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How To Choose the Best Window Treatments for Your Home

Updated Dec 13, 2022

Updated Dec 13, 2022

Home > Windows > How To Choose the Best Window Treatments for Your Home

Window treatments are decorative coverings used for functional purposes like light control, privacy, and UV filtration. Treatments can be used on many types of windows to enhance a room’s appearance and coordinate with other interior design features.

Before selecting a window treatment for your home, you should consider several factors to ensure a perfect fit. To get you started, we’ll discuss the different window treatment options available. Then, we’ll cover other factors like window type, size, and aesthetics to help you select the best option.

Types of Window Treatments

Curtains and Drapes

sheer white curtains and blue blackout curtains spanning a window
Image Source: Canva

Pros and Cons of Curtains

Pros

  • Add patterns and textures to a space
  • Variable light filtering depending on the material
  • Easy to install and customize

Cons

  • Not as energy efficient as hard window treatments
  • More likely to accumulate moisture, pet hair, and dust

Curtains, also known as draperies, are soft window coverings often used for aesthetic purposes and privacy. Drapes typically hang from a curtain rod at the top of the window, adding a frame-like accent to the casement. There are two main types to consider:

  • Blackout curtains – A popular option for bedrooms, nurseries, and living rooms, these consist of tightly woven fabric that blocks the light out completely, making them excellent for areas needing extra light filtration, UV blocking, or glare reduction.
  • Sheer curtains – If you’re seeking floor-to-ceiling drapes to improve a room’s appearance, sheer curtains are the way to go. They provide privacy when closed but allow natural light to filter through for softer visual appeal. They’re often made of polyester, linen, or cotton and come in an endless range of designs. 

Shutters and Blinds

white blinds opening in front of a window
Image Source: Canva

Pros and Cons of Shutters

Pros

  • Provide excellent light filtration
  • Easy to clean
  • Can improve curb appeal and home value

Cons

  • Typically pricier than soft window treatments
  • Some materials are easily breakable

Shutters and blinds are hard window treatments composed of maneuverable slats. Blinds are fixed only to the top of the window, while shutters are typically attached to the sides. Shutters have built-in hinges, and blinds often operate with a pulley-string mechanism. Homeowners with children or pets should consider cordless blinds, which pose less of a strangulation hazard.

  • Vertical blinds – Like horizontal blind models, these open and close on a hinge mechanism for adjustable privacy and light blockage. The difference is that the slats of vertical blinds hang down from the top of the window and open side-to-side. This design makes them an excellent window treatment for tall glass doors. Vertical blinds collect less dust than horizontal blinds, making them low-maintenance and easy to clean. They come in various materials, including PVC, metal, faux wood, and wood.
  • Venetian blinds – These are popular because of their versatility. The blinds are maneuverable by a string that turns them 180 degrees upward or downward. You can stop the rotation at any angle to achieve your desired amount of light. Venetian blinds are typically made from plastic, metal, or wood. Wood blinds are especially apt for homeowners seeking customizability, durability, and a classic style.
  • Plantation shutters – These blinds have movable slats called louvers. The louvers sit in an independent frame, allowing you to open them to any angle for adjustable brightness and insulation. Plantation shutters are a popular treatment and a great tool for adding curb appeal and value to your home.

Shades

shades rolled up in a cylinder
Image Source: Canva

Pros and Cons of Shades

Pros

  • Add privacy to the home
  • Available in various styles and materials
  • Provide excellent energy efficiency

Cons

  • Trickier to clean than hard window treatments
  • Fewer adjustability options

Shades are considered soft window treatments because they typically consist of fabric or other synthetic materials. Unlike shutters with multiple slats, window shades have one continuous sheet of material.

  • Cellular shades – These shades have a honeycomb structure that provides enhanced insulation and energy efficiency. They come in single, double, and triple-cell varieties with varying light control capabilities. These shades are made from softer materials like spun lace, polyester, or cloth.
  • Roman shades – These are an excellent option for added privacy in bedrooms and bathrooms. When the blinds are closed, they hang flat in a solid layer over the window. They fold into neatly pleated stacks at the top of the window when drawn up. A cord attachment allows you to open these shades at varying heights for adjustable light and privacy.
  • Roller shades – Similar to Roman shades, roller shades create a solid barrier when closed. Roller shades, however, roll up into a scroll-like cylinder when retracted. Manual roller shades operate on a pulley mechanism, while more modern styles have motorized control systems. Solar shades are an increasingly popular roller shade option for homeowners seeking light filtration. These treatments are made from tightly woven, coated materials for enhanced UV ray blockage and glare reduction.

