There are so many factors that must be considered when choosing window treatments for your home - and it can be overwhelming. It is also important to be prepared that window treatments costs can add up very quickly depending on the style, fabric, size and functionality of your choice.
This guide will be helpful in terms of steering you into the right direction, but keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits all solution as with anything design related, it comes down to personal preference and style. The window treatments we refer to will be custom window treatments and not mass-market, in stock options. In stock options can be good if you are on a tight budget, but if you are really willing to invest long term into your house - custom window treatments are the way to go.
Window treatment options
This is not an exhaustive list of window treatments available, however it covers the most commonly used:
- Shades (can be roller, roman, pleated, cellular)
- Blinds (softshades, honeycomb, mini, wood)
Things to consider
1. The style of your house
For simplicity, we will categorize the "style of house" into traditional, modern and contemporary.
Traditional style homes
For traditional homes we recommend using curtains for larger windows and taller sliding glass doors to create a sophisticated and established look to your home. Depending on the fabrics you pick, curtains can either create a bold, heavy statement to your space or you can go for a lightweight fabric for a more airy feel.
Smaller windows in traditional homes can opt for blinds or smaller curtain panels. Personally as a designer, I am very much against the aesthetic of blinds - they don't look very pretty in general and based on personal experience they don't block out light very well! Traditional homes also look great with shutters, however these can be very expensive and costly if you have a lot of windows in your house. Similar to blinds, they do not offer complete darkness like blackout curtains, however they are more effective than blinds in general.
Modern style homes
Completely modern style homes should definitely opt for shades. The reason for this is modern homes often have extensive use of glass, floor to ceiling windows/multi-sliding doors and are designed to take advantage of the surrounding environment and views. To minimize distraction, we recommend using automatic motorized roller shades that can be integrated into a smart home system. This allows you to set schedules and remotely control these shades very easily.
For new construction homes, definitely take this into consideration beforehand! Window treatments are often left last, however to create a sleek, integrated look, you should consider having these recessed into the ceiling so there is no fascia sticking out of your walls.
Contemporary style homes
Contemporary homes can really get away with almost any window treatment. We recommend mixing elements of modern (shades) and traditional (curtains). For contemporary homes, it is advisable to avoid using very heavy patterned fabrics for drapery to avoid making the house look outdated.
2. Window type
Multi-slide doors/fixed panel sliding doors
These types of sliding doors are usually seen in modern/contemporary homes. Keep in mind that they usually span the length of the whole wall (or close), so using bulky/heavy drapery panels are not going to look good. Our top recommendation for these sliding doors is sheer fabric curtains and/or roller shades recessed into the ceiling. Sheer and lightweight fabric will make it easy for you to pull it aside to get in and out through the doors. Shades are little bit more inconvenient simply because they have to be either completely raised to get in and out.
It is virtually impossible and highly unrecommended to use blinds or shutters for these doors.
Kitchen bay windows
Kitchen bay windows don't always need to be covered especially if they face onto your yard/open and uninterrupted view. If your kitchen bay window faces directly onto a neighbor's house or a street, you may want to consider window treatments for privacy.
We recommend mounting a single roller shade across the top portion of the window so it is able to cover all three windows. We have seen people who have three separate roller shades for each window, however this can be inconvenient and impractical to constantly reach over your sink/countertop to open and close the shades (if it isn't motorized). Blinds and shutters are also options if you do not like the look of shades.
Stay away from heavy curtains which will look awkward because they are cut off short.
Fixed windows, single/double hung windows
These will be your most common types of windows which are rectangular/square shape and are the most flexible in terms of window treatment options. The reference photo shows the french style doors using curtains and the french style windows using roman shades for a more traditional style. Essentially anything is possible: curtains, shades, blinds, shutters etc.
Personally, I like the look of curtains and shades for regular windows. Blinds and shutters can look very heavy and busy and can detract from the windows (which you do not want - especially if the windows look as pretty as these ones!)
Large floor to ceiling bay windows
Consider using floor to ceiling curtains to create the illusion that your ceiling is higher than it really is. The curtains can hang on a single curved rod framed to bend along each window. We particularly love the look of the curtain panels open as pictured.
Arched windows can look very stunning and architectural, but because of the awkward curve it poses a slight challenge in terms of window coverings. Our solution is simple and straightforward: hang a single rod ABOVE the arch and install curtains. Curtains will make the space look complete and well put together. The soft and delicate look of fabric complements the soft, curved arched window as well.
Another option which will be more expensive is custom fitted shutters.
We have seen many awful attempts of people trying to custom make separate blinds for the straight portion of the window and the curved section, which can look very unattractive and awkward. We also don't recommend hanging the curtain rod underneath the arch (as a lot of people do) because it allows too much sunlight to stream in and cannot be covered.
3. Your lifestyle and needs
This area to consider really revolves around your lifestyle and lighting needs. If you generally prefer a very bright, airy environment - you would probably want to consider sheer curtains or shades that you can have permanent up during the day to let in as much sunlight as possible. Blinds and shutters will make the space look heavy and busy. On the other hand, if light filtering is a big concern for you, you may consider investing in blackout curtains (complete room darkening) or blackout shades. Blinds tend to let in light in between the layers and on the sides.
Window/sliding door usage
Particularly for sliding doors, if you intend to open and close them very often to pass through and want to keep the inside of the house shaded - curtains will be your best bet as you can simply move them to side quickly to get through your sliding door.
As of 2018, curtains, blinds and shades can be motorized and connected to your automated home with extra costs. Shutters are very heavy and cannot be motorized.
4. Your budget
Window treatments are often the last thing homeowners think of and therefore not planned into budgets. This is extremely important because they can be very costly depending on the number of windows you have, the type of treatment you choose and the size of each window/sliding door.
In general, window treatments are ranked as follows: (least to most expensive)
shades > blinds > curtains/shutters
Custom curtains can end up costing a lot more than shutters, simply because it all depends on the type of fabric you pick and the hardware (rod) and mechanism you choose.
To give you a rough estimate of pricing (in Los Angeles), we recently paid to have sheer curtains + motorized shades installed in our living room for a sliding door (6 feet wide by 10 feet high) and it ended up costing:
- $592 for fabrication of fabric (120% fullness, ripple fold sheer curtains)
- $1884 for motorized roller shades with aluminum fascia
- $375 installation fee
which comes out to a grand total of $2851 for just one sliding door, although we did do triple the damage by adding both motorized shades and sheer curtains. We have 5 of these sliding doors in the house so if we were to do it on all of them, window treatments alone would set us back almost $15,000!
To conclude, make sure you plan ahead when picking your window treatments as they can be very expensive. It is important to know that right window treatments really are an investment and will last for decades if they are maintained properly. If you're still stuck after reading through this entire post - you can't go wrong with a good pair of neutral or sheer curtains and a clean rod to hang them with!
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