February 9, 2022

Window Treatments 101: Updated

When I did my most recent AMA on Instagram, I got SO many questions about window treatments! So I thought I would go through some of our favorite styles and applications, as well as pet peeves and dislikes.


Above you can see my old primary bedroom with one of our go-to looks – cordless unlined woven wood roman shades paired with blackout Euro pleat drapery panels. Both are custom from our workroom (as well as the custom length hardware – non expandable rods), and while I will argue until my dying day about how much of a difference custom window treatments make to a space, I do also understand they are not accessible for everyone. So I will also include some options that are retail and more affordable.

I did the same thing in my living room of our last house, except we used stationary panels (they don’t close, are simply there for the look (saves you some $ on fabric amounts as you need less). Keeping woven woods unlined gives you a light filtering option for privacy without complete light blockage. Also note in BOTH instances how high the drapery rods (these above are actually West Elm) are on the wall – HIGH. The higher the better, as it will make your ceilings look taller. Also, I like panels to JUST kiss the floor. Sometimes they stretch after being hung and our workroom takes them in for a “haircut” after a couple months. Then they will stay the proper length forever. Puddling to me screams “dust collection” and anything missing the floor by a couple inches is the interior design equivalent of high water pants. So if you are buying retail panels buy them longer than you need and have a dry cleaner or seamstress hem them to the proper length.

These below are one of my favorite drapery installs we’ve done- horizontal stripe sheer curtains on a motorized track rod with motorized blackout roller shades that kind of disappear into the trim.

Absolutely STUNNING when closed to filter the sun, or with the blackout rollers down behind it at night.

In this application we used a ceiling mounted track for the drapery panels, as a rod would not fit. It creates a seamless, slightly more modern look.

In Emma’s old room I did these amazing drapes with a pelmet (sometimes called a cornice board) – a rather old school style but excellent at blocking light and I think rather sharp looking. These were blackout drapes with blackout woven wood romans underneath so not a DROP of light got in :)

Back when Lindsey Hanson worked for me, she bought these discount panels from Overstock (still available here) and had our workroom pleat them and add hooks and rings. She saved a lot on fabric by using really inexpensive pre-made panels instead of yardage of a similar designer fabric. You can also buy plain curtains and ask a seamstress to add trim to it– get some simple greek key trim here, for example, or other designer trims here. They also can sew in the drapery hooks that all my curtains are hung from (but they need to have pleats to work).

We love mixing patterns and solid and this patterned roman shade underneath solid drapes with a bold trim really made this room a showstopper (repeating the fabric on the backs of the host chairs also added to the drama).

When I said I did not like rod pocket drapes I got a TON of DM’s asking why – to be honest, they look unsophisticated and messy to me. If you don’t want to do rings, then get back tab drapery panels for a much cleaner look. Grommet top panels work in some situations (nautical, kids rooms) but are also not a personal favorite.


We use roman shades in lots of applications – kids rooms, spaces where you can’t use drapes, bathrooms and kitchens. We also use faux roman valances a lot as well, as shown below. It’s a way to add softness and hide a roller or woven shade without needing the amount of fabric (or bulk) required for a functioning roman shade.

You can style them flat bottom or relaxed bottom for a softer, more feminine look.

Another faux roman valance in my old kitchen. Such a great way to add color, pattern and texture.

This is a detail of the one I did in Henry’s room- with a basic blackout roller shade underneath.


This window setup at our client’s gave us some pause – the angled ceiling plus the curved window meant no drapes could be used. So Makkas Drapery and I came up with this solutions – using the same fabric as the roman shades on these panels you can insert into the top windows to block light. We’ve now done this a couple times!

I also got a lot of questions about shutters! I do like wood shutters painted to match the trim- in this garden level unit in Boston they are a great way to have privacy but also let in light. I also love using half shutters as well when a full shutter isn’t required.

Speaking of privacy, cafe curtains are BACK – big time. These are the ones I have in my current primary bath and I love them- they are a paisley block print sheer with sheer lining and they let in plenty of light but keep things private.

Here are some sources for hardware and treatments. Etsy is a great source, as well as The Shade Store, Pepper Home, Wovn, Blinds.com (woven wood shades and roller shades).

Tips and Tricks:

  • Make sure if the hardware you are using is quite long you install a center bracket to keep it from buckling in the middle.
  • Outside mount roman shades above and wider than the window casing and closer to the crown molding (but make sure the bottom covers the top of the window moulding) make the windows look taller and the ceiling higher. You can then layer inside mount light filtering shades as well.
  • Make SURE your drapes are the right length – too short or too long and they look silly or sloppy.
  • Cordless shades are the way to go – pay the extra amount. It’s safer with kids and way less annoying.
  • Add trims to store bought treatments to make them look custom

Photography by Michael J. Lee and Sarah Winchester. Window treatments all by Makkas Drapery Workroom

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