Luxury window treatment. I call them so, as you are trying to cut no corner and just do it the Best way possible.
Residential Interiors. First of all our blog concentrates on Residential Interiors. Contract and exterior window treatments are another subject.
Window treatments, drapes, shades and sheers, are mainly used to reduce the glare from sunlight and for privacy during the day, and to darken rooms for a better sleep at night, as well as for home theaters and Blackouts.
“Skin. Drapery or window treatments are like a “Skin” to Architecture. Thin layers of material to screen. Topless is not always best. You don’t need to hide beauty but you might need protection. In garments this need created styles for people’s wear as well as fashion. They are the same effects in Interiors, it confirms or creates a Style”. Plus it also Shelters.
If you buy a New home, most likely it won’t be sold to you with window treatments.
It might have a wonderful Architecture or great views that you would like to enjoy, but there might be times during the day, depending on the location and orientation of the house, which might have too much exposure to the sun rays. You need to protect your eyes, as well as your floors and furniture against too much sun exposure and additional insulation might be desired too.
So there are so many reasons to do something to the windows. Privacy is another one too. Based on your exposure to others, you might want to control your privacy.
If you buy a home that someone has been living in before, there you might be covered if they happen to include the treatments in the sale, specially if they are your taste and they function for what is required. If however you don’t like the window treatment style, of the fabrics are worn or outdated, you might want to do something about it. Perhaps replace them. If so lean on an Interior designer who will make it easier and help you avoid some mistakes. In the end the cost should be comparatively less by doing so too.
As an Architect by training and being esthetically less inclined to cover windows and while essentially I’m a minimalist. Yet in an Interior Design project, in addition to doing the shades for needs to control glare or blackout, you can also use them to add warmth and style into a room or a home too.
Historically window covering fabric existed way before glass (Fabrics came before glass), mainly to protect against the wind and temperature from the exterior or to retain the interior heat from people and fireplaces, as there was no glass on window yet.
Architects love freedom and therefore openness, and we tend not to plan or specify Residential high end window treatments. These are items that are replaceable and usually more related to Interior Design.
In Architecture exterior shading devices or built-in louvers, breeze soleil and so, are part of Architectural Styling and Function, while buildings should always provide consistency in the materials and colors of the window’s external treatment or main shade, so the building continues to look beautiful and coherent from the outside.
In Residential Design each house and window has a best treatment and fabric solution. While choosing a fabric, function and style considerations must be made.
We just completed these sheers at a home in Larkspur, California (Marin County, San Francisco Bay). We were enagged only in the public spaces of the house, Kitchen Family room, Dining Room, Living room and Foyer. The house was very nice a good personality but most of the side elevation faced another home with 22 windows (client counted them) facing this one. There was a sense of beeing exxposed and no privacy, (see before picture), so I immediately propossed a sheer. Our rooms encompased the entire Ground floor or main part of the house. Together with the clients we choose a sheers fabric and a border fabric, and specified the design and function. Consistency, bright and light weight privacy control window treatments. 14 window treatments on 4 elevations.
We list and describe below functions window coverings help solve best:
Then we talk about other considerations regarding windows too.
Our approach to these issues is shown in the attached photos of our Interior Design projects. Solutions will be different for each project and budget, as well as for each designer and client.
You don’t want people seeing you inside your home. Dressed or undressed. You don’t want your privacy intruded on, or you don’t want the need to engage. So you block the window. However if you simply block the Window, you might lose light, and view.
At “La Casa del Alamo”, in Alamo CA. Master bedroom bay window.
Two fabrics are used, one for the valance, panels and bottom-up motorized roman blackouts. A second sheer fabric is used in the top-down motorized shades. You raise your dense sheer in this case. It allows light while you can see above it too. Or you drop the top romans and achieve almost total blackout. The panels in between the roman sheer and shade are stationery for continuity, warmth and Decor.
Incline Village, NV
The window above inside this closet has 3 treatments:
You don’t want to lose your light nor your view. Well you use a sheer, a fabric with a degree of transparency. That degree of transparency grades the light that comes in, while the more of it you block, the less “View” you will enjoy. With a less dense more open fabric you get more view and more sun too.
