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Window Treatments - To Drape Or Not To Drape

Originally Posted: July 18, 2011

Cindy Lee Bergersen

  |   2 Comments · Print Article

Make your choices in keeping with the style and ambiance you wish to create. (Courtesy Photo: jolievueinteriors.com

Southampton - Great windows with a wonderful view need no decoration. Therefore, the question that should be asked first is: "Does this window need to be covered at all?" This is in keeping with the notion that less could be more if you have a lovely view or as the old saying goes,"If it ain't broke don't fix it."

But What If...?

The list is very long for the benefits of "a little something at the windows." Let's count the ways:

Heavy drapery that has been lined and interlined will help with chronic noise. (Courtesy Photo: domestikgoddess.com)

Good Morning Mr. Sunshine
A sunny morning streaming through your windows often foretells the start of a beautiful day. Although, this revelation is much less appreciated as a 5 a.m. wake up call. Drapery, curtains and shades can be ordered with black-out lining, which does exactly that.

The Neighbors Are Noisy/Nosy
Thwarting overly-curious neighbors or even the casual passersby with window coverings of some sort is self explanatory. An added benefit you may not have been aware of is that heavy drapery that has been lined and interlined will help with chronic noise from the neighborhood, although the most effective solution is double or triple glazing the windows.

If you have very big windows, or even a window wall, you'll have heat loss during the winter and heat increase in the summer. There's an "app" for that; you guessed it.

You Are Benighted By Unfortunate Architecture
Small windows? Weird window shape or position? Low ceilings? Drapery can work magic. Here are some ideas:

 • Place the brackets no less than three to six inches outside the frame. Make the windows look larger by extending the curtain rod even further as space (and reasonable proportions) dictate. You can also hide or modify an unsatisfactory window shape, location or design detail in this way.

 • If there isn't a lot of wall between the window frame and corner, extend the rod to wall and apply end caps instead of finials. Use a couple of rings on the far side of the end brackets to help evenly distribute the fabric.

Weird window shape or position? Low ceilings? Drapery can work magic. (Courtesy Photo: dartcanvas.com)

 • Placing the curtain rod at the ceiling line, above the window molding, makes a room look taller, thanks to the increased vertical line.

 • Drapery can also be used behind a bed to create continuity with the drapery at the windows and as a great back drop and focal point.

 • Dark Room? Take a tip from stage designers to bring the appearance of more sunlight where there isn't much. Use a creamy colored fabric for the outer curtain and a yellow fabric as lining. This trick makes the incoming light appear more sunny.

Every Picture Tells A Story
Even if the windows don't face the fire escape, for example, and there is nothing else amiss, there are the major additional advantages. Great window dressing can take a room from Generic to Gorgeous, without further ado. It's the fast track to supporting a pulled together look.

Make your choices in keeping with the style and ambiance you wish to create. Assess what solutions are needed and find resolution in the simplest, most attractive way.

There is a difference between drapes and curtains. (Courtesy Photo: thetextileicon.com)

Made-to-order window treatments are expensive, but if your budget allows, can be the best solution. With custom fabric selection, you can choose colors and textures to complement the room design with more precision than "off the rack," as well as attend to repairing the various shortcomings of the window and/or wall as discussed above in a more customized way. Otherwise, many companies are offering beautiful ready-made draperies that can be a good solution if your needs aren't complex. If the only length available in the style, color and fabric of interest is too long, take it to a tailor. Hang a panel to measure and give him the "the finished length."

Blown Out Of Proportion
A small room can look overwhelmed by too much at the windows. The same is true for a large room with many windows.

What about drapery with swags, valances, cornices, lambrequins and on and on? They have their place, but be careful. On the one hand, valances, for example, are the most helpful to re-proportion awkward windows, disguise strange wall jogs, and even to create a bridge between two widths of fabric, when the fabric is a contrasting color to the walls. If overdone however, your Drapery Solution can easily become the Drama Queen of the room. Classic and understated are good adjectives to fly with.

By The Way. . .
"Curtains" and "Drapery" are not two words for the same thing. Drapery refers to loosely hung fabric that can cover an entire window or extend floor to ceiling and/or wall-to-wall. Curtains are placed within the window frame. As such, sash or café type curtains offer limited light and vision control and can be used along with drapery for a more complete, dressed look.

Use the same fabric on windows that are too small or inconveniently located for the same treatment. (Courtesy Photo: double-curtain-rod.com)

Managing Your Hang-ups

 • Hang your drapery one half inch or less off the floor to avoid premature wearing and dirt and at least four inches above the window so that the top hem can't be seen when light shines through.

 • Puddled drapery is meant to create an atmosphere of romance, opulence or a formal, historical statement. They can be anywhere from a one inch break on the floor to an excess of 15 inches. This treatment is great for stationary panels but not for drapery that's used functionally because the fabric will be dirty in no time.

 • Drapes should end just above a baseboard heater and not drape over it.

 • When there are several windows in a room with varying dimensions, make the panel lengths consistent. Use the same fabric on windows that are too small or inconveniently located for the same treatment, as in the case that a small window will only accommodate a shade and not a full length panel.

 • Consider where the drapery is going to "stack" at the sides when open to decide how far past the frame the drapery rod should extend.

 • When using extension rod type hardware, use a somewhat longer rod than needed: less extension means stronger support.

 • Drapery is measured in a kind of loose equation called "2X width." Most designers use 2.5 X width and some even use 3X. This means that a 50 inch panel should be compressed to roughly 25 inches to look good. A 50 inch window would need 100 inches of drapery, or two panels.

 • The drapery hooks can be inserted higher or lower on the top hem of the drapery panel to fine tune length.

Most windows do need some sort of covering, if only for privacy, to filter sunlight and/or avoiding that creepy night time "black glass look." Considering all the benefits, one could make the case that there are actually good problems to have, for the wonderful excuse of a Great Window Treatment.


francescafinejewelry says::
I love that look in the "weird window" picture. I had a window just like that but never thought to drape it in that way. Wish I did.
Jul 23, 2011 9:47 pm

Guest (Maria Tennariello) from Sag Harbor says::
I have a window that is 8 feet high and 4 feet wide in my living room in the front of the house. i didn't know how to dress it...my mother used to make all my drapes, curtains, etc...but this one, i wanted to leave alone for some reason, however, the black window look was scarey at night, and i am in the woods, wondering who was looking in...I decided to go to Home Depot and pick up a 4x8 white plastic panel with a tight lattice design, the kind you use in the garden and tack it into the window...well before i knew it, the window was covered, it let the light in, kept the dark glass out, and gave the living room a garden look. From the outside, it looked great! i get so many compliments and the best part, it only cost me $30 to cover that window...all you need is a bit of imagination and you have it!
Jul 21, 2011 6:09 pm


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