From the April/May 2011 Issue:
The ABCs of Window Treatment
Writer: Ren Miller |
Window treatments frame your view of the outdoors and add an important finishing touch to your interiors. Here are examples and explanations—the ABCs of window treatments, so to speak—you can use when meeting with design professionals
enlarge | Top left: Drapery panels can be much more than single-color strips of fabric. In these panels by I&I Designs, French toile fabric is topped with pinch-pleated faux silk and finished with contrasting buttons and beaded trim. Courtesy of I&I Designs Top right: A grommeted top is a creative way to achieve a contemporary look, as illustrated in these panels by Stitch n’ Sew Centre. Courtesy of stitch n’ sew centre Bottom left: Inverted pleats add sleek elegance to these panels by Linda Principe Interiors. Courtesy of linda principe interiors Bottom right: Silk fabric creates a luxurious look in these panels with attached gathered valances by Metropolitan Window Fashions. Courtesy of metropolitan window fashions
Panels, a basic form of window treatment, are finished lengths of fabric that hang from a rod or other fixture at or above the top of the window and continue straight down, ending sometimes just below the window but more often at the floor. They add warmth and scale to a room and can be used alone, with sheers or shades underneath and/or a top treatment. After a period of over-the-top window treatments in the past two decades, simple panels are back in style. “The use of basic panels has swept the window treatment industry in the past several years,” says LuAnn Nigara of Window Works, a custom window treatment and awnings firm in Livingston. “Straightforward and unpretentious, panels are fashionable and versatile and can be adapted for nearly any window condition.”
They can be side panels, which flank window frames and don’t move across the window, or sliding panels, which can be drawn closed. Panels should cover the gap between a window covering that’s mounted inside the window well (for example, shades or shutters) where light and cold air can leak into a room, says Kim Kinzer, vice president of product design for Hunter Douglas, the window fashion firm in Upper Saddle River.
In fact skimpy panels are a common mistake, says Steve Furman of Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe in Haskell, a full-service workroom for the trade and an industry partner member of the American Society of Interior Designers. “Stationary panels should be full enough that they look as if they could be closed,” he says. A minimum fullness for stationary panels, he advises, is 1 1/2 widths per panel on an area up to 90 inches wide. You would end up with stacked soft folds of 12 to 16 inches on each side of the window. For traversing panels, the fabric should be a ratio of 3-to-1. If the fabric weight or cost is a concern, you can reduce the ratio to 2 1/2-to-1 and then add fullness with interlining.
For luxurious panels, French blackout or English bump lining are worth considering, says Kelli Chitty, president of the Central New Jersey Chapter of the Window Coverings Association of America and owner of Interiors by Kelli, a custom window treatment design and fabrication studio in Monmouth County. The French blackout method—which protects delicate fabrics from the sun and has insulating qualities—consists of four layers: face fabric, interlining, black sateen lining, and drapery lining. “The English bump method involves a blanket-like interlining, heavier and more lush than flannel interlining,” she says. “When working with a drapery professional, ask to see samples of pleat styles, linings and interlinings. This also gives you a chance to see the fabricator’s workmanship.”
Other advantages of lining: “It’s remarkably inexpensive insurance for any panel,” says Bob Mittenmaier, showroom manager at the New Jersey Decorating Exchange in River Edge. “The lining is treated to protect from harmful ultraviolet rays, staining and even rain damage. Always kept open at the bottom, it also creates an air barrier that adds enormously to insulation around the window.”
Visually, panels soften the hard geometry of the window, Mittenmaier says. “They bring color, design and texture; in most instances, this elevates and unites the room,” he says.
For a soft effect, panels just break on the floor or, in formal applications, are allowed to puddle on the floor. If you use puddles, they work best on stationary panels so you don’t have to rearrange them every time you open or close the drapery. The amount of fabric that fans out onto the floor is typically two to four inches.
Panels can be made with many different headings, including pleats, a rod pocket, tab top or grommet top. “Grommet-top draperies make a great statement in a room with elegant contemporary lines, says Linda Trembly of Window Treats in Red Bank. Nina Spinelli, president of the Decorating Store@Terminal Mill Ends in Union, agrees: “A grommeted top is very modern while a rod pocket is ideal for country and casual decor, and a classic pinch pleat is traditional or contemporary, depending on fabric.”
Remember that hand-stitched hems and pleats and finished seams on the inside add to the luxury of draperies.
Top: French blackout lining has four layers to block sunlight and protect delicate fabric. Bottom: English bump lining is heavy and lush, creating a luxurious look. Both examples shown are from?Kelli Chitty of Interiors by Kelli.
enlarge | Top: Swags and jabots look traditional when pleated and mounted on a board above the window or more casual when gathered and draped on a pole. This example from Hunter Douglas mixes traditional pleated jabots with a swags draped on a pole. The treatment adds a transitional touch to the company’s Silhouette® window shadings. Courtesy of Hunter Douglas Center: A solid-color band accents the swags and jabots on this kitchen window treatment by Metropolitan Window Fashions. Courtesy of Metropolitan Window Fashions Bottom: Swags aren’t always paired with jabots at the ends of the window. Here Linda Principe Interiors swagged fabric on a decorative rod over sheers. Courtesy of Linda Principe Interiors
The practice of swagging fabric across the top of a window is nearly as old as windows themselves. The swag is often combined with a jabot, which is folded fabric that typically descends on both sides and is often cut on an angle and folded back to reveal the lining in a contrasting color. This treatment—also called festoons and cascades—adds drama with full, lush softness, say Irene Bruh and Isobel Miller, principals of I&I Designs in Marlboro.
Swags and jabots can be used independently of each other, says Karla Trincanello, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Interior Decisions Inc. in Florham Park. Other options include jabots that are longer on one side for an asymmetric look.
For the original Federal or Colonial look, the swag is pleated and mounted to a board above the window. For a more transitional, casual look, it can be gathered instead of pleated and hung on a decorative pole, with space between the pole and the top of the swag swoop. “Pole swags work well in family rooms and offices in addition to more formal rooms, says Linda Principe, national vice president of the Window Coverings Association of America, immediate past president of WCAA’s Central New Jersey Chapter and owner of Linda Principe Interiors in Cranbury.
Another way to contemporize the look is to use a geometric-patterned fabric and sleek metal hardware, says Lois Croce, director of design at Metropolitan Window Fashions in North Plainfield, Paramus and New York City. Adds Keri Ellen Russoniello of Stitch n’ Sew Centre in Lakewood: “A wide range of fabric can be used for this treatment—from silk to chenille—making this classic treatment quite versatile.
Note that swags and jabots themselves add a graceful silhouette to a window but not privacy or insulation, says Nina Spinelli of the Decorating Store@Terminal Mill Ends. As for popularity, that has dwindled in recent years, says LuAnn Nigara of Window Works. “This style is the antithesis of back-to-basics and understatement,” she says. “However, it will always be considered classic and timeless.”
The way a panel is finished at the top helps to define the style of the room, says Bob Mittenmaier of the New Jersey Decorating Exchange. Here are illustrations and descriptions of some common options.
French Pleat (also called Pinch Pleat)
The look: Traditional.
How: Three folds of fabric with a stiffener are tacked at the bottom to form a small fan, with each grouping creating a soft cone of fabric. Holds up well on panels that open and close.
The look: Informal or country.
How: Not actually a pleat, tabs at the top of the drapery allow it to slide onto a decorative pole.
The look: Transitional.
How: This updated version of the French pleat has two or three fingers and no stiffener and is tacked on the top for a more modern look. If the drapery is to be installed on a decorative pole, you can cut away fabric between the pleats. This creates a scalloped effect
that reduces the bulk at the top and allows it to be installed in
an A line, breaking the rigid geometry of the window frame.
The look: Tailored.
How: This flat, symmetrical fold of fabric is basically a flattened French pleat. They’re sometimes made of fabric with two wide vertical stripes, allowing the second color to peek out of the pleat as it opens to the floor. Can be hung from a decorative pole with rings or mounted on a board.
The look: Formal.
How: Similar to the French pleat except the pleats are tacked at the bottom and rounded to form a goblet shape at the top. A button sometimes covers where the pleat is tacked.
The look: Casual.
How: Small circular frames are inserted into round holes in the top of the drapery. The drapery is then gathered on a decorative pole inserted through the grommets.
The look: Couture from the past.
How: Tapes are sewn on the top of the panel or valance while flat, then strings are pulled to create a shirred, honeycomb or lattice effect. These don't traverse well so they are best used in a stationary panel or valance.
The look: Casual.
