Good, Better, Best: 3 Ways to Dress a Window

We all have different needs, desires and budgets when it comes to any purchase we make, particularly with luxury items.

The above are all lovelies for sure, but the reality is, most of us are not driving a Porsche, will never wear Christian Lecroix - though, I must pause: ...can you stand that skirt detail? Starting my career in fashion and apparel, I literally skip a breath every time I look at it - and we probably will never even see Christopher Michael Shellis' diamond-studded sandals, let alone wear them.

I'm not sure about you, but I'm ok with that! I drive an SUV, don't have anywhere to go to wear the dress and at 5'10", with a size-11 foot, I'm pretty confident I wouldn't do those sandals justice, aesthetically or functionally. This does not mean I must forgo lovelies all together though. A good-looking car, beautiful dress and great shoes still fit in to my life, just from a different vantage and budget point.

Your home is much the same. Great design, home decor and window dressings have a definite element of luxury, in addition to their place in the functional+neccesity category. Too many times though, I see homeowners qualifying purchases of furniture, home accessories and window treatments in the luxury category only - aka, "I can push this off", causing them to do nothing.

Why is this so? I think it's because it's easy to fall to the thought, "who has the time?".  Purchasing window treatments, thinking about working with a designer or decorator, knowing where to buy quality furniture - let alone WHAT to buy and HOW to select pieces that will "play nice" together - are illusive to most. Because these are purchases that homeowners rarely make, occurring only once a decade for many [sadly]; people feel they just don't the time or energy to invest in making sure change happens.

The result: naked windows, or even worse, windows dressed for the sake of dressing them! Remember my window contest? That is what I'm talking about!

There are often two things needed when making any big investment: flexibility and compromise! Good design can be achieved within any budget but you have to understand at the start that - as with any investment worth making - some things may have to be put off, substituted or forgone completely.
When your looking at a new car and you ask if they can drop the payments, what happens? That's right, there goes the leather interior, the sunroof and the heated seats.  You can still get a great car though, you just have to compromise.
The same is true for your window treatments. You may already know what you want but you just don't feel you can get there, on your own. The most common thing I hear from clients is that they, "have no idea what window treatments even cost." That is no surprise because the answer is not a simple one. Window treatments can really vary, depending on the size, function and design you need and like, the materials chosen to fabricate with and the hardware of choice.

On average, I tell clients that an average size window [less than 40" wide] of average height [84" length from top to floor] can realistically be ball-parked at $1,500 to $2,000 a window. Yes, it can go higher and it also can go lower. Either progression, up or down, results from a change in materials or design.

Let me show you  how a window can be dressed on any budget! I'm starting with the inspiration image from Fabricut, [drapes only]. It's close, client loves the scale of the pattern and the coloring generally, though wishes for a warmer gold (not so yellow) and does not want any birds in the print.

Best: Maxwell/Telafina, Topanga, Azure, 100% Silk Taffeta  

Better: Corbin, Opal, 100% Cotton Damask 

Good: Mingei, Bristol, 100% Cotton, Screen print on 7oz. cotton

I never recommend skimping on hardware, you have to maintain a level of quality because (1) you want the hardware to be substantial enough to hold up the weight of your treatments and (2) hardware is an investment that often times can become an additional architectural element in a room. It would be a rare, rare day for me to ever recommend you purchase off-the-rack hardware from a Home Depot or Lowes. If that must ocur, I strongly suggest the use of more substantial brackets and better quality screws.

Best: Helser Brothers [please excuse the mis-match; showing as sample only]
Helser Brothers makes beautiful hand-forged iron hardware. Their "workhorse" Artigiani collection has a great 1-3/4" smooth pole, with exceptional feature that it can go 108" wide without a center support. It's that durable! That, to me, is worth it's weight in gold!

Better: Kirsch[please excuse the mis-match; showing as sample only] 
Kirsch has been around a long, long time and I always feel confident suggesting and using their product. I love their wrought iron collection for quality, price and style. A couple drawbacks: the rods only come 4, 6 and 8 ft. in length so a splice is often necessary. I don't mind the center support, but I don't love to have to splice a rod in the center.

Good: House Parts  [please excuse the mis-match; showing as sample only] 
House Parts really has a lot to offer for the price point they fit in. If I am working on a project with budget concerns, they offer some pieces I've had some luck with.

There are ways to get the look you want, you just have to figure out where you can, and are, willing to compromise. Everyone should look forward to going home; it should be the place that brings you beauty, security, rest and comfort.

I've already talked about many facets of design: bringing harmony into your home, tips for furniture selection and important elements of Feng shui to ensure relaxing and healthy environments. Today, I want you to look at your windows. How do they make you feel?

I have provided the scenarios in this post to illustrate the many variables that contribute to the cost of custom window treatments. Each are based on a 38" - 40" window with single-width drapery panels at approximately 84" in length.

Please, keep in mind, that I'm not in any way saying that the "Best" and the "Good" category will give you the same exact look; they will not. No matter how well I fabricate, I can never get a 7oz. cotton to drape the same as a beautifully lined and interlined silk panel. Likewise, the damask also has a softer hand which will show in the draping of the fabric. Compromise is exactly that, compromise!

You will decide what is right for you and what look you ultimately would like to have, but isn't it nice to know there are options?

I hope this has helped you to think about how you can be creative with your interiors and has you ready to get started creating the Style Your Home Deserves!

Please, share any comments or questions
by clicking the image below.

Go ahead, get started! If your not sure what you want, head on over to my Pinterest boards for a little inspiration, here, here and here.

