapery panels with metal rings at the top, hung on a metal rod.
I recommend installing the drapery rod at least halfway between the top of the window moulding and the ceiling – you even can go all the way to the ceiling if you like. If possible, extend the rods 4 to 8” to the right and left of the window frame so the drapes cover less of the glass. This makes the window appear larger and obstructs less of the view.
The beauty of drapes is their simplicity and ease of use. In one fell swoop, you push them clear of the windows during the day and draw them at night for privacy and coziness. As a bonus, drapes are great insulators in drafty houses.
It is possible for drapes to be contemporary – ripple fold, lightweight drapes hung from a ceiling track, for example – so I’m afraid I must reject the excuse that a home is simply “too modern for window treatments.”
(By the way: wanna know the difference between curtains and drapes? Nothing! Interior designers seem to use them interchangeably. *I* tend to say “drapes” when the panels go to the floor and “curtains” when they go to the sill…but that’s just me.)
Roman shades are another terrific fabric window treatment option. These are fabric panels hung inside a window frame, on the frame itself, or on the wall above the window.
If you mount Roman Shades inside the window frame, yes, you will lose 6-8” of windowpane at the very top when the shades are pulled all the way up. But I promise that your view won’t be obstructed significantly.
If you really, really don’t want to cover even a sliver of glass, you can mount the Romans on the wall above the window frame. You will cover a tiny bit of your pretty woodwork when the shades are raised all the way, but you can’t have everything.
Natural woven Roman shades
Window treatments don’t have to be fabric, of course. My favorite non-fabric window treatments are natural woven Roman shades, which are made of bamboo or natural grasses. They’re terrific alone, but they also look great as a first layer, under drapes.
Unlined, natural woven Roman shades filter the light but afford little to no privacy at night. (That isn’t necessarily a problem, but just so you know.) “Privacy lining” is made of thin cotton and allows the shades to filter the light more significantly and, well, provide privacy.
Please do not use blackout lining on natural woven Roman shades. It obliterates the lightweight, translucent properties of the shades. If you must darken a room completely, we have other options — such as an inside mount blackout roller shade underneath an outside-mount Natural woven Roman. Tricky!
Shutters with small slats are clean and classic — they’re rapidly gaining traction as one of my favorite window treatments. Great for the fabric-averse, they provide privacy, light control, and flexibility.
This is the project that re-introduced me to shutters:
Aren’t they charming? The natural wood is key, I think.
I’m not a fan of the unfortunately named “plantation shutters,” which have super-wide slats — 3” or sometimes even 4”. Please proceed with caution, especially if your room is small. They’re just really, really BIG.
You now have options, Gentle Readers. Please don’t leave yourselves exposed.
Annie Elliott Design is based in Washington, DC, with satellite offices in St. Michaels, Maryland and in Middlebury, Vermont. More on that soon. Annie’s design work and insights have appeared in numerous local and national publications, including HGTV Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Washingtonian Magazine.