Part 1: Privacy is requisite

Window treatments can baffle even experienced home decorators. Overwhelmed by a huge variety of choices in material, fabric, color, size, options, and hardware, where do you start?

You start with the basics: privacy, light control, function, and style. Paying attention to these four elements can give your project a sense of direction, and combining window treatments in intelligent ways can accomplish the necessary functional aspects as well as contribute to a room's style.

Let's take a look at each of the main factors in windowcovering choices and see which treatments can be most successful in each case. Privacy

Perhaps the only people who don't need privacy in window treatments are those who have homes in the forest, far from prying eyes. For the rest of us, however, privacy can be a major issue.

If you have a bathroom window that looks directly into your neighbor's hallway, you need privacy. When your dining room looks out on a busy sidewalk, street corner, or a community pool, you want privacy.

Privacy and Style
Photo courtesy of
Smith+Noble Windoware

To get it you'll need to choose window treatments that offer complete opaque covering. Here are some good choices for privacy:


  • Fabric or Roller Shades generally offer complete window coverage. Most roller shades are made of vinyl or fabric that is usually opaque, while fabric shades (Roman, balloon) are lined and custom made to your exact window measurements.
  • Curtains and Draperies, when closed, will also close off the view. Add linings that will add to the opacity and durability, and arrange the center overlap to eliminate open spots.
  • Pleated and cellular shades (in non-sheer materials) have full glass coverage for privacy. Many styles can be ordered with a "top down" feature, so a portion of the glass can be visible at the top of the window to let in light and have a view.
  • Sheer curtains and draperies may afford a bit of daytime privacy, however at night most will turn practically transparent with indoor lighting. If you love sheers, but want privacy, then use shades underneath for privacy after dark.
  • Mini Blinds, wood blinds, and shutters will all provide a nearly private environment. Be aware, however, that with each of these there is a small possiblity of seeing through the slats at certain angles.
  • Cellular shades (in non-sheer fabrics) can add privacy and many have insulating benefits as well.

    Go on to Part 2: Light Control

    All photos in this article courtesy of Smith+Noble Windoware 1-800-248-8888

Part 2: Basic light control is critical

Light Control

This factor has two elements. First, keeping glare down is necessary when someone is sleeping in the daytime or when watching TV or working at a desk near a bright window.

Second, UV rays from bright sunlight will adversly affect fabrics, furnishings, and artwork in your home. Full sun can quickly fade expensive upholstery and rugs, eventually causing some fibers to break down and rot.

Windowcoverings can be used successfully to control light. Consider these possibilities:


  • Any of the opaque window treatments listed in the Privacy section above can also help with light control. However, since sunlight will eventually break down many fabrics, it can be helpful to use a non-fabric shade next to the glass, behind expensive draperies, valances, or fabric shades. For custom made draperies ask about special linings and fabric treatments that help reduce UV damage.

    Light Control and Style

  • Lightblocking treatments can be installed for rooms that need to be fully darkened. Look for room darkening roller shades as well as light blocking linings for fabric shades and draperies.
  • Metal or wood blinds can be tilted to keep direct sun out of your room, while still affording some view and light.
  • Natural blinds such as bamboo and matchstick will filter the light and cut down on much of the glare, and can be ordered with an exterior privacy lining.
  • Cellular shades in non-sheer fabrics will cut down on light.
  • In areas of very strong sunlight, look into window tinting options where a film is attached directly to the glass. This will reduce UV rays and is available in several levels of tint.

    Part 3: Function

    All photos in this article courtesy of Smith+Noble Windoware 1-800-248-8888

  • Part 3: Functional Considerations


    Windowcoverings are practically useless without the element of function.

    Consider your needs for window hardware, fit, wand options, placement, and safety considerations, both as you weigh your options and when you purchase.

    There are window treatment solutions for almost any problem. Do you need cord controls on the left to avoid dangling near a baby crib? Will you require light blocking shades for a napping toddler? Are your windows so small that you'll want to mount window treatments outside of the window frame?

    Take a look at some of the problems and solutions in function for window treatments:

  • To open or close, that is the question. Some treatments now are designed to be stationery. For draperies that open, however, choose appropriate hardware that opens and closes easily.

    Function and Privacy

  • Stationery treatments such as non-closing drapery side panels, cornices, and valances are installed to be permanently in place. Add under treatments of sheers, blinds, or shades to add function to these types of window decorations.
  • Consider how (and if) you'll need to operate blinds installed on very high windows.
  • Long draperies can be a tempting plaything for pets and a hazard in a young child's room as they learn to walk and grab anything in sight. It might be better to go with blinds or soft shades that stay up off the floor.
  • Ask for the newer breakaway and safety window cord options when installing blinds in a home with children.
  • Top down/Bottom up shades increase the possibilities for privacy and function, letting you control the height of your blinds from either direction.
  • Transparent shades offer no privacy but will cut down on UV rays and glare. These are made from polyester and work like a regular roller shade.
  • High end window treatments can be ordered with tech options that include light sensitive and remote control operation. Consult a windowcovering store or your interior decorator for more information.

    Part 4: Style

    All photos in this article courtesy of Smith+Noble Windoware 1-800-248-8888

Part 4: Style adds spark, color, pattern, and texture


Style is the fun part of window treatments. Here is where you can choose fabrics, colors, and styles that will add to the beauty and enjoyment of your room.

Add interest to windows by repeating fabrics and colors used in other parts of your room. Or, add a dash of style with contrasting borders, cordings, or fringe.

The unique touches you add to your window treatments are a reflection of your personal style.


  • Draperies have options in rod styles with tab tops, tie tops, many types of pleats, grommets, rod pockets (large or small), flouncy tops, or plain rings.
  • Valances can be gathered, pleated, shirred, swagged, bundled, formal, casual, scalloped, lace, or flat.

    Color and Style
    Photo courtesy of
    Smith+Noble Windoware

  • Fabric Shades are found in flat Roman style, balloon, Austrian, bottom arched, pleated, and flat panels, in sheers or coordinating fabrics.
  • Metal Mini Blinds offer alternatives in slat weight and size, specialty finishes, privacy options, header choices, cloth tapes, and hundreds of colors.
  • Wood Blinds come in a variety of colors, finishes, slat sizes, and tape colors. Some are made without the typical cord holes in each slat for a cleaner look. Ask about choices for header designs and cord control options too.
  • Cellular Shades, also called pleated and honeycomb shades, have a clean look and come in both sheer and non-sheer materials. Some styles have eliminated the cord hardware, some have loop controls, and most have some insluating qualities.
  • Natural Blinds are also called matchstick or bamboo blinds, but are available now in matchsticks, sewn slats, and other options that have a natural fabric-like appearance. You'll find options for valances, roll or fold up operation, edge binding, and privacy liners.

    Whatever your preference for window treatments, you're sure to find many options to meet your home's requirements for privacy, light controld, function, and style.

    All photos in this article courtesy of Smith+Noble Windoware 1-800-248-8888




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Founder of BeMozza

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