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.
SHUTTERS, CAFE CURTAINS & TRICKY WINDOWS
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:
Photography by Michael J. Lee and Sarah Winchester. Window treatments all by Makkas Drapery Workroom.
Would you do faux romans to windows that have plantation shutters, basically to make the room softer?
This is soooo helpful! I am in the process of updating my window treatments and this is all such good advice. One big question – do you have hard and fast rule on the color of the rod? I am really struggling with this as I had originally used all black iron rods with ball finials and now I’m thinking they look a bit heavy and dared. Do you have a go-to color for your rods or a way you determine whether to use gold, silver, black, etc.?
Need help on drape look for transom windows.
What kind of treatment do you suggest for casement windows (they open outward)?
This was so helpful and just what I needed. Thank you!
Lovely ideas but what length do you recommend for “full-length” windows that end about 3 inches above baseboard heating? I hate to block the heat as we live in a cold climate. I never see suggestions for this problem.
Are drapes on this site possible to buy? I like 1 style in particular & they would be perfect for my home.
Thank you for this post!!! It is incredibly helpful and provides a lot of inspiration.
[…] designer Erin Gates dishes on drapery—and confirms the worst […]
Such a great post and visuals / thank you – I love how you take the time to properly explain designer touches !
I always recommend when using store bought rods buy bigger not the smallest ones – folding inside themselves makes them stronger – and the seam will not show . Clients may people balk at spending more but there is nothing worse than the seam showing and rods bending !! A center support will help but not always if you buy the wrong size rod . You do have the best blog !
Great post. Thanks. How do you handle window treatments for a very open floor plan….kitchen, family room, dining room all are open to one another. Should all the draperies be the same? Can you mix fabrics?
Thanks. Oh and so sorry to hear about Baxter. Hang in there!
Interesting article. Nice photos, but they aren’t drapes. They are draperies, and it is offensive to the industry.
Just wow. Of all the things in the world to pick apart, this is what you have chosen. What happened to you?
Thank you for sharing your design expertise. I love drapes! I just had all my trim beefed up and hate to hide it now. What would you suggest I put inside the trim? Would roman blinds lend themselves to be putting up and down daily?
Terrific post! Any possibility we could get a source for your cafe curtains?
Great information. What can you recommend for sliding glass doors? And those with limited wall space on both sides? Would love for you to show a round of suggestions.
The timing of your post was perfect for me to make decisions about window treatments. Your suggestions are always spot on! I have several windows with shutters already installed ….anyway to soften these up in the bedroom with a fabric Roman mounted up high and over shutter or a cornice ? They are so functional for intense sun but not nearly as pretty! I’m dying for softness……any suggestions?
Thank you! This is so generous—especially sharing sources.
So helpful and informative. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.
Amazing! I’m trying to find inside mount cafe curtains like the one in your photo. Would you mind sharing your source?
Amazing! I’m trying to find inside mount cafe curtain hardware similar to your photo. Would you mind sharing the source?
Thoughts on drapes+interior wood shutters?
Thank you Erin for taking the time to write such a thorough blog post on window treatments! This is terrific! AMA and you tell everything! You’re the best and I love reading your posts!
What if I want plain off-white linen (I have commitment issues)? Is it still worth it to get custom?
I am in the same boat! II am thinking of taking her advice and getting the plane off white linen curtains and then considering adding trim.
Thank you for taking the time to explain. Love your work 🤩. I would love to install 3 Pinch curtains with the z bracket but concerned about what rod to use since I will be closing the curtains.
Great post! I don’t think links for treatments are working????
I’ve had issues with outside mount Roman shades hanging forward away from the window on the sides. You can literally see in or out of the window from the side of the shade. Is there any way to keep this from happening?
Love this! Incredibly helpful. Would you mind sharing your favorite local places to get custom window treatments done? Thanks!
I never comment on blog posts but WOW this was so thorough and helpful!! Thank you for sharing all of your expertise- fabulous write-up!!
I am looking for a source for extra long (16’) drapery rod with french return. This is for a sliding french door. Any suggestions?
Thank you SO much for all that you do for your blog community. This is a brilliant and helpful post. You’re a rockstar.
This is so incredibly helpful, thank you! Do things like bamboo shades or wood blinds come as cordless or just fabric shades?
You can get any style in the cordless. I ordered my cordless bamboo shades from blinds.com several years ago and they are great. I raise and lower them daily ( above kitchen sink) and will never have corded blinds again.
Thank you for this post! Any recommendations for windows treatments when the cornice board is extended from the molding of the ceiling, is as short as the molding, and only the length of the windows! Too expensive to replace the entire house!