Window Blinds, Valances, Curtains

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Window Treatments: Blinds, Valances and Curtains

Window treatments can make a window the focal point of a room. Some rooms, including dining and living rooms, lend themselves to formal window treatments, such as decorative curtains not intended to move.

For rooms such as kitchens, family rooms and bedrooms you may want to consider more casual, functional window treatments, such as sun-blocking drapes.

Curtains or Drapes?

Curtains and drapes are easily confused window treatments. As a general rule, curtains serve a decorative function, and are made of lighter materials. Curtains may or may not be movable.

Drapes fulfill a more utilitarian function than curtains. Made of heavier material, drapes block sunlight and provide privacy. This doesn't mean, however, that drapes cannot be as decorative as other window treatments. Pleats, decorative rods and drape rings make drapes both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Both drapes and curtains benefit from the addition of other window treatments, such as cornices, lambrequins, swags and jabots. Each type of window treatment adds its own touch to a window:

  • Cornices are fabric-covered boards that sit on the top of a window. In addition to hiding curtain or drape rods, a cornice connects otherwise dead space above the window with the curtains on either side of the window.
  • Lambrequins are an extension of a cornice. The lambrequins come down each side of the window, causing the eye to focus on the window treatments rather than the view.
  • Swags are pieces of fabric draped over a pole positioned at the top of the window. Jabots or cascades are similar pieces of cloth that go down the sides of windows. Jabots are always seen in combination with swags.

Window Blinds

Window blinds and shades come in many different styles. While Roman shades are flat with horizontal pleats, balloon shades gather when raised to give the shade a soft, billowy appearance.

Venetian blinds remain a popular window treatment. The blind's horizontal slats allow homeowner so control the amount and angle of light in a room. Venetian blinds are most often made of metal or plastic, but 100 percent wood window blinds are increasing in popularity and availability.

Vertical blinds operate on the same principle as Venetian blinds, but the blind slats are vertical instead of horizontal. As a general rule, vertical blinds are well suited for large windows and French doors.

Window blinds may be combined with valances. Valances are sections of cloth that run across the top of the window. Valances soften the sleek lines of blinds while hiding the blinds' wall fastenings.

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