Miss A Columnist

Denise Willard has over a decade of experience transforming the homes of clients in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Her work has been showcased on ABC Affiliate, News Channel 8 and published in The Washington Post, Home and Design Magazine, Washington Home & Garden, The Washingtonian, and Elan. She writes a regular design column for Viva Tysons, and has a blog where she shares her interior decorating insights, DreamDesignLive.com .

Denise specializes in creating simple, but elegant transitional interiors that are reflective of her clients' personalities and lifestyles. The combination of her southern roots and urban lifestyle can be seen in her personal design style, which combines the comfort and hospitality of the South with the flair of the big city.

Window Treatments 101

Dress Up Your Windows With Style!! Do you ever wonder about the possibilities for your windows beyond store bought drapery or cheap white blinds? Look no further. This article will educate those who have ignored their bland windows because they didn’t know where to start. It will also inspire those who are ready for change – those who want to have  their windows dressed for drama, elegance, Sunday brunch, you name it. As you will soon see, window treatments contribute greatly to the mood of a room!

What is a Hard Window Treatment?
Hard treatments are factory-made window treatments: blinds, shades, and shutters.  Hard treatments are not always hard (roller shades or fabric-slat verticals, for example).

These woven blinds act as a great hard window treatment in this light-filled dining room. They pick up on the warm tones and textures repeated in the dining chairs, giving the space a clean yet cozy mood.

The least expensive and shortest install time hard treatments include cellular shades, honeycomb shades and wood blinds, whereas the most  expensive hard treatments include wood shutters and silhouette shades. And, shutters often take up to 8 weeks for delivery. Therefore, unless you plan to be in your home for a long time, do not invest in shutters.

The other consideration in choosing hard treatments is the depth and frame of your windows. Most hard treatments (especially those with top-down/bottom-up capabilities) have a significant head rail (a sophisticated term for the operating mechanism found at the top of the treatment). Most head rails are pretty deep and project outward when mounted on widow frames. Therefore, before making a decision about which window covering to purchase, you should consult a window treatment professional to ensure the final result meets not only your functional, but also your aesthetic needs.

Hard treatments are available as stock items found in home-improvement stores or can be custom made to order.  Stock merchandise comes in standard sizes while custom-made treatments can be made in any size. Colors and options are limitless with custom-made hard treatments.

What is a Soft Treatment?
Any window covering sewn from fabric is considered a soft treatment.  Soft treatments are generally used as decoration on top of hard treatments, but can also be used alone. Soft treatments can be custom-manufactured to fit any window. Your decorated window will be completely unique – one of a kind.  Any fabric and trim can be selected, and practically any style can be created. Professional installation using custom hardware also adds to your distinctive look.

These soft window treatments are made of silk and were custom designed to coordinate with the colors we selected for the walls and artwork. Our client loved that we were able to install the panels above the arches, adding height to her living room, which had previously appeared dark with low ceilings because heavy window treatments were installed below the arch. In addition, the silks used were chosen from our discounted Silk Dupioni stock ($30/yd), saving our client hundreds of dollars.

Common soft treatments include swags and cascades, shaped valances, drapery panels, balloon valances and scarf treatments. The uniqueness of your soft treatment depends on your fabric selection, style, size, and all your chosen details, including trims, tassels, and hardware. Soft window treatments can be as simple or intricate as you desire.

Mix It Up If You Want!
Finally, you can always mix and match hard and soft window treatments to achieve a wonderful look for your windows. Mixing the two is encouraged and easily doable.

The combination of hard and soft window treatments in this living room is divine! I love how the window is framed out by these earthy tones and textures.

Many times when mixed, the soft treatment stands out while the hard treatment is subtle. For instance, in the living room picture above there is a silhouette shade with the panels that is difficult to see. Still, it exists to control light as the panels are not intended to move (although they can). In other examples of hard and soft window treatments, the hard treatment may stand out with a color or pattern and the soft treatment may be a simple light sheer or other non-competitive fabric that frames the beauty of the hard treatment. The possibilities are really endless when it comes to window treatments!

Here are a few more window treatment designs…

Silks cas....

Be bold: These blue silk panels create a formally elegant space and stand out nicely against the neutral wall color.

Be Light: These sheers are soft, bright and peaceful in this feminine space inspired by the movie "Legally Blonde".

Be Fun: Cute polka dot roman shades in a young girl's room add pattern and visual interest to a youthful bedroom.

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