Yacht Club Pent-House in Puerto Aventuras, MX. Sheer for sun protection while you enjoy the view. On the right blackout drape and valance in Union Linen Champagne.
Sheer drapes with solid pleated valance above. View Hacienda on the Beach.
Or you want no light, or almost no light so you use a solid or blackout to block the sun as much as you can.
This vanity and dressing area are open to the Master Bedroom, so a blackout was needed in the window above the vanity, to complete the bedroom’s blackout. View Hacienda on the Beach.
Just like Art on a wall, paint and wallpaper, you can upholster a wall, or dress a window. The colors, and style will work for an important part of the décor. There are thousands of fabrics, textures and materials to play with, as well as combinations of them.
Matching the mint or sage color in the love seat and room décor the shades above show three fabrics. Striped silk on bowed valance, and motorized drapes. A solid trim or banding on edge and pleats, and a sheer in the roman. At Casa del Alamo, Alamo, Contra Costa, California.
Same fabrics at the Breakfast nook.
Same fabric at the Dining Room Window
Energy and Sound. It turns out that fabric in many ways also insulates temperature and sound. So depending on your particular needs, designs and fabrics will play a more important role. This you don’t see, you feel.
We highly recommend that in addition to thinking about window coverings you consider the type or UV reflection your glass provides. If none at all or it is too low, add window film that does, so in turn you also protect your fabrics, floor and furniture from discoloration or even worse from deterioration. Fabrics can and will pulverize with time
Fabric window treatments will definitely help protect your wood floor and your furniture from changing color or discoloration.
Glare. Who wants to have their eyes hurt or be uncomfortable when looking outside.
Some fabrics offer a reflective side facing the outdoor so they actually reflect sunlight and keep a cooler interior temperature.
You want to make sure people don’t know you are home, especially those looking for clues to get in to your home. Window coverings provide a degree of safety in this way too. Here strategic issues are important too. Some fabrics, even sheers have a reflecting exterior side while the interior is more decorative.
Not all fabrics are good for window treatments. Most require a degree of softens. As you know the Industry dives their fabrics for Interior Design into Upholstery and Window treatments, while some can be used for either.
Fabrics meant to provide a degree of transparency. A sheer fabric or a soft hanging fabric will work for them.
I call them solid for lack of a better term. The point is a higher degree of threads or denser material oposite to the shear much less open for a minor degree of transparency. Drapery or window treatment fabrics that are not sheers, are usually lined so that they together with the main fabric provide a degree of light control. If they are facing the sun, the linning fabric does the work of protecting the main fabric. Even so with a solid fabric and the backing light transmission happens when direct light is applied unless the linning fabric used is a Black out fabric.
So fabrics have to be selected accordingly. See fabric lines we use below.
Fabric Style. Fabric is like a skin, or a shirt.
“Automation. We motorize most of our window treatments, for continuous use or for considerable weight”.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is adding window treatments they don’t operate regularly or which they stop operating altogether. If they are too heavy, or you have too many windows and treatments, motorize them all for comfort. Press the button twice a day only.
Convenience is an issue we always consider. That is why we have been specifying Automation or Motorization for window treatments for over 25 years.
Particularly in windows facing west, or the Ocean the sun can be overwhelming to both on your eyes and on the materials in the house. People install window treatments, and don’t activate them regularly. It is understandable, you forget, one more thing to do, and so on. So you lose some of your benefits, your valuable views or even worse you hurt your eyes.
While if you have many windows it is the same problem by many times. We don’t blame you. Motorization is not expensive and it is a necessity for homes of a certain size, or windows of a certain size where the window covering is too heavy to lift manually.
The first reaction from clients who have not lived with motorized shades, is no please, do spend… Another expense and complication.
The first thank you we usually get from our clients is always for having insisted in using motorization. Once converted you are not going back. We are currently working on a 12,000 sq.ft. home with about 100 window openings and about 100 motors as well, automation offers you also the option of closing a number of windows or all simultaneously. Imagine having to worry about 100 windows… Some windows will have two motors. One for the Blackout and one for the sheer (when there is a view). Small windows with no particular attraction, nor weight on the fabric, and no frequency of use have no motor.
