Curtain Call: Choosing Window Treatments

A multitude of options makes choosing the right window treatment a challenge. We’ve called in the experts.

Panel Discussion Homeowners are embracing the clean lines of panel draperies. Pinch-pleated silk damask drapes designed by Metropolitan Window Fashions add elegance and grace to this formal living room.
Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Window Fashions

Window treatments can be the icing on the cake of any interior plan. They can dress a room up or down, provide insulation and privacy, block out light or let the sun shine in. They can be practical or fanciful, off the shelf or off-the-charts expensive.

“Window treatments are like eyeliner,” says interior designer Alicja Truesdale, whose Wayne-based firm specializes in custom window treatments. “They define a room.”

The options are endless. But your first decision is, ready-made or custom?

Ready-made window designs are available at big-box retailers and chain interior-decor stores like Pottery Barn and West Elm. Made to fit treatments are available through interior designers or independent stores such as Metropolitan Window Fashions, a family-run, full-service fabric, blinds and shades showroom in North Plainfield and Paramus. “Our business is custom decorating,” says owner Bruce Heyman, “and that’s an area where consumers seek a lot of help.”

The next big challenge is to sort through an array of styles. Here’s a primer:

Designers agree: Simple, clean lines are in. “There’s a definite resurgence of simplicity,” says Paul Ippolito, senior design consultant with Metropolitan. “We’re getting away from heavy swags and into streamlined looks.” This style generally consists of straight panel drapes flanking the window. A shade or blind is often added for privacy. “It’s a clean, layered look,” says Ippolito.

Many popular fabrics reflect a return to nature. “We are using lots of natural materials like cottons and linens and silks,” Ippolito continues. “Even the embellishments are natural and simpler, like stones and seashells.”

Some homeowners forgo drapes, opting instead for woven blinds and wood-slat shutters. “Blinds and shades have such versatility,” says Truesdale. “They provide privacy and light diffusion.”

Window treatments are more than a decorating decision; they have a job to do. Privacy is one function; light filtering another. Additionally, the proper window treatment can cut down on heating and cooling costs. Lined panel drapes are one such option. “The first layer does the work, the second layer does the decorating,” says Ippolito. Some designers, like Truesdale, recommend a third layer, called an inner lining, for increased insulation. “Inner lining is like a blanket,” she says.
Cellular shades are also popular. Hunter Douglas recently introduced a new design, the Duette Architella Trielle honeycomb shade, which has six fabric layers and five air pockets to trap cold air, according to Hunter Douglas vice president of merchandising Joe Jankoski. “This increases the energy efficiency of the product by 20 percent,” he says. And since the shades are backed with a neutral white fabric, they reflect heat in the summer. Another popular choice: custom hardwood shutters, which can be crafted to fit any window shape and can form a tight seal to keep rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter.


It’s no surprise that smart technology has entered the field. While motorized window treatments are nothing new, many can now be controlled remotely. Hunter Douglas, for instance, has programmable shades and blinds that can be operated with iPad and iPhone apps; an app for Android is anticipated soon. “It’s technology that’s still evolving,” says Ippolito.

Interior Designers: Paul Ippolito, senior decorating consultant, Metropolitan Window Fashions, Paramus; 201-689-6030; Alicja Truesdale, Alicja Truesdale Home, Wayne; 973-495-6462.
Window Treatments: Metropolitan Window Fashions, North Plainfield and Paramus; 877-722-1100; Hunter Douglas available at Metropolitan Window Fashions.

Have a challenging window treatment dilemna? Read some advice from Expert Lois Croce, design director at Metropolitan Window Fashions at Fabricland.

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