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Dressing Challenging Windows

Challenging window shapes require creative design and a thorough knowledge of the solutions on the market today. Architects design windows that suit the buildings they are planning; rarely thinking about how the occupant is going to dress them for light and privacy control.  It’s the job of interior decorators and designers to find those solutions, based on your window challenge, needs and tastes.

Let’s look at some challenging situations and possible window covering solutions:

Graber pleated shades for arch-top windowsRound and Arched Windows – The easy solution to this shape window is to embrace its beautiful roundness and not cover it at all; focusing your attention on dressing the other windows in the room and letting this one stand out.  The worst thing you can do is ignore the shape and put a straight rod and curtains or a blind over it.  There are many creative solutions for this type window: a shade panel stretched on a frame to fit the window; a custom made round or arched shutter; a fan-shaped pleated blind; a sheer fabric gathered on a curved or circular rod….and many other possibilities.

Graber vertical blinds for tall windowsReally Tall Windows – One of the problems with these windows is that they can feel out-of-scale with the rest of the space and everyone/everything in it.  The first option would be to break them up by installing shutters, blinds or decorative panels on one-third to two-thirds of the height, bringing them down to a human scale.  To soften these treatments, you can add drapes (with or without a valance) over top to either the top of the first treatment, or the full window height. The other option would be to embrace that soaring vertical line and cover them in full-length sheers, drapes, or shade panels (again, with or without a valance).  This is a dramatic and high-energy treatment, taking your eye immediately to the high ceiling.

Really Narrow Windows – These windows are challenging because of the limitations on the amount of room needed for the mechanical window treatments such as blinds and shades.  The best options are window films, sheers gathered on top and bottom rods.  Shutters and decorative panels are also options.  The other way to address this shape of window is to make them appear wider that they really are by treating the wall as part of the window.  Install a wider curtain rod to allow for hanging a drapery panel next to the window opening.  The same can be done with sliding panels and vertical blinds.  This works especially well on windows that are tall as well as narrow.

Graber roman shades stacked windowsStacked Windows – Whether you’re dealing with a 1970s geometric grouping of windows, or the recent trend to stack a small window on top of a window or door, you have many options.  1) Treat each window individually with top- or bottom-mounted blinds or shades, decorative panels, or window film.  2) Where privacy is the only issue, add shutters, blinds, or café curtains to the lower windows only.   3) The simplest solution is to treat them all as one unit with a single blind, drapes/sheers, decorative panel, or sliding panels.  4) Divide them into vertical groups with two or more full-length blinds, or full-height drapery panels spaced at regular intervals between the vertical groups of windows.  5) Break up a large grouping of windows by leaving the top row uncovered, adding a valance or cornice across the top of the next row, and drapes or sheer panels spaced at intervals between the vertical groups of windows below. 6) Pick one window to feature a stained glass or decorative panel, treating the others simply with window film or individual blinds.

Graber bi-fold shutters, deep-set windowsDeep-Set Windows – While usually found in historic buildings of solid masonry (stone or brick), these can also be found in some modern buildings and in basements. You can treat deep-set windows with drapes, sheers, shutters, decorative panels, blinds (horizontal, cellular, or vertical), shades and valances.  The main difference may be in the hardware you need to use: a tension or side-mount rod for drapes and valances, and top or side-mounting headers for blinds and shades.  Like other windows, you can combine treatments or only treat 1/3 to 2/3 of the window height, based on your privacy/sun issues.

Graber drapery rod for bay windowsBays, Seats and Alcoves – Many historic buildings – and even some modern ones – have bay windows, alcoves, window seats, and tower rooms that aren’t quite rooms.  We often use these nooks as retreats, benefitting from a drapery or other treatment to provide privacy from the rest of the room.  To achieve this, install a drape or sheer to the window side of the interior wall, the room side of the interior wall, or on a rod installed between the jams of the opening using side-mounted hardware.  Options for treating the windows themselves include shutters, blinds, shades, decorative panels, window film, sheers and drapes.  Curved and angled rods are custom fit to the space and can be mounted on the wall or ceiling.  This is especially useful for full coverage of banks of windows in these spaces, to reduce heat loss/gain.

