The Art of the Window Treatment: Choosing the Right Shades, Drapes, and Blinds

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza
Photo courtesy of The Shade Store

Window treatments are a semi-permanent design choice that, when done poorly, can wholly spoil a beautiful room. Carefully chosen shades, drapes, or blinds add dimension and depth, they open a space and provide easy privacy, they shield us from the sun and protect our finer things. It’s easy to make windows an afterthought, as long as they’re covered and insulated, but great window styling deserves a place in the home even if you’re not hiring a professional interior designer to create your space. For those of us who design our own homes, it’s time to stop overlooking the well-adorned window.

How to choose

Ian Gibbs, co-founder and chief creative officer at The Shade Store, spoke to House Method about the art of the window treatment. Gibbs’ company offers expert design consulting services and creates beautiful custom window treatments. No, really beautiful.

So, let’s start at the beginning. How do you choose?

The best type of window treatment is really determined by each individual space and your concerns for that space,” says Gibbs. “Are you looking for increased privacy, is there too much light, are you looking to add architectural detail to a room, to make the space feel taller, do you want to be able to control with motorization?”

There’s no limit when it comes to customization, whether that’s stylistically or functionally, so the best place to start is understanding your needs and budget. Most of us start with the basics—a little bit of privacy, a little bit of sun-blocking—but consider also the use beyond that. Do you have fine art on the walls? A UV-blocker can protect those. A utility bill problem? There are a myriad options for the energy conscious.

Zen Roller Shades - Papyrus - Bronze Photo courtesy of The Shade Store
Zen Roller Shades - Papyrus - Bronze Photo courtesy of The Shade Store

Zen Roller Shades In Papyrus - Bronze

Treatments can be, and have every right to be, an artistic statement—a way to incorporate a new texture or material or color into a space. “One new material that we are excited about is our Zen Roller Shade collection,” says Gibbs. “The textured, light-filtering material is inspired by Shoji screens from traditional Japanese architecture.”

If you find your list of requirements growing, materials and treatments can be mixed and layered for functional effect. “One trick for achieving a finished look is to layer window treatment styles for functionality and aesthetics—placing a solar shade or blackout roller shade under a Roman shade or drapery allows for easy movement and light control while maintaining a finished look.”

The importance of precision

“Good measurement is the key to custom window treatments,” says Gibbs, whose measurement and installation professionals tailor treatments down to an eighth of an inch.

The dimensional aspect of window dressing is what keeps many away from custom treatments, or sometimes any treatments at all. Off-the-rack drapes and shades can be made to work, but that usually means cutting and measuring and a little bit of needlework that might be beyond many of us. If you’re going to go it alone, consider an installation professional who can handle the brass tacks of fitting.

Photo courtesy of The Shade Store

Roller Shades In Chilewich - Plaid - Tan

Ian Gibbs’ tips for choosing window treatments

  • When selecting bedroom window treatments, consider blackout lining for drapery or Roman shades or blackout roller shades layered with drapery to create a peaceful sleeping environment.  
  • If you have a room with fine art and furniture, then consider incorporating solar shades with UV-blocking technology to protect them.
  • If you want a space to feel taller, have drapery installed near the ceiling of a space and hung to the floor, which gives the impression of a taller ceiling.
  • In high traffic areas of homes with kids or pets, consider performance fabrics like our Sunbrella Ventana Collection.

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