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Best Dressed Windows

Dress in Layers...When it Comes to Window Treatments

Chatting with interior designer Frances Herrera the morning after the Annual Academy Awards got me thinking about what makes a good-looking window treatment. Herrera advises that great window treatments are all about layering. The New York City-based designer went on to talk about sheers, shades, drapery, banding, boxes and more. Not that you need all of those elements, but certainly a combination of a few is striking.

RED CARPET DESIGN: Sort of like, say, Gwyneth Paltrow's Academy Awards ensemble. Had designer Tom Ford not paired the creamy, form-fitting dress with a "layer" of cape or had Paltrow skipped the several-inches-wide, diamond-encrusted cuff and large double-hoop ring, the award presenter's look would have been as exciting as a window with plain wood blinds sans a cornice or side panels. Sophistication would have gone, well, out the window.

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Photo Credit: Ann Hu Haute Joaoliere

Sounding somewhat like a fashion stylist (not surprising - Herrera's grandmother was in the fashion industry; she recalls many hours helping Grandma with cutting, ironing, and discussing fabrics and colors), Herrera shares: "My favorite way to dress windows is with layering. Just using one treatment - like putting up wood blinds or a solar shade - doesn't make a room soft, sophisticated, rich or elegant. That's a pet peeve of mine."

Herrera suggests that one layer should offer privacy (a way to control or block light), another should feature drapery or sheers, and there can also be a valance or cornice. She's also crazy about detail, especially when it comes to patterns. Take, for example, a master bedroom recently completed by Herrera. Its four windows feature sheers with a swirl-motif embroidery, "which adds softness, but is still dramatic and contemporary." That was layered with silver drapery boasting "a chunky amethyst banding." The banding, like Paltrow's jewelry, adds what Herrera says is "extra oomph and elegance."

Here, Herrera's Tips for Well-Dressed Windows

  • ADD WARMTH "Wood blinds or shutters in, say, an office or media room can make the room feel cold or too rigid. Add an upholstered cornice, which introduces fabric and pattern. Or add stationary, decorative panels on each side, which can enliven the space and also are great for small spaces, as they give the illusion of a bigger room."
  • WORDLY OPTIONS Consider new patterns. "I'm excited that we have more options with patterns now, like the trellis pattern or ethnic looks or, say, Ikat. Even embroidery is so much more accessible. The fabric industry is changing in the United States; we are getting amazing European textiles." As for solar shades, Herrera is happy to say adios to the former selection, as in "boring and usually white, cream or maybe a gray. Now they're offering designs and patterns, very fashion forward. Layer solar shades to convey elegance."
  • A PATTERN EMERGES For kids' rooms, consider window treatment patterns as your jumping off point for the rest of the space. "I'll design a whole room around window treatments."
  • PERFECT FOR PRIVACY "Kids' bedrooms need privacy, especially if they are ground level. Consider using top-down, bottom-up treatments. That way you can have the light, but don't need to have it be completely open." These types of treatments also come in handy in high-rises where buildings are close together. "You can have your light, but don't have to look at an ugly building." Herrera says these are great in bathrooms, too.

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These photos, courtesy of Frances Herrera, show roller shades that provide privacy layered with drapery panels. The children's room, features blackout shades, a must-have for all young kids, says Herrera.

Frances Herrera shopped our collection and found several fabrics that would make great drapery panels or roman shades and valances. Here are her favorite picks.

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Megan Swoyer - Megan Swoyer is a Midwest-based lifestyle editor and writer whose work appears in Michigan Blue magazine, Sherwin-Williams', the Somerset Collection annual holiday book, Detroit Home magazine, Country's Best Cabins magazine, Shore magazine, and other print and online publications.


March 12, 2012

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