sheer fabric roman blinds let in sunlight

How To Choose The Right Window Covering For Any Room

Baffled about how to choose the right window covering for any room? Wouldn’t it be great find a window treatment solution that can solve a few problems AND be budget-friendly? You are in the right place for smart tips to make your best window dressing decisions.

pair of windows with painting between
Sometimes a window covering could be too much and too distracting…

Great windows Don’t always need covering

It’s nice when that happens… but most windows do need some sort of cover, if only for privacy or to filter sunlight.

This is a wonderful situation, really, because even a minor excuse for dressing your windows is a terrific opportunity to add color, texture, and even architectural interest.

A terrific window treatment can take a room from generic to Gorgeous without further ado.

brown drapery used as closet doors
Rich brown drapery is so much more interesting than boring old doors, don’t you think?

Don’t stop at the windows. As shown above, drapery is a beautiful, textural solution to the question of how to “close” and cover a closet in an attractive manner. Drapery can also be used as wall treatments too. If used behind a bed, it will create continuity with the drapery at the windows. It’s a great back drop and will enhance the bed as a focal point.

In short,

Drapery used creatively is the fast track to giving any room that pulled-together, finished look that says someone knows what they are doing.

If only the rest of life were so easily managed…

ilustrations of types of window covering
courtesy of Purewow.com

Where do you start when considering the best window Treatments?

Design Development 101: Regardless of what shape, style or even how the window opens, the first “order of business” is to ask what’s the purpose for covering the window.

It’s a practical consideration same as used to dress in the morning:
First the pants, then the shoes.

What conditions will your window covering have to address?

  • Solve a problem?
  • Provide a more practical solution than what exists now?
  • Enhance your comfort?
  • Ideally, ALL of the above?

By the way, drapery and curtains are essentially the same thing. They both have rods from which panels will hang. The main difference is that curtains have a more casual feeling. They are usually lighter fabric, possibly unlined and might use tabs or grommets instead of hooks and rings for hanging from a rod. Cafe curtains over the sink come to mind.

What Can the Window dressing do besides look pretty?

There are all manner of benefits that can be derived from having “a little something at the windows”, particularly in the area of resolving some of life’s small but annoying every day issues.

Let me count the ways:

  1. Good Morning Mr. Sunshine: Sunny morning light streaming through your windows often foretells the start of a beautiful day. This revelation is much less appreciated as a 5 a.m. wake up call. Drapery and shades can be ordered with black-out lining, which does exactly that.
  2. UV blocking: If your windows face south, chances are you’ll be flooded with light from noon onward. While that may sound pleasant, attempting to watch TV or function with the sun in your eyes isn’t. Don’t forget that UV rays can damage furniture and flooring too.
  3. The Neighbors Are Noisy and/or Nosy: Thwarting overly-curious neighbors or even the casual passers-by with window coverings of some sort is self explanatory. Heavy, lined and interlined drapery has the added benefit of dampening chronic noise from the neighborhood. If cost is not particularly an issue, the most effective solution is to have your windows double or triple glazed.
  4. Air-Conditioning: If you have very big windows, you’ll have heat loss during the winter and heat increase in the summer. Lined drapery will help enormously.
  5. For those who watch a lot of horror films: you might notice that kind of creepy, blank, night-time “Black Glass” effect. Pulling the drapery closed at night lends a sense of protection and privacy, even if one is already very safe.

In short…

Whether regulating the amount of light coming in or preventing onlookers from peeking in, blackout lining and inter-lined drapery as well as cellular shades are ideal for controlling your environment.

odd wall angles, tight window space, sm room with leafy wallpaper
Great wallpaper and a simple curtain solution distract from an odd corner jog and tight space.

Can the right window treatment hide unfortunate architecture?

You might wonder at times, if some architects forget to design homes that are actually meant to be lived in by real people. A great looking structure might also be a nightmare of seemingly unusable areas, weird wall jags, windows in unreachable places, etc.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Small windows? Make the windows look larger by extending the curtain rod even further than the frame, as space (and reasonable proportions) dictate. As a starting point, set the brackets no less than 3-6 inches outside the frame. The amount of fabric you use should look full and rich. Use at least 2X the width of the window, from bracket to bracket, for a measure of how many panels of drapery/curtains you will need. You can hide or modify an unsatisfactory window shape, location or design detail in this way too.
  2. Windows located in tight spaces? If there isn’t a lot of wall between the window frame and corner, extend the rod to the 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.
  3. Low ceilings? Place the curtain rod at the ceiling line, above the window molding. It will make a room look taller, thanks to the increased vertical line.
  4. Weird wall jags? A “little something at the windows” can help to re-proportion awkward windows and hide those strange wall jags.
  5. Dark Room? Take a tip from stage designers for 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.

