Open the Windows

BY DAWN KLINGENSMITH ON DECEMBER 30TH, 2016

Windows are constantly pulling double-duty, living up to their functional and aesthetic expectations, both inside and out – or at least trying to.

Maybe you want to dress up your bedroom window to frame the picturesque view of trees and wildlife just beyond your backyard. Or you’re trying to figure how to distract your guests from noticing your neighbor’s eyesore of a garage staring back at them through your kitchen window. Perhaps you’re considering window boxes of your favorite herbs or flowers, or you just want to swap in a new color palette to invigorate your family room.

No matter what your décor style is, some fundamental elements should be addressed to figure out what you really want out of your windows, namely privacy, budget and proximity to sunlight.

The need to be secure in one’s home is individual and can vary from room to room. For example, keeping prying eyes away from the bedroom or bathroom is likely going to be a bigger priority than the dining room.

“It’s OK if the neighbors know I’m eating pork chops for dinner,” says Sally Morse, the director of creative services for Hunter Douglas, one of the leading manufacturers of window treatment products. “But I don’t want them to know what brand of underwear I’m wearing.”

If your bedroom window faces east, you may want a window covering that better controls the sunlight – unless you like waking up with the roosters. If the window faces south or west, it can allow prolonged sun exposure that not only can damage your furniture and rugs but also allow potentially harmful UV rays into your abode. You also want to consider how streetlights and car lights might come into play.

These days it seems money is as important a factor as ever (two-thirds of Americans holding back on their spending, according to a Bankrate.com report). One of the biggest factors involving price can be whether your window treatments are custom-made, ready-made, or a product of do-it-yourself embellishment. But regardless of your budget and style, take comfort in knowing that your options are endless.

Shadows in the Night

Bruce Heyman, the former president of the Window Covering Association of America, sells both types of treatments at his New Jersey-based store, Metropolitan Window Fashion. His favorite, the Silhouette from Hunter Douglas, combines practical needs such as privacy and sound absorption with the need for beauty and decoration. Some advanced models can control shades and light for specific purposes – such as movie mode or morning mode – with a mobile device.

Of course, such conveniences come at an expense to the consumer. Much of the same effect can be had by using ready-made products. “You can go any big-box store and buy a mini-blind,” says Heyman. “It’s not that expensive, and maybe not that pretty, but you can get privacy at a [decent] price.” The same is true for draperies, he adds: “You can do a window with privacy and draperies easily for $100 to $150 a window,” as opposed to expensive custom-made treatments.

Off the Rack

“There are so many off-the-rack options in the world of curtains and blinds that actually look custom and fit your window really well,” says Sara Costello, a contributor at the New York Times T Magazine and former creative director for Domino magazine. She recommends stores like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, the Silk Trading Company and IKEA as affordable establishments to pick up your treatment supplies. Not only are the prices reasonable, but the available looks are far from boring. “They’re picking up on the things that decorators do in the same way that fashion designers get knocked off,” Costello says. “It’s exciting – maybe not if you’re the decorator!”

When in Rome

If you favor a cleaner look that provides privacy, Heyman recommends a Roman shade installed onto the frame of the window. “It’s basic; if you pick a neutral color, it blends into the room – it’s a real contemporary look that works fine,” he says.

That Extra Touch

If you’ve gone with an inexpensive drape but want to give it some flair, Costello points to embellishment stores that sell items such as trims, fringes, cords and pom-poms. “You can get wildly creative at a trimming store,” she says. “You can really customize a shade with trimming.” And, depending on the fabric that the drape or shade is made of, never underestimate the power of a glue gun when it comes to adding adornments.

Through the Looking Glass

Most important as far as the glass goes is adding protection against the sunlight that not only can damage your furniture and carpets, but also put pressure on your energy bills. To that end, Heyman suggests using window film, an application that blocks 99 percent of the sun’s UV rays and reduces the heat that comes into the home in summer and retain warmth during those winter months.

Green Thumbs Up

What about the view itself? Beyond the usual – and often pricey – methods of improving what’s beyond the window, such as landscaping, there are cheaper ways of getting this done. Jeani Ziering, of New York City’s Ziering Interiors, suggests something her son did for his Manhattan apartment,: building window boxes from which small gardens can be grown. “It brings a little bit of greenery to the urban location,” she says.

Tip the Scale

Costello suggests to place objects outside of windows as offbeat conversation pieces. “Use something surprising like a bust or a statue of a dog,” Costello says. Any type of statuary or the like will do the job, so it doesn’t have to be too ritzy. But it is amusing to play with scale – large objects outside of smaller windows, for example.

Naked Instinct

Not all designers are proponents of the “Must Treat Windows” philosophy. While Costello agrees that the window is usually the focal point of most rooms, she also feels that a bare window can be as striking as a shaded or draped one. It may come down to asking yourself what purpose the room serves in your life. “Every room has a different need,” she says. “Is the window treatment decorative or is it for privacy? From there, you start to narrow down your options.”

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