How: Deep, crisp pleats are gathered evenly across the top of the drapery panel. These don't traverse well so are best for stationary panels or valances in casual settings. This option is ideal for a child’s room.
enlarge | Types of Roman Shades Top: Structured Roman shades, shown in a playing card fabric and matching valance have ribs that run horizontally through the shade to create straight folds when raised. Left: Relaxed or unstructured Roman shades have no stiff ribs, which creates a dip when the shade is raised. Shown here in combination with ball gown panels. Right: A hobbled Roman shade has soft permanent folds that stack up against each other when raised. All examples in this sidebar are courtesy of Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe.
With this window treatment, pleat folds behind pleat (or stacks against pleat) when pulled up. There are four types:
• Structured, with ribs that run horizontally through the shade to create straight folds when it's raised and to be flat when fully lowered. This shade should have blackout lining so the ribs aren’t visible in the sunlight, says Steve Furman of Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe. Because this shade is flat when lowered, it’s good for patterned fabrics as well as solids.
• Relaxed, without stiff ribs, which creates a dip when the shade is raised. The number and placement of rings at the top control the amount of the dip. They can be lined or not, depending on your needs, and work well with prints and solids.
• California (slatted), with small folds toward the back of the shade that look tailored when raised. The folds conceal the ribs from light. When lowered the shade has flat horizontal lines, adding visual depth. Striped fabric works well, but some patterns can be difficult to match.
• Hobbled, with soft, evenly spaced, permanent folds all the way down the shade that stack up against each other when raised. Two cautions: this isn’t the best style for certain patterns (with toile, for example, part of the pattern may fall into the fold) and the folds will allow light gaps (so blacking out a room would require an additional window treatment).
Depending on the fabric, Roman shades are as equally at home in a child’s bedroom as in an elegant dining room, says LuAnn Nigara of Window Works. “Through the use of coordinating trim, valances or drapes, they are effortlessly dressed up or down.” And as Karla Trincanello of Interior Decisions notes, they are easy to incorporate into traditional, transitional and contemporary settings.
enlarge | SHEERS Sheers date back as far as 1650, when a light gauze or muslin was hung on rods to give a degree of light control and privacy, says Nina Spinelli of The Decorating Store@Terminal Mill Ends. “Today, sheers add a beautiful layer to a window treatment … and a certain softness and illusion to the interior.” They also create a low-level ambient luminous glow, provide a degree of privacy and still allow light to come in, adds Kim Kiner of Hunter Douglas. Fabrics include viole, batiste or a decorative embroidered fabric, says Keri Ellen Russoniello of the Stitch n’ Sew Centre. Sheers can be used under more substantial window treatments or alone. A popular trend in recent years is to simply adorn a window with sheer drapes, says LuAnn Nigara of Window Works. “It is most effective on large expanses to give a completely finished feel to the window without making it look too dressed. A high-end burnout sheer can be strikingly elegant while an organic linen casement can create a breezy, relaxed ambience.” Karla Trincanello of Interior Decisions notes that sheer material can be used also in Austrian and Roman shades for its light-filtering ability. For a contemporary look, Lois Croce of Metropolitan Window Fashions suggests using grommets or a Brisby pleat and a cutout fabric.
From the most basic roller shades to motorized versions, these options are used to control light, provide privacy and maximize energy insulation.
• Roller shades, with fabric rolling up onto a tube, are the simplest window treatment and can be used with almost any décor, says Kim Kiner of Hunter Douglas. They come in a variety of fabrics from sheer to room-darkening, and some of the most popular fabrics today have solar-screening capability.
• Honeycomb shades are made with two or more layers of material that form air cells. These shades diffuse or block sunlight and help to trap hot or cold air, Kiner says.
• Shadings combine features such as a sheer and fabric vanes, with the sheer providing beauty and benefits of light diffusion and the vanes allowing light control, Kiner says. A favorite of Bob Mittenmaier of the New Jersey Decorating Exchange: the Silhouette® from Hunter Douglas. “Comprising two flat sheer panels with a soft blade blind between them, the Silhouette is as soft as a sheer curtain and retains all the functions of a blind,” he says.
• Austrian shades, shirred and gathered in sections, these shades often are sheer and are used to provide privacy and filter sunlight while coordinating with a perimeter treatment, Karla Trincanello says.
• Balloon shades, which are halfway between a blind and a drapery, have poufs at the bottom formed by pulling up fabric panels and securing them in the back.
• London shades feature a full swag in the middle and butterfly tails on the ends.
• Blinds are made of wood (especially luxury versions) or materials such as fabric, plastic, metal and wood composite. These provide good light control because you can adjust the slats to increase or decrease sunlight coming into the room.
• Woven wood blinds are made from natural woods, reeds, bamboo, grasses and other renewable materials in numerous color choices. “Woven wood shades add a warm, elegant ambience to any room,” says Mary Gorman of The Curtain Exchange in Ridgewood. “They also provide varying degrees of privacy and light-control options. The shades can be ordered with a privacy liner attached to the back or a dual-shade option, where you can filter light with the liner up and block it with the liner down. Faux wood is a good option in humid areas, such as bathrooms.
These structural window treatments often tie into the architecture of a home and are used typically in traditional décor and along the coasts, Kiner says. They provide beauty, insulation and light control, say Irene Brush and Isobel Miller of I&I?Designs. Adds Trincanello, “Shutters can be hinged to open like a door or placed on a track to slide over another louvered panel. They come in all design styles; their clean, simple lines fit contemporary styling, while adding treatments such as side panels with swags and jabots will traditionalize the room setting.”
enlarge | Top: A patterned sheer over a Roman shade designed by Sussan Lari Architect in Roslyn, New York, and fabricated by LuAnn Nigara of Window Works creates a sunny ambience that’s perfect for curling up to read a book. Photography www.peterrymwid.com Bottom: A sheer with horizontal banding balances the verticality of the mirror on the opposite side of the room. Window treatments by The Curtain Exchange. Courtesy of the curtain exchange
Sheers date back as far as 1650, when a light gauze or muslin was hung on rods to give a degree of light control and privacy, says Nina Spinelli of The Decorating Store@Terminal Mill Ends. “Today, sheers add a beautiful layer to a window treatment … and a certain softness and illusion to the interior.”
They also create a low-level ambient luminous glow, provide a degree of privacy and still allow light to come in, adds Kim Kiner of Hunter Douglas.
Fabrics include viole, batiste or a decorative embroidered fabric, says Keri Ellen Russoniello of the Stitch n’ Sew Centre.
Sheers can be used under more substantial window treatments or alone. A popular trend in recent years is to simply adorn a window with sheer drapes, says LuAnn Nigara of Window Works. “It is most effective on large expanses to give a completely finished feel to the window without making it look too dressed. A high-end burnout sheer can be strikingly elegant while an organic linen casement can create a breezy, relaxed ambience.”
Karla Trincanello of Interior Decisions notes that sheer material can be used also in Austrian and Roman shades for its light-filtering ability.
For a contemporary look, Lois Croce of Metropolitan Window Fashions suggests using grommets or a Brisby pleat and a cutout fabric.
enlarge | Top: Linda Principe Interiors combined a flower print with stripes and a solid color in this colorful scalloped valance with button trim. Courtesy of Linda Principe Interiors Bottom: Today’s patterns tend to be larger scale than a decade ago, as seen in this tieback panel with ball-fringe trim by Stitch n’ Sew Centre. Courtesy of Stitch n’ Sew Centre
While color and shape may be your first considerations when choosing window treatments, fabric and pattern (or lack of pattern) are at least equally important. The most commonly used fabrics, courtesy of the experts interviewed for this article:
Cotton, a washable fabric, therefore, a good choice for kitchen curtains or kids’ rooms. When woven into a damask or jacquard design, however, cotton can be very formal.
Linen, a strong textural fabric made from flax. Linen can crease easily, which is part of its informal charm.
Polyester, a durable fabric made of manufactured fiber that is durable and can withstand ultraviolet light, which can fade the color of natural fibers.
Rayon, often combined with fibers such as cotton or linen to create a more drapable fabric.
Silk, a lustrous fabric that gives window treatments a luxurious feel. Sometimes interlined with flannel for a rich, full look. Silk taffeta is a stiff woven version of the fabric that has a glossy appearance.
Velvet, made of cotton, silk, wool, viscose rayon or polyester fibers with a smooth, iridescent pile. It’s a good choice for formal, elegant window treatments.
Wool, an elegant choice for a masculine room or library.
How the fibers are woven or finished also plays a role. Options include damask (woven to create a very slightly raised design on a smooth background), matelassé (hand-stitched to create decorative features or woven on a jacquard loom to appear like quilting) and moiré (fabric finished with a watered appearance).
