Window Treatments: Ideas and Design Tips From An Experienced Interior Designer

As an interior designer in Sarasota, Florida, I often write about interior design from a Sarasota perspective. As I sit at my desk and look out the windows at the azure sky, tufts of cotton clouds drift along the breeze, and sheer curtains are wafting in the air. I love the look of a light and delicate sheer drifting into the room on a warm, fragrant, gentle wind.

Let’s talk about why we treat windows. There is obviously a decorative element: draperies and fabrics add a softness to a room and an opportunity to coordinate other elements and fabrics in decor. But there are practical reasons as well. One is solar control. Draperies can be closed to darken a room, blocking out light and the damaging, fading rays of the sun. In addition, closing the curtains assists in reducing heat-gain or -loss into a room and thereby lessening the need for air conditioning or heating.

Many of our friends and clients are here for the season and then travel or return to their other places for weeks or months at a time. In order to help protect furnishings and artwork it is important to keep the rooms as dark as possible when you are not in residence. It seems only ceramic tile and most stone flooring are impervious to the bleaching rays of the sun. Wood floors, carpets, furniture and almost all fabrics will suffer from exposure not just to the sun, but even a bright room! Silk fabrics are particularly susceptible to exposure to the sun and are famous for sun-rot; silk curtains must be protected with durable lining to protect them.

Secondly, there is the measure of privacy that certain fabrics and treatments can provide. Opaque fabrics add quite a bit of privacy, of course, but you have to be wary of sheers. They provide a wonderful tempering of the light and some privacy, but only on the brighter side of the window. For instance, if you are on a sunny street, looking at or into a window with sheers, the fabric blocks your vision into the room, but someone in the room can see fairly well to the outside.

However, at night the condition is reversed. When a room is bright and it is night, someone outside the room can see fairly clearly into the room, while someone in the room can only see the surface of the sheer. So be aware of the fallacy of privacy when using sheer draperies.

Sheers do assist at night however in the reduction of expanses of glass turning into unattractive black mirrors. If you have a view to the bay or downtown, there are the lights and reflections to provide even a nighttime view. But if you are facing onto a golf course or the Gulf, you have only a black window to stare at. Sheers are a fine answer to providing a decorative and pleasant treatment of nighttime windows.