Valances and Cornices

patterned valances at the top of a window
Image Source: Pinterest, Palmetto Window Fashions

Pros and Cons of Valances

Pros

  • Hides curtain rods and window hardware
  • Countless design options
  • Draws the eye upward for enhanced room dimension

Cons

  • Have lower functionality
  • Don’t provide much privacy or light blockage
  • Valances – These are decorative window treatments that hang from the top of the window. They typically only cover the top portion of the window frame, so pairing them with other window treatments for improved functionality is common. Valances are popular kitchen window treatments because they add a decorative touch without getting in the way.
  • Cornices – These are like hard valances that cover the top of the window frame. They’re often paired with curtains or cloth valances for a cohesive look. The primary function of both valances and cornices is to cover unsightly window frames and hardware. Otherwise, these treatments are purely decorative, making them popular in gathering spaces like dining rooms, living rooms, and parlors.

Things To Consider When Choosing the Right Window Treatment

Window Type

The best window treatment for your home will largely depend on the types of windows you have. Some windows open with a top-to-bottom sliding mechanism, while others swing shut on a hinge. Others, known as picture windows, don’t open or close at all. These are all considerations to take before applying semi-permanent or built-in treatments.

man measuring the area above a window
Image Source: Canva

According to Pella Corporation, you should use a less obstructive treatment like curtains or wall-mounted shades for casement and awning windows. These window types open outward on hinges, so a built-in treatment could impede the user’s ability to maneuver the panes. 

Single and double-hung windows are well-suited for more permanent treatments like shutters and blinds. These windows open upward or downward on a sliding frame, allowing for easy maneuverability, even with a window treatment.

Consider outside-mounted shades for any sliding windows or doors. Installing treatments directly into the frame of these openings could inhibit their functionality. If added visual appeal is your main concern, valances mounted above your sliding casements are an excellent choice.

Bay windows have frames that protrude out past the side of the house. You’ll want a treatment that isn’t too bulky for these windows. Roman and roller shades are practical choices because they draw into neat pleats or scrolls. Alternatively, a curtain or valance on a curved rod can add visual appeal without blocking the view.

Functional Needs

Regardless of the types of windows in your home, you may need window treatments for purely functional reasons. Perhaps you work from a sun-facing office and need light-filtering curtains to reduce the glare on your computer screen. Or you may need extra privacy because your home is beside a busy sidewalk. Luckily, the different types of window treatments offer unique solutions to each problem. 

Blackout curtains, shades, and shutters have excellent room-darkening abilities. Blackout curtains are specifically designed to block light coming in through the window. When closed, these treatments function almost like a section of the wall. 

Cellular shades are also excellent light blockers, with triple-cell models being the most efficient. These shades have three insulative layers that keep light, heat, and UV rays from entering. Such treatments can help you cut energy costs by insulating your home against outdoor temperature fluctuations.

person closing blinds to block out light
Image Source: Canva

Aesthetic

Your interior design goals are undoubtedly an important part of choosing window treatments. In fact, you might be hanging curtains just to add a pop of color to your home decor.

Roman and roller shades work well with a contemporary home design. These window treatments create clean lines when open or closed, making them excellent additions to a modern or minimalistic interior. 

Soft treatments like drapes and valances enhance a room’s dimensions and textures. When closed, the drapes will produce gentle ripples that soften the surrounding walls. When opened, the curtain panels fold into pleats that add a luxurious feel to the room. Some people add curtains to windowless walls for this very reason, as drapery frames, softens, and accentuates flat surfaces.

Since curtains come in more colors and patterns than other window treatments, you must also consider how these features will complement the rest of your home decor. Popular decor retailer Crate & Barrel offers the following guidance on curtain colors:

  • White – An extremely versatile color choice that can add a light, airy feel to any space
  • Blue and green – Earthy hues that will soothe dwellers and complement yellow, pink, and cool-toned decor
  • Gray – A subtle color perfect for pairing with cool colors and other neutral hues
  • Black – A dramatic, classic choice that can add depth and coziness to your room
  • Solid – Perfect for tying together rooms with busy patterns and multiple prints
  • Patterned – Excellent for adding a pop of personality and style to simpler spaces
red patterned curtains next to a black side table
Image Source: Canva

Choosing a Winning Treatment

We hope this guide helps you find the perfect window treatments for your home. Remember, window treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all. Depending on the different types of windows you have, you’ll likely need various treatments or combinations of curtains, blinds, and shades throughout your home for the ultimate practicality and aesthetic. With the right choice, window treatments can add functionality, value, and style to your living spaces.

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