Window Treatment Alternatives for Victorian Homes

From the “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco’s Alamo Square residential neighborhood and park…to the historic downtown San Jose mansions that still stand tall and proud, the Bay area is full of beautiful Victorian homes that shout out to California’s cultural past. While some new purchasers of these classic homes stay on the traditional path as the redecorating begins…other prefer a more hybrid approach.

For a classic Victorian treatment, use interior wood shutters or blinds that match your woodwork in a way that ties in with the architecture of your house. No need to stay true to the heavy, fussy, layered Victorian style for window treatments. ~ Jennifer Adams

victorian home bedroom window with fauxwood shutters overlooking wooded property

Founder of award-winning interior decorating firm, Jennifer Adams Design Group, Jennifer Adams is an acclaimed author and TV personality on a nationally syndicated daytime TV design program (The Better Show).

In this short Q&A session with a new homeowner who had just purchased a Victorian…and seemed eager for advice on doing window coverings somewhat off the traditional path. Jennifer points out that some of the drawbacks of the original Victorian window treatment style are that it’s dramatic construct tends to block out too much exterior light…while keeping hidden the elaborately beautiful woodwork that these classic homes are renowned for.

Jennifer’s basic answer:

Use interior wood shutters or blinds that match your woodwork in a way that ties in with the architecture of your house.

If you choose Shades, consider ones made of natural materials or fabric that are mounted midway…leaving the top portion exposed to allow more light. may be another solution if you don’t mind the look of the mounting hardware or having a roll of material across the center of your window. Or…only if your windows have deep sills, reverse blinds or shades that stack is another cleaner look.

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Victorian Home Window-Treatment Options: Minimalist View

From the “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco’s Alamo Square residential neighborhood and park…to the historic downtown San Jose mansions that still stand proud and tall, the Bay area is full of beautiful Victorian homes that shout out to our California cultural past.  While some new  purchasers of these classic homes stay on the traditional path as the redecorating begins…other prefer a more hybrid approach.

For a classic Victorian treatment, use interior wood shutters or blinds that match your woodwork in a way that ties in with the architecture of your house. No need to stay true to the heavy, fussy, layered Victorian style for window treatments. ~ Jennifer Adams Inc.

victorian home bedroom window with fauxwood shutters overlooking wooded property

Founder of award-winning interior decorating firm, Jennifer Adams Design Group, Jennifer Adams is an acclaimed author and TV personality on a nationally syndicated daytime TV design program (The Better Show).

In this short Q&A session with a new homeowner who had just purchased a Victorian…and seemed eager for advice on doing window coverings somewhat off the traditional path.  Jennifer points out that some of the drawbacks of the original Victorian window treatment style are that it’s dramatic construct tends to block out too much exterior light…while keeping hidden the elaborately beautiful woodwork that these classic homes are renowned for.

Jennifer’s basic answer:

Use interior wood shutters or blinds that match your woodwork in a way that ties in with the architecture of your house.

If you choose Shades, consider ones made of natural materials or fabric that are mounted midway…leaving the top portion exposed to allow more light. may be another solution if you don’t mind the look of the mounting hardware or having a roll of material across the center of your window.  Or…only if your windows have deep sills, reverse blinds or shades that stack is another cleaner look.

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7 Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value for $1000 or Less

Selling your home and want to maximize the final price?  It’s all about leverage.  What are some lower cost upgrades that yield the highest rewards when it comes to closing time?

Obviously, everyone wants a home that looks clean and well-maintained…and so do prospective buyers.  The question is…what can a seller do to primp and window dress on a practial level…without taking out a second mortgage for a major remodel?  Here are several cost effective strategies you can implement…each for under $1,000 that will have a line of competitive offers leading to your front door.  Speaking of front doors and window coverings…they just happen to be the first few items on our list:

