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Windows form the shell of a room along with the floors, walls and ceilings. They can be treated simply to blend unobtrusively into the background, or they can be a decorating opportunity for setting the room's mood and style. Whether you treat windows as a background element or as focal point, always remember that the purpose of a window is to provide light and air. Before you consider the wide range of design possibilities, analyze the functional aspects of the window and determine exactly what you want the window treatment to do.

Several functional issues must be addressed before you consider styles, fabrics and colors. If you spend time considering these aspects, you will save time and frustration later. The following questions will help determine your functional needs:

  • What degree of privacy do you need?
  • What is the exposure of the room (north, south, east, west)?
  • Do you need the window for ventilation?
  • How much light control do you want?
  • Do you want to maintain the view?
  • Is energy efficiency a concern?
  • Do you want easy access to the window for cleaning?
  • Are there any interfering factors such as security buttons, window cranks, window air conditioners, baseboard heaters, etc.?
  • Are there light switches or wall sockets that need to be considered?
  • Are there any interfering architectural features such as crown moldings, beams, chair rails, built-in cabinets, etc.?
  • Is the window located close to a corner of the room so that extension of the treatment may be prohibited or operation of a traverse treatment limited?
  • Is there a combination of doors and windows in the room that needs to be treated? Is the door used frequently?
  • What about cleaning and maintenance of the treatment itself?
  • Will children be in the room?
  • Will pets be in the room?
One of the key advantages of asking these questions is that you can begin to narrow down the possibilities of window fashions to those that are most appropriate for the situation.

Once you have fully considered the functional requirements, you can begin to look at designs that meet the decorative needs of the window and room as a whole. A well-designed window fashion suits not only the window but also the room. It harmonizes with the rest of the room and adds to the sense of unity. It is in scale with the room and its furnishings and is well-proportioned. To determine the design of the treatments, consider the following:

  • Do you prefer a particular decorating style?
  • What degree of  formality do you want?
  • What is the overall mood you want to achieve?

Practical considerations

  • What is the size of the room itself?
  • How many windows are there? Are all the windows in the room the same size and shape?
  • Are the windows in scale with the room and its furnishings?
  • Are the window proportions pleasing, or should they be altered with the window treatment?
  • Should the windows play a starring role or be a background element?
  • What other furnishings (furniture, wallcovering, flooring, accessories) will be in the room?
  • What colors, patterns and textures are used in the room?
  • What can/should the window fashions contribute to the decorating scheme (achieve better balance, repeat lines and/or colors to add to rhythm, unify other elements, provide a focal point for an otherwise uninspiring room, etc.)?

The answers to these questions narrow your window fashion choices further as you now have information about both your functional and decorative needs.

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