Graber shades for wall of windowsWalls of Windows – The best of both worlds: enjoying a wide-open view of the outdoors while comfortably inside a heated or air-conditioned building.  These window walls make spaces feel so much larger and more welcoming, but how to achieve privacy and light control when needed can be a challenge.  The solutions really come down to what type of hardware you use, because there is often no wall surface above the windows to mount the window treatment to.  Many of the options – blinds, shades, shutters, drapes and sliding panels – can be installed with ceiling mounted hardware.  Make sure you can “stack” your treatment back beyond the window opening, or can raise/lower them fully (in the case of blinds) to restore your view when you want to.  If the view isn’t all that great, but you love the light, consider using decorative panels mounted to the window or ceiling and floor.  Window film can also be a good solution, used on some or all of the window panels, or on the lower portion of all the windows.

Graber custom shutters on angled windowsAngled Windows – Many buildings in the Modern styles have “slanted” or angled-top windows that follow the roof line.  Like round windows, these can be really challenging.  Blinds and shutters are your best solution and can be custom-made to match the window’s angle.  Drapery panels can also be cut to fit the angle, but will not be operable.  Instead, install them as stationary panels using pegs or medallions at regular intervals, giving the drape its pleat or gather.   Your window treatment can also be dropped (on tall units) to the bottom of the angle, leaving the top portion untreated.  Valances and cornices are also an option for the tops of these windows.

The solutions we’ve offered here are certainly not the only ones available for each situation.  Talk to a designer to find the right solution for your challenging windows.

The Versatile Sheer

Sheers have been relegated to the status of underwear for windows for many years. It’s an unfair designation because sheers have so much more potential than just peeking out from under the colorful, textured and patterned drapes that get all the applause.

Sheers can be the star of your room, when used creatively.  They don’t have to be the filmy, floaty, flirty things we’re used to – though we love that about them – and they now come in many colors, even patterns and textures.  Variations on sheers include Roman and Venetian blinds and sliding panels in sheer or semi-sheer materials, adding to the possibilities.  Use sheers for practical purposes, but take advantage of their best qualities.

Consider these uses:

Sheers as Room Dividers – Hang a “wall” of sheers in Graber blinds and sliding panelsopen floor plans or especially large rooms, sectioning off part of the room for a different use and giving the room a cozy feel and human scale. Place the rod either close to the ceiling or drop it down a bit in rooms with extra high ceilings to give a transom effect.

Sheers for Drama – Adding sheers to a space can add a soft, luxurious and dramatic feel to any room – or even outdoor spaces.  Hung around a bed, bathtub, dining area, or gazebo to create a dramatic and romantic cocoon, sheers are an easy and inexpensive way to add impact.  You can even double sheers up for even more drama by layering the new colors, patterns, and weaves available now.

Sheers for Style – Spice up your sheers by using dramatic colors instead of the standard white or pastel colors; by using patterned sheer fabrics; or by adding bands of other fabrics, trims or valances. Sheers can give a tropical, Moroccan, lake cottage, romantic, ethereal, or theatrical feel to any room.Graber exterior porch shades

Sheers for Privacy – Sheers are a dark room’s best friend. Create a wall of glass or use glass French doors to flow light into a room that doesn’t have windows of its own, then use sheers to cover them when privacy is needed. Or use them on your porch or gazebo to give you privacy from neighboring properties or public thoroughfares.

Sheers for Light Control – The ethereal light that sheers create is perfectly suited to any room.  Use them to reduce glare at windows and doors, either draped full length, or as café curtains, Roman shades, or the newer versions of sheers, the sliding panel.  They reduce glare on your TV or computer screen, at your desk or favorite reading spot, in anGraber_cellular_sheers_doors art studio, bedroom, or where a mirror faces a window.

Sheers for Softness – The softness of sheers can take the edge off of strong architecture and a room with lots of hard surfaces, without feeling heavy or dominating the room. The fullness of your sheers can be scaled from just enough to cover the space, to extremely full for even more softness.

