Dressing your windows is a make-or-break design element in any room. I can't tell you how many homes I go into and the homeowners/clients are making the same mistakes. When curtains are hung correctly, they can give the illusion of height in a room, visually widen a window, and let in huge amounts of light. This post breaks down the rules for how to dress your windows like a designer. Follow each step and you will be on a path to design victory!
I sat down with Ashley, manager at Curtains, Blinds & Bath and she spilled all the details on what's hot and what's not in current window treatment trends. Her family has been in the window covering business for almost 30 years. My mom and I have been shopping there for over a decade! They definitely know a thing or two about windows.
Ashley: As for curtains, white and neutral are super popular right now; we can't keep them in stock. Texture is also very big, with linen being at the top of that list. Fabrics such as cotton, canvas and duck are making a splash with their heavier weight and privacy features. Curtains made from these fabrics hang nice and add a tailored look without overwhelming the room. They are also versatile with the changing seasons.
Below is our living room I opted for white heavy cotton drapes, with a tortoise roman shade to add texture. My rod is a French return oil-rubbed bronze finish.
Do you want to add privacy or just aesthetic?
Wood roman shades VS. fabric roman shades
Brushed (aged) brass
Gunmetal (my new fave!)
French return is HOT right now
3/4 up to 1.5 inches is enough with a simple ball or end cap to finish a standard rod
By adding a simple trim you can dress up an otherwise plain fabric. It's also an inexpensive upgrade to store-bought panels. Simply lay your panels flat and hot glue the trim in place. You can also use a product called stitch witchery I've used this product many times and it's amazing!
Adding trim is a time to have fun. A fun pop of color or pattern can take them from store bought to fully custom in a matter of minutes. If you are nervous about adding trim I would suggest a more subtle option. You can NEVER go wrong with tone on tone. It adds a timeless and classic sophistication.
Roman Shades are in high demand. They add privacy without taking up floor space and are a sophisticated option for any style.
Most common rooms for roman shade
Roman shades add a soft visual break in the room. They are also great for adding texture. Tortoise shell and woven shades are classic options.
Our foyer below: I chose a white tone-on tone pattern with a nice velvet trim option.
Plantation shutters are always ON -TREND! They truly go with any style whether it be coastal, classic, or modern. Another great aspect is that they can also stand alone (no curtains needed). Keep in mind this is one of the most expensive but it's also is the only option that adds to the market value of your home.
This photo shows the variations you can offer a window depending on the look you are trying to achieve. To the left, you have grommeted panels. In the center is a linen texture with a simple trim and a dark wood plantation shutter for a more traditional feel. On the right, we have a woven shade with a burst of color in the floral pattern panels. All treatments are hung using coordinating rods to finish the look.
Length: For standard 8 to 9 foot ceilings, measure from the top of the window trim to the ceiling and then divide by two. This is where the rod should hang. For ceilings higher than 9 feet, measure 4 to 6 inches above the top of the trim. Your rod should be hung there. This draws the eye upward and adds visual height. Make a pencil mark.
Next, measure from the floor up to where you plan on hanging the rod (your pencil mark), then round up to the closest panel size. It’s better to have to hem them if too long than have curtains that are too short — fashionably referred to as high waters! If you want to hem them you can take them to a local seamstress or stop in your local craft store and buy stitch witchery. It's as easy as heating up the iron! Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Furthermore, curtains should just hit the floor or hover above no more than a half-inch above the shoe molding, for a crisp, classic look. If you want a more casual look, let the drapes flow down just past the floor 2 to 3 inches. However, if you’re going for a more formal feel, you can puddle your drapes on the floor; just add 4 to 6 inches to your measurement.
Width: measure 2 to 3 inches from the outside trim.
If you plan on closing your curtains, choose two ready-made (store bought) panels to flank each side of the window. However, for custom curtains, measure two-and-a-half times the width of your window. If you only want to frame the window, one panel for a standard size will work. For custom panels choose one-and-a-half-times the width.
Here are some steadfast rules to follow when shopping for window treatments.
Measure before you go. Having a measurement of the windows will make it a lot smoother and quicker process. Measure outside trim to outside trim and width by height of the window. Measure your ceiling height.
Learn the lingo. I've provided a simple guide but you need to learn the design terms before venturing out. (drapes, rod pocket, pleats, grommets, pattern repeat, etc.)
Get inspiration. Pinterest, blogs, websites, and catalogs are great sources of inspiration. This helps your designer or sales associate narrow down your style.
Figure out your budget. There is nothing worse than falling in love with something then finding it’s above what you can afford.
Go to a specialty shop first. Just because they are locally owned and offer custom designs doesn't mean they are out of your budget. Most shops carry different lines for all budgets. Remember, they are the experts!
Follow our simple steps and take advantage of the free printable below. Take it with you shopping and you are sure to dress your windows right the FIRST TIME!
Thank you, Ashley, for your design expertise on this very important topic. I certainly believe we will have some beautifully well-dressed homes unfolding in the near future! If you are local to Lynchburg, VA. visit the ladies at Curtains, Blinds & Bath. They offer in-home design consults and sell a variety of products. You can also visit their website at www.curtainsblindsandbath.com
As much as I love saving money shopping at retail chains there is something to be said for businesses that specialize in a certain field of design. Stores like Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond sell amazing curtain options. There is ONE HUGE problem... they are ALL sold at an 84-inch length! This is a MAJOR PET PEEVE of mine. Especially because 99% of homes that want a designer look can't use that length. Who decided this was the industry standard? The good news is that most of these stores carry longer options online. If you want to save some money and go with 84 inches then you have to throw most of the above rules OUT! Another reason to go to a local specialty shop first! The experts are there to guide you! I have made a list of what to look for in a quality design shop.
Do they greet you with a smile when you walk in? You want to have a good experience.
Do they seem customer friendly? You are spending the money.
Is the atmosphere and vibe welcoming? If you aren't comfortable, walk away.
Do they offer you options based on your budget and needs? If not, walk away.
You are the customer and deserve the best treatment. However, it's also your responsibility to treat the associates with respect and trust their process. Mutual respect from both parties will ensure a successful project!
To make sure you don't forget anything, I've created a free printable with all the design information you need to have a fantastic shopping experience. Get your free printable shopping guide for dressing your windows here.
Remember this: it's better to have one room with fabulous curtains than a house full of wrong ones! It takes time to make a house a home. Enjoy the process. Now go save the world one window at a time!
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