Window Treatments - When to Not Use Curtains

Expert Author Pamela Sandall

It's fairly standard practice for an interior designer to install custom curtains (aka drapery) in a client home. I happen to love curtains. They add softness, texture and sound-softening into almost any room. Being tasked with writing an article on NOT using window treatments has got me thinking outside the box.
When would I opt to not use large swaths of fabric to bring color, texture and style to a room? When should you not use draperies to bring color, texture and style to a room? The answer is when the room doesn't want it or need it. If you're on the fence and looking for an excuse to get out of hanging curtains, read below for some great drapery alternatives.

First, a little background to help categorize your decision making. There are two basic types of window coverings:
Privacy Window Coverings vs. Decorative Window Coverings
Privacy window coverings have the goal of providing privacy, but also assisting with light control, temperature control and sometimes sound absorption.
Decorative window coverings are included to bring additional style and flair to your space.
Good room design benefits from both, but decorative does not need to be curtains only. Many privacy treatments look pretty wonderful! When your privacy window covering adds style, it will serve dual duty as both a privacy treatment and decoration.

A few examples:
Most people are familiar with the metal mini-blinds of long ago. Wood, or faux wood blinds are an upgrade to that builder-basic item. There are so many options out there to now consider.
There is a vast array of woven woods that add texture and pattern to your decor. The new styles look nothing like those you might remember from the 1970's. The new textures have great colors, sleek or nubby textures and looks to cover you from country to contemporary style.
Roman shades are a window shade made from fabric and a wonderful option that brings color and fabric softness to the window without hanging curtains.
Roller shades are no longer basic white and now can feature splashy patterns and unique finishes.
Shutters are a truly upscale choice that add not only privacy but VALUE to your home!
Sometimes it's the characteristics of your home or style choice that is better served by leaving the windows clear of curtains.

Contemporary Styled decor is usually perceived as a very clean lined way of decorating and sometimes even classified as stark. Occasionally a contemporary design will incorporate drapery, but more often than not, the windows are left simple and un-adorned. Even when needed for privacy, the blinds tend will be quite streamlined.

A Great View: If a stunning view is the focal point of the room, you may not want to distract from it with draperies. Whether it's a breathtaking oceanfront or an arresting cityscape, you may have no need of window coverings at all. If privacy is not an issue, but light control is, you can use simple roller shades or even UV window film.

Architecture: Sometimes the architecture of the room will prevent curtains from being an option. One of the most remarkable examples I've seen is a room that has floor to ceiling bookcases flanking both sides of the windows. Another home depicted floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows and stone walls on either side.
Bathrooms, most especially kid bathrooms, might actually be adversely affected by curtains due to the excessive moisture.

Finally, life circumstance might prevent you from wanting to hang drapery. Dogs and cats love to nest inside a warm cozy space. Your drapery could end up becoming your pet's newest, favorite hiding spot! Small children think they make great hiding spots as well. If you have little ones, either furry kids or human, think clearly about how their well-being (and your cleaning bills!) before hanging drapery.
Whatever you decide, window coverings should blend with your home, your personal style and your life style.

Happy Decorating!

Pamela Sandall is an interior designer that helps homeowners create a warm & welcoming home. She wants her clients home filled with the treasures and decorating style that complement those that live there. She offers many affordable design solutions from an online diy design training to online to decorating to full service design. Visit her online @ Be sure to take advantage of her free, seven day mini-course, available on the homepage.
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