Window Treatments 101

Tips from the pros on how to solve your window fashion dilemmas


Designer: Annette Hannon, Annette Hannon
Interior Design, Ltd., Burke, Virginia.

A double-hung window may be the industry standard, but the American classic is slowly losing ground to its more dramatic custom-built counterparts. And while windows that span multiple stories or cover an entire wall look great, the perennial problem arises: How can they be covered?

From spicing up the traditional to formalizing the unconventional, seven area designers weigh in on what to include (and what to avoid) when dressing your windows in style.

Designer: Annette Hannon, Annette Hannon Interior Design, Ltd., Burke, Virginia
Window Type: Dramatically different-sized windows
Dilemma: “In this room, we had one large window and two smaller windows,” Annette Hannon says. “The smaller windows were flanking the same corner of the room.”
Designer Solution: “For balance, I chose to ‘bookend’ each window with only one panel, sweeping the panels toward each corner with a tassel,” she says. “This created a more dramatic area, which could hold its own against windows more than double its size. A lot of people feel drapery treatments should simply cover the window opening—especially on windows that are not full length. But with typical eight-foot ceilings, like we have here, this treatment gives the illusion of height.“


Designer: Vivianna Irizarri, Cachet Furnishings & Interiors, LLC
Oakhill, Virginia.

Designer: Vivianna Irizarri, Cachet Furnishings & Interiors, LLC, Oakhill, Virginia
Window Type: Multiple-sized windows
Dilemma: Creating a uniform look with different-sized windows. “Two of the four windows were six inches smaller than the others,” says designer Irizarri. “I needed to give the illusion they were all the same size.”
Designer Solution: “Getting the correct proportion made all the difference in the finished appearance of the room,” she says. She and her team also hand-designed the cornices using plywood and faux-finish gold leaf accents that complement the room’s architectural elements.


Designer: Natascha von Blumencron, NF interiors, LLC
Great Falls, Virginia.
Designer: Natascha von Blumencron, NF interiors, LLC, Great Falls, Virginia
Window Type: Windows in low-lit areas
Dilemma: Letting in filtered sunlight while still creating a sophisticated window treatment.
Designer Solution: “Most people still believe that window treatments need to be heavy, mostly silk to create a finished look,” says von Blumencron. “Being from Belgium, I grew up with the gorgeous look of Belgian linen and know that in the end, linen will always work in any interior.” Her signature lightweight panels create “an informal, yet finished look,” she says.


Designer: Deborah Wiener, Designing Solutions
Silver Spring, Maryland.

Designer: Deborah Wiener, Designing Solutions, Silver Spring, Maryland
Window Type: Double-Hung windows
Dilemma: This large master bedroom contained only a small set of double-hung windows to let in light. Worse still, the windows offered sub-par views of a busy street.
Designer Solution: Wiener says the trick is to go big. Most homeowners, she explains, create “a window treatment that is small in scale, to match the small-scale window.” Weiner instead “wanted to make the window seem more impressive than it really was,” using floor-length panels and a dramatic valance to create this effect.


Designer: Justine Sancho, Justine Sancho Interior Design, Ltd.
Potomac, Maryland.

Designer: Justine Sancho, Justine Sancho Interior Design, Ltd., Potomac, Maryland
Window Type: Long width, short height
Dilemma: “The room had a cathedral ceiling, however, the walls were relatively short,” says Sancho. “The result was a very wide and low window. A traditional drapery treatment would have created a ‘squat’ look.”
Designer Solution: “To compensate for this problem we employed a simple design concept: vertical panels at the extreme ends of the room added ‘height’ to the room while at the same time maximizing the view,” Sancho says. “A Roman shade, fabricated with color-coordinated fabrics, anchors the panels.”


Designer: Susan Utley, Design Studio, Bethesda, Maryland.

Designer: Susan Utley, Design Studio, Bethesda, Maryland
Window Type: Floor to ceiling, at a 90-degree angle
Dilemma: The homeowners wanted a warm and cozy feel for their sitting room, but the uncovered floor-to-ceiling windows made the room feel cold and uninviting. But the condo had a cement ceiling with tension rods that could not be drilled through for structural reasons.
Designer Solution: Susan Utley and her team found a way to bend and anchor the rods needed to hang dark silk dupioni panels layered with sheers underneath. “We had a beautiful and perfect look at the end of a long road, plus a happy customer,” Utley says.


Designer: Alice Busch, Great Falls Distinctive Interiors, Inc.
Chantilly, Virginia.

Designer: Alice Busch, Great Falls Distinctive Interiors, Inc., Chantilly, Virginia
Workroom: Exclusive Draperies & Upholstery
Window Type: Two-Story Windows
Dilemma: The immense height of the windows offers a dramatic view, but also lets in enormous amounts of sunlight, which has the potential to fade furniture quickly.
Designer Solution: Busch and her team broke from the norm, creating floor-to-ceiling silk taffeta drapes. “By placing panels at the ceiling, the treatment draws the eye up and makes the room more cohesive and less disjointed,” she says. “It illustrates a dramatic contrast from the floor to the ceiling.” Busch says it’s also important to keep the hardware proportionate. “For a treatment like this, we use a three-foot drapery hardware rod to keep it in scale with the treatment.”