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MAIN Arrow to Home LifeHome Life Arrow to Home Life - ShoppingShopping Arrow to Home Life - Shopping Drapes & Window TreatmentsDrapes & Window Treatments Guide

Planning Your Designer Window Treatments

young woman opening drapesThe first step to creating 'designer-look' treatments for your windows is planning. Whether you intend to work with a professional or do it yourself, having a good idea of the look you're going for makes it much more likely that you'll end up with the stunning windows that you want.

What effect do you want

The old saying that function dictates form is a good rule for window treatment design.

How big a concern is privacy? Are these covering meant to provide a barrier between your home and the windows of the apartment across from you, or do your windows overlook a garden or scenic vista that you want to showcase? Are your windows the focal point of the room? Do you want to draw more attention to the windows or take attention away from less than attractive windows, frames and views? Do you want the window treatments to help control temperature or the amount of light in the room?

The materials and design of your window dressings will have to reflect the functions that you outline. Choose heavier fabrics to block outsiders from seeing in, to help keep a room warm or to protect your furniture from damaging sunlight. Use sheer fabrics with treatments that frame the window to allow you to see the views if they add to the beauty of the room.

What window treatments do you like...

A good place to start is checking out the interior design magazines and online home decorating sites. Look for window treatments that score high with you. Collect a few of your favorites... at least ten. More is better. Then choose some that you really didn't like. Tear the pages out or print out the pictures of the window dressings that you selected.

... and why do you like them?

Spread the pictures out on a flat space with good lighting and start your analysis. It's time to find out what you like about the rooms that caught your eye.... and what made you hate the others. What do each set of window treatments have in common?

Color - First note the colors — do all the pictures have the same colors? Are the rooms warm colors - reds, yellows and oranges - or cooler blues, greens and violets? Are all of your favorites solid colors, swirls of mixed and matched designs? What are the common threads that you see?

Materials - Look deeper at the window treatments. Do you notice mixes of patterns, weaves or direction? Are there layers of fabric being used to create depth of focus? Did the designer mix vertical and horizontal lines to draw your eye to any features? Are fabrics mixed — sheers behind solid panels, soft silks paired with heavier brocades? Are there wooden elements or woven straw? What materials do you see?

Details - Often, the part of the window treatment that seals the deal are the small details that work together without being noticed. These can also be the elements that turn you off. Too much of a good thing can ruin the result - think of spices when you cook. No matter how much you love garlic, it needs to blend well with everything else or the sauce is inedible. In window treatments, ruffles are delightful, but add too many and you may just destroy the room. Details that work in harmony are what creates that professional finish.

"Once you've decided what you really like about the designs that captured your attention, you can use those elements to create a design for your window treatments that will work for you..."

The finials on the rods, the edging on the fabrics, the decision of hanging blinds in the window frame or outside on the wall, how high above the window or how long below the window the treatment reaches... all add to the finished look. Notice if the designer added touches of the colors or texture to the room by using accessories such as pillows or rugs to create a unified look. Do the windows match or contrast the furnishing and other decor elements?

Once you've decided what you really like about the designs that captured your attention, you can use those elements to create a design for your window treatments that will work for you. Avoid the mistakes you found in the designs that you didn't like!

Here are some designer tips to help you plan your ideal window treatments.

  •  Puddling, having a few inches of the fabric "puddle" on the floor at the bottom of the window, adds elegance to many window treatments.

    When you measure the fabric, add extra length, up to 20 inches or 600 centimeters, to create this effect. Puddling works best with lighter, flowing fabrics, such as silk. Heavier weight fabrics will not drape correctly on the floor and will just look bunched and buckled.

  •  Break the line of your draperies on the floor — no puddling or short lengths — when you increase the slouch at the top of the window. The straight line of the floor meeting your fabric will prevent your hems from looking uneven.

  •  Take advantage of optical illusions. No matter what length you choose, a solid band at the bottom of your treatment will provide the impression of a visual foundation. Banding on the vertical edges of your window treatments, or using vertical lines in your fabric patterns, will make your windows look taller. Horizontal banding or lines will make them look shorter.

  •  A lining of the same material or a contrasting color, referred to as self or contrast linings, adds a professional touch if your window treatment allows the back of the drape to show. Interlining adds volume and weight to treatments covering larger windows. If draping is an with lightweight fabrics add chain weights. These small heavy beads covered in a cotton casing will allow your fabric to hang nicely and can be covered with a ruffle or band in self or contrasting color to hide the secret.

  •  Sheers are in fashion. Add highlights with contrasting color bands, ruffles or other details to bring visual depth to your treatment. Bring the outdoor in by using sheer treatment.

  •  Contrast your fabrics and materials. It will make your window treatment more interesting. Update the traditional "lace curtain" look with a more contemporary use of lace or sheers. Hang stationary panels as over drapes with the sheers do all the work behind the scenes.

  •  Neutral, pastel and warm colors are ideal for restful spaces like bedrooms. A rule of thumb for design harmony in using color is to allow the main color to occupy 75% of a room, the secondary color 15% and the accent color 10%.

  • It's a good idea to order swatches of the fabrics you think you like. See how it looks in the lighting of your room and with your furniture before you order yards of expensive material or even more expensive custom window treatments.

also see -> Baby Nursery Decorating | Do It Yourself Window Treatments

Design Window Treatments Like a Pro
| Sewing Patterns for Window Treatments

Window Treatment Online Design Tools


Window Treatment design tips around the Web:

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