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Window Treatments

In interior design terms, window treatments mean anything that covers windows and doors …drapes, shutters or blinds. Hold on guys … don’t click away… you could learn a thing or two here.

Like most things, window treatments have evolved over time. Homeowners in the 18th Century had a very different view on the subject than what we do now. Fabric was expensive and the average person would be lucky to have a frill above the window. In the 19th Century, fabric became more readily available and more affordable.

Suddenly, copious amounts of fabric were used – just like the clothing of the day. Layers of fabric appeared at windows, commonly “nets’ topped with heavy drapes and swags, and not forgetting the tassels and trims. No doubt all this helped keep the draughts out. The development of aluminium joinery, double glazing and central heating has improved the warmth of our homes. Over the years, the layers at the window have diminished to the point to where we now have issues with the sun destroying our furnishings. It’s a tricky business getting the balance right!

There are some key factors which effect our decisions on what window treatments work in any given situation. Architecture, privacy, function and aesthetics are all key. Sometimes not having any window treatments at all can be the right decision, especially if the architecture and views are stunning. However, it is human nature to want to cover windows, especially as black glass at night can look cold. Then there’s the issue of privacy, a concern for many of us. Being able to shut out the world turns a house into a home. There are many privacy solutions, from blinds and drapes using sheers to Venetian blinds, shutters and sun filters. It’s a decision based on aesthetics and practicality. Probably the most important part of any window treatment is function and practicality.

Having treatments that actually do their job with little fuss is the key. A blind over a door is fine if the door and the blind aren’t used at the same time! When it comes to aesthetics, you can knock yourself out, with a can lead to an interior which is out of sorts. This can sometimes be rectified with an appropriate window treatment, hiding the unsightly and shifting attention. For instance, windows that are set too low on a wall can be visually altered by the use of, say, a Roman blind placed well above the window, creating the illusion that the window is taller. Likewise, a series of windows with differing heights can be brought into line by fixing the drapes at a unified height.

James Dunlop Textiles is a New Zealand based wholesaler importing and distributing fine furnishing fabrics sourced from around the world. One of their latest ranges, FR-One guarantees that the fabrics perform to stringent flame retardant standards – perfect for where these constraints may be in place, but also stunning used generally in the home. The flame retardant properties are inherent and permanent to the fabric itself, not simply limited to the yarn – safety combined with quality. James Dunlop’s Sarah-Jane Challis Dunlop says that the fabrics emerging as hot favourites in Europe are those that have lustre and life and lots of texture – rich velvets, linens with metallic overlays, and large scale botanical prints. The colours coming through are plum, chocolate, chartreuse, limey yellow, hints of coral, cranberry red and aqua.

That’s right, you read it here first in SeaSpray! vast array of fabrics to cater for every taste and budget, from simple plain fabrics to over-the-top large scale prints. For me, a trip to a fabric supplier is akin to a young child going into a sweet shop – here the “look but don’t touch” rule just doesn’t apply.

Sheer Fabrics

Sheer drapes and blinds are great for privacy and add softness to a room, but shouldn’t necessarily conjure images of lace and frills.

Today’s take is more structured, such as sheer linens and metallic sheers where the colour alters as it catches the light. Sheers can work well in conjunction with solid fabric drapes and blinds, to give you varied coverage throughout the day.

Fabric drapes and blinds

Drapes and blinds should always be lined with a good quality lining. This protects the outer layer of fabric and prolongs the life of the window treatment. The heading (or the structural piece at the very top of the drape) dictates the style. The inverted pleat, renamed the New York heading (for those who drink Lattes), is probably the most popular style of drape – a tailored look with the heading sitting relatively flat. Eyelet drapes remain favourable. They tend to be a little more casual, use less fabric and therefore look more relaxed – great in holiday homes and less formal areas, in large replacing the older wooden rod and rings.

The eyelets slide across a rod and the drape concertinas up on itself when pushed back. The good old Roman blind is as popular as ever, a flat blind that folds up behind itself as it rises. The mechanics have improved; no longer do you have to put up with a tangle of cords. Many are chain operated which makes them really easy to use, especially if the blinds are heavy. A combination of drapes and Roman blinds can rebalance a room.

