Updated: Jan 9, 2021
Windows are often used in poetry, songs, analogies, and so on. They protect us from the elements. They allow us to enjoy light. So, why wouldn't we celebrate and emphasize these marvelous things? Too often these features are ignored in our home and completely devastate the look of a "finished" room. Today, I want to help correct mistakes and misconceptions about window coverings.
(Photo Credit: Lindsay Hill Interiors)
In the early 14th century, the use of windows in construction can be found. By the 17th century, glass became a common material used in ordinary homes. The use of shutters were incorporated to protect occupants from harsh weather. Drapes were utilized to help insulate the rooms. While these functional items were important, someone had the brilliant idea of incorporating them into the design to be accentuated in opulent fabrics and other finishes to make a statement. This pivot has led to a host of amazing advances in the window covering industry, and yet, so many people default to hiding behind a blackout curtain hung on a flimsy rod for $25.99.
Let's address the elephant in the room: window and their associated coverings carry a price tag. If you're in the process of building or buying a home, I want to take this opportunity now to highly recommend you prioritize these into your build-out or move-in budget. Without fail, clients, friends, neighbors, and family members have overlooked this piece and then regret it. This is especially the case after they've opened that door for the first time as the proud new homeowner, move all their items in, and realize at 9pm that they have no privacy when they're trying to undress/take a shower/or go to bed. So to avoid this mistake yourself, let's talk window privacy options (also referred to as window coverings):
Budget Friendly: If you're a Do-It-Yourself-er, considering making roman shades for your windows. These will help your window feel totally finished, since they have a curtain-vibe to help dress the window, while providing privacy. For those of us (me included) who are not inclined to take this direction, consider going with a roller shade to maximize daylight during the day, but allow complete privacy when needed. If you tend to lean more contemporary, consider upgrading your shade to a higher quality finish, since you'll want a sleeker look in the space and won't need the additive of drapes.
Want the Look, But Don't Want the Price Tag Budget: Do you absolutely love woven wood shades or wood shutters, but freaked out when you saw the estimate? Totally get it. For these instances, I'd recommend prioritizing the common areas in your home so they are cohesive (i.e. Livingroom, Kitchen, Dining Room, Foyer, etc.). Then, choose a more budget-friendly option for areas that are more privately occupied (i.e. Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Closets). Another thing to consider in this category is there may be an alternate product that gives the same look, but is made from a less-expensive material. This would allow you to have a consistent window covering through the entire house, which is something I ALWAYS try to recommend if the budget has the allowance.
I Want it All, Right Now Budget: If you're lucky enough to have this type of budget, the world has endless options and finishes for you to get lost in: Electric? Light-Sensing? Programmable? Material? Sustainably Sourced? Color? And so many other questions. I recommend for you to have a clear concept of what you're looking for, because you'll easily get lost in the novelty of options. Some useful, others not necessary. Again, be mindful of keeping your window coverings as consistent as possible, so your high-end budget looks like a well-executed and refined finish. Otherwise, it will quickly look cheap and fragmented if you try to accommodate change of materials in each space.
Okay, so now that window coverings are out of the way, let's focus on window treatments. Your Grandma calls them curtains. Your snooty friend calls them drapes. I'll call them God's gift to framing the perfect room. Follow these guidelines to accentuate and finish your window appropriately:
Length: If there is one thing I want you to take away from this blog post, it's this point. Get the length of your drapes right! Unless you are hanging curtains directly above a countertop or table surface, the length should ALWAYS hit the floor. It's even better if they puddle on the floor a bit. In regards to installing the rod, the easiest rule of thumb I've found is to install the rod 3" from the ceiling. Use this table to help make sure you buy the right length.
(Important Note: If your ceilings are over 9 feet tall, I'd recommend contacting a designer to consult on your space to establish the best line to install drapes. Most designers, including myself, are now offering virtual design services and can easily establish a recommendation with a video conference and/or photos).
Width: Very few designers and blogs will share this secret - so gobble it up. The fullness of your drapes are just as important as your length. There are very few instances that I use one panel width - like if I had a very small space between a window and corner. Otherwise, be sure to double up on fabric to achieve at least 80" or more of fabric on each side. Most curtain panels are less than 40" wide, but there are some vendors that offer the necessary widths to create a lush and full look (message us to find out more). Below are the Thirteen+Crowne Velvet double-width drapes in Soft White.
Hardware: It's true that most curtains offer a rod-pocket. It's also true that using it will deflate the finished look. Go the extra mile and invest in getting a thicker rod, at least 3/4" width, and rings. They'll help the look be more elevated and increase the functionality of your drapes.
Fabric: This decision is a big one. It includes color, texture, and pattern. Understand your end goal. Timeless? Dramatic? Soft? Bold? Ultimately, your window treatments should balance and complement your space. They are the punctuation to the statement you're trying to make. If you're lost, consider contacting a designer to help you quickly determine how to approach the best look for your space. Otherwise, start by identifying the direction you want to go with color to begin narrowing your options. Check out our blog post here to help you with this process.
By following these simple guidelines, you'll take your look from amateur to professional-level quality.