Window treatments have become a must-have in interior design. A room just doesn’t feel complete without a window covering. However, they also have practical uses that go beyond the much-needed privacy: both traditional and modern window treatments are great for keeping the house cool and protecting furniture or carpeting from sun damage in summer, and keeping the heat in during winter months.
Window Treatments Ideas for Your Home
Before jumping into the many types of window treatments and their advantages, let’s see which are the most important things to keep in mind when visiting a window treatment store:
- Sun exposure protection: How much sun enters the room, the angle at which sun rays infiltrate the room, and duration of the exposure.
- Privacy: How close surrounding buildings or sidewalks are.
- Energy efficiency: How much heat is lost during winter months and how cool it is during summer.
- Durability: How often do you plan on using them or changing their position.
- Safety: How dangerous they are for children or pets.
Soft Window Coverings
Soft window coverings offer an intimate and cozy ambiance, which makes them ideal as bedroom window treatment ideas, living rooms, or dining rooms. They are made of light or heavy fabric that is generally inexpensive.
Curtains are among the most popular bedroom window treatments, but can be found in any other room. They are made of thin, light, and usually sheer fabrics that allow natural light in, but diffuse sun rays to create a relaxed and homey look. They are generally safe for children and pets if no accessories like tiebacks are installed and have a long lifespan even if frequently used. However, they do not offer much protection from sun damage, sneaky eyes, or cold and draft.
To enhance their effectiveness, they can be combined with blinds or shutters for smaller rooms, drapes for larger rooms, or both if thorough insulation is needed.
Although often confused with curtains, drapes are made of dense, heavy fabrics which make them a decent insulation aid due to their ability to block out sunlight and keep heat in. Like curtains, they are safe for children or pets if installed by themselves and are a durable privacy solution.
Drapes can be used by themselves or with curtains for an extra bit of style. They are a luxurious addition to any space but are especially recommended in formal or elegant rooms, which makes them good dining room window treatments.
Tips for soft window treatments
- Layering is a great cheat for adding volume and complexity.
- Length can also be a maker or a breaker with soft window treatments. Curtains are usually just above the floor, but short ones are also common for smaller rooms or kitchens. To get an extra hint of grandeur, extra-long drapes which pool on the floor are used.
- Curtain rod positioning is another important aspect that can complete or ruin the aspect of a room. Higher curtain rods will make the room appear taller.
- Accessories like tiebacks or valance are not a must, but they add style and convenience when the soft window coverings must stay open.
Hard Window Treatments
When drapes and curtains are not enough to protect a home from unwanted glances or weather factors, hard window treatments are the right choice. They can be used by themselves in small rooms, or combined with the aforementioned treatments.
Interior shutters (to see info on exterior shutters, see the Exterior Shutters section below) are usually made of horizontal or vertical louvers which are attached to a frame. The louvers can be fixed or operable, the latter ones also being known as plantation shutters. They are efficient in stopping sunlight or cold due to their ability to close down completely. Shutters come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. However, they are always mobile and make use of hinges or a spring roller to open up and close down.
Unlike shutters, blinds do not have a frame and are attached by cords that run through each slat. They are made of wood, metal, or plastic and can be operated manually or with a remote control. They allow easy and quick control on a room’s lighting given their ability to close tightly, open at 90 degrees, or being pulled up completely.
Slats can be either horizontal or vertical and their width varies from one to 30 inches in the case of vertical panel track blinds. Even though a good solution for privacy, they do not offer much insulation given their width that fits the glass size since heat usually infiltrates through the frame. Because many use cords that dangle on one end for maneuvering, they can also be a hazard for children and pets.
Shades are made of a single sheet of fabric with cords sewn into it to lift them up or close them down. They can incorporate cotton, polyester, wool, viscose, and silk and are either simple or patterned. The thickness and density vary: They can either be translucent to diffuse the light, or dark and opaque to stop sunlight from coming in.
Cellular or honeycomb shades use two sheets of fabric with cells to absorb heat and better insulate the room. However, they rarely cover the frame of the window and can be a safety hazard for children and pets for the same reason blinds are.
Tips for hard window treatments & where to find the best
- For custom window treatments, look for a reliable specialized store like Bali Window Treatments. Unlike soft coverings, hard treatments are difficult to modify and customize after buying and installing them.
- For standard dimensions of hard window treatments, check out big companies that offer variety: Lowes window treatments for quality and Costco window treatments for convenience.
Exterior Window Treatments
Weather protection and privacy can also be enhanced with an exterior windows treatment in areas with abundant sun exposure or weather factors like heavy rain, hail, or snowfalls.
Awnings are mounted above windows to protect the glass and the interior from weather damage. The structure is usually light, made of aluminum, iron, or steel, and they do not need vertical supports for stability. The covering can be made of acrylic, cotton, or polyester fabric, but more resistant options like aluminum, corrugated fiberglass, or corrugated polycarbonate are available for areas with heavy snowfall.
Awnings can be fixed or retractable. The last ones can be manual or motorized, but some even have wind sensors which automatically withdraw the awning when strong winds endanger the integrity of the covering.
Roof overhangs are an extension of the roof and are usually made from the same building materials as the rest of the building. They are more resistant than awnings and are efficient at protecting the windows from damage, but cannot be removed or retracted.
Exterior shutters are similar to interior ones but are usually more resistant. If made of wood, they are treated specifically for outside use and can last decades. The frames have hinges or tracks as a mobility mechanism, but the individual louvers are most often fixed. Exterior shutters are a must-have for single-panel windows because they are great at insulating against excessive heat or cold.
Tips for exterior window treatments
- Analyze the sunlight’s angle and decide what size and positioning are the most efficient.
- Choose the materials wisely and according to the local weather: a thinner fabric can rip when the first hailstorm hits, and aluminum will retain heat which makes it inappropriate for cold climates with little rainfall.
Window treatment methods also include adjustments to the window itself.
Window frosting is made by sandblasting or acid etching the glass, but can also involve applying a vinyl film which is cheaper. This results in translucent glass that diffuses the light and offers privacy, but can also show decorative patterns. Frosting is one of the most popular custom window treatments and is most used for front door windows, bathroom, or kitchen windows.
Smart glass, also known as switchable glass, uses polymer-dispersed liquid crystals, electrochromic, photochromic, thermochromic, suspended particles, or micro-blind technologies to change from translucent to transparent when voltage is applied. Some are even created to respond to certain levels of heat or light.
Smart glass blocks 99.4% of UV rays and is among the most useful and intelligent contemporary window treatments in 2016. However, this also means it is expensive to buy, install, or replace.
Window staining has a history that dates back to ancient Egyptians and Romans. The traditional method was developed and made popular in medieval times when pieces of glass colored with metallic salts were combined and held together by lead strips.
Today, stained glass is a custom window treatment that does not disappoint. Using a single piece of glass, makers paint it with special substances which fuse with the glass when heat is applied. This ensures a better insulation and a unique aspect.
All in all…
Window treatments are must-haves for an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable home. Because they are rarely taken when moving from one apartment or house to another, invest some time in analyzing your options when moving to ensure a cozy lifestyle in your new home.