Window treatments are one of the pillars of interior design. They optimise the combination of function, privacy, light filtration and style. Each window presents a beautiful outlook, but potential problems in the experience of the home. Ensuring that each window has the best covering not only brings the best experience, but also has huge potential to boost the feel and overall look of the room.
But here’s the problem – there are so many types of coverings to choose from, and within each type, there are endless options. Here is a list of the main window coverings used within New Zealand and where each one are most appropriate. These are most easily broken down into two categories: Hard & soft treatments.
1. Hard Window Treatments – made of solid materials, such as wood, bamboo or metal.
Shutters – Wooden material, often involving slats, that can either be fixed against a window or hinged to be completely open. They are used on the exterior of houses as well as interior, and can be decorative or functional. Shutters are durable, easy to maintain and create an English settler feel, which looks fantastic in traditional villas and character homes.
Best use: Living spaces, bathrooms, in-between rooms such as the dining and kitchen in order to create an open flow when needed
Unsuited use: Bedrooms, if they are left un-layered, as the louvres do not provide a full block-out effect, even when fully shut.
Venetian Blinds – Often crafted from timber, which can create a similar feel to shutters, while saving a bit of cost and giving the option to fully lift them from the window with the chord. These are also made from aluminium, which is a much more cost-effective material, and the reason why they were so popular in office buildings in recent decades, however, are now almost universally recognised as an eye-sore in the aluminium material, and seen as outdated.
Best use: Kitchens, bathrooms
Unsuited use: Bedrooms, if they are left un-layered, as they do not provide a full block-out effect
Vertical Blinds – Thin strips of material, often a soft PVC. I personally find this blind the most frustrating to live with, as the gravitational pull in each vertical strip is much lighter, and therefore extremely noisy and violent when a window is open.
Best use: In my opinion, no where.
Unsuited use: Everywhere.
Roller Blinds – Often made of synthetic material, these blinds can often be the least visually intrusive when not in use, especially if your architect designs recesses for them above the window. Pelmets can be used to hide the blind, though if not painted with the exact wall colour, can cause more visual disturbance than the blind roll itself. These are often used for modern homes, but can lack softness. To create a truly eclectic or beachy vibe, choose Bamboo or seagrass roller blinds. Roller blinds often come automated, which is helpful when the window is out of reach, or can be set on a timer, so that it closes when the sun is setting.
Best used: Home Office, Lounge, Observatory
Unsuited use: Bedrooms, if they are left unlayered, as the louvres do not provide a full block-out effect, even when fully shut.
Frosting – another option often included in the construction phase of the building process is a frosting of windows. Along with a frosted coating on the actual window pane, there are other styles, would include the traditional shoji panels which allow light to filter into the room but give privacy.
Best use: Bathrooms, as other window treatments can quickly degrade with moisture.
Unsuited use: Living spaces, kitchen, bedrooms, any room with a view or where you would like to use the function of looking outside.
2. Soft Window Treatments – made of textile material, such as natural fibre fabrics or synthetic materials.
Pleated & Cellular Blinds – These modern window treatments are most commonly made from synthetic textiles, and marketed for their thermal insulation properties. They have a modern look, looking slightly more hi-tech than roller blinds, unless you go for automated roller blinds.
Best use: Home office, living spaces, kitchen, bedrooms
Unsuited use: Bathrooms, as moisture mixed with dust collection can be a tricky combo on these textiles.
Roman Blinds – A traditional, yet sleek window covering made of synthetic or natural textiles. This takes much less fabric per window than drapes, however, doesn’t create the softness and full coverage of drapes. There are a variety of ways to style these coverings: they can have ties, include an official-looking border, swag in a droop for a more evening-lux look, have a very formal flat fold or have relaxed folds. All of these options can be decided on by personal style and the overall desired look of the room. Another reason to consider Romans over drapes is in case the pattern of fabric is best displayed by the Roman blind.
Best use: Dining room, home office, living spaces
Unsuited use: Bathrooms, as moisture mixed with dust can be wreak havoc for textiles
Drapes – This elegant window covering is a common favourite in homes and commercial spaces for the softness it adds to the textural terrain of the room, along with adding acoustic buffering. Made from synthetic or natural fibres, drapes are often lined with blockout fabric, especially in bedrooms or media rooms, to fully block out light from entering through the window. The options can be overwhelming: rod or tracks, manual or automated, ceiling mounted or wall-mounted, fabric composition, fabric design.
Heading type alone can leave clients a bit bewildered, but for a quick overview, check out my blog What’s Your Headline for some tips! If tackling drapes on your own, I strongly suggest to do some research prior to making a purchase. You can save a lot of time and money by using the existing tracks or rods in the home, however, sometimes it is worth the investment to upgrade if it will dramatically change the look to suit the target mood of the room. My best advice would be to get a professional in, as they will know how to achieve the result you are wanting in the most effective way. Professionals also have access to hundreds of thousands of fabrics that aren’t readily available to the public, and therefore can give you the unique point of difference in your home or commercial space.
Best use: Bedrooms, living areas, home offices, libraries, board rooms
Unsuited use: Bathrooms, as moisture mixed with dust can quickly damage textiles