Color & Pattern. Solid colors are easy to work with in window treatments because they complement any fabric or design style, says Kim Kiner of Hunter Douglas, while a patterned fabric becomes a design statement in itself. Fabrics with texture—whether solid color or patterned— are top sellers because they are interesting to see and touch.
Solid colors that blend effortlessly into the room are seen in many contemporary settings, while embroidered or crewelwork fabrics tend to be more traditional.
If your goal is simply to add color to a room, solids are a good choice, perhaps customized with decorative trim, say Irene Bruh and Isobel Miller of I&I Designs. Patterns, because they have more than one color, can tie together the different colors in a room, adds Karla Trincanello of Interior Decisions. Large, bold prints look fresh, while classic toiles are interesting in updated palettes.
enlarge | Top:The Gresham collection by Samuel &?Sons in New York City features eight styles of trim in a cotton-linen blend. The styles include tweeded and tufted borders, woven cords and gimp now available in 18 colors. Bottom:Inspired by the beauty of French gardens at full bloom, the Le Jardin collection from Samuel and Sons features seven styles of trim, providing an elegant finish to any furnishing. The styles are a simple silk tuft, a woven trellis braid, a sleek woven cord, an embroidered gimp, a chair tassel and a key tassel. The collection is 100% silk and available in 59 colors.
Like jewelry, details added to draperies are a finishing touch that catch the eye. This category of window treatment elements—formally called passementerie—includes borders, buttons, banding, braid, fringe, embroidery, beads, rosettes, feathers, bullion, tassels and pompoms.
Such details can add a special decorator’s touch to all custom drapery, says Myrna Rosen of Window Treats in Red Bank. Adds Kelli Chitty of Interiors by Kelli, “This is where you make a good window treatment fantastic.”
Some of these details will not only make your drapery look better but also hang better. “Micro-cording in the hem of valances, and swags and jabots makes the edge look crisper and helps to keep the lining from peeking out from behind,” Chitty says. Some of her other tips:
• Try an updated twist on ruffles by adding a box pleated ruffle, made of the face fabric, to the top of valances.
• Choose a contrasting fabric for the side hem of a panel. When you tie it back you get a peek of the contrast.
• Sew contrasting rosettes down the leading edge of a drapery panel or attach them just below the pleats on drapery panels for a little girl’s room.
The important thing to remember is that trim will personalize a window treatment, says Steve Furman of Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe. Adds LuAnn Nigara of Window Works: “Beware of a design professional who can’t be bothered with the details. The decision to use or not use trims, bandings, contrast linings or other options is what makes the window treatment yours and not your neighbors. A proper window treatment has been designed and executed for you and you alone.”
Hardware also can personalize your window treatment. Decorative wood or metal poles, for example, add the feel of a finished treatment, Furman says. One-inch metal poles or 1 3/8-, 2- and 2 1/4-inch wood poles are popular choices for most living areas, says Keri Ellen Russoniello of Stitch n’ Sew Centre. More creative ways to suspend a window treatment include knobs, which can be wood, metal, resin or glass, among other materials.
Hardware comes in styles, ranging from traditional to transitional to contemporary. “The same silk or linen drapery panels can look contemporary when hung from a sleek stainless steel rod, but very traditional when installed on a reeded wood pole with acanthus leaf finials,” says Lois Croce of Metropolitan Window Fashions.
“Drapery hardware is not an item where you should cut corners,” Nigara says. “Quality hardware is like a well-made suit. The difference is found in the styling of the brackets, finials and other accessories.”
enlarge | Top left: An upholstered cornice with drapery side panels and sheers sets an elegant mood in this master bedroom designed by Karla Trincanello of Interior Decisions. Photo by Marisa Pellegrini Top right: I&I Designs upholstered these cornices in a patterned fabric over flowing faux silk panels that are bishoped and held in place by decorative tassels. Courtesy of I&I Designs Bottom left: A tufted cornice caps drapery panels in this design by Metropolitan Window Fashions. Courtesy of Metropolitan Window Fashions Bottom center: Linda Principe designed a sailing theme cornice with beads on the bottom. Courtesy of Linda Principe Interiors Bottom right: Cornices in the Hunter Douglas Country Woods Exposé Collection coordinate with blinds in the same collection. Courtesy of Hunter Douglas
Valances and cornices—available in every style imaginable—add a finishing touch to a room.
Cornices typically are wood boxes—usually upholstered in fabric but sometimes wood with paint or stain—and mounted above a window to hide drapery hardware and the top of the window. “A good cornice maker can cut the bottom edge to any shape or complexity,” says Bob Mittenmaier of the New Jersey Decorating Exchange. You can start with a straight-lined cornice for a contemporary room, Furman says, or add curves, points, notches or right angles to change the feel. Swags and jabots can be attached to the outside of the cornice,” Trincanello adds. With a large floral print, a cornice is perfect in a traditional living room, while a striped pattern is appropriate for a home office or masculine study, says Linda Principe of Linda Principe Interiors.
• Lambrequins, which are cornices with long sides that extend down to frame the window, Principe adds. Lambrequins are good options for energy efficiency when combined with interlined draperies because the wood sides and top capture drafts, adds Lois Croce of Metropolitan Window Fashions.
• Cantonniere, a cornice with short legs extending partially down the length of the window.
enlarge | Clockwise, from top left: A Savannah valance with tassel trim grace’s a child’s room designed and executed by LuAnn Nigara of Window Works. Photo by Wendy Robinson • Tassels decorate an Austrian valance by Linda Principe Interiors. Courtesy of Stitch n’ Sew Centre • Karla Trincanello of Interior Decisions designed a draped pelmet valance—complete with decorative cord and tassel—over a panel in this elegant design. Courtesy of Interior Decisions • The gentle drape of an Empire valance by Stitch n’ Sew Centre reveals a coordinating solid color on the opposite side of the printed front. Courtesy of Linda Principe Interiors
Valances can be mounted on boards (for a custom feel) or hung on rods (great for bedrooms and bathrooms), says Steve Furman of Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe. Scale is important because a too-short valance on a wide window looks skimpy, he adds, while one that is too deep looks top-heavy. Mounting a valance high gives a room visual height.
Valances and cornices can be used alone or with panels or even Roman shades, blinds or shutters, adds Keri Ellen Russoniello Stitch n’ Sew Centre.
Here are a few of the many styles of valances:
• Kingstons are multiple swags with a trumpet- or bell-shaped gathering of fabric where they meet. The swags can be pleated for a formal look or gathered for a more casual style. They’re typically finished with jabots on both ends.
• Empires are similar to Kingstons but with softer, less-structured swags. Kingstons and Empires are both good options for living rooms and dining rooms.
• Banners consist of one or more panels that end in a V.
• A Stagecoach consists of a mock shade roll and tie-up straps, usually in a contrasting fabric or color (picture Old West travelers loosening the straps and letting fabric unroll to close off the window and keep dust or harsh sun at bay).
• Some valance styles are the same as shade or pleat styles of the same name (such as balloon, Austrian, box) but shorter.
• Though definitions vary, pelmets can range from a flat, stiffened valance used in contemporary settings to an accent of gathered fabric draped over a panel or valance.
TIPS ON TREATMENTS by Pam DeCuir
When planning for new window treatments, here are some important points every consumer should know.
They are divided into two main categories:
Hard treatments comprise shades (cellular or pleated) and operable blinds (horizontal or vertical primarily in wood, faux wood, vinyl or aluminum). Function is the main reason for purchasing hard treatments—the right one can solve concerns about privacy, sun control, and heat, cold or glare issues. Hard treatments are available through many sources; a window treatment expert can help you determine the best product for your needs.
Soft treatments generally are considered to be decorative, but they may be functional as well. Typically they are made of fabric and may include details such as pleating, welting, linings, interlinings and trims. Soft treatments can be hung from rods or poles or mounted on a board. They include draperies, side panels, valances, cornices and swags. They coordinate with other fabrics and colors in your décor to create a comfortable atmosphere and are considered the finishing touch in a room.
Things to consider before buying window treatments:
• Capabilities of the product.
• Appropriateness for the room.
• Design options.
• Operation of the product (manual or motorized).
• Care needed.
You also should know the differences in types of soft treatments:
As the term indicates, you have few choices on styles, colors, and sizes.
You can order an item out of a preset number of designs in a limited range of patterns, colors and sizes. Trim and lining options may be available.
Custom Designed: $$$
Unlimited design possibilities are the hallmark because these window treatments are made specifically for your windows with the guidance of a window treatment designer or interior designer. The designer gives great care to your desires with an emphasis on finding creative solutions to your needs. Unlimited designs, fabrics, trims, linings, and hardware choices are available.
