Jason is a faithful reader and is full of questions as he and his wife work to put finishing touches on their home. He’s willing to share his journey with you and as I continue to answer his questions, hopefully I’ll be able to also help others who find themselves with similar dilemmas. We’ve been corresponding about his dining room and the focus has now come around to the window treatments. Naked windows sometimes work in more modern homes or if there’s a spectacular view to enjoy. However, most homes benefit from at least a basic window treatment to soften the window edges, help absorb sound and often bring a little pattern to the space.
What To Do With These Windows?
Jason is wondering a couple of things: What’s the best treatment for the windows in this formal dining room? What colors should they use with the red walls?
Jason, there are a few things to consider with window treatments for this room. It’s a good sized room and there are lots of hard surfaces – hardwood floors, wood table and chairs, a lovely wood sideboard. The room is bound to be full of echoes since there aren’t enough soft elements to absorb the sound. Consequently, I strongly recommend draperies, not just a blinds treatment and definitely not wood blinds or shutters. The room really needs some softness. Also some fabric will introduce a little pattern and make the window wall a focal point in the room.
Window Treatment Ideas
With double windows on a single wall, there are a couple of options. You can do a double layer of drapes – a sheer under a heavier panel that is either stationary or movable. This is a good solution if you need some light or privacy control. You can treat both windows as a single entity and run a drapery rod the full width between the windows and then when the drapes are closed they will meet in the middle of the 2 windows. When the drapes are open they can either stack all to one side (into the corner would be best) or they can split in the middle and stack next to each window. Since you have the wall space, I’d suggest having the drapes stack 90% off the window frame, meaning that when they are fully open they wouldn’t cover up any of the window glass but cover the wall space unlike the photo below.
To create the most formal look, add a valance. Many drapery styles have matching/coordinating valances available and they can be tailored (flat and simple with maybe a pleat or two) or they can be swoops, maybe with trim on the edges. A valance would serve to visually connect the two windows by spanning the combined width of both windows. The draperies under the valance could follow any of the above options of stationary or functional.
A less expensive alternative would be to have stationary panels at each window (like the look above). That means they wouldn’t be able to open and close but then you don’t need as much fabric because the panels don’t need to meet in the middle of the windows. The least expensive version of this would be a single panel on the outside edge of each window. Obviously the next step would be to run a drapery rod the full width of each window plus 10-12″ (so you’d need 2 rods) and put a panel framing each side of the window frames (need 4 panels).
While you likely want a somewhat formal look, that doesn’t mean you’re tied to traditional drapery treatments. Instead of a standard rod, purchase some vintage door knobs, use some cool drawer pulls or anything will serve as a hook. Then tie, loop or hook your drapery panel to rings and hang the drapes from the ‘hooks’.
A treatment that would be a little less formal and use less fabric would be to use a top treatment only like a soft Roman/balloon shade. I’d suggest taking that to the ceiling and have it gently swoop over the top 1/4 of the window, similar to the photo below. You could make them functional or not, depending upon your needs.
What Color Drapes to Go With A Red Wall?
Jason, here I would suggest you look for a pattern you like….a large damask would be what’s “in” now but stripes or a floral would work just as well. You want something that has a little red but not so much that you have to worry about it matching the walls. You want to give a nod to the red but really use the fabric to accent and complement it as well as introduce your accent colors for the room. So, looking at the 3 samples below, #1 is a definite no – too much red; #2 would be brighter and work well with the white window frames; #3 is an overscale plaid that introduces multiple colors which all work with the red and give you lots of accessory color options to carry the scheme throughout the room. In the case of #2 or 3, don’t fret about perfectly matching the red, just don’t choose an orangey red since it appears your antique red has more of a blue undertone.
Floor to Ceiling Drapes?
Another reader, Sarcie, asked a quick window treatment question too. Sarcie wrote: ” I absolutely love your site! I feel like I have come across a treasure I want to share with everyone. I have a question about window treatments. I like the look of drapes reaching the ceiling and touching the floor but in my sewing room there is a space of about 2′ from the top of the window to the ceiling. Is there a rule of thumb about how high I should hang drapes in relation to the window?”
No, Sarcie, there’s no magic rule about the height for hanging draperies. Windows could have anywhere from 6″ to 6′ from the window frame to the ceiling. Where the rod goes in that space depends on a few things. You can take drapes all the way to the ceiling for the most impact and drama. Place the rod just a few inches from the ceiling so there’s a little visual breathing room. You can place the rod in the traditional place just above the window frame. Or, if you want to place the draperies somewhere between the window and the ceiling, try to line it up with another horizontal line in the room so there’s continuity and you eye can follow a straight line around the upper edge of the room instead of jumping around.
Floor to ceiling drapes will also work for you, Jason. They are great looking but also serve a couple of functions: they make a room seem bigger and the ceiling higher and they can disguise awkwardly sized or placed windows. The drawback to them is that most ready made drapes aren’t long enough. Sarcie, you mentioned you’d be making yours which is a great option. Another way to get the custom look is to add contrasting or blending bands of fabric to the top or bottom of the drape to give it the extra length. This can be an option even if you don’t sew….use any simple iron on fusible web product and with a little careful measuring and ironing, you too can have custom looking draperies.
One of my pet peeves with window treatments is to have the drapes too short. They need to reach the floor. You can puddle them or not, that’s a personal preference, but make sure they don’t stop at the window sill. You’ll lose all your great benefits of softening the windows and creating a focal point if the drapes are too short.
Hunt for Ideas
Hopefully this has given you a little direction in your hunt for drapery solutions. Visit a bookstore and spend a little browsing the home decorating section or check out the newest issues of shelter magazines to find more photos that will help you visualize your options. And stay in touch, we’d love to see photos of your finished projects. If you want more details or have other questions, just leave us a comment.