Choosing New Window Coverings – 10 Key Questions

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when choosing new window coverings is not considering the actual functionality they are needed to perform.  Getting guidance from a window coverings professional is never a bad idea…but a little self education can go a long way in helping to avoid costly mistakes.

Here are 10 key questions to as yourself when choosing the right window coverings for your home:

Choosing New Window Coverings - 10 Key Questions

  1. Architecture of the home? Do you have an obligation to decorate according to a certain historical period?  Also consider what your window coverings will look like from outside.
  2. Existing colors/décor in the home? Will these be changed in the future? All white is highly not recommended…humans are designed to crave color.  Also, many white window coverings show dirt easily and can be harder to keep clean.
  3. Window Size? Some window treatments, such as timber venetians, have a maximum width, so this needs to be taken into account. Small windows can be given the illusion of largesse if the right window treatment is selected. If you have space around the window to extend the size of the window coverings, this can make the proportions larger.
  4. Window Shape? Unusual shapes such as arches, angles and circles greatly limit the window covering choices. Plantation shutters are a great option in many cases.
  5. Thermal Protection Needed? Do you need extra warmth in winter or coolness in summer without increasing your energy consumption? This is where fully lined curtains and pelmets do their best work.
  6. Privacy Needed? Is your window overlooking an ugly view or do you have nosy neighbours? No one likes living in a goldfish bowl! Please put something appropriate on your windows, as sometimes we don’t want to see into your house!

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Colors & Patterns – Your Home Decor Decision Tree

Two huge challenges for many who are starting a decorating endeavor hinge on the fundamental choices of colors and patterns. Like any other lasting and potentially costly decisions…many people are afraid of making mistakes.

Sometimes taking what seems like large looming decisions…and breaking them down into smaller bite sized decisions can help you eat the elephant one bite at a time.  Determining more generalized color and pattern preferences as a first step…can lead you onward through the decision tree path more quickly. Here are five (5) questions to ask yourself that will keep you focused and moving along.

1. Desired Feeling?

This is probably the most important concept to clarify for yourself…and the best way to start is by choosing three key feeling words that describe how you want the room in question to feel most of the time.

2. From Color Wheel to Your Personal Color Palette. Hot, Cold or both?

Determining your areas of preference with a broad spectrum of colors…through a color wheel tool. Thinking of colors in terms of temperature can create a helpful perspective.

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6 Drapery Insights

Savvy interior designers know that window treatments offer an opportune accent that completes the overall character of any living space.  Whether it’s fabric color, type, length or heading style…drapery in particular can create a warmth of decor to support your style objectives for almost any space.

Window treatments and window coverings are broad category terms that are used interchangeably…and encompass the gamut of options that range from drapery to blinds to wooden plantation shutters.  Even curtains and drapes are often considered synonymous items, but a closer look defines differences that can help you make correct decisions when finishing your particular application.

Curtains are the less formal of the two…usually made of lighter weight fabrics like (like cotton), often unlined…requiring less fabric…and consequently are the least expensive of the two.

Drapery implies a richer motif in general…and are usually made of heavier lined fabrics that…serving an alternate purpose of blocking out daytime light and heat.  Usually tailored in various distinctive heading styles…drapery also usually spans a larger space…from floor to ceiling.  Understandably, the additional volume of fabric and complexity of pleating denotes a higher price point.

Heading styles for drapery and curtains come in a wide variety of names…but generally ranging from more formal and sophisticated to more simple and casual.

heading styles - drapery & curtainsThe more intricate pleats tend to exude formality while the simpler relaxed styles with tabs or even eyelets…more casual.

In that same vein…length of fabric can contribute to a more casual or formal appearance.  Want a more casual, relaxed look?  Hang your drapery hardware so that the panel hangs approximately 1/2″ from the floor. Going for more formal?  Then you can “puddle” or pool the fabric on the floor anywhere from 1″-10″+ beyond the length necessary to barely touch the floor

Two simple mounting hardware placement rules always create depth and dimension…or a grandiose look and feel of the room:

  1. Hang Above the Frame – mount the rod just below the base of the ceiling molding. This draws the eye upward, elongating the space and making it appear taller.
  2. Hang Wider than the Frame – mount the drapery hardware 6-8″ beyond the frame on each side making the window feel like more of an architectural feature that fills more of the wall and can stand on it’s own. By framing the window with your drapery panels, you allow more light to flood the space making it appear brighter and roomier.