To find a window treatment professional, contact your interior designer or the Window Coverings Association of America in New Jersey at 732-974-3162 or www.wcaa.org.
Pam DeCuir owns Pamela DeCuir Interior Designs in Wall Township and is a specialist in window treatments.
THE EXPERTS, IN DETAIL …
We thank the 13 experts in window treatment design and fabrication who participated in this article. In addition to being quoted throughout the article, each one also provided tips and definitions for a range of window treatment terms below. To skip to a particular participants comments, double-click on his or her name in this alphabetical list.
Bob Mittenmaier, New Jersey Decorating Exchange
Irene Bruh and Isobel Miller, I & I Designs LLC
Karla Trincanello, Interior Decisions Inc.
Kelli A. Chitty, Interiors by Kelli
Keri Ellen Russoniello, Stitch ’n’ Sew Centre
Kim Kiner, Hunter Douglas
Linda Principe, Linda Principe Interiors
Lois Croce, Metropolitan Window Fashions
LuAnn Nigara, Window Works
Mary Gorman, The Curtain Exchange
Nina Spinelli, Decorating Store @ Terminal Mill Ends
Steve Furman, Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe
* * * * * * * *
BOB MITTENMAIER, showroom manager
New Jersey Decorating Exchange
3 New Bridge Road River
Edge, NJ 07661
Panels Adding panels to a window treatment tends to soften the hard geometry of the window. They bring color, design and texture in vertical columns around a room, leading the eye up. In most instances, this elevates and unites the room, adding a necessary link between furniture and valances. Generally, short panels are construed as more casual; panels to the floor, more formal. Tying a panel back adds both volume and presence to a window. However, today’s window treatments are all about preserving light. Current panel styles are kept to a minimum width and allowed to hang straight. To further create a soft effect, they break on the floor or, in a more formal applications, puddle on the floor. An important component of panels is lining or, in some cases, interlining. Drapery lining is remarkably inexpensive insurance for any panel. The lining fabric is thin, cotton material specially treated to protect harmful ultraviolet rays, staining and even rain damage. Cut to the size of the panel, it adds years to a panel’s life. Always kept open at the bottom, it creates an incredible air barrier that adds enormously to insulation around the window.
Swags and jabots As old as windows themselves, swagging fabric across the top is used to soften architecture and decorate a room. Like every valance, a swag spans the window, but no other window dressing creates as deep a curve into the space. Usually mounted on a board by a tacking strip, the straight top line is more formal and traditional. An open swag — a more transitional look — is made by cutting away material at the top and securing the swag to a decorative pole with two tacking strips. In either case, the swag is lined, and in some cases interlined, much as a panel is done. Jabots were developed centuries ago as a more decorative way to complete a swag treatment. Consisting of folded fabric, they descend on either side of the swag, bringing the eye down into the room. Often the jabot is cut on an angle and folded back revealing its lining. This is a decorative opportunity to use a contrasting pattern or color. By flattening and creasing the fabric, the jabot takes on a formal aspect; when it is made with soft folds, it’s more casual.
Roman shades With transitional design so popular today, Roman shades are a growing segment of the market. Frequently, they are used as a standalone treatment, replacing draperies or other types of shades. As often, they are incorporated with panels and valances as an under treatment. In their simplest form, Romans are flat when extended fully and pull up in “Roman” style (pleats folding behind pleats) until the window is revealed. It is popular to sew batons across the face of the shade, giving it a tailored architectural detail. A soft pleated Roman is created by cascading fabric down its face, a look that’s particularly suited to the bedroom. Any manner of trim can be applied along the bottom or top edge. Although the bottom is usually straight, the swagged or soft Roman has a curved line, sometimes accentuated by side flaps (or dog-ears). Any Roman style functions equally well as a shade or as a valance at the top of the window.
Other shades and blinds Overall, the most popular shade in the past 30 years has been Hunter Douglas’ Duette honeycomb. It revolutionized blind treatments when it was introduced, and to this day the air pocket created by the honeycomb is the most effective insulation you can put on the window. Highly developed, with numerous pleat sizes, fabrics, colors, and headrail operational choices, it has dominated the shade market. A newer development in the cellular market is the sheer shade. Comprised of two flat sheer panels with a soft blade blind between them, the Silhouette shade blends the function of sheers and blinds. Suddenly, a blind could be as soft as a sheer curtain and retain all of the function of a blind. Constructed by laser, the shade exudes sleek perfection. Also very popular today is the vertical counterpart Luminette, which is scaled for use on wider spaces, like sliding glass doors, and stacks aside like a drapery.
Once the sole province of custom workrooms, Roman shades made by blind companies continue to be very popular. Hunter Douglas makes a proprietary shade, Vignette, in both soft pleat and flat that rolls into its own headrail. Just last month, the company introduced a new line of Roman shades; the shades stack against themselves in a more conventional manner and come in a variety of fabrics.
Wood blinds and shutters, having been a part of window design for over 200 years, are experiencing an explosion of interest today. More crude in construction than any of the new sheer and polyester blinds, they exude a natural beauty unmatched by modern technology. An offshoot of these blinds is woven wood shades. Made of natural reeds and grasses, these shades provide filtered light and pull up in the manner of Roman shades. As a category, the natural and wood market is a growing segment of window design. A smaller-volume category in shades, but important in this metropolitan area, is solar screen shadings. These are generally flat shades made of open-weave materials. Ideal for windows that don’t require privacy, but where you want to cut UV and provide some insulation, they are most often used in high-rise apartments.
Valances There is greater variety in valances than any other application of window design. In general, valances span the width of a window (and sometimes beyond) and unify window design more than any other element. Depending on their construction, valances can be anything from extremely formal to casual, and serve to define a room’s style as strongly as does its furniture. Valances can demand attention or recede into the architecture and give a designer his/her greatest range of expression. Some popular styles today are:
Cornices, the most architectural of all valances, are wooden boxes upholstered in fabric. In a straight linear style, it can be as tailored and simple as a soffit. A good cornicemaker can cut the bottom edge to any shape or complexity. Covered overlays can be applied to the face as design enhancements. Generally self-welted top and bottom, decorative cording or bands can be added to give the design pop. In its simplest form, the cornice is the least expensive of top treatments. By upholstering the face of the cornice, you use the least amount of fabric of any valance. Naturally, as in any custom treatment, it can be made as elaborate as the style of the room dictates.
A lambrequin, by definition, is a cornice with legs, essentially outlining the window. While a cornice with drapery panels is extremely popular, lambrequins are a dated style that has fallen out of favor.
The Kingston valance, typically formal in style, its combination of swagging and bells and is a more interesting way to span a window than swags alone. Board mounted, it is generally formal and, more often than not, is treated with trim. Its sides can be extended (like jabots) or finished straight to the wall using drapery panels underneath. To impart a more casual effect, the top of the Kingston can be scalloped between bells and the valance installed from a pole with tabs.
Balloon valances are a style that never seems to fade in popularity. Either tailored or shirred, they give an opulent aspect to any window, from a child’s room to a formal living room. (Of course, they can be enhanced with trims, bows or rosettes.)
Pleats Valances and panels can be finished at top in any of an array of pleats. come in all the types found in pleated panels, with the room’s style dictating the level of formality. In general, a pleated top is more formal application; shirred or smocked more casual.
The traditional pinch pleat, defined as a French pleat, consists of three folds of fabric tacked 4 inches from the top to form a small fan. This gives a very traditional and regimented appearance. Each pleat creates a soft cone of fabric. How close the pleats are together determines the fullness of the panel and contributes to a luxurious appearance.
The goblet pleat, named for its conical shape, is very formal and can only be used on stationary treatments. Trim is often applied at the base of the pleat.
Tab tops are an informal style generally applied to casual or country curtains. In this case, a decorative rod must be used.
Smocking and the pencil pleat have faded in popularity.
In general, the most popular pleat style in use today is the top-tack or Brisby pleat. It is created in the same manner as the French/pinch pleat, but instead of tacking the pleats at the base, they are held together at the very top. This creates the same cone of fabric as the pinch pleat but imparts a more transitional style. It is applicable in both modern and traditional design schemes without the regimentation of pinch pleats. When installed on a decorative rod, the pleat can be further enhanced by cutting away the fabric between the pleats. This scalloping reduces the bulk at the panel’s top, allowing it to be installed in an A line, breaking the rigid geometry of the window frame.
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IRENE BRUH and ISOBEL MILLER, owners
I & I Designs LLC
4 Country Club Lane
Marlboro, NJ 07746
732-996-8537 or 732-995-0059/www.iandidesignsllc.com
Panels Panels add to the vertical lines of the room by creating height and elegance. This treatment can be used with any decor and style. The fabric will determine if it’s traditional, transitional or contemporary.
