Combining Form & Function
People replace window treatments every seven years on average. This means many people are not aware of all the new and beautiful ways they can decorate their windows and control the light streaming through the glass. The market has become both very functional and very fashionable. Did you know, for example, that you can use honeycomb shades to increase the R-value (insulation level) of your windows? Or that sheer weaves are available that let you see out, but don’t let destructive UV rays in? Before you start your quest for the best window treatments for your room, it is important to first decide:
Is privacy a primary concern? For example, you may wish to cover first floor windows facing the street so the entire neighborhood doesn’t watch your family eat dinner. A second floor window overlooking a wooded backyard, on the other hand, probably has little need for privacy.
Is light control a high priority? Large windows can let in a lot of heat, which is desirable in the winter but a problem in the summer. The sun’s rays can also fade your furniture, flooring and walls.
How’s your view? If that wooded backyard is what you see outside your kitchen window, you would choose something different than if your view is the neighbor’s garage. Then you might want something to just diffuse the light or allow ventilation rather than showcasing the view.
Are your windows the focal point in your decorating scheme? If you have a large fireplace, a baby grand piano or wide screen TV/entertainment center you might not want to call special attention to your windows with a dramatic fabric. However, windows can add an important design element to a room when framed with just the right treatment.
Other important considerations include your budget, unusual window shapes and maintenance issues. Once you’ve prioritized your needs, you can focus your search for an appropriate window treatment. Some of your options include:
Horizontal Blinds These very functional window coverings are offered in a variety of materials including wood, metal and fabric as well as a variety of slat sizes. Your window can be covered in a rich, masculine wood blind or a delicate sheer that gives daytime seclusion, yet closes at night for total privacy.
Vertical Blinds Like horizontal blinds, the slats, which can be fabric or vinyl, tilt for light control or close for total privacy. These are typically used on longer windows and sliding doors.
Cellular Shades An advantage of honeycomb shades is that they provide additional insulation, a definite plus on the sunny side of the house or a particularly large window.
Shutters Particularly popular right now, shutters are furniture for your windows. They can be designed to cover all or part of a window (for example just the lower portion) and offer a design flexibility many people aren’t aware of.
Roller Shades Now available in a wide variety of fabrics from light filtering to total room darkening, these shades will virtually disappear when you don’t need them and can now be raised using a cord loop rather than relying on the old spring system.
Draperies Our Shop At Home window fashions designers can create custom-designed fabrications to address the most challenging installations. Many fabrics are available from sheer to heavily textured tapestries and can be made to close – providing light filtering or privacy – or to be stationary at the sides and be the perfect finishing touch in your room.
Specialty Shapes If you have an arch, hexagon, round window or any of those other intriguing shapes, don’t assume you are out of luck in terms of window treatments. Many of those listed above can be made to cover unusually shaped windows. It’s virtually impossible to list all the window treatments on the market or the many ways you can personalize your choices. A good resource is to page through a home design magazine.
Your best resource is to visit a design center like Hirshfield’s. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeing what is available. From standard horizontal blinds to custom-designed soft treatments, window fashions are so diversified today that you don’t have to compromise privacy for style. If you don’t know where to start, give Hirshfield’s “Shop At Home” service a call and our designers will come out to your house with samples and ideas. Many people don’t know we offer this service, but it is free and it is helpful to be in the room setting to recommend the best window treatments for your needs.
With Shop At Home, Hirshfield’s design professionals will help you make the perfect choices from blinds to shades to one-of-a-kind custom draperies and creative top treatments. They’ll even arrange for measuring and expert installation.