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Accentuating Your Windows: Curtains and Blinds

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 15 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Window Treatments Curtains Shades

There is a wide variety of window treatments available from curtains to blinds, shades to shutters. Choosing the right one can make a big difference to the look and feel of your room. Here is a rundown on popular available treatments and how they accentuate yoru windows.

Curtains, Drapes and Valences

Curtains and drapes come in an amazing rage of textiles and designs, but it's not only the curtains that accentuate windows. You also need to think about valences. These were originally designed to disguise curtain hardware, but these days they are used to tie in windows and doors as well as to accentuate the shape of a room.

Short valances typically hang down less than a foot. For this size it's best to choose a fabric with a print small enough to fit within the valance dimensions, but not so small that the design becomes unrecognizable when viewed from a short distance. Long valances are generally 12 to 16 inches long and can be straight across, or they can be fashioned with longer sides, scalloped hems, or pointed tabs.

This style is best for rooms with high ceilings or for larger windows. The style of a valance is also important. Gathered styles have a romantic or casual appearance. Flat panels look tailored and neat and require the least amount of fabric. Formally swagged, draped, or box pleated versions look good in formal or traditional interiors.

Types of Blinds

Blinds are affordable and versatile enough to fit just about any window. Like shutters, blinds come in three varieties: Woven blinds are similar in construction to roller shades; Venetian blinds have horizontal movable slats similar to those found in plantation shutters; and vertical blinds have slats that run up and down instead of side to side.

Woven blinds are typically made from thin strips of natural fibres, usually cane or basswood that have been woven together with twine or thread. Woven blinds can also be made from vinyl slats. Quills, the thin horizontal strips in woven blinds filter daylight but do not offer complete privacy.

Venetian blinds are typically made from wood, aluminium, or vinyl and are an excellent choice for both light control and privacy. Vertical blinds are often made from vinyl or stiffened fabric. Like their horizontal counterparts, vertical blinds offer excellent privacy and light control.

Using Shades

Simply defined, a shade is a window treatment that can be raised or lowered by a cording system or a spring. Style choices include standard roll-up shades, elaborate cascading fan shades, tailored pleated shades, relaxed Roman shades, and full balloon shades. When raised, roller shades and pleated fabric shades virtually disappear, making them excellent choices for windows where you want to maximize the sunlight or let in a great view. Roman shades add pattern and colour as well as softening windows. Billowing balloon shades and cascading fan shades create a more romantic effect.

Custom Made Shutters

Shutters can be custom made to fit any windows, even arches. Cafe shutters only cover the bottom portion of a window, whereas plantation shutters cover a window from top to bottom. Plantation shutters come in two styles; they can be made from solid wood slats for complete privacy and light blockage, or they can be fitted with fabric panels that have been inserted into a wooden frame. Some hinge in the middle and fold back within the window frame, while others open completely like a cabinet door. Sliding shutters work like sliding patio doors and operate on a track where one door slides behind the other.

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