Window treatments are the powerhouses of home décor. They can solve some of your home’s biggest technical challenges by offering privacy, light filtering, and noise-dampening features. They even help you create a cohesive design theme and color scheme. From rich drapery to classic wooden shutters, we’ll walk you through the benefits of each treatment type.
Most types of window treatments fall into one of the following categories:
- Drapery: Drapes or curtains are usually purchased as panels of fabric that run the length of the window or wall.
- Blinds and Shutters: Blinds can run either horizontally or vertically and often fit within the window frame. Window shutters are usually made of wood slats and open toward the outside with hinges.
- Shades: Typically made of fabric, shades come in roller, roman, and many other style varieties.
- Valances: More decorative than functional, valances are panels mounted above the window to add visual height.
Types of Drapery and Curtains
Drapes and curtain panels are available in a variety of lengths to match your home’s character and your own decorating style. Each drapery panel is hung from a single rod or piece of hardware above the window. The type of drape you choose determines the hardware you need. For example, a rod pocket panel is hung on a simple rod, while pleated draperies are typically hung with hooks and rings.
Pros: Drapes offer an endless variety of color and pattern options at many different price points. Panels can hang decoratively at the sides of a window. They can also block or filter light, provide privacy, or increase energy efficiency when pulled closed.
Cons: Drapes can be difficult to dust and often require dry cleaning because of their size.
Here’s a look at today’s top curtain styles:
A pair of curtain panels is the standard decorating solution for large windows, providing a fabric canvas for decorators to play with pattern, color, and material texture. If you’d rather keep the hanging rod out of sight, look for a three-piece panel set with a matching valance.
These lightweight, see-through curtains are great for adding color and embroidered detail without the bulk of heavy drapes. Sheer curtains offer light filtration but not a lot of privacy, so for high-visibility windows, you might want to use a double curtain rod and pair them with panels for evening use.
Outdoor curtains make sun porches and pergolas more comfortable and colorful, with sheer panels made of durable, weather-resistant outdoor fabrics that provide a little extra privacy and sun relief.
Tiered and cafe-style curtain sets are the classic look for kitchen windows. Kitchen curtains are typically traditional in style, with a bottom panel complemented by a swag topper or a pleated or scalloped valance, leaving the middle of the window uncovered to preserve a sun-lit view.
Your best choice for enhanced light control, blackouts are ideal for day sleepers and bedrooms, including kids rooms and nurseries. These tightly woven curtains not only keep out light, but they can also help reduce noise and control heat and cold transference, saving you money on energy bills.
Designed specifically for climate control, these window coverings may feature an inner lining, foam back insulation, or reflective barrier to help block moisture or heat exchange, providing energy savings in any season.
Choosing Window Blinds
Window blinds are horizontal slats made of wood, faux wood, or vinyl materials, but they’re also available in vertical varieties. Blinds can mount inside the window frame for a streamlined look or outside the window for visual drama. Specialty blinds offer fabric sheaths that provide light-filtering coverage even when the blinds are open.
Pros: Blinds are easy to hang and offer a quick solution for privacy and blocking light.
Cons: Even when fully open, blinds still block the upper portion of your window view. Dusting individual blind slats can be a time-consuming task, too.
Interior window shutters are constructed of wood or plastic and are mounted to your window’s frame. Each shutter side consists of smaller shutters with slats that you can open and close for multiple levels of privacy and light coverage.
Pros: Shutters are often viewed as an investment in your home. They’re substantial structural pieces that may be custom made for your home. They’re highly durable.
Cons: As most window shutters are custom made to your home’s specifications, they’re usually one of the most expensive window treatment options.
Versatile Window Shades
Window shades come in a variety of styles and materials. The classic roller shade is mounted at the top of the window frame and extends down to cover a partial or full window. They roll up to let light in. Pleated shades are constructed of fabric that neatly folds and stacks as you raise and lower the shade. Roman shades lay flat when fully extended and gently pleat as you raise them.
Pros: Many shades, such as roller shades, open to reveal an almost-unblocked window view. Blackout shades offer one of the highest levels of light blocking for a window treatment.
Cons: Fabric shades can be expensive, especially if your windows aren’t standard sizes. For full coverage, they may need to be custom made.
Valance & Window Scarf Styles
Valances are decorative pieces that run the length of your window and mount just above the frame. Available in a wide variety of colors and styles, they’re typically constructed of fabric or wood and serve as a cohesive design element for the room.
Pros: Valances combine well with other window treatments for increased privacy or light blocking.
Cons: Valances don’t offer much privacy or light blocking on their own, and they can be difficult to remove for dusting.
Take a look at the most popular styles of valances and window scarves:
These shapely valances feature curved projections or a wave-like series of rounded edges along their neatly tailored bottoms. This casual style is most often seen in kitchens, but can also give a finished look to living room or bedroom curtains.
Pleated or gathered fabric gives a fuller look to valances, providing decorative dimension to match the outdoor view. Ruffles are usually paired with scalloped hems for traditionally styled kitchen window treatments.
Swags are shortest in the center, with fabric curving or angling down on either side to create a more drape-like effect. They’re usually the top portion of a tiered, two-part window treatment, though a swag pair can be combined with a valance for wider windows.
More shade than valance, a tie-up provides full or partial window coverage for rooms with stronger sunlight. Tie-up valances can be easily scrunched up and secured with ties, giving you the convenience of a window shade but with the more comfortable, casual appeal of fabric.
These finely detailed window treatments come in white, beige, and other light colors, with embroidered designs inspired by nature and traditional lacework. Transparent and purely decorative, these beautiful valances are available in scalloped, swag, and tailored styles for kitchens, bedrooms, and dining and living rooms.
Choose window scarves over valances, and more fabric yields a much more dramatic look for prominent windows. Framing your window with a scarf allows more light to come in. You’ll also find a broader selection of rich colors and material textures with which to decorate larger windows.
The kids and nursery valance selection at Hayneedle features bright colors, fresh contemporary prints, and a wide variety of themes for boys and girls, including sports, dinosaurs, butterflies and flowers, plus designer styles for older children.
Hanging Hardware Options
Put the finishing touch on your interior design with the right curtain rods to complete the look. From simple to ornate, there are many styles of curtain rods to decorate your room, plus finials for an extra special flair.
Decorative finials or a set with matching holdbacks can lend distinction to this hardware standard.
Matching double curtain rods are a must if you plan to combine panels with sheer curtains.
Designed for easy opening and closing, traverse rods feature rings or a draw cord system with curtain tracks.
Whether you’ve chosen the elegant simplicity of a pair of curtain panels or the modern lines of a roman shade, your window treatment can help define both the function and style of your space. Consider the type first, and then have fun choosing the materials and finishes you love.