Swags A swag adds drama to your room with the full, lush softness. Jabots are a finishing touch when added to the swags. Swags and jabots complete a layered look when placed atop a panel. This treatment looks well with traditional and transitional styles.
Roman shades Roman shades offer the simplicity of horizontal lines that cover the window span. The softness of the fabric can give a look and feel of drapery in a more contemporary or transitional room.
Shutters Made of natural materials, shutters can provide beauty, insulation and light control. Adding a complementary fabric treatment will soften the hard lines of shutters and add elegance to any room.
Sheers Sheers add privacy and a layer that separates the coldness of glass from the warmth of the draperies.
Valances A valance adds color and softness to the windows and can enhance or pull together the design of a room. By placing a valance over another treatment, you can finish the top and conceal any drapery hardware or architectural flaws. The fabric and the design will determine the style of this treatment.
Cornices This treatment can work well in any style room: contemporary, transitional or traditional. They can have simple, straight lines or can accommodate swags and other embellishments.
Pleats Pleats come in many varieties. A French pleat (also called a pinch pleat) is three-fold pleat. A goblet pleat is similar to the pinch pleat except the top resembles the shape of a goblet. A Brisby pleat is a casual modern style with pleats pinched at the top edge at intervals; it can be used with large grommets that are threaded directly onto a rod. A box pleat is a flat, symmetrical fold of fabric; it has a more tailored style that can be used as an alternative to a pinch pleat. Smocking involves creating pencil pleats at the top of the drapery and hooking them together at specific intervals for a honeycomb effect. Tabs are placed together at a top of the drapery to slide over a rod or tie to a treatment.
Fabrics. The weight of the fabric contributes to the overall look of the draperies. If it’s a natural fiber (cotton, linen, silk), it will hang in a simple line. Draperies made of velvet or wool will have a heavier appearance.
Pattern vs. solid fabric The look of the room will tend to dictate the fabric you select. If you want to keep it simple and just add color, you may use a solid fabric and enhance it with a decorative trim. A pattern will certainly call attention to itself by adding texture and dimension to the overall effect of the room.
Details Trim is of utmost importance to the overall look of drapery. It acts as brooch on a suit or a lovely strand of pearls against a simple neckline. Fringe, beads or pompoms, tassels will kick it up a notch, and scalloped edges, ruching will enhance the treatment.
Hardware This comes in many styles — from contemporary to transitional to traditional — and can be as simple as a round finial and ornate as a tieback studded with Swarovski crystals. Or it can have a specific theme to coordinate with the decor of the room.
KARLA TRINCANELLO, allied member ASID,
Interior Decisions Inc.
140 Columbia Turnpike
Florham Park, NJ 07932
Window treatments are important aspects of any room design. They incorporate style and add fabric, color, pattern and texture. Decorative treatments add a visual interest to any room. Whether your style is traditional, contemporary or transitional, window treatments are the most effective way to add style to a room. Window treatments address sun glare and privacy issues and treat these requirements as well as create an important and vital aspect of the room as decoration.
The basics of a window design incorporate two aspects: a “perimeter treatment” (around the window allowing vision without the need for privacy) and “base dressing” (covering the window for privacy yet having the ability to transition when needed to allow view). Most treatments are designed as perimeter and base combined, some need only a perimeter design to add elements to the room, and others need only a base treatment such as shades, shutters or traversing sheers. If the outside view is important and privacy is not necessary, a dressing around the window is enough decoration. If you desire privacy, part- or full-time, then the designer will specify a base treatment that coordinates with the perimeter treatment. Many options are available, depending on your needs and desired style.
Panels. Side panels are vertical gathered or pleated panels that flank window frames and do not traverse (move across the window). Side panels can be very versatile for traditional and contemporary style. Sliding fabric panels, meanwhile, are flat, vertical fabric panels that slide over each other. They can be treated with a variety of fabrics or woven natural products.
Swags and jabots These traditional treatments can be used together or independently. Swags are top treatment of gathered fabric dropping in center and rising at the end of the pole. Larger windows usually are treated with multi swags. Jabots usually complement a swag and typically are short folded side panels cut to show contrasting lining and fit the window facing right and left. Typically used in traditional settings.
Roman shades Roman shades are available in a variety of styles that achieve the same effect, pulled up at desired height like a roll-up shade but it folds up instead. They are easy to incorporate in traditional, transitional and contemporary settings. Can be used alone or with side panels or jabot accenting.
Woven wood shades Woven natural leaves, bark, sticks and other renewable materials lie flat on the window and fold as the shade is pulled up.
Austrian shades Shirred and gathered in sections, these shades usually are made with sheer fabric and used as a window covering. They are used mostly for base treatment for privacy and sun-filtering elements and are coordinated with a perimeter treatment
?Shutters Movable horizontal louvers are attached within a frame forming a vertical panel. Shutters can be hinged to open like a door or placed on a track to slide over another louvered panel. Shutters can be used with or without side draperies and are used in all design styles. Clean simple lines fit contemporary styling, while the addition of side panels with swags and jabots will traditionalize a room setting.
Sheers These gathered transparent fabric treatments allow light through the window while still affording privacy. Sheers treatments can be used as a window covering and traverse to open. Sheer materials can be used also in Austrian shades or Roman shades to filter light.
Valances Valances are top treatments, usually gathered; typically covers top of window.
Cornices/lambrequin/pelmets. A cornice usually is a hard surface such as wood or upholstered with fabric to cover the top of the window. Additional treatments such as swags and jabots can be attached to outside of cornice for decoration. A lambrequin is a three-sided padded or wood treatment covering the outside of a window or doors. Swags and jabots can be attached to the outside of the lambrequin. Pelmets are accenting aspects similar to a jabot but shorter and made with coordinating fabric lining on both sides rather than right and left sides, as does a jabot. Typically used to separate swag treatments on large windows.
Details Edge details add interest and coordinate with other fabrics in the room. Banding, for example, involves adding another fabric as a trim, usually less than 6 inches wide running the length of the panels. Banding can incorporate trims, beads, tassels, bullion and welting for more detail and added interest, or it can be used alone in a contrasting color for a simple transitional look.
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KELLI A. CHITTY, owner
Interiors by Kelli
President of the Central New Jersey Chapter of the Window Coverings Association of America
Panels Drapery panels are either traversing or stationary. Traversing panels open and close across the width of the window and are used when privacy is an issue — often done in sheer fabric. Stationary panels, sometimes called dummy panels, are used purely for decorative purposes. They can be hung under or over a top treatment or on their own with decorative hardware.
Panels are a good choice for any decor. The fabric, pleat style and hardware choices, as well as the fullness used when fabricating the drapery, will determine the actual style. A goblet-pleated panel in solid silk fabric with trim down the leading edge can be beautifully traditional, for example, while a stripe on the horizontal done with a Euro pleat can be very contemporary. Opt for an unusual pleat style, for example a Thai pleat, to update the look of panels.
The French blackout method or English bump will create luxurious drapery panels. The French blackout method consists of four layers of fabric: the face fabric, interlining, black sateen lining, and finally the drapery lining. This looks luxurious and also protects delicate fabrics such as silk from the sun and has insulating qualities. English bump is a blanket-like interlining, heavier and more lush than flannel interlining. Linings and interlinings aren’t seen but add so much to the look and feel of drapery panels. Hand-stitching of hems and pleats and finishing of the inside seams also add to the luxury of your drapery panels.
When working with a window treatment professional, ask to see samples of pleat styles, linings and interlinings. This also will give you the opportunity to see the workmanship of the fabricator.
Roman shades There are many types of Roman shades: flat, hobbled, slatted and relaxed. A flat shade is flat when lowered and falls into pleats as it’s raised. It has a very tailored look and is a good choice to show off a fabric pattern. A hobbled shade has soft, permanent folds all the way down the shade when it’s lowered. The folds stack up against each other when the shade is raised. A slatted shade is much like a flat shade but has slats placed at the fold lines so the shade raises and lowers without needing to dress the folds into place. Roman shades are lined to protect the face fabric and add body to the pleats. Interlining will add fullness to the pleats as well as insulating value. Blackout lining is a good choice for bedrooms where complete darkness is desired. Blackout is a good choice also for light-colored face fabrics because it blocks out the sun, which can distort the color of the face fabric.
Traditionally, Roman shades have been constructed so they are raised and lowered with the use of cords and rings and a lift system. On September 3, 2010, the Window Covering Manufacturers Association released ANSI/WCMA safety standards for corded window products (which includes Roman shades) to address the risk of strangulation. This standard applies to large and small businesses and affects anyone who sells or fabricates Roman shades. The window treatment professional you work with should be aware of the standards and should deliver a product that meets the standard.
