"One of the quickest, simplest and most affordable ways to change the whole look and feel of a room is to change the window treatments. Wallpaper, fresh paint, or new furniture will, of course, nicely do that too. But changing the window treatments is something you can do yourself in no time at all, and the visual rewards are immediate. And when you work with ready-made curtains, it’s a snap to personally create the feeling you want in a room.
“There’s nothing like fabric at the window to soften the angular lines of a window, to reduce the noise level in a room, or to frame, filter or control the light entering a room from outdoors,” says Jane Fitzpatrick, founder of Country Curtains. And with today’s choices in ready-made window treatment styles, colors and fabrics, there’s no end to the different looks you can create.
If you prefer to have the focus of your room be away from the windows, and toward, for example, your furniture, or a colorful rug or wall hanging, the obvious choice for the window is a natural or neutral color, and a relatively simple style. Even a simple style, however, can be graceful and pleasing. Plain curtains can be tied back in the middle, down low or up high, depending what looks best to you.
Some people prefer more of the room focus to be on the windows, to complement or contrast with neutral color in their furnishings, or to emphasize a view out the window. In this case, perhaps more color or a bolder style in the window treatments is called for. Layering a top treatment over a curtain or a sheer, for example, definitely makes more of a statement at the window.
Colors in window treatments always play an important role in your overall decorating scheme. “It’s common today to mix naturals and whites, or prints, stripes and solid colors,”notes Fitzpatrick. Warm shades of reds, yellows, and pinks will add life to a quiet room. Cool colors — gray, white or blue — are restful tones. Greens and browns are pleasing earth tones. The key is to pick colors that make you feel good, and that coordinate with or complement the other colors in your room.
An easy way to help decide what colors or fabrics will work well in your room is to buy a half-yard of fabric, and live with it for a while. Place it at your window; step back, or even across the room and notice how distance influences the appearance of the print, pattern or color. Notice how the color and texture changes the mood in your room. Also observe the mood and effect created in the daylight and how it changes at night when illuminated by the lamps in your room. Use this technique to choose something you enjoy.
Curtain length is yet another factor to consider. Longer curtains will visually lengthen a window and add perceived height to a room. Curtains to the floor generally lend a more formal feeling to a room. Shorter curtains, to the sill, to the apron, or between the apron and the floor, feel more casual. Holding curtains back with fabric or rope tiebacks, or with holdback hardware, can visually widen a window.
Then there’s the issue of light control. To soften and filter the incoming light, laces or sheers produce a wonderful effect, and lend themselves nicely to layering. To block out the light, consider a lined or insulated curtain, or a fabric shade. The latter choices will also afford privacy when you want it, and allow you to let in lots of light when you want that."