Tag Archives: window

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.

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!

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