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New Energy Rating System for Window Coverings & Attachments Industry

The idea of energy efficiency continues to grow in importance and popularity. Consumers like choices, and well designed rating systems that help them make prudent choices are well received and highly utilized.  In the realm of consumer appliances, ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide are great examples of widely recognized labels…tools that assist consumers with comparing the most efficient models to make an ultimate choice.  Until recently, no rating mechanism has existed to rate window attachments (aka window treatments, window coverings) and products.

win·dow treat·ment – noun 

  1. interior decoration for a window or window frame.

Many types of window attachments (both interior and exterior), such as blinds, drapery, shutters, solar shades and awnings…are often used for what’s normally considered aesthetic purposes and controlling the direct and ambient light entering a room. However, many Americans aren’t aware that cost effective, energy conserving window covering strategies indeed exist for both residential homes and commercial buildings.  The Department of Energy estimates potential nationwide energy savings of 800 Trillion British Thermal Units (tBTU).

The Window Coverings Manufacturers Association (WCMA) is developing a certification and rating program for residential and commercial fenestration attachment products. In conjunction with U.S Department of Energy funding…the Attachments Energy Ratings Council (AERC) was created April 2015…with their member organizations first meeting at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA. The AERC’s mission is to provide the technical tools necessary to transform the attachments market by providing a useful resource for consumers to make informed energy decisions…specifically:

  • Create a consistent set of third-party energy performance-based rating and certification standards and program procedures
  • Oversee the implementation of rating, certification, labeling, and performance verification procedures
  • Develop and maintain a publicly available, searchable electronic database of fenestration attachment product performance.

window attachments on front of San Jose State University Library

The AERC defines fenestration attachments as “non-integral products attached to an installed fenestration or attached to or near the perimeter of the inner or outer wall surrounding the fenestration. Attachments may be fixed or operable, manual or automated.”

fen·es·tra·tion  – /fenəˈstrāSHən/ – noun – ARCHITECTURE

  1. the arrangement, proportioning, and design of windows and doors in a building
  2. an opening in a surface (as a wall or membrane)


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A Healthy View on Window Coverings

Allergy sufferers have been growing at alarming rates in recent years, and while global warming has been given much credit for at least part of the growth…our homes and workplaces are often blamed for their fair share too.  Vigilant home and building owners are seeking out alternative construction materials and other available products that help mitigate the number of toxins and irritating substances… potentially impacting allergy issues to any positive extent.  It’s synergistic with other large trends toward energy efficiency, sustainability and carbon neutrality.

Floor coverings, paint and other decorative furnishings have also been changing over the years in direct response to consumer demands for low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) products and carbon friendly alternatives. The window coverings industry  has also participated in this trend…with recent innovative technological advancements producing some progressive products that have helped satisfy these newer public demands.

softness of custom drapery fabric & natural wood blinds

Oekotex is an internationally acknowledged green certification entity that evolved out of the public outcry against toxic and other harmful chemicals utilized in the textile manufacturing process. Fabrics and other materials used to produce drapery, blinds and window shades are subjected to rigorous independent testing to ensure the absence of any potentially harmful, legally regulated or even bonafide  illegal substances…in addition to other health related standards.  Indeed, passing products must actually minimize overall impact on the environment…as well as improve air quality indoors and generally aid in energy conservation.

The Oekotex certification process must not only be passed for the products themselves…but the manufacturing process as well.  Finally, the manufacturing process for the fabrics must use renewable non-polluting energy.