Sheers as a Backdrop – Use a wall of sheers as a backdrop to features in your rooms, such as behind a bed, behind a piece of sculpture, a really beautiful bathtub or your treasured antique. The play of lights across the folds of a Graber_sliding panelssheer drape is dramatic, even if it’s just from table lamps.

Sheers as Camouflage – Locate easily-drawn sheers, or sliding panels, so that you can quickly and easily hide those utilitarian or messy areas when company comes.  With open-concept architecture and small apartments, your office nook, laundry, craft area, and even bedroom areas are sometimes open to anyone who enters.  Sheers create the separation you need to neaten-up those open spaces.

Sheers to Accent Architecture – Use sheers to accent architectural elements, such as adding contrast to a wall of brick or stone; framing a window seat or nook; drawing attention to an archway, bay or pocket door; accenting a raised or sunken area; framing a wall of windows; or adding substance to a pergola frame.Graber_sheer shades

Sheers to Create Your Special Space – Sheers create intimate and special spaces where you can retreat to relax, meditate, read a book or write a book, daydream or nap. They are a simple and inexpensive option and can be drawn when needed, giving you the separate space when you need it without adding on or taking space away from your current living areas.

Get creative with sheers and see how they can transform your home or office!

Solutions for Glass Doors

Covering a the glass in a door is perhaps the most challenging of decorating dilemmas, because not only are you covering a window, but it’s a moving window; a window that swings, slides, folds or stacks and likely (not always) opens into the room.  And not only does it move, but you need to move through it.  Doors are a challenge, but you actually have many options.

You have probably chosen to Graber_Roman shades_drapes_glass doorsinstall – or buy a home with – lots of window surface because you want to let in the light, enjoy the view, or blend indoors and out-of-doors. Some of us prefer to leave our glass doors as bare as the day they were installed…..and that’s okay, unless you need privacy, or to control heat gain/loss or the amount of light entering your home.  Just about everyone needs to address at least one of those concerns.

No matter what type of glass door you have, there are now a lot more solutions to choose from than we used to be able to offer. Here are the options we suggest for each type of door.

Glass Panel Doors This simple single panel door to the outside, or sheer_waisted_dooreven between rooms, has many treatment options depending primarily on how close it is installed to a side wall.  If there’s no wall clearance issue, then blinds, cellular shades, roller shades, roman shades, shutters, decorative screens, window films and sheers can all be installed on the door without impeding operation.  The various types of blinds, shutters and shades offer full privacy and control light. Cellular shades, and sheers gathered between two café or sash rods (which fit tight to the door surface), are a good option for moderate privacy and letting in soft light.

Sliding Doors Sliders are the easiest to cover because you don’t have to be concerned about allowing for the movement Layer It Up_2of the door.  Keep it simple or layer-it-up with vertical blinds, horizontal blinds, cellular shades, Roman shades, sliding panels, window films, draperies, sheers and valances, all of which can be installed far enough from the glass to allow for movement of the sliding door panel.  Shutters and decorative screens are two other, more unique options.  These will need to be installed far enough from the sliding door to allow for its operation.  They can also slide on tracks to allow you to see the view or let in the sun when you wish and close them when you need privacy or to block the sun.  Go with drapes for warmth, sliding panels for a clean and modern look, and sheers for privacy with filtered light.

French Doors These double doors are one of the most Graber_glass doors_shutterspopular types of glass doors.  If yours swing into the room, your choices are the same as for a single glass panel door with the treatment mounted directly to the doors using café or sash rods.  It’s common to add draperies to these to control cold-weather drafts and add color, softness, pattern or texture to your room.  They will need to stack-back beyond the door opening and can either be stationary or full enough to draw across the doors.  If your doors open out, you can also consider sliding panels that stack back beyond the door opening. French doors between rooms may also need a covering for privacy, such as sheers, frosted film, blinds, shades, shutters or drapes.

Some of the more unusual door styles are treated much like those above. Here are our suggestions for dealing with a few of these.