Details This is where you can make a good window treatment fantastic. Some details simply make a window treatment hang and look better. Microcording in the hem of valances, swags, jabots makes the edge look crisper and helps to keep lining from peeking out from behind. Do microcording in a contrasting fabric and you can add an unexpected pop of color or pattern. Other ideas:
• Try an updated twist on ruffles by adding a box-pleated ruffle, made of the face fabric, to the top of your valances for a subtle detail.
• Use a contrast fabric for the side hem of drapery panels. When you tie them back you’ll get a peek of the contrast fabric.
• Put contrasting yo-yos, or small rosettes, down the lead edge of drapery panels or just below the pleats on drapery panels for a little girl’s room. Or try a ballet shoe pleat!
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KERI ELLEN RUSSONIELLO, designer
Stitch ’n’ Sew Centre
123 East County Line Road
Lakewood, NJ 08701
Panels Drapery panels are a classic way to treat a window. A pinch- or goblet-pleated heading is very often used, however, an inverted box pleat or ruched top heading would be a good choice for transitional decor. For a more contemporary look, very popular headings are grommets or Brisby pleat. Most often, drapery panels are suspended on a pole but holdbacks can be used also.
Swags and jabots These top treatments can be formal or informal, depending on the fabric and whether they are pleated or gathered. A wide range of fabric can be used for this treatment — from silk to chenille — making this classic treatment quite versatile.
Shades Roman shades or fabric shades of all kinds are a versatile and popular window treatment. They are highly functional because of the ability to raise and lower them, and they can be highly decorative. They also can be used in conjunction with a valance and/or panels.
Sheers By design, sheers are used unlined to diffuse light and provide an element of security. There are a wide range suitable fabrics — voile, batiste, or a more decorative embroidered fabric among them — and can be shirred along a rod or hung from a pole.
Valances These treatments work well with a wide range of styles and may even be used on their own to trim the window top. Valances work well with panels or even over a Roman shade, blinds or shutters. They also disguise hardware while providing a finished look. Suspension options include a decorative pole, wood or metal, holdbacks, utility rod or dustboard. Valance styles, fabrics and trimmings offer unlimited choices for your home.
Cornices/pelmets/lambrequins Cornices or pelmets are generally made of wood and may be trimmed with molding or upholstered and accessorized. Lambrequins are more extravagant versions of cornices, in which the sides extend at least two-thirds of the way down the window. These are often decoratively shaped and upholstered to add richness to the window treatment.
Pleats Goblet-pleat headings add a note of refinement in, for example, a dining room using a silk fabric.
French or pinch is the most common pleat, comprising the classic three-fold configuration. They work best in a traditional setting using a wide range of fabrics. Easily embellished with a covered button or even a banding of a contrasting fabric.
A Brisby pleat (or Bohemian pleat as it is sometimes referred to) is a two- or three-fold pleat that’s tacked on the top, best used in a tailored or contemporary setting.
A pencil-pleat heading is best when you want the drapery to blend into your room’s decor rather than stand out.
A smocked heading is created when pencil pleats are fastened into a latticework pattern.
A box-pleated heading is formed by folding fabric so two pleats meet. This is a good choice for a tailored or contemporary setting.
Gaining in popularity, tab tops can be looped or tied onto a pole and can each be embellished with a button. A good choice in a casually elegant room.
Fabric Cotton is an easily washable fabric, therefore, a good choice for heavy-use slipcovers or kitchen curtains. Linen, a strong fabric made from flax that creases easily, is used most often in upholstery and draperies. It has a simple classic look that can be embellished with trimming. Silk, a soft, lustrous shiny fabric, is made from the fine fibers produced by silkworms. Velvet, which can be made from cotton, silk, polyester, or viscose rayon, has a smooth, iridescent pile. It’s a good choice for formal and elegant upholstery. Silk taffeta is a stiff, shiny fabric. Wool is an elegant choice for window treatments in a masculine room or a library.
Patterned vs. solid fabric If you are looking to introduce more colors to a room or tie in existing colors, patterned fabric is a good choice for window treatments. Large, bold prints and toiles are popular choices. If you want a subtle or more tailored look, a solid fabric would suit you well or a tone-on-tone, such as damask.
Details “It’s all in the details” is very true. You can take a very simple drapery panel or pillow, for instance, and add fringe, tassels or braid to change it into something truly special. Trim can turn a valance into a statement piece.
Hardware Choices are abundant when selecting hardware. Wood poles — 1 3/8-, 2- or 2 ¼-inch — wood poles with rings and finials are very popular choices for most living areas, along with coordinating tieback holders for drawn drapes. One-inch metal poles are popular choices as well. More creative suspension methods include holdbacks or knobs, which can be wood, metal, resin, glass or other material.
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KIM KINER, vice president of product design
2 Park Way Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Panels Fabric side panels hang decoratively on each side of a window. Typically, they decoratively frame the window. However, sometimes they also can be used functionally if they are wide enough to pull across to cover a window. Most importantly, panels should be used to cover the gap between an inside-mount window covering and the window frame where light and cold air can leak into a room. They are available in a variety of styles.
Swags and jabots These decorative treatments for cornices are used typically with more traditional and formal décor.
Roman shades These fabric shades are made in a variety of traditional and transitional styles, from hobble to batten styles. They are available with and without linings and are made from an infinite number of fabric options, from soft fabrics to more light-filtering natural materials. Depending on the fabric, lining and shade style, these shades are not only a magnificent window treatment, but also provide a layer of energy efficiency.
Other types of shades, blinds, shutters Roller shades are the simplest window treatment but can be used in almost any décor style, from traditional to contemporary. They are simply a piece of fabric that rolls up onto a tube at the top of the window. They feature a variety of fabrics that offer a range of opacities from sheer to room-darkening. Some of the most popular fabrics today include solar screen fabrics. Honeycomb shades are the most energy-efficient window shades. They are made with a honeycomb fabric construction that provides two or more layers of material that diffuses and softens the light as well as blocks it out. The layers form cells that trap the hot or cold air, decreasing its intensity as it enters the room. Shadings are an innovative window treatment that combines many qualities to offer a multifunctional option, such as a sheer window treatment with fabric vanes. The sheer provides the beauty and benefits of light diffusion, and the fabric vanes open and close to provide light control. Blinds can be used vertically or horizontally. Wood horizontal blinds are the most common; however, they can be made in a variety of materials, including fabric, plastic, metal and wood composite. Blinds provide a superior form of light control because you can position the slats to limit the amount of light entering a room. Shutters are a more structural window treatment that ties into the architecture of a home. They are typically made of wood, wood composite or vinyl and are available in a variety of finishes to coordinate with the woodwork in a home. Typically used in traditional décor or along the coasts, they can be completely opened to provide a clear view to the outside or partially or totally closed.
Sheers Used as a under treatment or a window treatment alone, sheers add the lovely quality of diffused light to a room. Diffusion is the most beautiful form of natural light. It creates the most comfortable and livable ambiance and also provides these important qualities:
• The beauty of a soft, low-level ambient luminous glow.
• Even distribution of interior light, which also makes a space seem larger.
• Privacy while still allowing light to come with a softened view to the outside.
• Ultraviolet protection without completely blocking the light from the outside and obstructing the view.
Valances Mounted at the top of a window treatment, a valance adds a finishing touch that makes a grander statement. Generally they are made with soft fabric, are a bit less structural than cornices, and are available in custom lengths in a variety of styles. Typically they are about 15 to 20 percent of the height of the shade or window proportions. And if mounted outside the window frame, they can be used to correct odd-sized or out-of-square windows. They also can improve the proportions of a room by enlarging the window frame by mounting them above it.
Fabric Polyester is typically the best fabric to use for window treatments because of its inherent durability. It can withstand dangerous ultraviolet light that will fade and deteriorate natural fibers such as linen and silk. Cotton and linen tend to be used in more casual décor, where silk and taffeta are used in more elegant designs.
Patterned vs. solid fabric A solid fabric is very easy to work with because it complements any fabric, decorative element or design style. A patterned fabric becomes the design statement itself. Presenting a unique design such as a stripe, floral, botanical or geometric pattern, it typically brings together two or more colors. It can be complemented by solid or textural fabrics. Fabrics with textures are typically the best-selling fabrics because they have interest and complement any solid or patterned fabrics.
Details Scalloped edges, ruching and trim such as borders, braid, fringe, embroidery, beads, tassels and pompoms are added to panels, shades and cornices as a decorative element to customize window treatment designs.
Hardware Decorative hardware — such as tiebacks, rods and finials — comes in a variety of materials from wood to metal. Used to hang drapery treatments.
