Feeling a bit like you are living in a fish bowl? If you asked your neighbors, would they be able to tell you what you had for dinner last night? You just might be in need of the perfect window treatment....
Now that we have determined that you do actually need window treatments, how do we begin sifting through the choices? Wood blinds, shutters, pleated shades, Vignettes, Silhouettes, or draperies? Phew! Let's walk through the options and see if we can figure out the best solution for your space!
Also known as: Old Reliable. Wood blinds are available in painted and stained finishes. With or without cloth tapes. They are easy to clean and long-lasting. One disadvantage is that if your blinds will be raised and lowered everyday (instead of just tilted, to open) the weight of the blinds can damage the mechanism over time. Wood blinds are available in a variety of price points, colors and textures. Many manufacturers have introduced options with more wood grain and stain variety, in recent years.
A perennial favorite in warm weather climates, shutters typically offer a larger-scale vane, which allows more visibility through the shutter when they are open. Shutters actually mount to the internal wood frame of the window, so they have to be carefully measured and are a custom installation. This increased labor makes shutters a more expensive alternative than wood blinds. In Northern climates where sunlight is at a premium in winter months, the structure of the shutters can actually decrease the amount of visible glass and subsequent light from your windows.
Pleated shades are great if you are looking to add to a small layer of insulation to your windows. Because of their honeycomb-style structure, they can actually help keep the elements out. Another advantage is that when the shades are drawn up, the "stack" space is really compact and does not stack down onto your window very far. In this designer's opinion, I think these are a choice best suited to bedrooms or a smaller-scale space. The nature and look of the honeycombs are smaller and appear out of place on larger windows, or in a larger volume of space, such as an open concept family room.
Technically, this a trade name by Hunter Douglas for their roman shade-style product. Available in a multitude of fabrics, you can select a privacy liner or a full, black-out liner. They are also available in a top-down or bottom-up option which works wonderfully if you would like to tailor your visibility from the street or neighbors.
Also a Hunter Douglas trade name, Silhouettes refer to a soft shade that has two layers of sheer fabric with fabric vanes in between, that act like "soft" blind. The Silhouettes combine the function of a sheer drape and a blind. When drawn up completely, the stack space is quite compact. When these type of shades are down, there is always a layer of sheer fabric between you and the window, which can be nice if you are looking for an additional layer of privacy. Offered in many fabrics and levels of opacity, a Silhouette can be tailored to your needs. Since the Hunter Douglas patent has expired on this product, more vendors now offer similar treatments.
Highly textured, these are a great way to add warmth and tone to a space and can become a design feature. Available without a lining, natural shades offer a soft, light-filtering. Available with privacy or blackout linings, natural shades can be tailored to fit your needs. Because of the natural materials in these shades, they can become heavy when used on large windows, and they do have a more significant "stack" when they are pulled all the way up to the top of the window.
Draperies offer the most options, as you may customize the fabric, treatment style and hardware. Draperies are particularly useful in a space were acoustics are an issue. Particularly in a space with large windows, big expanses of wood or other hard flooring, stone or brick, draperies can offer a little sound absorption. Anyone who has tried to talk on the phone in the same room where an NFL football game is playing at full tilt, your teenage son is commentating the same football game in place of John Madden and the microwave is running, knows that a little acoustical help can be a very good thing.