Thank you for stopping by! ~ Sarah
Want to talk linings, drapery style and fullness? Yes indeed, all important, but I don't want your head spinning so I'll be dishing those out to you in a future post!**

Bubble-Wrap Window Treatments? Let's Talk!

Ok, peeps, fess up, where have you seen something like this before? Gotta admit, I find it hysterical... for a comic strip that is. I would not find it amusing if I actually saw it hanging in someones house.

My guess is this is a concept born out of a frat house. You agree?

Tomorrow morning we will be talking about Budget Creativity for Window Treatments. I promise you though, we will not be recommending you string together bottlecaps, braid old cassette-tape ribbon or using bubble wrap in lieu of sheers. All novel concepts but just not the look any of us should be going for.

Please share with me here, in the comments below, the most ingenious window treatments you have ever seen and join us tomorrow morning (1/23/12), and every Monday, on Twitter so we can share great ideas for creativity with others!

See you then!

Beyond the Fold: Window Shade/Cord Safety Standards

Change is hard. Change is especially hard when it needs to take place with something that we’ve been doing the same way for years and years and years. And so it is with Roman Shades and corded curtain and drapery products!

For as long as I can remember; and probably as long as my mother can remember – in short, a long, long time - roman shades have been fabricated using strings and cords. The problem: exposed cords and strings present a strangulation hazard.

Change is always good. Anytime I dug in my heels and resisted, I’ve always been led to the same final conclusion: change is good! And so it is with the new shade safety standards. These standards have forced fabricators and manufacturers to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and develop new ways to create and meet new safety requirements.
Source: Leatherwood Design Company 
Table & supplies set for new fabrication method to meet standards
Every Monday morning I host #customwrkrmchat on Twitter, as a forum for networking, collaboration and education among custom workrooms, installers, designers and decorators. This morning, January 9, 2012, I invited Jenna Abbott, Director of the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) - the only non-profit association for the Window Coverings profession - to share the latest standards with the group. There are still so many in the industry, let alone homeowners, that are unaware of the compliance issues related to this topic. That being said, if there is one point from the chat that I want to drive home, it is this:
The standard affects YOU whether you are a workroom, designer, installer or touch Window Treatments in any way. No one gets a pass. There is no WAIVER. Standard must be followed. It doesn't matter if you are a company of ONE person, or a large multi national, you must follow the standard.
In short, anyone along the supply chain of providing custom window treatments to clients must comply to new standards, copies of which can be found here:
  • Read-only copy available (free) to the public on the WCAA website.
  • For-purchase copies available on the WCMA sells copies.
What does the standard dictate?
In a nutshell, window treatments with exposed lift cords must not form a hazardous loop. It does NOT  stipulate HOW to make the shade. It will tell you WHAT the OUTCOME must be. Want a visual? Here you go:
Source: Both images from Traditional Home, April, 2009
p.s. shades are not required to be automated, just so happens the ones on left are = compliant!
This effects roman, austrian, balloon, london shades, etc., as well as italian-strung draperies and roller shades. I'm probably forgetting a few.... to make it easy, any cord - whether it be behind, in front or on the side of a window treatment; if it has a hazardous loop, it's not compliant. Simple as that.

Common Misconceptions:
The first misconception that many have is that there is a choice. When in fact, there is not! As designers, decorators, workrooms and/or installers, we are RESPONSIBLE and LIABLE for what we produce, whether we know the standards or not. Creating the standards was voluntary, complying is not!

The second big misconception is holding a belief that having a client/homeowner sign a waiver or disclaimer will protect you. Not advisable. Having a client sign any type of waiver or disclaimer - no matter what you may want to call it - says you knew it was a problem and did it anyway. It actually can do more harm than good, seen that you were aware that a threat/danger existed yet chose to sell anyway.

Finally, a third misconception, in my personal and individual opinion, is that this is only a concern for those who have small children in the home. Let's be realistic. Most homeowners have children who visit. Many also decide to re-sell their homes and a new homebuyer is likely to be one who has children. For these reasons, you can't predict whether or not a child will be at risk or not. For these reasons, I consider the standards to be critical for ALL clients, leading me to decide a year ago that I would only sell cordless shades.

Is it realistic to meet the new standards?
Yes, the standard is realistic. There are lots of ways to make a safe shade including cordless options. Many manufacturers have released fantastic new products and the custom workroom industry has also adopted many innovative methods for fabrication. [Focus of January 16, 2012 #customwrkrmchat, 9:30am ET].

Source: Storibook Designs
Cordless, Custom Roman Shades

Source: Leatherwood Design Company
Backside view of two compliant fabrication methods
As a design professional, the options, as I see them, are:
  • Stop selling any corded treatments! This is extreme but I guess for some this may be their alternative. It is not my choice. There are many new, exciting and creative alternatives available to offer clients.
  • Motorization. Who doesn’t love a remote? Motorization is a convenient and safe option for lifting functionality.
  • Retrofit. Retrofit kits are available ( This provides you with an opportunity to communicate with and educate past clients, providing them with a new alternative.
  • Embrace the change & Expand Offerings. Design professionals can offer safety-audits to homeowners as a new service. 
  • Best bet: (IMHO) Know the standards and adopt new fabrication methods! As a homeowner, know the standards so that you can be sure you are putting the safest products in your home.
As an industry, we need to work in unison in sharing this information with all our industry partners, colleagues and clients. We have only touched the surface in spreading the message. To quote Jenna Abbott, “ignorance is not a good defense”. With that in mind, I do hope you will share this post or information with others.

Please weigh in here too, by leaving a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions on this issue.

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