With home decorating, window treatments are an easy way to change the whole look of a room. Finding the right type of window treatment for each room can finish off the look with just the right touch or it can make a room feel disjointed and out of date.
Learn what types of window treatments are best suited for décor styles and make window treatment decisions with confidence.
In this article:
- I. Types of Window Treatments
- A. Window Covering Types
- B. Varieties of Window Dressing
- C. Kinds of Window Hangings
- II. Blinds And Window Treatments? – Plan Ahead
- III. Tips and Advice for Choosing Window Coverings
- IV. Eco-Friendly Window Treatments
- V. Save Money with Inexpensive Curtains for Windows
I. Types of Window Treatments
A. Window Covering Types
1. Roman Shades
Roman shades are generally more expensive, but they are very elegant. A panel of fabric hangs in the window, which is raised and lowered by pulling the cord. An intricate system of dowels or rods inside creates horizontal folds when the shade goes up.
Roman shades can be mounted inside or outside of the window, and can either have a basic flat bottom or a “balloon shade” shape. Some varieties of Roman shades are cordless, which is ideal for the safety of pets and small children.
With their crisp, clean lines and minimalistic qualities Roman shades are ideally suited for modern and contemporary interior decorating styles. But roman shades look equally attractive in traditional styled home. Much of the versatility with Roman shades comes from the fabric choice and the accessories that are used to offset the window treatments.
2. London Shades
London shades are similar to romans, but more decorative. They are mostly flat across the top, but they have tucks that create a swag at the bottom. The look is quite ornamental and traditional. This style works best when the shade doesn’t need to be raised or lowered frequently. They often require a bit of attention in order for the pleats to fall correctly and not look messy.
3. Balloon Shades
Balloon shades are very similar to Londons, but instead of a swag effect, large round puffs are created at the bottom when the shade is raised. The look used to be very popular but is now considered quite dated. However, many traditional homes still incorporate the style. Keep them from looking too over-the-top by choosing a plain fabric or very subtle print.
4. Floor Length Drapes
Drapes that reach to the floor are very dramatic and add a sense of elegance and sophistication. They’re also very simple and tend to let other elements in the room speak for themselves.
Use floor length drapes if the room is classic in design or features some very elegant pieces that deserve to be the centerpieces of attention. Using custom accessories can help emphasize other decorating elements and add an additional touch of charm.
Swags are often paired with another window treatment, especially if privacy is needed. These little decorative touches at the top of a window offer little in the way of privacy or protection from the sun but do offer a lot of personality.
A swag is an attention getter and can help emphasize an incredible view. Traditional rooms look best with swags but whimsical swags can be used in cottage and country styled rooms.
Blinds are incredibly versatile as they’re often paired with another window treatment. Blinds come in a variety of styles and shapes and can even come in a variety of materials.
Use blinds for light control and privacy and select a construction material, color and pattern that fits the room’s style, this is almost always a winning look. To personalize the look and add a bit more finish then an additional window treatment should be added.
Window blinds, which are individual slats that raise up and down, are generally the most inexpensive window treatment. Tall windows and sliding glass doors often have vertical blinds, while regular-sized windows are usually (but not always) covered with horizontal blinds. Many people immediately think of the flimsy vinyl blinds found in office buildings and other commercial spaces, but window blinds now come in a variety of wood, bamboo, and even fabric-covered.
6.1. Venetian Blinds
Made of stacked slats, the horizontal version comes in wood, metal, and plastic varieties. The advantage of these blinds is that they can be tilted to either let in light and reduce the view, or vice versa. A lift cord allows the blind to be pulled up and stacked tightly at the top of the window when desired.
Venetian blinds come in vertical styles as well. They’re often used on taller windows, such as sliding glass doors, and they also come in fabric varieties. The vertical version uses a generally wider slat and has the added feature of being able to pull a cord to stack the slats together to one side.
6.2. Roller Blinds
Roller blinds aren’t as popular today as they once were, but they’re very simple and generally inexpensive. They consist of a single piece of fabric (or some other material) that rolls up via a spring-loaded mechanism or chain.
6.3. Matchstick Blinds
Matchstick blinds are made of pieces of natural materials such as bamboo. The pieces are long and thin (resembling matchsticks), and are woven together horizontally with string or thread. They keep out the majority of light, but still let in a little illumination. The look is casual and organic.