Bi-Fold Glass Doors The wonderful thing about bi-folds is that they Graber_vertical blinds_doorsgive you a wider opening to the out-of-doors, blending interior and exterior living spaces.  In fact, many of these doors fill an entire wall, corner to corner and floor to ceiling, literally becoming a wall of your room that opens.  So, they can also let in too much sunlight, be drafty in cold climates, and present a privacy issue.  If you want to add treatments for either esthetic or practical purposes, your best options include sheer panels, draperies, sliding panels, or vertical blinds that stack back beyond the window opening.  Sliding shutters or decorative panels may be another option, as long as your doors hinge to the outside (some hinge inward) and the panels won’t impede operation of the doors.  This door is all about opening the room to the outside, so make sure your treatments don’t impede the flow of traffic, block the view, or get blown about by the wind on a breezy day.  You can use sliding shutters and decorative panels to diminish stronger breezes and to keep pets and wildlife outside without shutting the doors.  If you don’t have room above the door opening, drapery rods and tracks for blinds, sliding panels, shutters and decorative panels can be installed on the ceiling.

Stacking Sliders These are a new hybrid of the sliding glass Graber_sliding panels_glass doorsdoor which allows multiple panels to stack back to the width of one panel (or a little more), again blending interior and exterior with a wider opening.  They also give you multiple treatment options, similar to the sliding door.  Your sliding panels, sheers, drapes and vertical blinds can be installed as with a traditional sliding glass door.  If you have room, stacking them beyond the door opening is best so you don’t block that beautiful view!  Sliding shutters or decorative panels can also be installed inside, allowing room for the door panels to slide unimpeded.  If you want a clean, simple look and all you need is privacy and/or light control, go with one of the many window film options, such as frosted or patterned.

Glass Panel Dutch Doors Dutch doors are not as common, but there are also updated versions of this cottage-style door on the market Graber_Roman shades_windowtoday.  Many of these have not only a glass upper panel, some have glass both top and bottom – a combination of the Dutch and single glass panel door – which you may want to cover for privacy or light control.  Like a glass panel door, think blinds, roman shades, roller shades, window films, decorative panels, shutters or sheers with both top and bottom rods installed on the door.  Even if your door opens against a wall, you can likely do a valance, sheer or curtain by using a café or sash rod.

Call us today at 814-432-5463 or 814-677-4500 to discuss your glass door treatment needs. We will help you pick the solution to suit your style, your needs and your budget.

Layer It Up

When you think about the materials that our homes are made of, they are all “hard” surfaces – wood, drywall and plaster, glass, metal, concrete, brick, stone.  These are used because they are strong and durable, but they need complemented by something soft to make them comfortable for us to live in.

One of the best ways to do this is to “layer it up” and there are many combinations of window treatment layers that can be used to keep your windows from blank holes in your walls.

Granted, some of us prefer to live and work in minimalistic environments with hard surfaces, angles, clean lines and bare windows…..or some degree of this.  But many of us are comforted by being surrounded by soft fabric and the privacy of some covering at our windows.  Whether you prefer a simple approach or several softly draped layers, you have many choices.  Start with your need:

  1. When privacy is the priority – Depending on the height of your window and proximity to Layer It Up_1public areas or other buildings, you can either apply a solution to the whole window or just the lower half. Some of your options include blinds, sheers, shutters, café curtains and shades are all adaptable to either full or half privacy needs.  Combine these with a valance or cornice, and/or drapes for more interest and a softer effect.  Keep in mind that sheers will provide privacy during the day, though not as much after dark, when lights inside reveal your interior.
  2. Form over function – If your priority is style rather than the more practical concerns, your imagination is your only limitation. Pick your favorite types of treatments and combinations of fabric colors and patterns to create a unique and stylish solution that is all about your room’s personality….or yours.  Add trims for even more style.  This can be as simple as a coordinating solid color fabric or as elaborate as a multi-colored tassel trim.  Save money by doing a layered look rather than fully functional layers – like stationary side panels and sheer inserts.
  3. Clean lines – To suit your minimal or semi-minimal style, think about blinds, shades, drapes Layer It Up_2with less volume, stationary side panels, or sheers with a simple wood or upholstered cornice. If you’re somewhere in between minimalist and traditional in style, full window shutters with a cornice or simple drape or sheer panels are a beautiful solution.
  4. Opulence – For those who crave lots of rich fabrics around them in either a formal or semi-formal style, you have a wide variety of fabrics from which to choose, from warm textures like velvet and linen, to shimmering silks. Whatever fabric suits your room’s style, it is layers, the drape’s volume and the trims that give you an opulent effect.  Think very full drapes that puddle on the floor and gather back during the day.  Layer these with sheers, wood shades or blinds, draped and trimmed valances, or elaborate wood cornices.  For extra opulence, add elaborate trims to panels and valances.
  5. Layers with light – Especially in northern climes, layering our window treatments is important artisan-drapery-productin the winter, but so is letting in as much light as possible. A cornice seals the top of your window, preventing heat loss without covering the window.  Drapes provide an additional layer of insulation, but can be opened during the day to let in the light.  A bottom layer such as sheers or cellular shades will let in the light while your drapes are open, without giving up all of your cold weather insulation.  Another option is an insulated shade or shutters covering only the bottom half of your window, preventing cold drafts but letting in the light.
  6. Blocking out light – Bedrooms and media rooms often require black-out window treatments, preventing interruption of sleep and interfering with TV/movie screen image quality. The best options for these rooms are tight-fitting shades or full-coverage drapes in dark colors with black-out linings.  Even a small amount of bright light infiltration, such as direct sunlight or headlights, can be a problem.  Layering these with a closed cornice and extending the drape beyond the edges of the window opening will be most effective.
  7. Masking the view – For rooms that look out onto unattractive views, such as parking lots, building walls, fences, streets, or commercial developments, you can mask this view by either lightly or fully covering the window. Again, light filtration and privacy may be a consideration inLayer It Up_4 your choice of solutions and determine how much of your window you cover.  Bottom-mounted blinds or half-shutters and a valance or cornice may be sufficient, or drapes over a sheer panel.  If the object outside your window extends above your eye-level, you may want to opt for full-coverage shutters, blinds or shades.
  8. Energy efficiency and comfort – We love having lots of windows – big windows – in our living and working spaces, but heat gain or loss can be a big issue. Layering your window treatments can solve these problems with ease and style; layers can be added or removed seasonally with little effort, easily pulled out with your flannel sheets, comforters, and sweaters in the fall, then packed away again in the spring.  In the summer opt for blinds, sheers or shutters and a valance then add insulated drapes in the winter.

Choose layers that complement each other, either by similarity or by contrast.  Soften blinds and shades with gathered or swag valances.  Give structure to sheers and drapes by topping them with wood or upholstered valances.  Warm up sheers by adding a layer of drapes.  Add interest with color and pattern in your fabric selections.  Add texture to sheers, blinds and shades with tactile fabrics like velvet, burlap, linen, raw silk, crinkled and heavy weave fabrics.

Your window treatments offer a great opportunity to use a fabric that you love, even one that’s expensive.  A valance, shade or cornice don’t require as much fabric as drapes or upholstery, so you can have that pricey fabric you love without spending a fortune.

Make the most of your windows by layering it up!

Bundle Up Those Windows

As it gets colder outside, you are likely thinking about preparing your home for winter; buttoning things up to make sure you are warm and cozy…and that your energy bills don’t get out of hand. There are many options for your windows that will help to keep the heat you pay for inside and keep the cold out. The bonuses are that they also help with comfort and cooling costs in summer, and they look good!

There are many attractive ways to winterize your windows, from insulated drapes to horizontal blinds GRL0800_RN040113CAand many options in between. For centuries, it has been all about layering and making the most of fabrics and trims. And while this is still popular – especially in historic buildings – modern architecture and a desire for more simple interiors has resulted in less covering on our windows.

Curtains and drapes with an insulated lining topped by a tightly-woven decorator fabric are the most-used option and studies show that they can reduce your window’s heat loss by 10% to 25%, with maximum effect if topped by a closed cornice, overlapped with Velcro where the panels meet, and installed close to the wall and floor.

Roller shades are most effective in winter if they have a dark color facing the window, a reflective side facing into the room and are installed close to the glass. Quilted or multi-layer Roman window shades seal out the drafts and insulate, but also block out light. Pleated or cellular shades are a great option, allowing more light transmission into your room, and Graber’s various styles offer an R-value of 4.55 to 4.76. Again, these need to be installed close to the glass and fit the opening properly to be most effective.

