The Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing Window Treatments, According to Our Expert Designers

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Window treatments have a tall order to fill with all of the reasons we need them in our homes and businesses. Window coverings will keep the sun, heat, and glare out of your indoor spaces to be a more comfortable temperature in the summer months. This also translates into energy efficiency in your home or commercial space. In addition, you won’t need to use as much air conditioning to keep your inside areas cool, which will significantly lower your utility bills. Window treatments of all types should also be functional–meaning that you can open and close them to adjust the heat and sun gain and see outside. Some forms of window treatments are more versatile because they have louvers or slats to change up and down and deflect the sunlight while allowing it into your home or business. Window treatments also give you privacy in your home or business when they are closed.

Different Types of Window Coverings

There are many different versions of window coverings to beautify your home and satisfy all of your needs at the same time.


Curtains are made of a fabric of some sort; most curtains are a lighter weight of material than drapes. The primary type of curtains hang from a curtain rod placed over the window, and they may be light and flowing or a lacey design. Most often, you will find curtains in pairs that each open to the side of the window to let in light. They may be secured with tiebacks to keep them from blowing when the windows are open on a nice day. Curtains are unlined, and they do filter out some light. However, they are generally not room darkening. The beauty of curtains is that you can choose from tons of different types, colors, and patterns of fabrics and weights to make them very versatile.


As they are often called, drapes or drapery panels appear much the same as curtains, except they are made from thicker fabric and usually have a lining on the rear to block out the maximum amount of sunlight, heat, and glare. Drapes are hung from a drapery rod above a window. Drapes are a much more formal window covering than lightweight curtains, and often they are ceiling to floor in length to make your rooms and windows look even larger than they are.


Modern shades are also made from fabric, as curtains and drapes are. Instead of having two panels that open outward, the shade lifts upward to open it. You can adjust it to any height you want to get the amount of sunlight in an area. You have several styles of shades from which to choose. The flat Roman shade is classic and beautiful in its design. It appears like a flat sheet of fabric when it’s down, and when raised, it makes neat folds at the top of your window. Hobbled Roman shades or soft fold shades show folds when they are down and when they are up to add extra interest to any window. Roller shades look much like a Roman shade when they are down. Instead of making folds at the top when it’s raised, roller shades have a mechanism at the top, and the fabric rolls up onto it. Shades are mounted inside of a window frame for a crisp and tidy appearance.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing Window Treatments

There are several do’s and don’ts when it comes to choosing window treatments. You should keep these items in mind when making your decisions on your window coverings.

Do Hang Curtains and Drapes High and Wide

You make any space look larger and grander when your drapery rods for curtains and drapes are above the window frame or at ceiling height. Extending your drapery rods out 3 to 6 inches wider than the window on both sides will give you the maximum effect.

Do Layer Window Treatments

Layered window treatments have a professional appeal in any room, and it creates a designer focal point and adds extra insulation to your windows. Using a lighter-weight fabric next to the window and a thicker drapery fabric on top gives you great functionality. You can close both sets in the late afternoon to block out the sun or open the heavier one for filtered light in the early morning and have a view of your beautiful landscape. The same idea works for using a shade for your base layer and then adding a patterned drape or curtain on the front of it.

Do Take Curtains and Drapes to the Floor

Curtains and drapes that end at a windowsill make it appear as if you are cutting your window off at the knees–if you will. It would be best if you had curtains and drapes at length to slightly kiss the floor or make a dramatic puddle on the floor or have them hover a half-inch above the floor. The rule of thumb is that the longer the fabric is, the more formal the look is.

Do Consider Curb Appeal

If you decide on a bright solid color drapery or curtain for a child’s room or a home office, you should add a neutral color liner to the back. From the road, if someone looks at your house and sees bright red draperies staring at them, it can be a bit of a shock. The neutral color liner will tone down the colors that are seen from outside your home.

Do Play with Patterns

Combining a solid color window treatment and layering it with a pattern looks extremely lovely in any window of your home. It’s easiest to choose the solid color first in, say, a sheer and layer the design with a coordinating color on top.

Do Experiment with Trim

You can choose from literally thousands of types and colors of trim to add to drapery and curtains as well as shades. Your choice of trim can take your design over the top. It can be a sophisticated appearance or a playful appearance depending on what look you are going for. In addition, if you have tiebacks on your curtains or drapery panels, you can echo the trim on them to tie in your window even better.

Don’t Assume One Size Fits All

There are no actual standard-size windows, so big box store curtains will not fit right and will look sloppy. It’s best to use a professional custom designer to make sure you get the best products and that they will be a perfect fit. Designers can even use a program on a laptop to picture your windows and then add the window coverings you choose to show you exactly what your finished product will look like.

Don’t Opt For a Different Look in Each Room

When moving from one room to another, you should have cohesiveness for feelings of comfort and ease in your home. Not all the window treatments need to be identical to each other, but they should complement each other simultaneously. For example, you may decide to use the first layer next to the window as a shade and repeat using shades on the other windows with different fabric curtains or drapes on top.

Don’t Use Floor Length Curtains or Drapes in the Kitchen or Bathroom

Floor-length curtains and drapes don’t work well in areas with a splash zone–meaning water, grease, or food can come in contact with them. These areas generally have hard floors of some type to make them easier to clean, but pooling curtains or drapes would get wet every time you wash them.

Don’t Ignore Your Home Decor

When you are choosing new window treatments, make sure that you consider your home decor in each room. For example, you may have some more formal spaces, such as a formal dining room or a formal living room. In these rooms, your window coverings of choice should be proper as well. Almost any window treatment can be customized to fit the exact style of decor in every room and look perfect and fitting.

Benefits of Choosing an Expert Designer

When you choose a professional and experienced designer for your window treatments, you have made a great decision to have an expert evaluate your home and find the perfect window coverings. Designers also have access to thousands of fabric, trims, and drapery rods that most people don’t–and all of these products are of the highest quality. This means that you won’t need to replace your window treatments very often, and they will always be in style too. Our expert team at Amy Wolff Interiors is here to help you with every aspect of your window coverings. Call us today for a consultation so you can take your windows to a new level.

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