7. Envelope Shades
Envelope shades are quaint and casual and often feature two contrasting colored fabrics, one on the outside and one on the inside so the inside is exposed when the curtain is opened. These window treatments are best suited for cottage and country styled homes, they’re particularly charming when used in kitchens.
8. Shirred Curtains
Shirred curtains are really not meant to be opened and closed so they’re best in rooms that require privacy and don’t need natural lighting, i.e. bathrooms.
These curtains are stretched tight between an upper and lower curtain rod and feature ample fabric that is gathered at the top at the bottom along the rod. The gathering gives shirred curtains a softer look that wouldn’t work well in contemporary and modern rooms.
Although the information above can be very helpful when selecting a window treatment it is not a set-in-stone rule, creative and intuitive decorators will know how to play with window treatments and select something that is perfectly suited to a room in form, function, style, color and pattern.
9. Flat or Pleated Window Shades
Other shades that can cover a window are flat or pleated fabric shades. They often come in a honeycomb pattern, giving them more of a 3-D look and feel than other types of window dressings. Light-filtering or “blackout” shades can virtually eliminate light in a room when they are drawn, making them ideal for people with variable sleeping schedules. They also are available in cordless varieties for those with young children and pets.
When it’s time to find window treatment replacements or even buy new window treatments for the first time, make sure to understand all the types of window coverings that are available before setting foot in a retail store. There are a dizzying number of options for window treatments, and consumers need to understand them all to make an educated purchase when the time comes.
B. Varieties of Window Dressing
1. Tab Top Curtains
Tab top curtains are a simple panel of fabric, but instead of folding over at the top to form a tube like the rod-pocket curtain, they have rectangular loops of fabric at the top. Just slide the curtain rod through the tabs. There are four variations of the tab top curtain:
- Basic tab – fabric loops line the top of the curtains
- Hidden tab top curtains – the tabs can’t be seen from the front
- Button tab top curtains – each tab appears to be “buttoned” on (usually the button is just decorative and not functional)
- Grommet tab top curtains – instead of a fabric tab, these curtains hang from the rod with large metal eyelets
For instructions on making regular lined or tab top curtains, please see DIY Window Treatments.
C. Kinds of Window Hangings
1. Rod-Pocket Curtains
Rod-pocket curtains are the most basic and the simplest type of window covering there is. The curtains are a flat panel of fabric that is folded over at the top to make a tube, through which the curtain rod is inserted. No pins, hooks, or tabs are needed.
Rod-pocket window curtains can be lined or unlined, floor-length or shorter, and they can be made with virtually any type of fabric from gauzy sheer to heavy denim.
See also: 13+ farmhouse window treatment ideas
II. Blinds And Window Treatments? – Plan Ahead
In a home, the window is like a framed picture with a view of the outside world, so proper planning is imperative before embarking on blinds and window treatments.
This is essential as the window mirrors the interior for all passers by to see. Windows treatments must never be made as an unimportant afterthought. It is a crucial part of interior decoration works in any home.
When a homeowner decides to make blinds and window treatments, decisions must be based on three factors:
- The design and period of the house
- The style of the desired window treatments
- The budget
1. The Design And Period Of The House Must Tie With The Blinds And Window Treatments
The architecture of a building usually determines what style of blinds and window treatments will be appropriate. The style and shape of the windows and also the style and theme of furnishings in the room must all be well co-ordinated.
2. The Desired Style Of The Blinds And Window Treatments
Is it to be a simple design, or a complicated one. It may simply need to be some form of understated, short and pretty drapes such as festoons or Austrian blinds. Probably the eco-friendly natural fibre shades such as bamboo shades are preferred. There is also the crisp clean lines of the micro blade Venetian blinds, or lovely and sweet country house blinds and window treatments.
3. The Budget Consideration
How much is one willing to pay for a set of window coverings is what it eventually boils down to. We all love beautiful things for our homes, but we are constantly reminded of our finances.
The great thing is that whatever one so desires, there are always vast ranges of price tags of blinds and window treatments to accommodate many people. And awesome bargains can be found online if one searches hard enough.
