It’s a hard truth to admit: Just as most people look better with clothes on (sorry, it’s true!), windows do too. Window treatment ideas—curtains, shades, and blinds—shouldn’t be an afterthought but an important part of room design. What’s more, window coverings add privacy, conserve energy, and bring an extra element of pattern or color into a space.
“Regardless of your intention, window treatments are the perfect way to enhance or soften a room,” Houston designer Kara Childress says. “Patterned draperies can add depth and create a focal point in a room, whereas natural woven or solid-textured panels add an additional layer of detail to a space. Additionally, a sheer panel acts as a petticoat, gently adding a soft layer that blocks unsightly objects or harsh light.”
If you’re hoping to maximize natural light in your living room or add the perfect finishing touch to the home decor, we rounded up a plethora of window treatment ideas from designers and the AD archives to get the job done right.
What is the most popular window treatment today?
Wading through window treatment ideas comes with a problem on par with ordering coffee at Starbucks: too many options. Thankfully, designers were willing to weigh in with insider home decor tips. “Simplicity is timeless and never really goes out of style,” says Dorset, Vermont-based designer Joshua Smith, who loves tailored European pinch pleats and classic Roman shades. “It may not be the trend but is always beautiful, light, and fresh in more traditional window coverings.” Pinch pleats are also a go-to of Minnesota designer Bria Hammel, who likes that they appear tailored and classic “without being too fussy” (a major boon).
If you’re a “more is more” kind of person, you’re in luck too: “We’re definitely seeing a rise of the draperies that have a cornice over them, and tassels, trims, and tie-backs,” Smith says. Miriam Dillion of Washington, D.C.’s, Barnes Vanze Architects notes that clients are asking for automated Roman shades behind more traditional pleated panels, while Eddie Maestri, principal architect, creative director and owner of Dallas-based Maestri Studio, sees both panels and Roman shades taking top place. Whatever you select, just remember: “Drapery is a huge part of the budget, so we want them to last. It’s not something that you want to “overdo” and then be tired of the pattern or detailing in a few years,” Smith says.
What types of curtains are in style?
“A lot of my clients are wanting to use fabrics that are light and airy, like linens,” says Susan Spath, principal of Solana Beach, California-based firm Kern & Co. “It gives window treatments a softer look and isn’t as heavy. We are also doing a lot of sheers. Sheers frame the window nicely and give an extra layer to make the home even cozier.” Perhaps thanks to grandmillennials everywhere, Maestri is seeing a triumphant return of “old-school cornice boards and even new takes on balloon shades, as well as micro-shutters.”
What can I use instead of curtains?
Maybe you’re not big on dusting, or maybe you just don’t want to shell out all your shekels for draperies. If you’re looking for an alternative to fabric-heavy options like drapery panels or floor-to-ceiling curtains, Dillion recommends inset-mounted woven shades “that provide texture and interest but are not too distracting to the eye.” Stained glass windows and exterior solar shades are among Spath’s non-curtain ideas—and won’t detract from the architecture. Of course, there may be a more natural solution—especially for first-floor bedroom ideas, as Maestri says: “even just greenery on the exterior can add strategic privacy.”
Whether you’re looking for simple roller shades, preppy pleats, or fanciful ruffles, you’re sure to find inspiration for 33 designs that will suit the style of your window, your room, and, most of all, you.