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LINDA PRINCIPE, owner
Linda Principe Interiors
National vice president of the Window Coverings Association of America, immediate past president of WCAA’s Central New Jersey Chapter and a window treatments instructor at Mercer County College.
Panels Drapery panels.
Pleated draperies The triple-pleat is the most common and used for a pinch-pleat drapery. These are used on traverse rods, whether they are plain white functional traverse rods or on decorative wood traverse rods. Goblet pleats are also considered formal draperies. Typically, inverted pleats are more contemporary.
Swags and jabots These traditional treatments, popular in living and dining rooms, have been in style for many years. They can be considered timeless treatments. They can be mounted to a board and hung on the wall with brackets. They also can be hung from poles with an opening between the pole and the top of the swag swoop. These are called “pole swags.” Pole swags can be used in both formal and informal settings. They work well in family rooms and offices, in addition to the formal rooms. Other options include turban swags, scarf swags, pleated swags and shirred swags.
Shades The different types include roller shades, Austrian shades, London shades, balloons and Roman shades, which come in a variety of options to work in almost any room and can be customized with any fabric or any lining.
Shutters Used alone or with draperies, shutters are a clean practical look for almost any room. They include wood blinds, woven woods and faux wood, which works well in bathrooms where there is moisture and humidity. Other options include honeycomb shades and sheer shadings.
Valances Kingston and empire valances are considered to be formal treatments and are used frequently in living rooms and dining rooms. Mock Roman valances are typically contemporary in nature. Other options include box pleat, banner, balloon, stagecoach, rod pocket and scalloped valances.
Cornices A cornice is a hard top treatment that has been padded and upholstered with fabric. They are very versatile and can be used in almost any room and in any setting. With a large floral print, a cornice can be perfect in a traditional living room. A cornice in a stripe pattern can work well in a home office or a masculine study. There are endless shapes in cornices, and they can be accented with contrast piping, banding and buttons.
Lambrequin This is a cornice with long sides, or legs, that extend down to frame the window.
Pelmet This type of valance has flat, stiffened sections or shapes as the main design element.
Pleats Available in many styles, pleat options include goblet, triple (French), Brisby, pencil, smocking, cartridge, knife, box and inverted. Informal headings include tab tops and slouched headings.
Fabrics Fabric options include cotton, linen, silk/silk taffeta, polyester, faux silk, embroidered, velvet, lace, moiré, matelasse, skins, crewelwork, batiste, acetate, wool and tapestry.
Patterned vs. solid fabric Popular patterns include botanicals, Jacobean, damask, jacquard, diamond, floral, foliage, ethnic, paisley, plaid, toile and novelty.
Details Window treatments can be personalized with scalloped edges, ruching and trim such as borders, buttons, banding, braid, fringe, embroidery, beads, rosettes, feathers, bullion, chair ties, tassels and pompoms.
Hardware The hard materials that attach the window treatment to the wall include tiebacks, rods, finials, crowns, medallions, decorative brackets and rings.
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LOIS CROCE, director of design
Metropolitan Window Fashions
855 Route 22
North Plainfield, NJ 07060
Metropolitan Window Fashions stores contain displays of draperies, shades, blinds and shutters, as well as an extensive fabric library of samples and swatches. The stores’ team of Shop at Home decorators are trained to measure windows and offer customers help with styles, fabrics and product selection.
Panels Panels are draperies that extend usually to the floor. They can be stationary side panels or functioning draperies that open and close. Panels can be considered a traditional look, but when combined with a shading layer, the look will be very clean-lined, contemporary and up-to-date.
Swags and jabots This window treatment comprises softly pleated and draped fabric with ends that are angled. Swags and jabots can be mounted on a board or on decorative hardware. It’s a very traditional look that can be made more contemporary by using a geometric printed fabric and sleek metal hardware.
Roman shades This window covering of fabric makes soft folds when pulled up. Roman shades are a good choice when you don’t want a lot of layers on the window. It’s a simple, clean-lined way to get color or texture on the window in one layer. They also work well as an under treatment.
Sheers Generally sheers are a very traditional look when made with a French pleat using a batiste or voile fabric. They gently filter the view through the window while allowing a degree of privacy. To make sheers more contemporary, you can make the header using grommets or a Brisby pleat and a cutout fabric.
Cornices/Lambrequins/Pelmets A cornice (or a pelmet, as it’s called in England) is a valance made of wood (top, front and sides) that has fabric upholstered to it. A lambrequin is a cornice with legs that go to the floor. A cantonniere is a cornice with short legs that go partially down the length of the window, or to the sill at the longest. These can be made traditional or contemporary, depending on the fabric choice. (A lambrequin is an excellent option for energy efficiency when combined with interlined draperies because the wood sides and top capture all of the drafts.) Cornices are very popular today — they are one of the most cost-effective window treatments to order and use a relatively minimal amount of fabric.
Pleats The French — or three-finger pinch pleat — is the most traditional of pleat options. It’s classic. The Brisby pleat — a two- or three-finger pleat that’s tacked at the top instead of the bottom — puts a contemporary spin on the classic French pleat. The goblet — a pleat that’s tacked at the bottom like a French pleat — has an open top for a very formal and dressy look that lends itself to silk fabric. The box pleat — basically a flattened pinch pleat — looks very tailored. A nice detail is a covered button at the base of each pleat. When done in two-color wide stripes, the look is stunning, with the second color peaking out of the pleat as it opens to the floor. A pencil pleat is a casual construction that traverses well, so lends itself more to stationary side panels or valance headings. It looks charming in a child’s room. Smocking — another pleat that doesn’t traverse — does well in a sheer or semisheer fabric. It evokes the couture details of bespoke children’s dresses from times past.
Fabrics Most printed and a lot of solid drapery fabrics are made of cotton. When woven into a damask or jacquard design, cotton can be very formal. Yet in a plain weave, it can be very textural. Silk –makes a luxurious window treatment and is often lined with flannel for an even richer, luxe look. This lustrous fabric adds a bit of glam to a room. Rayon is often combined with other fibers such as cotton or linen, resulting in a drapeable fabric that is a bit formal. Linen, very popular today, lends a casual quality to a window treatment. Like a linen jacket, it shows wrinkles, but that’s part of the look and charm of linen.
Patterned vs. solid Patterned fabrics tend to be casual when printed and more formal when woven (such as in a damask or jacquard).
Details This is like the bow on a package! While it’s lovely to open a package wrapped in pretty paper, to open one with a beautiful ribbon and bow adds a certain element of anticipation and the expectation that what you unwrap will be just perfect! This is what details such as borders, braid, fringe, tassels and beads add to a window treatment. They also can be a unifying element, bringing together what appear to be disparate items in a room’s décor.
Hardware Drapery hardware and tassel tiebacks fall into a category similar to “details.” Hardware can repeat wood or metal elements in a room. The same silk or linen solid drapery panels can be made very contemporary when hung from a sleek, stainless steel rod, yet be very traditional when installed on a reeded wood pole with acanthus leaf finials.
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38 East Northfield Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
Paying close attention to the details produces truly sensational window treatments. Coordination of architectural details, privacy and sun control needs along with the artistic vision for the room must be well thought out in order to satisfy both the function and the beauty of the room.
Panels The use of basic panels has swept the window treatment industry over the past several years. Straightforward and unpretentious, panels are fashionable and versatile and can be adapted for nearly any window condition.
Swags and jabots Swags and jabots as well as other ultra-formal valances have been mostly absent of late. The very essence of swags and jabots are opulence, abundance, and luxury. The dwindled use of these valances may be a by-product of the economic environment. Not because they cannot be afforded, but because of the images and feelings they evoke. They are the antithesis of “back to basics” and understatement. However, if you have a space that beckons for grandeur, they should not be overlooked, regardless of trends. Swags, jabots, kings valances and French pick-ups will always be considered classic and timeless.
Pleats Goblet pleats are particularly captivating when executed with opalescent taffeta silk, and even more exquisite when embellished with decorative cording and buttons at the base of each goblet. Smock top panels are very underused in recent years. I find if you combine an interesting modern sheer fabric with a smock top heading, it creates a dreamy, sort of glamorous feeling, especially when creating a Romantically indulgent master bedroom.
Roman shades In recent years Roman shades have exploded in popularity. Given their versatility there is little reason to question why. Depending on the selection of fabric they are equally at home in a child’s bedroom as well as an elegantly adorned dining room. Through the use of trim, coordinating valances or drapes, they are effortlessly dressed up or down to suit the aesthetic needs of practically any room in the house.