Related: Parts of a window
4. Identifying The Purpose For The Need Of New Sets Of Blinds And Window Treatments
Before embarking on a spending spree, one needs to identify the purpose that these new curtains or blinds will serve. And any, or more than these may apply.
- Keep out the cold by aiding as insulation against cold draughts of air.
- Insulate against outdoor sounds.
- Block out completely, an unpleasant and undesirable exterior view.
- Filter in daylight, to create a soothing and subdued mood and atmosphere.
- Black out light for total privacy or security.
- Make the windows a focal point of a room.
- Enhance the beautiful outside view of gardens, meadows or the skyline.
5. Planning To Do It Yourself?
Now, once the purpose of new blinds and window treatments has been ascertained, the styles chosen and the budget provided for, all total requirements in terms of fabrics, trimmings, accessories, etc., must be calculated for, carefully. Mistakes in measurements and calculations will prove costly!
And being a do-it-yourself project, there is the advantage of doing something really special, taking your time to do a perfect job.
There is a whole lot of savings to be made if DIY is the main objective. And with an online search, what you will turn up, in terms of ideas for blinds and window treatments, will be awesome. Plus you will have saved a few hundred dollars in your bank account.
III. Tips and Advice for Choosing Window Coverings
Curtains and drapes not only provide privacy but they also dress up a room and give it a perfect finishing touch.
There are so many options when it comes to curtains and drapes that it can be difficult to know which is the best choice for your home. So here are a few tips and definitions to help make the decision a bit easier.
1. Curtain Styles and Lengths
- Single panel curtains are made up of just that: a single curtain panel that can be swept to one side with a tieback.
- Double panels are the most popular style of curtains and drapes. The look is streamlined and classic. They can either be pushed one to each side of the window and left hanging on their own, or tiebacks can be used to hold them open. The first look is simple, the second a little more elegant.
While panels can be hung on a curtain rod by themselves, they can also be given an entirely different look with the help of a valance. A valance that runs across the top of the curtains gives them a more feminine and romantic appearance. Similarly, a structured pelmet that runs across the top will lend a contained and sophisticated air.
When it comes to length, remember that longer is better than shorter. Curtains should just brush the floor, break the floor by an inch or two, or puddle on the floor by a few extra inches. The first look is crisp and tailored, the second a little more relaxed, and the third lush and romantic. It’s best not to go with short curtains, as the look is now considered quite outdated. If the window in question can’t accommodate long curtains, try shades or blinds rather than short curtains.
2. Custom Curtains versus Ready-Made Curtains
Custom curtains are wonderful if the budget allows, or if you’re handy with a sewing machine. Custom curtains allow for more variation in terms of size and fabric options. On the other hand, ready-made drapes are less expensive, they can be purchased quickly and returned if they don’t work, and there are a lot of options available.
3. Curtain Fabrics: Pros and Cons
- Cotton is versatile and easy to clean, but can sometimes be a bit stiff.
- Velvet is luxurious and is heavy enough to provide good privacy, however the look can be too heavy for some rooms.
- Sheers are graceful and elegant and still allow some light in, but they don’t offer much in the way of privacy.
- Silk is refined and beautiful but will likely need to be lined to ensure adequate privacy.
- Linen can be light or heavy depending on whether or not it’s lined.
- Wool is better suited to traditional rooms. It’s a bit heavy, but it’s quite strong and can support accessories like fringe and tassels.
- Microfibers such as ultrasuede can look luxurious and are very easy to clean. But like velvet, they can look a little heavy in some rooms.
When it comes to curtains and drapes there are a lot of options. But as long as you take the proper measurements, plan your needs appropriately, and stick to your chosen style, you’ll end up with the right window coverings for your home.
IV. Eco-Friendly Window Treatments
Adding window treatments is a cost-effective way to save energy and cut down utility bills. Here are some options that are wallet- and eco-friendly.
The U.S. Department of Energy states that any kind of window treatment will help conserve energy, keeping heat in when it’s cold outside, and cool air in during the warmer months. As eco-friendly fabrics and materials become more popular, there is an increasing number of environmentally-conscious drapes, blinds, and curtains available.
There are several things to consider when comparing different brands of green window treatments. Are the treatments made from recycled materials, and will they be able to be reused again? Did the production of the window treatments have little impact on the environment? Will the window treatments effectively conserve energy when installed? As with any green product, some research is required when shopping for the most eco-friendly drapes or blinds.
