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June 3, 2011 > Real Rooms For Real People

Real Rooms For Real People

Important Considerations for Covering your Windows

If you have not purchased window treatments in awhile, you will be amazed at the selection. There are beautiful wood blinds in rich finishes and textures, cellular shades in almost every color of the rainbow, and new choices for sliding glass doors. With advances in technology, you can now get dust-resistant fabrics, child-safe features, even motorized shades. With so many options, where do you begin?

Begin by evaluating your rooms. Is privacy an issue? Do you have a beautiful view you'd like to accentuate or an unattractive view you'd like to downplay? Is energy efficiency a consideration? If you have old, drafty windows, or several uncovered windows, you may be negatively impacting your energy bills or letting in damaging UV rays. In a TV or computer room, you may need a window covering that prevents glare on the screens. In a bathroom, window treatments need to be moisture resistant. And in a bedroom, privacy is a primary factor. Knowing what your needs are will help you narrow down some of your choices.

Energy efficiency is an important consideration with north-facing windows. These windows offer consistent light but cold exposure during the day. An uncovered single-pane window has an R-value of about 1.75 (R-value is a measurement of a product's ability to resist heat loss.) The higher the R-value, the less heat will be lost through your window. You can increase the R-value of your window by selecting energy-efficient window treatments. This extra layer of insulation can help save money on your energy bill.

East-facing windows provide morning sunlight and warm, bright light during the day. For these windows, consider window treatments that block ultraviolet sunrays. Just as sunscreen helps protect our skin from UV rays, window treatments can help protect upholstered furniture, wood floors, carpeting and artwork from the damaging effects of the sun.

South-facing windows let in good, warm light all year round. Consider light-diffusing treatments to protect your furnishings. Afternoon sun, the hottest light of the day, enters through west-facing windows. You may need a combination of treatments on these windows-light-diffusing treatments along with an extra layer to provide extra insulation and protection.

Window treatments can blend into the background or be the main focus of the room. An art collector, for instance, would want her art to stand out as the main design element. In that case, she would choose neutral window treatments to blend with the wall color. On the other hand, perhaps you'd like your window treatments to make a statement in your room. Picture gorgeous swags and draperies in rich silk fabric in a traditional living room or a charming awning valance in a country kitchen.

In contemporary rooms with clean, modern lines, you may opt for just a shade or blinds mounted inside your window casing. No fabric top treatment may be necessary. In more formal, traditional rooms, however, a window might look bare with just the shade or blind. Fabric draperies and valances will complete the look.

Woven wood blinds (such as bamboo shades) can lend a casual, rustic look, while shutters provide a classic, timeless look to a room. Balloon shades can give a bedroom a soft, feminine feel, while wood blinds look wonderful in a masculine den or library. With so many options available today, selecting window coverings can be a daunting task. However with thoughtful planning, you can select the perfect window treatments for your home.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local interior designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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