  1. New Walkway – Remember your dating days and the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? It also works here with #1 and #2 on the list.  You can create positive expectancy for buyers with a new front door pathway that elevates their anticipation of “Eureka!” (I have found it…the search is over).  Whether it’s brick pavers, stone, concrete, or just rocks — the trick is to be sure the pathway’s look and feel matches your home’s style. It creates a welcoming feeling that invites newcomers to crave a closer look at your home.
  2. New Front Door – Just as the eyes are the windows to the soul…your home’s front door and entry way is where your home’s curb appeal creates impact and comes into focus. Whether you replace or just repaint it, the front door has built in emotional buttons that affect thoughts of safety and security.  A new door should have practical appeal (new hardware is important also)…using color to subtly conjure up emotion and add some style to your home’s introduction is great way to make a statement.
  3. New Blinds or Plantation Shutters Ahh…our specialty!  That ‘windows to the soul’ thing applies to your home’s window too!  New window coverings can dramatically impact and modernize a room. If your windows are a standard width, you can try the DIY route and purchase basic wood blinds at a home improvement store (and most allow you to customize the length). If you have irregular window sizes special-ordering them is the only smart choice. Plantation shutters often add dramatic appeal…and can be a final tipping point with your home’s next owners.high angle view of downtown San Jose, California residential housing area with a variety of neighborhood buildings.
  4. Water Filtration System – Who doesn’t have a positive response to the idea of ultra clean and pure water on a daily basis?  The addition of an entire-home water filtration system is just plain smart at a fundamental level.  The notion of filtering to remove pollutants and chemicals from our drinking water has become a necessity in most major metropolitan areas of the U.S.  The bandaid approach of dealing with the issue by using clunky, refillable 5- gallon bottles or even purchasing drinking water in environmentally unfriendly plastic bottles…is just not pragmatic.  Increase your home’s value and impress buyers with filtered water directly from any faucet in the house — it’s pure luxury, and this amenity will pay off now and in the future when it’s time to sell.
  5. Programmable Thermostat – A truly cost effective home upgrade is a programmable thermostat (even a Wi-Fi–enabled type that allows smartphone control) that allows you to customize a temperature profile throughout the day. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating your home accounts for more than 40% of its total energy usage.  Reducing the temperature inside your home by a degree or two while you sleep can lead to huge savings on a monthly basis.

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New Drapes? Think Functionality First

Las Vegas veteran interior designer Jackie Von Tobel knows drapery and curtains so well that she wrote the  book: “The Design Directory of Window Treatments” (Gibbs Smith).  She also knows that homeowners are often overwhelmed at the idea and process of choosing them for their residence or business.

Because drapery is “a very personal item,” and is often expensive…it sometimes scares would be buyers, said Von Tobel.  Custom-made drapes produced by professional window-treatment designers and manufacturers can cost thousands of dollars. Even those that are ready-made and available for purchase at retail stores — with the hardware required to hang them — can prove pricey.

Draperies are “definitely something (people) should invest in because it’s really the first thing you see when you walk in a house,” … “You look at what’s on the walls and its draperies, and it can set the tone for the whole room.”  ~ Jackie Von Tobel

Several measurements must be taken before selecting and hanging draperies. Window-covering companies typically provide in-home consultations that include taking measurements as part of their services.

For do-it-yourselfers, Von Tobel said there are “plenty of (websites) that will give you sort of guidelines on how to measure for your draperies.” She also recommends watching instructional videos on YouTube.  The measurement process can be tedious all by itself.

But of utmost importance…the available drapery fabric and design options are tremendously large and varied.

“Just by the fact that it is (made of) fabric, you’re going to have multiple choices to be made, and a lot of people are very uncomfortable making those choices for themselves,” said Von Tobel, who is also an interior-product designer.  She advises homeowners to begin the drapery selection process by considering how they will function in the home: “What do you need on that window? Is it just that you’re putting up something pretty to make it look nice, or do you need light-blocking? Do you need sun-blocking?”

When hung on a window with an accompanying pair of heavy, interlined curtains or drapes (into which an extra layer of lining material has been sewn between the ordinary lining and decorative fabric), blackouts can also effectively reduce sound.

Marlies Zieman, owner of Interior Visions, a Las Vegas-based wholesale drapery manufacturing company…agrees.  Working with local interior designers to create custom window coverings for high-end homes and other projects…for over 20 years…makes her perspective highly sought after.

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2016 Window Treatment Trends

Home decorating trends come, go and evolve…like so many other fashion oriented trends.  2016 is projected by home design experts to favor window treatments that will lean heavily toward the natural, organic, green and luxurious side of decorating.  Instead of acting as an accessory that adds to an overall flavor…windows will become the focal points in the design of the living area, as described by HGTV:

…let’s face it: If you neglect your windows in favor of a different design focus, you’ll be left with a bare view…Nothing says elegance like floor-to-ceiling window treatments in a neutral tone. [HGTV]

Organic materials like bamboo and matchsticks will be a favorite this coming new year. Smith+Noble’s product development manager Cindy O’Reilly shares that this type of window covering will allow light to enter homes but will offer considerable privacy, making home owners enjoy a balance in the two different environments.

Victorian SF Home - Traditional Drapery

Natural colors will also be a trend this 2016, paired with bold and dramatic colors like black and navy. Bright and beautiful colors will highlight the windows a home. Old World Interiors believes that bright and contrasting colors will play a big role in creating a statement for homes.

Fashionable fabrics and luxurious materials for window curtains will also return on the spotlight of home design this 2016. Fur, leather, silk, suede and velvet will be among the favorite materials for curtains and coverings. Simplicity will remain to be the main keyword for home designs this year, but a little luxury and intricate choices for accessories in homes will go a long way as well.

Promise of an even more stunning and visually appealing windows can be expected in the coming years…beginning with industry adaptations to technology and other new market offerings for 2016. Bold dramatic colors, green materials and even cutting edge technology will be the highlights of the coming year for window coverings.

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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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