Creating "Alternative" Window Treatments

For many years while working with my interior decorating clients, one of the most frequently asked questions has been - “Do I have to have drapes to “dress” my windows”? My answer has always been and continues to be simply…. No. In most of our grandparent’s generation, the notion of not adding a decorative and utilitarian draping on windows was certainly out of the question! “Undressed” windows were quite simply… taboo.
Today, we often are opting to uncover these heavily draped windows in order to allow the window and the room to “breath”. Have you ever worked with a dark room and discovered in the process that when you take off a heavy drape from the window…. the transformation is somehow magical? The art of uncovering and recovering a window is one that can be mastered by simply “thinking outside the box”.
In order to consider a few options when looking for alternatives to standard fabric drapes, it’s important first to understand the two functions of a window treatment. The “under-treatment” is the part that is utilitarian in nature (i.e. to block out light and temperature as well as to provide privacy). Secondly, there is the decorative over-treatment (i.e. to add beauty, color and give the window a finished look).
Under-treatments are fairly straightforward in nature. The traditional blinds, fabric drapes, shutters and shades all provide varying levels of privacy and light control and come in a wide assortment of colors, materials and textures. Consider the fact, however, that with drapes and shades- you have two options for adjustment- down or up… open or closed. The versatility of blinds and shutters allow the ability to not only be open or closed, but give the customer the ability to adjust the angle and amount of light filtering that they want/require.
Decorative over-treatments truly act as the icing on the cake! Consider that any type of item can be used to add color, texture and interest to windows in order to create a focal point! As a designer/decorator… it is our talent of “thinking outside of the box” that makes a room truly unique!
Some of the most unique rooms are those that use for example, plate racks built as a cornice at the top of a window in order to display colorful, patterned plates which can be interchanged depending on the seasons. Shutters turned horizontally can act as a cornice or valance to pull the eye “upward” and thereby given an illusion of additional height in a room. Valances of twigs, curly willow, greenery and floral can be made by creating a sort of arrangement that is placed horizontally to span the width of the window.
I’ve combined the shutter and floral element together in creating these awesome mossy, “New Orleans” style awning effect. We’ve taken small shutters, attached iron brackets and finished them off with moss and dried berries. The result is outstanding. By bringing a bit of the “outdoors” in, we add a unique texture with a delightful surprise of indoor “awnings”!
It’s our job as decorating professionals to offer creativity and endless possibilities to our clients. Peruse and study design displays to create your own little “bag of tricks” that you can pull from when deciding on a unique accent to your windows.

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