Your First Home
Dress Up In Style
Copyright Deborah Marks 2004
"dress up in style" is certainly on one's
mind when planning a wedding!
And it will be again after the wedding. This time it will
concern your home---specifically the windows and sliding glass
doors. You'll want to "dress them up" and have them look their
best, coordinated with the color, textures, and lines of the
furnishings in each room.
Imagine crisp white voile panels swaying gently
in the morning breeze welcoming you to a new day. Imagine
the interplay of light and color on a shimmering silk fabric,
inviting you into your home again in the evening. The softness
and beauty of flowing fabric cascading down a wall lend a
finishing touch to any interior.
The possibilities in window treatments for the
Contemporary Light design style are plentiful. You can choose
from quite inexpensive, simple ready-made fabric panels to
more elegantly designed custom-made window coverings. The
choice of the fabric, any design on the fabric, the type of
window treatment, and the hardware selected should be dictated
by the degree of formality of the room. Also consider the
room's use and the colors and textures which are present.
Just as the name suggests "Contemporary Light"
window treatments should be light and airy. There are fabrics
which work particularly well to create that effect. Polyester,
a man-made fabric, is especially suited for sheers. As flat
panels or in simple pleats combined with a chrome pole or
tension wire, they can work wonders.
If possible have the fabric reach to the floor
to create a more elegant and completed look. A sheer looks
stunning in white, and pastels give just a whisper of color to
the room. Some fabrics boast interesting geometric patterns
such as spirals and circles embroidered or stripes woven into
The very word "sheer" connotes translucency; some light is
allowed in while privacy is maintained. That is the underlying
beauty of sheers. As the intensity of light changes throughout
the day, new effects are created within the room.
Polyesters are known for their durability, easy care, and
reasonable price. They don't fade when exposed to sunlight,
are pest-resistant, and wrinkle-free. Other fabrics used in
sheers, like cotton/polyester blends, polyester with viscose,
or acetate polyester, are robust and affordable as well.
If your prefer natural fibers, cottons are well
suited for Contemporary Light interiors. They are heavier than
sheers and can be draped and puddled on the floor, giving a
more opulent look. They can be used merely to frame the window
or can be drawn completely across the opening. When sheers are
used to frame the window, they can be combined with blinds,
shades, or shutters, to allow for more versatility and
Linen is a natural fiber which can be made up
handsomely into window coverings. The word "linen" is
practically synonymous with the word "wrinkle," and linen also
tends to stretch when hung. Purchase this fabric only as a
blend, such as linen and cotton, unless, of course, the
"wrinkled look" is that what you desire! Since linen comes
from Europe, it can be pricey.
Keep in mind that natural fibers are inherently more
susceptible to the elements. They are more sensitive to the
sun, and silver fish do love cottons! It's always a good idea
to inspect your window coverings when cleaning. Spiders have
been known to nestle up comfortably within their folds. Shake
them out and vacuum them every once in a while. Dry cleaning
is preferable to washing in order to avoid shrinkage or
bleeding of the colors.
Silk is a luxurious fabric which has found its
place in the contemporary world. Drapes made of silk can bring
a bold splash of color to a room or add a more subdued touch.
Whether as a solid color, in wide stripes, or in another
pattern, silk fabric lends richness to any interior. It is a
very delicate fabric, so the window treatments must be lined
and interlined to protect them from the sun's rays. If you
like the look of silk but not the fuss or the expense, try
"silks" in 100% polyester. They come very close to the real
Here are a few tips when deciding which fabric and which
hardware are suitable for each room. Sheers in solid colors or
with small geometric patterns do well in a more formal
setting, such as a living room, dining room and possibly
master bedroom. They look well hung from narrow metal poles of
chrome or stainless steel that are finished with simple
finials at the ends. The fabrics themselves can be attached to
the poles by rings, rings with clips, or tabs. Mount the
brackets on the wall or ceiling. Add tie-backs on the sides so
the fabric can be swept back gracefully, revealing a more
expansive view to the outside world.
An original and unusual way of hanging the
window treatment is to use tracks on the ceiling or a tension
wire. Hanging panels from tracks so that they can pass each
other creates an interesting window dressing. Sheers draped
loosely along a wire suggest rhythm and flow.
Sheers or cottons with stripes, checks, or
small floral patterns generally are better suited to more
casual settings, such as children's rooms, offices, and
kitchens. An alternative method of hanging these less formal
drapes is to use large grommets in the fabric and weave the
pole through them. Stripes and other patterns do not make an
informal design if you are using an elegant fabric like silk.
Stripes and checks on silk can look gorgeous in very formal
If floor-length window treatments are not
possible nor desired, the fabric could be made up into Roman
shades. Be careful with light colored fabrics, as the seams
and workings can be seen when the shades are down! These types
of shades are especially suited for kitchens, offices,
bathrooms, and children's rooms. Plain shades of fabric or
grass also can be used to make a unique statement.
Sometimes it's necessary and desirable to have
window coverings other than those made of fabric. If blocking
out light is the first priority, mini-blinds in wood or metal,
or honeycomb shades might be the right solution. The good news
for parents with small children is that these blinds and
shades are available today without the long cords! Wooden
shutters are ideal to afford privacy through the bottom
portion of the window and to allow light in through the upper
portion. Combine the blinds or shutters with fabric panels on
the sides to frame the opening.
To create a coordinated look throughout the
house, use one color in different textured fabrics and types
of window treatments. Or use two to three colors in varying
applications, repeating the color palette in different ways.
Be sure not to skimp on the fabric. With the exception of flat
panels, window treatments look best when ample fabric is used.
Window treatments comprise one of the last
finishing touches in a home! They can add warmth, a striking
color accent, or the feeling of pure elegance. From among the
many beautiful fabrics on the market today, you surely will be
able to find those that make each room unique and complete in
its own way.
Pictures # 1,3,5 by the author
Pictures # 2,4 Courtesy of JAB
Picture # 6 Courtesy of Peninsula Window Coverings, San Bruno
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