Tackling the Windows – Ideas and Inspirations
As you may have read in my very first blog post for Calico, I used bed sheets as curtains in my very first NYC apartment. This was not really a great look, nor was it practical – our bedroom windows were very drafty. So six months later, I sewed a pair of simple window panels from a length of coral velvet I bought on sale. Halfway through this project, I realized I did not have enough fabric for both windows, so I cut the yardage in half and went shopping again for more velvet. Of course, I was unable to locate that exact same color again, and ended up sewing a 3-foot border of burgundy velvet on the bottom of each curtain. I inadvertently tapped into the color-blocking trend!
Many (re)decorating projects seem to gravitate towards window treatments, and it's easy to understand why. They are an opportunity to highlight a room's architecture and frame a view – or obscure the fact that there isn't much of a view at all. They are a chance to celebrate natural light by filtering it through a pretty sheer or a way to block out said light all together when needed. Window treatments keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But more than anything, I feel they are an opportunity to truly complete a room by adding both a soft layer of texture and color, and choosing a beautiful fabric and construction. These are just a few ways to personify your style, whether it be opulent and exotic, crisp and simple, light and airy or complex and layered.
Never has the importance of a fabric's drape or “hand” struck me more than when I visited Venice for the first time and saw the heavy linen hangings in the galleries surrounding the Pizza San Marco: sculptural, monumental and timeless.
I highly recommend gathering stacks of inspiration images - paper or digital (hello Pinterest!) - to prepare for a window (re)decorating project. It's crucial to figure out what you like – and don't like – as there are so many options out there, and your mood board will help you explore and explain your ideas. Since my misguided decorating attempts in that very first apartment, I have collected many more window ideas into my scrapbooks, and here are some favorites:
The bold horizontal stripes in this country cottage work well with the strong window architecture, and the fresh color palette gives this cabin-in-the-woods a jolt of energy and fun. Happy campers guaranteed!
Roman shades offer a tailored, timeless look, perfect for smaller window such as this one. Outlining the shade with a brightly colored border adds a custom touch that looks like a million bucks.
It's hard to believe that legendary decorator Dorothy Draper's designs for the Greenbrier resort are more than 50 years old. They remain an absolute highlight of American interior design, and a constant source of inspiration. Draper – really, could she have had a better last name? – was a genius when it came to bold and innovative use of color and pattern; the peach and blue palette of this room is unforgettable.
Not all rooms require such a feminine touch though. Here's proof that simple and masculine does not have to mean boring. The secret is in the sophisticated combination of tonal colors and contrasting textures.
Once you have found the fabric of your dreams, do not skimp on either fullness or height. A classic decorating trick is to hang the curtains higher than the top of the actual windows, as it will draw the eye upward and make the room seem larger. Think about the bottom edge too; you may prefer the fabric just “kissing” the floor, or opt for a more dramatic “puddling” effect.
Ideas can be found beyond photographs. This 19th century French rendering is hugely inspirational to me, as it shows a beautifully proportioned swag, amazing use of trims and tassels, and perfectly appropriate hardware – the jewelry of the room so to speak.
Last but not least, take all your thoughts, ideas, pictures, sketches and questions to your local Calico store because that's where the fun really starts. Your design consultant will expertly guide you through both the creative and the practical process of creating the window treatments that are perfect for you. Enjoy!