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What is the best interior window treatment for your space?

There are many interior window treatments available today. But what is the best option for your space? Perhaps because there are so many choices when it comes to window interior design, it can be difficult to make a decision. The answer lies in understanding your style goals.

Stylish Window Treatment

The primary reasons for incorporating interior window coverings in a space are privacy, light control and energy efficiency, but following closely is the aspect of aesthetics.

Interior window treatments are an important decorative feature that you should carefully consider when you do a room makeover. Each window treatment provides its own look and feel that can enhance or detract from the look of your finished project.

Let’s compare several interior window treatments to see what might work best in your space and then briefly examine some tips and tricks for making your window treatments a huge success.


I like to start with the basics. Regardless of whether or not you choose to pair them with curtains, shades are a must-have in most window interior design projects. They provide a means for regulating the amount of natural light entering your living space. And they are your secret weapon against would-be "peeping toms" (aka - the neighbors).

This is not about those bland, white, roller shades that you remember at grandma’s house - even these are available now in a variety of colors and with details like decorative trim and scalloped edges. There are so many other shade options available today.

• Roman shades are a simple and beautiful interior window treatment. They are available in almost any color and in an assortment of fabric types. Depending on pattern and trim details, roman shades work great in a wide variety of style settings - cottage, traditional, transitional and even contemporary. For best light control choose roman shades that have a layer of blackout lining.

• Natural shades such as the bamboo or “matchstick” variety offer an alternative to fabric and bring a rich level of texture to your space. They look great on their own or when paired with curtains in a layered effect.

• Horizontal, slatted shades encompass the world of venetian blinds that today are available in range of colors and materials such as aluminum, faux wood, bamboo and basswood. The horizontal lines create an attractive architectural element that looks best when the shade is mounted inside the window frame.

Horizontal shades are very classic, clean and work particularly well as a stand-alone solution. The metal variety looks good in a sleek, contemporary environment while the wood-toned versions are a great choice for a more traditional space.

Stylish Roman Shades

• Vertical blinds may offer a solution in some spaces especially if you’re interested in a more contemporary interior window covering. A sliding glass door that leads from the kitchen to the patio, for example, could benefit from this option.

• Cellular shades are so named because they are made of a cell-shaped, fabric. When you look at the side profile of a cellular shade it is reminiscent of a cell in a honeycomb. The fabric usually has a translucent quality that allows some natural light to filter through without sacrificing privacy. Some designs allow the top and bottom to be lowered independently providing you with the ultimate system of light and privacy control.

Fitted snugly within your window frame, a cellular shade has a clean, soft look that works with most any décor style. They can even be customized for arched windows. Many people choose cellular shades as a stand-alone window interior design solution.


Should you consider draperies as an interior window treatment option? Yes. Particularly if you want the benefits of a more sophisticated and layered look in your space.

Choose fabric that reflects the kind of atmosphere and style you want to suggest. For example, in a more elegant environment choose draperies made of refined fabrics such as silk taffeta or velvet. For a more casual look consider cotton or linen. For the best UV and light control choose draperies with a blackout lining included.

Stylish Window Draperies

Think about using sheers under your draperies for their light filtering and layering benefits. They further soften the look of the drapery panels and add an ethereal element to your interior window treatment. Sheers can also be a simple, solo solution particularly in a contemporary atmosphere where draperies may not provide the best look.

Choose a decorative curtain rod for your draperies. The most striking feature of a decorative rod in my view is the finial on either end of the rod. Finials are like the jewelry of a fine interior window treatment. Embrace it as an opportunity to impart a unique sense of style to your windows whether it be whimsical, classical or something completely unexpected.

Other Options

If you don’t want to do full draperies for whatever reason, there are some other interior window treatment options to consider:

• Topper - essentially a fabric valance that is mounted at the top of the window and combined with a shade underneath. A popular design in this category is the ‘balloon’ topper which has a puffed effect. This can look cute in traditional and cottage inspired interiors.

• Cornice – a decorative wooden framework that covers the very top portions of the window and juts forward several inches. It may consist of decorative molding or be scalloped and covered in fabric, for example. It can function as a type of valance over a window shade or even as an eye-catching crown for a set of draperies. Depending on its construction, a cornice can run the gamut from elegant to casual in style.

• Café Curtains – short curtains designed to cover only the bottom half of a window. This can provide privacy while simultaneously allowing light into the space from the upper part of the window. Café curtains look best in a very casual atmosphere.

• Shutters – an interior window treatment solution that is very decorative and textural. Shutters are typically mounted within the window frame. Some are single units that fit the entire width of the window while others are a set of two or more shutter panels, each swinging or folding in and out on its own. The nice thing about shutters is you can find options that look great in almost any style interior from rustic to elegant.

Tips & Tricks

In conclusion, here are some tips that I think will help maximize the results of your window interior design project:

• Run your draperies all the way to the floor for best effect. The exception would be if there is a heating element such as a radiator or baseboard heater below the window which could create a fire hazard if the curtains were in close proximity to it. If that’s the case I suggest choosing something other than draperies - perhaps roman shades, bamboo shades or shutters. Short curtains rarely look good.

• If you have nice window trim always mount your shades inside the window frame. This window interior design approach looks much more clean and tailored compared to an outside mount. Most shades can be ordered to the exact window size you need. For a quick and inexpensive solution, go to a home improvement store and have mini-blinds cut to the inside dimensions of your window on the spot at no extra charge.

• To create the appearance of a larger, more dramatic window that you actually have, mount your curtains somewhat wider than you typically would for the size of that window. I have found this to work well in my own experience.

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