Blinds

This is a huge topic in itself. With such a variety on the market, it really boils down to practicality and aesthetics. The most popular are aluminium Venetians, providing maximum control over the amount of natural light penetrating a room. They are one of the best solutions for privacy, filtering a view rather than blocking it. Left natural or powder coated they are unobtrusive. Timber Venetians are the natural looking alternative, available in a range of woods that can be stained, coated with a clear lacquer, or even painted.

Luxaflex’s Woodmates range is very smart, offering the look of real timber but with far more practicality. Slats are made from advanced engineered polymers and are more flexible, resisting cracking, peeling, fading and warping. What’s more, you can even install Woodmates in areas with high humidity, such as kitchens, laundries and bathrooms; they are washable and never need refinishing.

Roller blinds have been hugely popular in recent years. Available in solid or sun filter fabrics, they are unobtrusive as they roll up and out of the way. Gone are the days of the violent retractable mechanism – several attempts at pulling the blind up and down followed by an abrupt release that saw the blind fly up and wind back on itself. Sun filter roller blinds are particularly handy – a great solution for solar and light control – and the material used has an open weave so does provide some privacy. Somehow, though, the darker colours provide less privacy.

Covering windows on boats is always challenging and there are some windows that just can’t be covered (from the inside anyway). Luxaflex Duette Shades are very handy for those awkward triangular shaped windows. Similar to a folded fan, they can be pinched at one end and shaped at the other to form the window shape.

Duette Shades have an energy saving honeycomb construction, with minimal stack height and clean minimalist looks. With the optional black-out they combine to make for a very practical blind. Nature Weave roman blinds, also by Luxaflex, are constructed from natural bamboos, reeds and grasses, woven together with hard wearing polyester threads. Available in a variety of privacy levels, they are a very stylish solution if you want to complete a relaxed interior.

Luxaflex can motorise their blinds with a handheld remote control. Alternatively, there is a wall mounted switch option. Either way, your blinds can be operated individually, as a group, or both. For optimum functionality, install a sun sensor or timer control – the blinds will close automatically as the sun hits the window or at a designated time of the day, and you don’t even have to be home!

To really keep glare to a minimum onboard your boat, Solar Solve Marine have just the blind for you. This English company exports to 56 countries and manufactures the world’s leading brand of high performance sun screens. Over 70,000 Solasov screens are used on around 7,000 vessels across the globe. Suitable for most locations, they are also used in trains, control towers and many other areas where glare and heat is a problem.

The Oceanair skyscreen roller recessed blind system which is distributed by Kiwi Yachting Consultants and AMI Australia, is one of the best window treatments for hatches. It’s a combination flyscreen and shade system which works in conjunction with hatches and fits neatly into the headline for minimal visual impact. The simple and reliable system has a magnetic catch mechanism -no chunky handles or levers protruding into the headroom. The system boasts 100% blackout and is 100% marine-proof for the harshest of environments.

Shutters

Elegant, robust, and long lasting, shutters have an air of permanence and seem to look good in any situation, from traditional through country to contemporary, and are available in a huge selection of oiled, lacquered timber or painted finishes.

While the choice of interior treatments is huge, let’s not forget about the exterior. Lidgard Shades, a division of Lidgard Sails, manufacture exterior roller blinds using the very latest technology, in ziptrack and crank-raise options. The Ziptrack system functions similar to a normal roller blind, but with some great subtle differences. You simply raise and lower it manually – no messy hanging straps, ropes or clunky zips.

The spring loaded system makes it very easy and quick to use. The roller blind works on a detachable crank system. Simply wind it up and down to suit your needs. The blind is connected to the ground, or lower part of your frame, with a choice of hooks and rings. They can be opaque or transparent, and come in many colours and textures.

Great for keeping sun and rain out, and providing privacy, they can also be used for signage.

As we’ve seen here, the topic of window treatments is extensive. If you’re considering a revamp of your current window treatments or starting afresh and don’t know where to start, its best to call in an expert. Chances are they will have seen every shape and style of window and will be able to offer you solutions which you may never have thought of.