Begin with the Basics
Windowcoverings can paralyze a decorating project. Should you go with mini-blinds or shutters? Long draperies or just a valance? A decorative rod or something plain? Tiebacks or straight panels?
You may be tempted to just buy something -- anything -- to be done with it. However, there are ways to go about choosing wisely.
See the related links in each answer for more photos and information.
Q I just moved into a new house and need window treatments. What should I know first?
Learn about the basics of windowcoverings (privacy, light control, function, and style). Then prioritize your needs for each window. Layer the treatments for the most versatility. For instance, put mini-blinds next to the glass to control light and hang fabric panels for style and color.
Q. What kind of window treatments are best for a child's room?
Q. I went shopping for curtain rods but found so many choices that I gave up. How can I narrow the field and make a good choice?
Decide first on the function of the rod. Do you need something that closes for privacy or do you just want a stationery decorative element? Will the rod hold tab top drapes, rod pocket panels, or draw drapes on traverse rods? Next, look at size and scale. A tiny room may look better with smaller, delicate rods whereas a big room will be able to carry the weight of larger hardware. Next decide on finish. Match the wall color so rods "disappear" or create contrast by using a finish that will stand out. Click here to get tips and photos of window treatment hardware.
Q. I have a great view out of my living room. Unfortunately the sun beats in all day long and I've noticed that some of my upholstery fabrics are fading. Do I have to cover the windows?
You could cover the windows to control the sunlight. For instance, mini blinds could be installed and tilted so that direct sun is blocked. However, this will also cut down on your view. To preserve the open expanse of glass, look into having your windows tinted. Done properly you won't notice much of a difference, however the tinting film cuts out nearly all of the damaging UV rays that fade and cause fabrics to break down. It is not an expensive project, especially if you are only doing one or two rooms.
Q. My bedroom window looks directly into the kitchen of the house next door. I don't want to block the light with drapes, but need more privacy.
You might consider using shutters or hanging a cafe curtain to cover the bottom of the window. The "bottom up" option for shades and blinds is another solution. These draw up from the bottom for privacy, but allow a view out of the top portion of the window. Or, look for a pretty stained glass window to set in the window sill which will look beautiful and offer some privacy.
Q. Where should I hang a curtain rod -- at the top of the window frame or higher?
You can hang the rod just above the window frame. However, for a more elegant look, hang it closer to the ceiling. This will offer a longer sweep of fabric and will help visually heighten the room a bit. Make the rods wide enough so that the stackback of drapery fabric will clear the sides of the window, rather than covering part of the glass.
Q. I like tab top drapery panels. Can I open and close these?
If your curtain rod is within reach you may be able to slide the tabs over to open and close the panels, but it could be cumbersome on a daily basis. Tab top panels are most often used as a stationery treatment over another light and privacy-controling covering (such as a shade or blinds).
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