Window Treatments 101: Which Style is Right for Your Space?
Learn the pros and cons of today's most popular window treatment styles before you buy.
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Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn
A stylish alternative to blinds, easy-to-operate roller shades look and work best mounted inside the window frame. Similar to blinds, roller shades are often accompanied by a second window treatment like curtains for aesthetic purposes and extra light control. Roller shades are also a good choice for windows with extra-thick molding, as they allow you to treat the window without covering the architectural detail.
Among today's most popular window treatments, matchstick shades offer stylish texture and add natural warmth to your window design. They're easy to operate, look great when paired with drapes and come in a variety of weaves depending on the amount of light control you need.
Cellular shades are simply designed to add a pop of classic style and loads of function to your window. Many cellular shade varieties come in a honeycomb design that filters light and insulates, resulting in lower home energy costs.
Top Down, Bottom Up Shades
Unique top down bottom up shades are perfect for rooms such as bathrooms or bedrooms where you want privacy, but still want to enjoy the sunshine. They can be raised up from the bottom, lowered from the top or a combination of both.
A fabric shade that can be raised or lowered with a pull cord, Roman shades come in a variety of color, pattern and light-blocking options for personalization. They can be mounted inside or outside the window frame to suit aesthetic preference.
The hallmark of an Austrian shade is the series of puffy festoons that gather along the bottom when raised — great for adding a touch of traditional glam to any space.
Decorative sheer curtains allow you to add style to a window without blocking light.
Grommet Curtain Panels
Grommet curtain panels get their name from the reinforced metal or plastic eyelets lining the top of the fabric. Aside from their stylish and neat appearance, these types of curtains are great for french doors or other large windows where the flexibility to open and close curtains often is necessary. The heavy grommets allow the fabric to fall neatly back in place when open. Learn how to make your own grommet-top curtains >>
Double Curtain Rod
A double curtain rod allows you layer sheer panels behind a set of lined drapes for a lush, designer window look.
Most custom or high-quality handmade curtains boast pinch pleats along the top of the panel, causing the curtain to stack neatly to one side when open. Triple pinch pleat curtains like this one are ideal for formal dining rooms or traditional living spaces while the more-casual double pinch pleat works great in any space.
Natural light is lovely for creating a warm, inviting environment, but when you're ready for some shut-eye, it's important to keep the room as dark as possible. In addition to adding style to your bedroom window, high-quality drapes lined in blackout material allow you to get sleep at any hour of the day while also protecting your furniture, rugs and art from damaging UV rays.
Rod Pocket Curtains
Rod pocket curtains are the most basic drapery type and are generally a popular style among budget-friendly store-bought varieties. They feature a simple sewn-over fabric pocket at the top of the panel that allows a curtain rod to be fed through. The fabric bunches when open and lays flat, covering the curtain rod, when closed.
The Layered Look
In lieu of a double curtain rod for layering drapes and sheers, many designers are now opting for a shade + drapery combo when dressing windows. Drapes hung high and wide make the window (and the room) appear larger and more opulent, while a simple shade hung inside the sindow frame adds stylish texture as well as privacy and light control.
Designed to stay in one place and often hung with hooks or short curtain rods, stationary panels serve a strictly aesthetic purpose.
Great for kitchen windows, breakfast nooks or other spaces where natural light reigns supreme, cafe curtains like these DIY beauties from the Simple Stylings blog add charming style and a dash of privacy without impeding the sunshine. Learn how to make these charming no-sew curtains >>
A permanent alternative to less-expensive window treatments, plantation shutters add style and function to any space while increasing the value of your home. They provide excellent insulation, are easily cleaned and won't fade like plastic blinds or fabric shades. Learn how to install plantation shutters in your home >>
Charming and architecturally interesting, cafe-style shutters cover only the bottom half of the window, letting in a lot of light and providing just the right amount of privacy. These types of shades are usually seen in the kitchen or bath, but can also be styled with curtains in the bedroom, like designer Brian Patrick Flynn did here. See more of this serene space >>
Usually made from flowy fabric attached to a fixed board or rod, window valances cover the top third of the window, adding a pop of color and style as well as making the window appear larger. Functionally, window valances aid in noise control and insulation, regulating room temperature and lowering energy costs.
Similar in style and function to the valance, cornices are generally made of a sturdy, hard material such as wood, plastic or metal and are a more permanent window treatment option. Learn how to make this stenciled cornice >>
A long-standing window treatment staple, blinds filter light and are easily opened and closed for privacy. For a tailored look, choose durable, large-slat wood or faux wood blinds that match your home's trim and molding.