Living With Style: Details In The Window Dressing

By Sasha Witte
Gazette Columnist
Sep 22nd, 2018 

So many details go into making a room both functional and aesthetically pleasing.  

The right treatments at your windows can go a long way on both accounts. There are many options to consider, here are a few.


Living With Style: Drapery and Sheers

Drapery and sheers on metal rings and rods are easy to open and close.

Drapery is a timeless and stylish enhancement to most rooms.  Generally, they give you the opportunity for a full view out of the window, and when closed, complete privacy.

I also like that their vertical nature can heighten the sense of space, and their fabric gives an excellent opportunity to add amazing texture, color and pattern to a space.

Make sure to select quality hardware – especially for a wide window, telescoping rods can quickly begin to sag in the middle due to the weight of the drapery. Most often we use solid metal rods with metal rings so that drapery pulls back and forth easily.  Wood hardware can be a great look, but is sometimes less of a smooth open and close than the metal rods.  

Utilizing a traverse rod is the least expensive option for hardware – but then you’ll want to camouflage it with either a Valance or a Cornice.

It’s also important to not be too skimpy with the use of fabric.  A general rule of thumb is that drapery should be no less than two times the width of the window if it were laid out flat.  We generally recommend a pinch pleat treatment at the top of the drape so that it will hang beautifully when open or closed.

Drapery panels outfitted with grommets or rings are definitely easier to slide along rods than those with fabric tabs or a rod-pocket panel top.  That’s important to consider in a room where drapery will be frequently opened and closed.

And for durability, make sure to invest in lined drapery.  You will avoid quick fading and will also give yourself an extra layer of insulation.

Blackout linings, which are synthetic with a rubber like film sandwiched inside, blocks light completely – which is a useful feature in bedrooms for those sensitive to early morning light.

Living With Style: Drapery, Sheer Combo

Combining drapery with sheers gives you the ultimate in light control.


Sheers add the opportunity for the ultimate light and privacy control when used on a second rod placed behind a drapery treatment.  When closed during the day you can see out, but others can’t see in. And the sheer fabric will help to protect your furniture, flooring and area rugs from fading.

And sheers are just a fabulous look.  I love the dappled light that comes thru the sheers I have at my home.


Living With Style: Roman Shades

Roman Shades don't take up space in a room and still add texture, color and functionality.

Shades are generally considered less formal than drapery.  

They are often the most effective option when windows are small and space for furniture near walls is at a premium.

They are also less costly than drapes due to less expensive hardware and the need for less fabric.  But because they are made with fabric, they are still a wonderful opportunity to bring texture, color and pattern into a space.

Roman Shades

Roman Shades feature clean straight lines, while a Soft Roman Shade or Austrian Shade can feel a touch more feminine.

Recently we installed some roman shades for a client who wanted both privacy and light during the day – we created blinds for her that could lower both top down or be raised bottom up.

Consider the lining used on the back of your shades.  Standard lining is usually white or off white. But there are lots of other colors available, which might look better from your patio or front porch when they are closed.

Both Shades and Blinds can be either hung inside a casement, outside a casement or above the window frame.  Inside the casement works best when you want to show off beautiful window moldings.

LWS: Kitchen Blinds

Blinds are a particularly good choice for kitchens and laundry rooms.

Outside the casing is best when you want to enlarge the scale of a window visually.  

Above the casement is a good option when you are trying to coordinate the heights of different types of window treatments in a room.


Blinds are hard, slatted window coverings that generally run horizontally. Matchsticks and wooden-slat blinds are two common options here.

Consider contrasting tapes to hide the operational strings – to add a little visual interest.

Venetian Blinds

Venetian blinds offer a simple and clean look.

Often I will combine both Shades or Blinds with either a Valance or Cornice in a contrasting fabric or in painted or stained wood.  

This is another good opportunity to add texture and color to a room without taking up space down low were seating and cabinets might already be a tight fit.

For rooms like offices, laundry rooms, kitchens and breakfast rooms I will often recommend a combination of Shades or Blinds with a Valance.


Valances are fabric covered frames that fit like a stylish eyebrow at the top of a window.  We will also use them on occasion to frame out the top of a drapery treatment.

Living With Style: Cornices

Cornices can be made from carved wood, like these brought back from an indonesian temple.

A Cornice is more structured looking, but also fits like an eyebrow at the top of a window - covering either the hardware for drapes or for a shade or blind.  Often they look like a simple wood crown molding.

Recently we created some awesome custom Cornices for a client using some carved wood she’d brought back from an Indonesian temple.  We added some contrasting red fabric behind the wood to highlight all the detail.

Cafe Curtains

Living With Style: cafe curtains

Cafe Curtains are a more casual look and best in kitchens and breakfast rooms.

Café Curtains are a more casual take on drapery and can be a good fit in kitchens and breakfast rooms.  I have also used them on occasion in Arts and Crafts style bungalows at the front windows.

This type of curtain is shorter and generally hangs right at the top of the window on its molding and only hangs to the height of the apron that frames the bottom of the window.

Shutters and Venetian Blinds

Venetian Blinds

Venetian blinds offer a simple and clean look.

Shutters or Venetian Blinds can be a great option, though I think sometimes they get overused.  Remember that even when the louvers are tilted to fully open, you are going to be without at least a third of the light that would come thru that window with a different type of treatment that could be opened completely.

That said, there are times were they are the perfect choice.  Especially when a client is looking for a simple and clean look.

Living With Style: Layering

Consider layering a combination of blinds and drapes for the ultimate in added texture and color.

Consider Layering a combination of treatments.  For instance, I think roman or woven blinds can be an excellent look framed by drapery.  This also gives you an opportunity to bring in at least two colors and textures to warm up a space.

Hardware is akin to accessories or jewelry.  It completes the look. That doesn’t mean you need to get fussy.  Earlier this year we hung drapes in a number of rooms in a 1920’s Mediterranean home.  We kept the finish of the drapery hardware consistent – black wrought iron in style – but we varied each room with a slightly different finial.

To increase the longevity of your window treatments, consider the following:

  • Lined Treatments will always last longer than unlined drapes and shades.  They are more expensive but you definitely get a better return on investment.  They also help to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

  • Soil Resistance finishes are added to some fabrics – this can be good in certain rooms – like children’s spaces or near doorways.

  • Outdoor Fabric can be a great option for windows that get a tremendous amount of sunlight.  And fabrics for the outdoors now come in an amazing array of textures and patterns – much less limited than a few years ago.

  • Fibers that are most vulnerable to the suns rays are silk, nylon, acetate, cotton and linen.  Polyester and acrylic generally stand up the best. That being said, linen in particular is one of my favorite looks for windows – it offers such casual elegance!

  • Clean your window treatments at least once a year.  And vacuum them even more frequently between cleanings.  Frequent cleaning won’t weaken a fabric nearly as much as a buildup of soil and fumes.

I hope these points have been helpful.  Remember, if you are overwhelmed by the options to consider, there are always professionals available to assist you with wading through the options!

Sasha Witte can be reached at or (562) 434-8824.


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