How To: All About Window Treatments!


Window treatments are often the unsung heroes of a room–they offer the jewelry in the space and can create architecture where none existed. Window treatments can help raise the height of a ceiling, and they bring a punch of prints and patterns to a room in a bold way.

But you have so many questions about how best to use window treatments in a room…

Panels or Roman shades?

Blinds or shutters?

Can I order window treatments myself, or do I need to have access to an interior designer?

Here, a few window-treatment ideas to get your design-minded wheels turning!

And be sure to email your design dilemmas to us at [email protected] We love to hear from our friends!

Nobody puts baby in a corner

Think cornices and soft shades. (Cornices can die into the corner, and the shades will still function.) Cornices give soft shades a more finished look. And look to detailed patterns–such as the Madcap Cottage Windsor Park print… They are great for soft shades because the “flatness” of the shade really allows the featured pattern to shine. By the way, all of the window treatments featured on this week’s blog are from the Madcap Cottage for Smith + Noble collection, all available online. So, yes, you can get semi-custom window treatments without an interior designer. And should the actual measuring of your windows frighten you, Smith + Noble has an in-home design service that is amazing and will make sure your drapes are absolutely delicious.

A “Before” and “After” situation: The “Before”

The “After”

Think shades. Here, relaxed Roman-style shades help soften the hard angles in this living room, including the boxy window frame. Shades don’t interfere with the sofa use and placement either. Mounting the shades above the window frame rather than within the frame makes the windows feel wider and helps balance the oversized scale of the sectional sofa. Mounting the shades above the windows also makes a better connection with the vaulted ceiling as the shade mounts give the eye a place to “land.” And choose two separate shades for such a large window because one shade would be too wide to operate easily.

French Doors: Before being dressed

French Doors “after”

Here are those same French doors “dressed.” Think shades. The beauty of this top down-/bottom-up style is that the projection is at the top so the actual shade sits fairly flat to the face of the doors and doesn’t move when the doors open and close. Tip: Every window in a room does not need to be the same fabric. For example, the small transom-style window, above right, is the Madcap Cottage Cove End lattice print that pulls the color green from the Mirador Morn floral fabric on the shades that grace the French doors. Using the larger print floral fabric on the doors establishes this wall as the focal point of the room.

Another French-Door idea

Another idea for French doors… Add shades over the doors! This will allow for light control and privacy… Then shake it up with drapery panels to frame the doors and offer a more finished look. Designer trick: Mount the curtain rod as close to the ceiling as possible to trick the eye into thinking the ceiling is higher than it actually is.

shared space: “before” and “after”

The “After”

We love to use top down/bottom-up shades to create privacy where needed while still allowing light into the room from above and below. The same style on the door that opens onto the terrace creates a unified look. The floral here is Rousham Romp, a fabulous floral inspired by a visit to a fabled estate in England’s Oxfordshire. Plaids–like animal prints and stripes–will work in any room. Trust us, they are the unifiers amongst various patterns. You can pair plaids with florals and plaids with geometrics, etc., and you won’t go wrong. The Madcap Cottage “A Scotch Please” rug comes in a rich gold hue and moody black and will add just the right amount of drama underfoot.

Play with a dominant color

Do you have a common or dominant color in your space? Here, that predominant color was blue. Because the room has a lot of flat color–a solid sofa and solid wall color–we selected a printed fabric for the shade and drapery panels to help bring some energy to the space. To give the room a very coordinated appearance, we selected the Madcap Cottage Windsor Park fabric with its several shades of blue rather than one hue as the several shades give a harmonious look and makes the room feel more soothing and restful. The grey paint color and the navy sofa are fairly neutral so we could have introduced another color for the window treatments, but we wanted to capture that sense of “sanctuary” so using myriad blues perfectly captures the goal. Such an oasis of calm!

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