Special Treatment

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When it comes to interior decorating, dressing up your windows provides one of the best and most efficient opportunities to change or enhance the look of a room. A little fabric, some shutters or even different hardware can convert an ordinary window into a decorative accent. And, thanks to todays ever-expanding window-treatment market, consumers will find a wide range of materials at every price range to create a personalized look.

This dramatic treatmentideal for a large windowwas created by draping long satin ropes around a curtain rod.

Photo courtesy of Hazel Brown

In the past, window treatments usually consisted of pleated panels of floral damask or linen dropping from the window top to the floor, perhaps drawn back with tiebacks. Other tried-and-true favorites are valences hung on curtain rods; padded, upholstered cornice boxes; and Roman shades. And, while many of these continue to be popular, homeowners are branching out with more modern and unique treatments.

Inspiration in the everyday
Inspiration and materials for unique window treatments come from a variety of sources. I have used clothespins in a laundry room to hang handkerchiefs to simulate clothing hanging on a clothesline, says Pattie Trumbull, owner of Design Inspirations Inc. in Kennesaw. I have used two baseball bats glued end-to-end with a tab-top valence as the window treatment. I have used painted wooden stars hot-glued to a metal rod as a topper in a playroom. I have used sports pennants stapled to a board as a topper in a young boys room. Also, one could use a garland of silk flowers to add a simple touch to the top of wood blinds.

Pattie Trumbull of Design Inspirations suggests using clothespins in a laundry room to hang handkerchiefs, simulating clothing hanging on a clothesline.

Photo courtesy of Pattie Trumbull

Creating personalized treatments is limited only by your imagination. Kim Haire of Kim Haire Interiors in Atlanta says she has used bamboo for curtain rods, and a friend has sewed together several saris for a colorful treatment. For another friends house, Haire purchased an inexpensive 90-by-108-inch tapestry from Urban Outfitters and added a liner to create a window shade. Its one of my favorite things, especially for young people, she says.

Dawn Anderson of Dawn Anderson Interiors in Atlanta sewed loops to the top of her sons baby quilt, rigged it with pull-cords and hung it on the window for a sentimental, meaningful and inexpensive take on the traditional shade.

Scott Allen, designer at Sacred Space, says even bed linens can become window-wear. To tie in a duvet cover with your window treatments, take an old-fashioned vinyl window shade, cut the sheets to size and attach the material to the shade with spray adhesive for a customized window treatment.

When Atlanta area interior designer Tammy Vaughn was looking for a way to dress up the window in her babys nursery, she was thinking of function over form. The room was small, so there was no room for large furniture or displays, she says. So she used the window itself as a display for her childs dolls, mounting a ledge above the window and arranging them interspersed with the letters of her daughters name. She hung sheer curtains beneath the ledge to cover the window. She says her idea gives an option of more display-type space without having to have more furniture in the roomand it looks cute! Vaughn says.

The simpler the better
If some of these ideas seem too far afield, not to worry. A key characteristic of todays window treatments is simplicity. The strongest trend in drapery design is still the simple drapery panel with a decorative rod in metal or wood, says June Price, owner of Anew Design in Atlanta. This design can be used in the most formal room, but can transition to a contemporary [room], depending on the type of fabric.

Interior designer Tammy Vaughn dressed up the window in her babys nursery by mounting a ledge above it and arranging dolls interspersed with the letters of her daughters name. She used a similar concept in the basement, creating the look of a cigar room with an over-the-window display.

Anderson agrees that simplicity is the key to effective window treatments. I always recommend timeless fabrics and drapery stylenot a lot of overindulgence on fanciness. She suggests getting a fabric sample and living with it for a few days before committing to it for a window treatment. Make sure it fits the house and the room with warmth and charm. Too much color can get tired fast, she says.

You can dress up these simple drapes with inventive-but-small touches. Use contrasting fabrics instead of trim for a different look, Anderson says. She also suggests layering windows with bamboo shades.

Two of the hottest trends right now are woven natural blinds and plantation shutters, according to Allen. These two options offer completely different looks.

The natural blinds give an organic presence that might be difficult to integrate, as in a modern interior, Allen says. Plantation shutters add structure and formality to a room. And to take wood blinds further, Elaine Copeland of Designer Windows says to add decorative tape or even try airbrushing.

Consider this before you start
Before deciding on a window treatment, there are some factors you should consider. What function will the window treatment serve? Trumbull says. [Are they] purely decorative and fun, or does the treatment have a function such as blocking out light? The answer to this question will make the difference between choosing a shimmering sheer curtain scarf or a lined cotton panel.

Ornate iron shutters, like these crafted by Ramo Santiago, are a great way to accent high windows in a foyer or great room. They create a beautiful look when used in contrast with fabric treatments on nearby windows.

Photo courtesy of RIS Decorative Iron

Also, evaluate the room in which the window treatment will hang. The whole feel of the room should be taken into consideration for the window treatments, Trumbull says. Formal, casual, contemporary, rustic, kids room, etc., are some of the styles that should match up with the type of window treatment.

Haire puts it this way. Window treatments are the earrings for a room, she says. They are the accessories that bring everything together. Look at how it works with the architecture and furniture. This is especially important if youre using unusual materials in the treatment. When using any extras for the windows, like twigs, fishing poles, oars, etc., make sure the product fits the room and the house, Anderson says.

Its important to keep in mind the proportions of the room and its furnishings when dreaming up your own unique window treatment. You want a nice accent thats not overwhelming, Vaughn says.

Price also cautions against fads in window treatments. There are many new unique designs to choose, she says. When selecting a unique or unusual design, you run the risk of being too trendy and having a treatment fall out of style quickly or date your new design after a short period of time.

Keep your budget in view
One of the biggest challenges in putting together unique window treatments is cost. Materials can be expensive, even if youre using your own creative materials or buying ready-to-hang components such as panels or drapery rods. Depending on where you shop, some manufactured curtains may start as low as $8 for a single panel and run into the hundreds of dollars for a curtain set containing a valence and rod-top panels. Likewise, hardware may run from $5 for simple white metal rods to hundreds of dollars for wrought-iron rods. Add in brackets, tiebacks, rings and finials (the decorative pieces at each end of the rod), and the cost increases as well.

To keep costs down, try these suggestions from the experts. Keep [your treatments] fairly neutral, Haire says. You can change out the tiebacks [or similar trim] to update or change the look.

Those making their own treatments should carefully consider the fabric. The best way to conserve money in choosing a drapery treatment is to lower the cost of your fabric per yard, Price says. Trumbull also suggests shopping for fabrics on sale and buying do-it-yourself or no-sew books on window treatments.

If trying to create your own window treatments is too overwhelming, consult a professional. Think about budgeting a two-hour session with a designer to help pull everything together, Anderson says. A designer can help you to not make an expensive mistake. Also, designers will work by the hour, if that is all you are looking for.

Overall, remember that coming up with unique window treatments should not be a chore. Consumers should not be afraid to be creative when it comes to finishing off a window, Trumbull says. Think outside the box, using materials that are not common or ordinary. Have fun, and be a little funky!



For a window thats 45 inches wide, start with a 90-by-108-inch piece of fabric and a piece of lining fabric the same size (about $3 a yard at most fabric stores). For another size window, just make sure you have enough fabric to cover the window when the curtains are pulled closed.


Cut the fabric in half to make two panels.


Sew in the lining. This will make the treatment look full, block out light and give the window treatment a custom-made look. Hem if necessary.


Hang using clip-on rings. These are available at stores like Target and EXPO Design Center.

br> Photo courtesy of Kim Haire

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