At the Buena Vista Park Penthouse the great view consisted of 2 bay windows each with 3-4 glass panels. They all come down or up at the switch of a button. Each bay window set is motorized with a single motor. Buena Vista Deco Penthouse.
In contemporary interiors, we generally use two fabrics only. A sheer, to allow some view while protecting from direct light, particularly from the west, and a neutral solid, with a blackout backing for full control, the latter mainly in bedrooms. The image below shows a ceiling reveal. The reveal will serve as a Valance, or to partially conceal the shade’s stack when up.
Consistency. Even when we do a number of fabrics on a projects window treatments, if possible it helps to keep consistency on the “Sheer Fabric”.
Country Club highrise (view project). A single sheer fabric on motorized shades. On the left covering a 2 windows and middle column 30’ span x 12’ height, a single shade is used, you couldn’t possibly lift it manually. Ceiling pockets hide stack.
At the Polanco apartment on Campos Eliseos; top image the home office window corner needed sun protection, while we did want to see the green beyond. Manual treatments for the 2 corner small sheers, automated on the right larger and heavier ones in the living area below.
Recently in a Lake Tahoe Lodge at Incline Village, NV. we used 22 fabrics (plus trimmings) on window coverings. The vast amount of space and the Lodge style Architecture with stone and wood interiors, needed something to balance the mood. Add some Elegance, and dressing the large spaces. A minimalist look probably wouldn’t have worked here. Plus when the clients wish to show a richer variety. Four fabrics are used here. The patterned one on the Valance, the solid in the roman, the edge band at the ends, and in between the roman, and finally the sheer drapes. Also 2 trimmings were used on the Valances.
Tahoe Lodge at Incline Village, NV. Four fabric treatments in three functions. Valance main fabric, solid on edge and pleat. Motorized drapes in sheer fabric. Solid fabric on motorized roman shade, contrasts bands.
Tahoe Lodge at Incline Village, NV. . Two bedrooms. Young Man on left. Guest bedroom on right.
The young man’s bedroom has a curved Valance to reflect the arched window it is covering. When you raise the motorized roman into the pocket, the valance is all you see. The same fabric is carried into the Bench in the same direction as well as into the bed covering (not shown). A second solid fabric is used on the Valance. The welt around the valance is the striped fabric on the Bias.
The Guest bedroom on the Right. Both the Valance and the Roman Shade are in the same fabric, which has a texture and pattern. The valance in turn, has a waved top and is tailored with 3 pleats, while it has a fringe at the bottom for contrast and definition.
Silicon Valley Manor at Morgan Hill Taj.
The split level windows were treated with a double height pair of fixed panels in velour for color and warmth, and the motorized shades behind.
This end unit at the Hotel, faced another tower as well as the Ocean. We flipped the bed to the window side, and drape the window, never to be opened again (except for cleaning). It solves the privacy issue, and it add some warm and insulation behind the headboard.
Elevator lobby at “Villa on the Beach”. Here we did a glass enclosed elevator, wrap around by the staircase. The Main lobby on the left, and the powder room entrance on the right, each have a fixed fabric panel in the same fabric.
While the staircase has plantation shutters only. Shutter are placed in all windows facing the golf course and the side lots, however a secondary decorative treatment is used over the shutters of the Powder room end.
Her bathroom at the Master bedroom suite. Again Shutter facing the golf course, and fabric dressing the toilet with basin reflected. Please note the fabric mimics the wall tile. I don’t think they ever let the tieback off.
Fabrics are not always the best solution. We usually avoid them in most bathrooms.
Paris in San Francisco. Plantation shutters control both privacy and light, and you can get them wet too. View project
While we were designing a second project for a couple moving, we discovered we had a fabric salvaged from the first home. Because we were giving the wall a treatment (salvaged mirrored doors), we reused part of the fabric reupholstering the wall. Likewise at the end of the wall we created a drape with the same fabric, for the reason that a powder room door needed some privacy.
Wet Bar on a corner. At Buena Vista park Deco, San Francisco. This is a corner doorway if you would so it is perhaps decorative, however it adds privacy, sound insulation as well.
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