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Decorating – 5 Essential Keys

Getting closer to that big move to your new home this Spring/Summer?  Let these decorating concepts permeate your thinking as you get closer to the big day:

  1. Space – A real beginning point that tells you what you have to work with in each room.  Start with the physical dimensions. Then visually expand by keeping the color contrast between walls and windows to a minimum. To make a room feel cozier, create a high contrast. Natural light and light diffusion through window coverings create dramatic visual effects in a space.
  2. Color – Is the major mood determinant for a room.  It intensifies as you increase the area of coverage.  Here are some Rules of thumb:
    • Allow your main color to occupy 75 percent of a room (including floor and wall space)…
    • With 15 to 20 percent for your secondary color and…
    • 10 percent for an accent color.

    Neutral-toned window treatments go well in rooms where you’ll spend a lot of time or when you want other furnishings to make bold statements. But when you want window treatments to be the special accent or coordinating feature that pulls a room together, Hunter Douglas offers an abundance of colors, textures, sheens, and treatments to provide privacy and light control and meet your decorating needs.

  3. Lines – impact the overall feel of a room. Vertical lines add height and dignity. Horizontal lines suggest relaxation and informality. Round windows, fabric folds and soft objects lessen the harshness of a room’s lines.
  4. Form is the shape or combinations of shapes of the elements in a room. If you have square windows, window treatments can lengthen them and give them a taller, more rectangular look.
  5. Texture – adds interest to a room. Window treatments in metal, wood, and a vast palette of fabric colors, patterns and finishes offer many textural options to explore. Dramatic contrasts are in.

More Decorating Tips for Sharper Perspective

  • Avoid clutter by displaying only a few large and wonderful objects you love.
  • Use a few large pieces of furniture to make a small space appear larger.
  • Utilize the same floor covering throughout to make all the rooms feel bigger.
  • Group related items on a wall to create a strong focal point and pull a room together.
  • Make comfort and convenience your top decorating priority when arranging furniture.
  • Focus next on composition (color, balance and scale) to create visual interest and add your personal style.
  • Present a consistent exterior image with white backing on all window treatments.

Window Covering Ideas for Creative Stimulation

Moving this Spring/Summer?  Ever read the notorious new-age book, Creative Visualization?  It’s described generically as “the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one’s thoughts and expectations” (Wikipedia).  Couldn’t we all use a dose of that occasionally! But if visualization techniques are a bit too esoteric for your tastes and moving related interior design aspirations…maybe you’d like some more pragmatic suggestions for smoothing your move…next go round.

Like anything else, moving to a new place and starting over again has it’s upsides and downsides.  Sometimes it’s just invigorating to start afresh in a new place…making new friends and acquaintances, and creating a brand new space to nest in and make your own.  The flipside…those very same things can be challenging too…especially when less than enthusiastic family members may not share your optimism.

From the decorating and design perspective, window coverings can have a huge impact on a new living space…bringing more light and openness for example.  On the other hand…a big, fat downside to moving is that taking and successfully reusing window treatments at a new location usually doesn’t turn out well.  Since windows and their corresponding living spaces are fairly unique and one size doesn’t fit all.  When it comes to outfitting the windows to the soul of your new home, finding the balance between function, fashion, affordability and privacy become more fun when you’re infused with a variety of creative new ideas.  Here are a few to get you started:

  • Roman Shades

  • Ombre’ Cheveron Stenciled Panels

  • Yellow Chevron Curtains

  • Lengthening Dining Room Drapes

  • Updating Your Vertical Blinds

  • Sliding Door Window Treatment Solutions

  • Valances are Simplistic

  • Dropcloth Curtains

  • Stenciled Drapery




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living room draperies in traditional san francisco deocr




Moving? 7 Ways to Smooth Your Move

Maybe you’re relocating residences and moving into a newly build home…or possibly one that has accommodated several families before yours.  Either way, moving into a home that’s new for you offers excitement, change and many decisions to be made. Why not jump start the process of moving to your new place…before moving day? Here’s how:

  1. Notebook – start one for the new house. Jot down items to purchase or activities to handle. Include eye-catching fabric and color samples, favorite window product brochures and quotes from movers. Carry your notebook with you to have data handy when you need it.
  2. Floor Plan – sketch one of your new home when you don’t have blueprints. Record measurements of rooms, windows, closets and doors in your notebook. Include distance of window moldings from corners, floor and ceiling. Use measurements or blueprints to make a “to scale” floor plan and determine your furniture placement for moving day. Your movers will love your organization!
  3. DONATE Before you Move – things like furniture, clothing and accessories that aren’t really needed…or won’t mesh with the motif of your new home.  Packing and moving old baggage can be huge drain on the whole relocation process.
  4. Painting – Rooms, Closets & Ceilings that don’t fit with your existing decor ideas…before the move!  It’s so much easier when there are no heavy furnishings to move and the window treatments of your dreams aren’t yet in place.
  5. Kitchen Cupboards, Drawers & Closet Shelves – Clean and paper the inside of each.
  6. Floor Coverings – replace old worn out coverings…or clean carpets before your furniture arrives.  Nothing like a fresh, clean, new home for your family!
  7. Room Light – On a sunny day, visit the new home a take notes on how light shines into each room.  Jot down quick ideas about which window coverings will make the room most usable and comfortable?

Window coverings make an enormous difference in reflecting your personality & style…and your overall enjoyment of your home. They offer privacy, enhance light quality, add beauty…They even help reduce utility bills. Blinds, shades, shutters and drapery are classic treatments that bring style into a room without overpowering it. They’ll last and be valued as long as you own your home!  Whether your new home reflects the tastes of previous owners…or is brand spanking new…you can imbue it with your own personal decorating touch with Allied Drapery Service & Hunter Douglas.

Energy Efficiency Tips for Winter Window Coverings

Installing window coverings throughout a home will minimize the escape of heat and cut down on the use of electricity.

  • Professional Measurement – of your custom window treatments by a seasoned window coverings expert.
  • Honeycomb Construction – the most energy-efficient window treatments utilize it (e.g. Hunter Douglas Duvette)
  • Roller Shades – can be controlled with a chain or an electrical light switch.
  • Louvered Shutters – available in three styles: Cafe, plantation and sliding…including wood and faux-wood construction
  • Minimize Fading from Sun Exposure – Window treatments protect rugs, paintings and furniture fabrics.
  • West-facing Windows – need the most coverage because they allow the hottest light to pass through.
  • South-facing Windows – are the most important natural light source and need only light coverage.

natural wood blinds - custom drapery

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Window Coverings ABCs

The array and depth of so many types of window coverings can sometimes overwhelm a homeowner or business owner with an urgent need to make a choice!   This short primer takes a brief look at a handful of window treatment options that offer expedient, functional and stylish personality to your office or home….including blinds, valances, panels and shutters .

Are you a fan of the popular makeover, house flipping programs on television these days?  One of the most popular home decorating TV networks…HGTV tells us in their “Top 10 Window Treatment Trends,” all-natural woven shades of the matchstick and bamboo variety is one of the most requested window coverings.  While offering privacy by diffusing light, they still allow you to view your beautiful outdoor surroundings.

But whether your tastes are trendy or traditional…you can rejuvenate your window styling with one of these excellent designs.


Affordability and practical ease of use keep blinds as one of the most popular window coverings year in and year out.  Complete privacy and sun blocking can be achieved with a flick of the wrist …and with the right choice, offer light filtering slats as a compromise.  Horizontal or vertical, wood or faux-wood, mini and venetian…the variety of options is staggering.  Clean lines, durability and practical light-weight design, blinds continue to grow in popularity as a perennial window coverings choice.


Photo by Flickr user Alosh Bennett



With a traditional yet versatile flair, valances allow you to dress up your windows without breaking the bank.  They can be hung by themselves or layered on top of curtains, sheers or shades in coordinating colors.  Just about any room is candidate for tailored valances that contain a sewn-in rod pocket at the top with a straight-edged bottom, inviting light to fill up the room. Installing a tier curtain beneath the valance permits a smaller square of a larger window to be visible. Balloon, scalloped, Australian and shaped valances have the same basic look, but differ in decorative shapes and pleats. Easily hung in minutes with a utility rod, valances are one of the most cost effective ways of adding real character to your windows.

window coverings san jose ca

Photo by Flickr user

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