Big or small, windows are a connection to the outside world, and a transition between the interior design of a home and the view from within. "Dressed well" a window should complement the décor without clashing or overwhelming a room. Using fabrics and colors best suited for primary design themes, windows can make or break a space.
"My philosophy is that windows are backgrounds, so you don't want a lot of attention drawn to them," says Mary Ann Metzger, a designer for DesignWorks of Medford.
"You want your furnishings and colors to be attention getters so you don't want the window to be a focal point, per se. The view outside, yes, but usually windows are pretty subtle. They should blend instead of clash."
That said, local designers and window covering experts offer a look at four primary styles of window dressing. If your windows need a facelift, pick one to transform, choose your style and prepare for a fresh new look.
For that oh-so-livable cottage look, think light, airy fabrics in vintage or traditional patterns. Cottage-style homes are informal, so windows should look the part. Go for lace instead of heavy drapes. Add privacy with simple shades that tuck away during daytime; inexpensive mini blinds or basic Roman shades are an easy add-on. Two-inch wood blinds are even nicer, says Metzger, in light, natural colors.
If privacy is not an issue, leave windows bare and add a valance made of a soft cotton fabric in a fun pattern, or use a stretch of grapevine or ivy. Added fabric should tie into the surrounding room and create an inviting feel. For fabrics, opt for vintage patterns in natural-colored floral or fun stripes. Consider a padded window seat at a favorite window, add a vase of fresh flowers on the sill and find time to read in the nicest spot in the house.
Ever so bold, a Tuscan-style home requires its windows to look the part. In contrast to cottage, Tuscan windows command a more bold appearance with heavy drapes, large heavy curtain rods (such as iron) and dark jewel or earth tones. For a nice Tuscan look, Carol DeKorte, window design guru for De'Kor Blinds of Central Point, says to incorporate Roman shades and woven woods (bamboo or grass 'fabrics') to "keep the Tuscan look alive."
Tuscan-style often incorporates pottery, tile and Italianate accessories. As with cottage-style, wood blinds offer functionality and a neutral-yet-classic look. Shutters also work well in rich wood tones. A favorite of DeKorte's, large scale Cellular Blinds come in Tuscany-friendly colors and styles including a top-down/bottom up, and duo-fold (meaning a sheer blind on the top with a room darkener or light filtering shade on the bottom).
MODERN — CONTEMPORARY
A popular look in recent years, modern-contemporary is a hit with busy "Generation X" folks wanting something less frilly and cleaner looking. For a modern flair, DeKorte says a simple set of sturdy vertical blinds or woven wood shades (grass or bamboo 'fabric') offer a complete enough look for this simplistic style.
As an extra touch, simple panel curtains in bold colors like reds, greens, blues or metallic fabrics like aluminum add a modern, almost industrial touch.
For simple curtains, opt for simple hardware, as well, says Margaret Brownlie, a Medford designer for Inner Spaces. A favorite of Brownlie is a curtain with two grommet holes for a single rod to pass through.
"Modern contemporary is unusual materials with simple design," Brownlie says.
"The beauty is in the material or in the color or pattern. You want clean lines, simple rods, nothing flashy."
A timeless classic, and a common look in the Rogue Valley, Craftsman requires a more traditional approach to complement attractive woodwork and the no-frills style. With Craftsman's emphasis on wood, larger slat wood blinds in bold deep tones of mahogany work best. Roman shades, in not-too-fussy stripes and fringe look the part in rich, warm tones, and jacquards with simple beading or fringe. As an added touch, Brownlie recommends faux-stained glass film in detailed linear patterns (no pictures or flowers) with simple accent colors instead of over-the-top color displays.
Whether creating a traditional Craftsman look or a whimsical cottage view to the outside world, remember to consider both function and beauty. "Window treatments are also functional aspects of any home or building design," DeKorte says. "They must be integrated into the total look to keep the project together and coordinate the total overall look"¦ Be a little brave to keep the interest up, do your research on the style you select, and have fun."