Though they have a lower R-value, blinds – both horizontal and vertical –are still helpful, especially when made of wood and installed close to the glass. The great benefit is that blinds can be opened on sunny winter days, allowing solar heat gain.

Shutters were the original method of controlling light, air and rain/snow at windows. Wood is a good insulator, especially if solid rather than louvered or pierced. Interior shutters, if solid in design and well-fitted, are very effective and can be combined with drapes or fabric blinds for very attractive window decor.

Now that you know the options, call us to discuss how we can winterize your windows to suit your style!

Reference: http://www.coloradoenergy.org/procorner/stuff/r-values.htm

Why Graber?

Miller’s Interior Designs has been featuring Graber blinds in their room designs for 35 years. Why Graber? Because the brand ensures dependable quality for our clients, and it’s synonymous with timeless style and sophistication, making it the perfect product as trends come and go. No matter whatGraber_Cellular_Casual_Living your style, we know that Graber will provide us with the perfect window coverings to design a beautiful room for you. Whether it’s for your home or office, Graber is a key element of our designs.

Beyond outstanding design, you can expect dependable, long lasting products. Some of the features that Graber offers include energy efficiency, child-safe cordless controls and smooth operation. Talk to us about the Graber product that best meets your needs: vertical blinds, roman shades, real and faux wood blinds, cellular shades, shutters and drapes.

For those situations requiring a unique solution, Graber offers shades for exterior spaces….porches, patios and decks…to protect them from intense sun and heat, making your outdoor furniture last longer and making you more comfortable. For something new and more practical on patio doors and other large expanses of windows, Graber has developed sliding fabric panels, available in a wide variety of material options, including their solar, roller and natural shade fabrics.

If you lead a “green” lifestyle, Graber suits your needs on this front too, by:
•Conserving energy through regulating the sun’s rays to control the temperature in your home.
•Insulating your windows, helping to keep heat in your house in winter.
•Using renewable materials like bamboo, jute and grasses.
•Using GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified materials, with low chemical and particle emissions.
•Recycling metals, plastics, fabrics, paper, and waste wood in the Graber plants.
•Conserving water by using a closed-loop water cooling system for plastics manufacturing.
•Minimal product packaging that uses at least 44% post-consumer recycled materials.
•Sourcing renewable hardwoods domestically, minimizing transportation, thus saving energy.

At Miller’s, we can help you find the right window covering solution for your needs, help you select the perfect material, pair the right Graber product with beautiful over-drapes and make it all coordinate beautifully with the rest of your room. Call us today to begin the conversation!

Welcome to our Blog

Miller's Design TeamWelcome to our first blog posting! First, we’d like to share a little of our history, introduce our staff, and tell a bit about what we do. In future posts we plan to share what we have learned about design, about features and benefits of various products and suggestions for maintenance.

Miller’s Interior Designs, originally owned by Ken and Sherry Miller, opened in Seneca, PA a little over 30 years ago. In the fall of 2011, Kris and Candy Miller purchased the business. In May of 2013 we moved to our current location, above Hatched at 1237 Liberty Street in Franklin, PA. Our Sales Manager is Lorie Nelson and our Marketing Specialist is Sherry Van Tassel.

Our specialty is window treatment providing quality Graber products including cellular, pleated and wooden shades, solar, roller and vertical blinds and shutters. If you’re not familiar with these various types of products, keep tuning in to our blog. We’ll be showing you how they can dress up a room, provide insights about benefits of each and tips on keeping them looking great.

Beyond window treatment, we provide window coverings and interior painting, custom corner boards and bed coverings. We also work with local upholsterers to help provide a new look to your quality furniture. We partner with local woodworkers as well, to meet specialized needs to finish your room’s new look. To protect your furnishing, we install solar protective window films. In future blogs we’ll be talking about many of these topics.

Meanwhile, a growing list of products and services will be on our website and we’ll be posting on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Flickr. If you have an interior design question or blog suggestion – call us at 814-432-5463 or email us at millersdesign1@gmail.com

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