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SHEATS: Make sure you're treating your windows right

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Jeff-Sheats-InteriorsIf you are moving into a new home or have been in your home for many years, your window treatments say a lot about your decorating style.

Operational long drapery panels are still an elegant choice for any room, but have been updated today down to a bare bones blind with a top treatment. There are several great reasons to treat a window as well as endless design possibilities.

Why treat a window?

Well designed window treatments can provide a multitude of benefits including:

• prevent fading from UV rays

• light control

• privacy

• insulation

• noise reduction

• marketability of your home

• aesthetics.

Dress in layers

An effective window treatment is a layered effect—exactly like you layer your clothing. Just as you would not wear a heavy winter jacket with summer shorts, you want to coordinate window treatment layers carefully. Heavy, formal, long, wool drapery panels would not coordinate well with a micro-metal blind behind them.

Perhaps the most important layer many window treatments start with today is a UV protection layer. This can be incorporated in the glass in modern homes, or added to the glass in older homes using sophisticated film technologies. UV protection in all climates is critical to protecting your interior finish investments. Hardwood floors, area rugs, furnishings, textiles, pianos, cabinetry and more are all subject to quick and severe UV fading and damage, which is rarely covered under any warranty from any manufacturer.

Carol Hart of Timeless Designs, a to-the-trade-only drapery workroom in Indianapolis, says UV window protection has changed window-treatments strategy.

“Sheers used to be the go-to first layer of a well designed window,” she says. “The sheer allowed some natural light to filter through, acted as a UV barrier and created a privacy screen during daylight hours. But sheers block gorgeous views. Now, with the advent of UV treatments as a first layer, a second and final functional layer like roman shades or long draperies is trending in importance.”

Some popular multi-layer window treatments today include:

• Bamboo or matchstick blinds with drapery panels

• Roller shades with a fabric valance or cornice

• Wood blinds with a top or long treatment

• Shutters with drapery panels

• Cellular shades with stationary fabric panels.

Blackout and privacy designs

Blackout treatments can be specified to control natural light for sleeping, a consideration when children are napping. Darkness triggers melatonin release in the brain, and the lack of natural light control in sleeping spaces can disturb our sleep cycle. It can be difficult to get 100-percent darkness from a window treatment because light tends to filter around edges. Blackout back linings on drapery treatments are cost-effective and go a long way toward this goal, but a professional experienced in window treatment design can also assist with total blackout.

Privacy is another consideration when treating any window. Most everyone desires at least some privacy in bedrooms. Tinted window film can provide much privacy, but it darkens the views during the daytime. Many simple under-treatments such as blinds and cellular shades can be effective to create privacy screens. The joy of this technique is they can be raised during the daytime to provide total light and clear views. Most cellular shade producers offer blackout fabrics as well.

Conserve energy

Many new insulating window treatments are now becoming available to the consumer. Even when carefully weather-stripped, caulked and equipped with a tight-fitting window, windows suffer heat loss that can account for 10 percent to 30 percent of your total heating bill.

Adding layers to your windows will most certainly increase your comfort and obtain some energy cost savings. You can significantly minimize heat loss by providing a seal on all edges of a window treatment. Cornices work very well to seal the top of a window. Draperies can be sealed on the wall edges and floor.

Besides energy savings, an added benefit of window treatments is the acoustical properties they posses. Sound transmissions can be reduced, making a more peaceful home environment for everyone to enjoy.

Gorgeous windows sell

Most window treatments are a personal preference specified by the interior designer or homeowner and rarely add to a home’s sale price. However, window treatments can attract or repel a buyer.

“Window treatments are typically considered personal property during a home appraisal,” says Karen Feeney-Parker, a real estate appraiser in Indianapolis. “But, if you invest in a costly and large whole-house package of plantation shutters or automated shading systems as an example, you should present a copy of the invoice to the appraiser. To add value on an appraisal for these items would completely depend on comparable sales in your area.”

Aesthetic trends

Today’s window treatment design trends show a movement towards simplicity and minimalism. Floor length, long operational draperies and roman shades continue to be a first choice for consumers who want a custom, simple and classic look that functions in just about any room.

Specifying the right textile for a decorative window treatment is still a huge opportunity to create the look and function. Silk remains a popular choice but must have the correct inner and back linings applied so it drapes beautifully and is UV-protected.

Today’s draperies are not only about fabulous fabrics, but also about the hardware as well. Hardware comes in many shades and forms made of everything from wood to bamboo poles, to stainless steel wires or iron tubes. Popular finials that cap the ends of rods are much more minimal today, including simple ball finials or flat caps.

Grommet drapery panels on simple steel rods create a sharp contemporary look. The main issue with grommet panels is they tend to bind on the rod when traversed and work much better for stationary looks.

Matchstick blinds made of interesting materials like bamboo, fruitwood or even synthetic materials remain popular. Automated shading systems are also trending in importance. For that hard-to-reach window, a shade can be operated with a handheld remote control. You can also design entire homes with systems that are integrated to measure sunlight and automatically close to save energy and UV damage—high tech indeed.•

__________

Sheats is the principal Interior designer of Jeff Sheats Designs Inc., a high-end residential interior design firm based in Indianapolis. Views expressed here are the writer’s.

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