Hard or Soft Window Treatments – What’s the Difference

I have always said that window treatments add WOW to any room – often pulling the whole room together.  So it helps to know some basics.  

What is a Hard Treatment?

Hard treatments are factory-made window treatments such as wood blinds, shades, and shutters.  Hard treatments are not always hard (cellular shades or fabric-slat shades, for example).  

New styles of hard treatments are coming out all the time.  Most in Arizona are installed to control sunlight and to provide privacy or blackout.  Homeowners often choose a treatment because of aesthetics. However, we do need to choose a window covering that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. NO matter how pretty a window covering is – it stinks if it doesn’t solve your functional issues.

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Hard treatments are available as stock items found in home-improvement stores, online, or custom made to order – often locally by custom workrooms through a window treatment designer.  Custom window coverings can be made in any size and are more common due to the very large windows we have in the Scottsdale area.  

What is a Soft Treatment?

Any window covering sewn from fabric is considered a soft treatment.  Soft treatments are often used as decoration on top of hard treatments, but can also be used alone.  I am finding that draperies are becoming more and more popular again – like hard treatments, these offer sun control, privacy, and provide beauty!

Soft treatments can also be purchased “ready-made” from many stores. Custom treatments can be made to fit any window and will be completely unique – one of a kind.  Any fabric can be selected, and practically any style can be created.  Professional installation using custom hardware also adds to your distinctive look.

Common soft treatments include:

  • Swags and cascades
  • Shaped valances
  • Cornices
  • Draperies and panels

The uniqueness of your soft treatment depends on the fabric selection, style, size, and all your chosen details.  These can be made in many décor styles and are as unique as you are!

The Combination of Both

Combining both hard and soft treatments gives you a lovely professional appearance to any window. Layering can add more dimension and visual interest in any room to improve the overall aesthetics. For example, adding draperies to a window with blinds can add softens and a valance can add a nice pop of color or an interesting pattern to a hard treatment that you already have.

Drapery panels can be mounted in a manner to make your windows look even wider and Roman shades or roller shades can make your windows look taller. When these two are layered together, you can make your window a thing of beauty as a focal point in a room.

Layering treatments gives you the ultimate in functionality with light control. You can achieve both light filtering and room darkening when you use a combination of a woven wood shade and drapery panels.

Several types of window treatments offer room darkening features, however for a room to be completely dark; you need to layer your treatments. The ultimate in room darkening is achieved by using shutters, a blackout lined cornice, blackout lined drapes and a motorized blackout roller shade. This is one of the best solutions if you have large windows that are common in this area.

Up to 50% of a home’s cooling and heating can be lost through the windows. This fact makes layering treatments a energy efficient product. Plus, doubling up on treatments, gives you more functionality and personality. You can consider layering lined drapes with honeycomb shades for a shrinking energy bill year round.

The simple addition of a cornice can hide the head rails of your window treatments and give you the perfect designer touch in every room of your house.

A VERY popular option for 2020 is fabric designer roller shades!  We have some very unique fabrics and patterns – suitable for any design style, any room, any opacity from sheer to blackout, even wet rated for a shower area!  We also can take many fabrics and make custom roller shades!  These offer a clean look, practically no maintenance, and we’ve virtually eliminated unsightly strings with cordless options and affordable motorization.  Motorized versions have become much simpler, too.  No need to have an electrician wire through walls or to change batteries every 3 months. We now have very reliable rechargeable motors – simply plug in once a year to charge.  And these also work with popular personal assistants and phone apps!!!!