Other shades, blinds, shutters Shades, blinds and the like are window treatment bread and butter. From the most basic roller shades to extremely expensive motorized applications, these products are used every day in every setting. Companies such as Hunter Douglas have introduced varied product lines that provide solutions to almost any window treatment scenario. These products are typically used to control light, provide privacy and maximize energy insulation. A knowledgeable professional is invaluable when it comes to helping you wade through the myriad options in today’s marketplace.
Sheers A popular trend in recent years that I am very much in favor of is to simply adorn a window with sheer drapes. It is most effective on large expanses to give a completely finished feeling to the window without making it feel too dressed. A high-end burnout sheer can be strikingly elegant, while an organic linen casement can create a breezy, relaxed ambience.
Valances The decision to employ valances can be based on a combination of motives. You may need to create height or add drama to a large space. Possibly you need to conceal functional hardware or even architectural flaws. In addition, they are designed to add layers, fullness and details to window treatments in traditional settings.
Cornices/lambrequins Cornices are upholstered boxes used as valances. They are simple, classic and easily adapted for a multitude of styles. Cornices can be tufted for a retro feel, they can be shirred for a softer effect, and they can be shaped to contour to arch window frames or to replicate a detail in the room, such as a camelback sofa. With the use of trims, banding and buttons their versatility is endless. They are as comfortable in dens, as kitchens as in more formal areas. Lambrequins are cornices with legs. The box is built to surround the window on the sides and then upholstered. Lambrequins are rarely used now.
Fabric When trying to warm up a sleek modern living space, a delicious wool fabric in a solid color is the perfect solution. If the color blends effortlessly into the room, the effect will be warm and luxurious while maintaining the quiet sophistication of the space.
Hardware Drapery hardware is not an item where you should cut corners. Quality hardware is like a well-made suit. The difference is found in the styling of the brackets, finials and other accessories, such as tieback posts and wands. Additionally, when using high-end hardware, single pole lengths can be achieved at much greater lengths than inferior rods found in retail outlets.
Details William Feather said: “Beware of the person who can’t be bothered with detail.” I say beware of the design professional who can’t be bothered with the details! Details are everything. The decision to use or not use trims, bandings, contrast linings is what makes the window treatment yours and not your neighbor’s. A proper window treatment has been designed and executed for you and you alone.
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The Curtain Exchange
247 East Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Woven wood shades add a warm, elegant aspect to any room. Produced from natural woods, reeds, bamboo and grasses, they offer an array of material and color choices.
Woven woods provide varying degrees of privacy and light control options, allowing complete privacy and light control within one shade. These shades can be ordered with a privacy liner attached to the back. Or choose the dual-shade option, which allows complete privacy when the back shade is down or filtered light when it’s up.
Woven woods pair also beautifully with practically any type of fabric panels.
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NINA SPINELLI, owner
Decorating Store @ Terminal Mill Ends
980 Stuyvesant Avenue
Union, NJ 07083-6906
Panels People refer to drapery as “panels.” They can be made with many different headings, including a classic pinch pleat, rod pockets, grommeted tops, tab-tops and totally unstructured. The type of heading has to do with where you use the panels. For example, a grommeted top would be very modern, where a rod pocket is country and casual. The pinch pleat, whether pinched on top or 2 to 4 inches down from the top, is a classic choice and usually has a bit more formality to it. Classic pinch pleat panels can be traditional or contemporary, depending on fabric choices.
Swags and jabots This window treatment started in the 1700s but probably was most popular in the 1800s. Swags are configured many ways. Often a single window can be dressed with one swag and one pair of jabots, which are angled sidepieces. You also can create a combination of different-sized swags for an asymmetric look. Swags can be made to overlap and cover a number of window widths. This treatment is purely aesthetic and adds a graceful silhouette to a window rather than offer any function, such as privacy or insulation.
Roman shades These fabric shades had their roots in the Rococo/Louis XV period between 1730-1760, but today have become quite a trend in a simple and smart solution for your windows. They are handsome and also provide insulation and privacy. There are many different types of Roman shades regarding the folds and tucks, but all of them work the same way.
Window shades The precursor to what we know as window shades originated in the early 1700s with an oil-soaked sash to control sunlight at the window. Later, the fabric was replaced with linen or cotton, and a pulley was added to roll up the shade. Today, shades can be ordered in a multitude of colors, textures and fabrics to suit your décor.
Sheers Sheers date as far back as 1650, when a light gauze or muslin was hung on rods to give a degree of light control and privacy. Today, sheers add a beautiful layer to the window treatment. They offer a degree of privacy and add a certain softness and illusion to the interior. Sheers stand beautifully alone as well as an integral part of a layered window treatment.
Cornices, Pelmets and Lambrequins These treatments were used on windows very commonly in the Baroque and Early Georgian periods (1643-1730). A cornice is a wood cut into any number of shapes and then upholstered. A pelmet is a stiffened fabric that’s cut very similarly to a cornice. A lambrequin is a cornice with long sides. Cornices have changed proportion over the years but are still used today as a component of the window treatment. Sometimes they are used to hide drapery hardware as well.
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STEVE FURMAN, ASID Industry Partner, owner
Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe
859 Ringwood Avenue
Haskell, NJ 07420
Panels Panels are a good way to add warmth and scale to a room. They can be gathered on a pole to create a casual feel or pleated for a more tailored look. They can hang straight or be tied back, depending on the look you are trying to achieve. In my opinion, panels should be floor length all the time — especially in the main areas of the home and in the master bedroom. When panels are floor length, they anchor the treatment, especially when there is a top treatment used. Window-length panels are acceptable in a child’s bedroom or a bathroom.
Panels without enough fullness is a common mistake. Stationary panels should look as if they can be closed. Panels should not be “stretched “to create width. A minimum fullness for stationary panels is 1.5 widths per panel on an area up to 90 inches wide. You would end up with a stacked area of 12 to 16 inches on both sides of the window. For traversing drapes, fullness should be 3-1, dropping to 2.5-1 if stack or fabric weight is a concern. If the fullness needs to be lessened — due to fabric costs or stacking area — consider interlining the panels to create a fuller look.
Swags and jabots Are known also as festoons and cascades or Beacon swags. I use swag or festoon to denote board mounting, Beacon when pole mounted. Swags and jabots can be pleated or gathered. Swags will hang the best when the fabric is cut on the bias. The only time we do not cut swags on the bias is when the fabric has a stripe motif. A gathered swag will look fuller and more relaxed and can be used just about anywhere except when you want a very tailored, Federal or Colonial look. Jabots that are pleated will show more of the liner, which when using a contrast is may be important to some. Combining gathered swags and pleated jabots is a nice way to have a full, relaxed and tailored treatment all in one. Using a Beacon swag (pole mounted) will create a casual, yet elegant window treatment that can be used anywhere in the home.
Roman shades Basically there are four types: structured, relaxed, California and hobbled.
A structured Roman shade has ribs that run horizontally through the shade that create a very straight fold when raised. This shade should be blackout-lined to keep the ribs from showing when sunlight hits the shade. These shades have a flat appearance when fully lowered, which works well for prints and solids. Use this style when looking for a tailored look.
A relaxed Roman shade has no ribs. The folds will dip in the center when the shade is raised. The amount of dip can be controlled by the number of rings that are sewn on — how many rows and how close together they are in a row. With fewer rows of rings spaced farther apart, the dips will be more pronounced. These shades can be unlined, lined, lined and interlined or blackout-lined, depending on the look you want. They have a flat appearance when fully lowered, which works well for prints and solids.
A California Roman shade has small folds toward the back running horizontally across the shade. The shade has tailored folds when raised, and the folds conceal the ribs from light so blackout lining is not necessary. When lowered, the shade has flat horizontal lines running across it, giving some depth and keeping it from looking flat. Prints aren’t recommended because they are too hard to match. Stripes are fine as long as nothing has to be matched vertically (for example, you would not want to cut the head off something if it should happen to land in a fold!).
Hobbled Roman shades are made with a special tape that keeps the folds evenly spaced when lowered. Some prints may not look right with this treatment — especially toile — because part of the pattern will disappear into the folds. These shades can be unlined, lined or lined and interlined, depending on the look you want. However, if you need to completely black out a room, this style may not work alone because of the folds and should be considered only if there will be something on the sides to block the light — for example a complete inside mount, panels or a lambrequin.
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80 Broad Street
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Panels Stationary side panels are a great way to create a frame around your beautiful view.
Headings Grommet-top draperies work great as side panels, making a statement in a room with contemporary, elegant, simplistic lines, designer Linda Tremblay says.
Sheers Used most commonly to contour light, sheers protect the front fabric from sun damage an add character to the room. Sheers can even be placed in front of your drapery!
Details Trims, fringes and banding add a special decorator’s touch to all custom drapery, designer Myrna Rosen says.