There are a number of manufacturers that offer eco-friendly blinds. Before purchasing, think about the household’s priorities when it comes to green living.
Some types of blinds may be more effective in keeping a home cool or warm, but the production may have had a higher impact on the environment. Other blinds may be made entirely from renewable resources but be less effective in conserving energy when in use.
This list includes some in the “best of both worlds” category: low environmental impact, high in home energy conservation.
- Honeycomb/Cellular Shades. These blinds’ appearance reflects the name: in profile, “cells” are arranged in a honeycomb fashion. The more rows of cells in a set of blinds, the more energy-efficiency they provide.
- Bamboo Blinds. One of the fastest growing plants on the planet, bamboo is known for being naturally renewable. Ask manufacturers about their bamboo processing techniques to make sure that the materials have been prepared in a environmentally-responsible manner.
- Hemp Shades. Hemp is a durable and natural material that many earth-conscious manufacturers use in their window treatment lines.
If outfitting windows with a set of naturally-made blinds isn’t possible, consider making over current window treatments. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a tired set of aluminum blinds.
Another environmentally-friendly window treatment option is a set of curtains. Like blinds made of natural materials, earth-conscious curtains are becoming more widely available. Here are some resources to help make the right choice.
- One helpful website is Evo.com, which provides ratings on a selection of environmentally-friendly curtains and drapes. The site’s offerings demonstrate the dramatic price range for these window treatments.
- Learn about the benefits of choosing organic hemp curtains and drapes at Rawganique.com, which includes online shopping and informative articles.
- Organic cotton curtains, while more expensive, are extremely durable. Another option is to purchase organic fabrics and create a homemade set of curtains. NearSea Naturals and Mod Green Cloth are two online resources to help find organic fabric for a curtain sewing project.
Save Money and the Environment
Ultimately, installing new window treatments will benefit a household when the utility bills arrive. By using natural, renewable, and durable materials, homeowners can also support the efforts of manufacturers who are striving to lessen their environmental impact. A little extra research can help consumers buy smart for their homes and for the planet.
V. Save Money with Inexpensive Curtains for Windows
Decorating the windows in your home is expensive, so save money with these tips for finding discount window treatments and cheap window blinds and shades.
Cheap window treatments are difficult to find, but with a little bit of searching it’s possible to find stylish home decorating solutions at a price that is easy on the wallet.
Discount Window Treatments – Focus on Value, Not Price
Of course everyone wants to cover their windows with discount window blinds, but remember that they are not all created equal. The cheapest window blind or shade is not always the best deal: if it breaks after just a few weeks or months and needs to be replaced, it’s not saving any money.
The key when hunting for bargain window treatments is to focus on a curtain, blind, or shade that represents the best overall value: that is, the highest quality for the lowest price possible.
Cheap Window Shades and Blinds at Outlet Stores
Home decorating retailers and department stores often have a home outlet division. Find one nearby and check it out for deals. The outlets will not have every available size and color, but depending on the store they may have a pretty large selection. T.J. Maxx Home Goods and the J.C. Penney Furniture Outlet are good examples.
Inexpensive Window Coverings at Online Retailers
Many online retailers are able to sell discount window treatments because they don’t have the overhead costs of a physical store to drive up prices. Pay special attention to shipping costs of the items ordered and see if the order qualifies for free or discounted shipping.
The colors on screen may vary significantly from real-life colors of certain drapes and curtains, so make sure to know the company’s return policy ahead of time just in case you aren’t satisfied with the product once it’s received.
Affordable Window Treatments – Homemade Curtains and Shades
With a sewing machine and a decent set of directions, it’s actually possible to make window treatments at home for a fraction of the cost. It is much more time consuming (plan on spending between 2 and 6 hours on a pair of curtains, depending on the style of curtain and the individual’s sewing skill level), but the end result is a set of budget window treatments that are a source of pride and satisfaction.
Window treatments can be really expensive, so finding discount window treatments is a tremendous relief to any homeowner. Check out local outlet stores, online retailers, or homemade curtain patterns that will help to soften the cost of window coverings. But above all remember that value, not price, determines what is and isn’t a good deal.