In the same vein, would you like to know more about making the best use of the space you have, when you don’t have much?

READ MORE >>>How To Make The Best Of Tiny Rooms

Bath blinds and sheers
Layering more than one type of dressing at a window will add richness to a room.

What about kitchen, bathroom and mudroom window treatments?

These rooms often have special needs due to dampness and humidity.

Consider these options:

  • Sheer curtains: just heavy enough to obscure views but not sunlight, can be an inspired choice. Check out all-weather fabric curtains designed for outdoor use too. They are water-resistant and treated with a mildew-cide.
  • Vinyl blinds or shades: Are a smart choice and come in a wide range of colors. If possible, select a color to match your trims for an easy custom look.
  • Shutters: Stand up especially well to the intense sunlight, heat and humid conditions of some climates.

Here are more great tips if your tired old bathroom needs a little update too.

READ MORE >>>How To Update An Outdated Bathroom Without Renovation

sheer curtains on bay windows
A rod at each window in a bay is perfect solution.

What type(s) and shapes do your windows have?

For the most part, the shape of the window will be rectangular, but arched, circular and bay windows are common too. The bay window style can be problematic as it’s three rectangular window set at angles to the middle window. Usually three curtain rods, shades or blinds will work, but if the windows aren’t standard sizes then more customized solutions can be found. For example, shutters are available for specialty shaped windows, if the need arises.

Venetian blinds combined with drapery
Venetian blinds with curtains are a beautiful solution when you have a wonderful view

Blinds and shades offer practical solutions for privacy and light control on their own. Using them in combination with drapery is an opportunity to add coordinating color and texture that will add richness to the overall effect of your window treatment.

Wood shutters are classic, look terrific with most interior styles, all while adding a little “character” to an otherwise ordinary room. Available in a variety of finishes, including custom paints, stains and different sizes of louver.

Check out hunterdouglas.com for the best styles and their  varieties of shades, blinds and shutters.

How can I cover my windows on a tight budget?

As usual, assess your window particulars, then look for solutions that are simple as well as attractive.

Curiously, simple yet attractive solutions will often be the least expensive route.

Some options are just not up for consideration

Unless your pockets are flexibly deep, custom draperies with rods, rings, etc. for example tend to price themselves out. However, fabric panels on rings with a rod can be very cost effective as well as easy to fabricate.

details to make this work:

  • The fabric should be of good quality but it doesn’t need to be super-expensive, especially if using a solid color.
  • Trims are a great way to add interest to a plain curtain.
  • If the only length available is too long, take the drapery to a tailor. Hang a panel to measure and give the tailor “the finished length”.
Formal window dressing with swags
It’s a “look”. Is it really yours?

How do you select the best looking window dressing for your style

Obviously, you will want to make your choices in keeping with the style and ambiance you wish to create. You have a lot of options, but beware of too much of a good thing.

Overdone Drapery can easily become the Drama Queen of any room.

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. The best solution is often achieved with minimal gestures. Panels with rings on a pole is a classic solution for a reason.

What about drapery with swags or lambrequins? Similar to a swag, a lambrequin is a draped piece of fabric, over hanging drapery. Some would say this is a “traditional” window treatment while others would say it’s a “dust-catcher”. They do have their place for some, but be careful. Think in terms of “how does this detail help? 

A good design doesn’t need extra “decoration”. Don’t underestimate the power of “Understated Classic Style.”


Over To You

I’d love to know what you think...

Was there a tip that was especially helpful? Hopefully, you found a little inspiration and maybe even resolved a long standing quandary brilliantly!

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Setting out to create the best version of beautiful home design, tailored especially for you, has a lot of potential questions built in. Please let me know. I’m here to help.

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sheer long curtains in bay windows

about the author

Cindy Bergersen is a professional design consultant turned full time writer about home design: what is it, how it works and how to make it work for anyone. Decades of experience as a design consultant to private clients, retail clients for well known, high end furniture retailers has proved to be invaluable training. She is both passionate and committed to sharing her experience and knowledge to help anyone, to help themselves to a beautiful, comfortable home, without feeling confusion or overwhelm about where to start and how to proceed. She lives in New York with Olivia, the cat. When not writing for the Library, she can be found cycling though city parks, watching a lot of film, or curled up on the sofa with a good book.