I'm Looking Through You, Making the Most of Your Windows!

By Alexa Keating

You guessed it; it's time to address those windows! There are many easy and affordable ideas to treat the space where light reigns supreme in a manner that will compliment your design plan.
Some window styles reflect the style of the home. For instance, a home with arched windows may be somewhat of a challenge when creating a Primitive Design. Likewise, the older more typical square windows challenge the Contemporary, Spanish and Southwestern designs.
Once you have selected your style, paint colors and floor treatment, the windows complete your canvas of the dream room you envisioned. The picture will be complete when the room is finished!
Tips to begin:
a) Wash the windows!
b) Clean the woodwork and paint if necessary.
c) Assess the challenge! Do the size and style of the windows work as they are, or do you need to change the perception to create your style?
d) Get creative; packaged window treatments are made for the 'house of commons,' not your palace! When creating your own design, you become the leader, not the follower.
e) Measure the actual windows both vertical and horizontal; then measure from the top of the wall to the floor.
f) Take a moment and caulk your windows. Heat and air conditioning is lost through windows and doors, increasing your energy bills and making it harder to heat or cool your home. Caulking also prevents ants and other undesirables from entering your home.
g) If you live in a manufactured house, tear down those 'made for a trailer' window treatments! Nothing says I'm perched on wheels like the little valances and kitchen curtains hanging all over the house. You will be amazed at how your home can look!
Now we're ready to begin! Let's look at materials, and what is possible.
If you are working with Southwestern, Spanish or Primitive designs, regardless of whether you have square, arched or small windows; try picking up full length wood bi-fold doors and painting them or grab a can of Min Wax spray stain and put the finish of your choice on the doors. They fold out just like shutters and can be used on sliders as well as windows. For very little money you have custom window treatments!
Cottage designs work great with the plantation shutter styles. You can hang these higher and wider that the actual window if you need to visually increase the size of the window to make a bigger statement.
Give some thought to using hand railing for stairs as curtain rods over wide expansive windows or to create that illusion! These come in nearly every style, some with intricate design in addition to the more typical styles. They are also readily available in reclaimed stores. Mediterranean and Spanish styles can use wrought iron pieces to create interesting rods.
All of these items can be picked up at the same thrift stores, consignment stores, Craiglist and any other source you know would be worth looking at in your area.
We're creating a masterpiece here and can hardly be bothered to simply pick up a simple rod and hang it up. Window design starts from the rods. Don't ignore branches from your trees for a Primitive look, or bamboo stalks for a natural look.
If your home has small, older windows try hanging your drapes from the top of the wall and extend them out past the actual window. Visually the wall and the windows appear larger; and the room feels more substantial.
Drop in at the remnant section of the fabric store. Look for large bolts that are offered at $1.00 a yard. You're looking for texture that will compliment your personal style. If you're not handy with a sewing machine, never fear; just purchase Stitch Witchery and head for your ironing board to create rod pockets at the top and finished hems at the bottom.
Curtains that pool onto the floor are much more appealing and do not look like pre-packaged curtains. Look at sheets if you do not want to spend time at the fabric store. They are long, offered in a wide range of colors and already have top and bottom hems. Just slit the sides of the bottom and slid the rod through. Sheets are available in unbleached muslin and a large variety of fabrics. Natural cotton is beautiful as drapes for Cottage styles. Just slit the sides of the top hem and insert the rod after using your stitch witchery magic or hand needle and thread to complete the newly cut seam. Natural hemp ropes work perfectly as tiebacks for Cottage (especially Seaside Cottage designs) Country and Primitive. Look for natural rope and other different ideas to tie them in a balloon style 29" from the floor and let them pool on the floor. Beautiful!
Sheets work great as shower curtains on spring rods; insert a liner behind it and decorate away!
If you plan to tie your curtains back look at wide cloth ribbon and other trims that are not so fussy and do not appear prepackaged.
If you are working with a Victorian, Classic or Traditional design look at the long table cloths that also offer special designs particular to your style. Try adding long strings of pearls that are found in craft stores and Christmas decorations. They make fabulous trims! Look for natural fabrics like unbleached muslin to bring a true country or Primitive feeling into any space.
If you have typical windows and are looking for a whole new look with an unconditional fix; define your style and consider adding plantation shutters that are 18" shy of the top of the window.
Next, look for leaded glass or, or Plexiglas that mimics lead glass sections; place this section above the shutter to cover the rest of the window and add a trim board. Suddenly your 'same old windows' now feature leaded glass and thick, rich wood shutters. Stain or paint the shutters to match your design plan.
You no longer have average or typical windows. It's a brand new view!
Avoid those 'found in every home' mini blinds if possible. They feel like a cheap fix, and are unbecoming to a palace and your plan. Dare to be different.
The 'fan' treatment for the top of arched windows needs to be kicked to the curb too. The arches grace the top of the window; leave them bare and let the sun shine in! If you simply must cover them, look for window films that are elegant and will add a punch of your d├ęcor quietly. They peel right off when you are ready for a change.
Make a real effort to think outside the traditional prepackaged window treatments available almost everywhere. Search for great deals on things that can be repurposed into your plan.
Your goal is to make your home different and spectacular; affordably! This is the mark of a master designer.
'I'm Looking Through You' is an excerpt from 'How To Make It Mine.' Please join me at to preview this and other design idea books available.
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