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The type of window treatments you use in your home can have a big impact on the interior decor of your place. They can also be a little expensive, making us put off dressing our windows. The vast choices available can be daunting as well.

Window coverings can be functional, purely decorative or both. They can be soft (made of fabric) or hard (vinyl, metal or wood) or both. There are many considerations when choosing a window treatment. One should take into account the need for privacy, insulation, light, energy conservation, appearance and, of course, cost. Privacy and the degree of light control tend to be the most important.

Window treatments include drapery, blinds, shades and shutters. Drapery tends to refer to more elaborate window coverings and can come in a wide variety of fabric and styles. You can buy standard size drapes at many stores, lined or unlined (think of as light and energy filters), but there is an amazing variation in style: They can be gathered at the top in different styles, creating tailored or ornate looks. A standard pinch pleat, or a gathering of fabric in a pleated fold at the top of the drapery is common as is a rod pocket style, which is simply two lines of sewing through which the rod is threaded.

In addition to the top or heading style, the bottom hem can be straight and by custom should stop 1½ inches from the floor. Or the hem can be pooled in a dramatic puddle on the floor. What you choose depends on your style and your lifestyle. (Pooled drapes may not be good for households with cats!)

Likewise, shades, the most common window treatment, can also be varied and interesting. Roll-up shades can be made out of fabric, but also out of wood or bamboo slats. Soft treatments can be made in a balloon style, roman style or accordion pleat, to name a few.

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Choosing the right window covering can add height, color and depth to any room. For example, not only does the decorative element coordinate with your taste and design, but the amount of light that filters into the room from the window will change the perception of the other colors and furniture in your room.

For a bedroom, you may want shades or drapery that have a blackout lining for sleeping comfort. Assuming privacy is not a consideration in the living room where you may want a soft light to filter in at all times of day, a sheer drapery panel may be appropriate. For a kitchen, keeping things simple is best, as one should consider the effects of grease and food particles on the material used. For the bathroom, a soft sheer and simple valance work to soften hard surfaces, again if privacy is not a concern.

Layers of draperies are a nice option for a minimalist room because it can give warmth to any space as well as create texture and depth. Placing plain blinds composed of neutral colors is ideal for homes that are elaborately furnished since, while adding some depth, can act as a simple background. Hard top treatments such as cornices can serve as a frame behind which the fabric panels are hung.

If it’s a beautiful window, sheers are the answer. If it’s a problem window, drapery can hide a lot of flaws.

The elements of style, function and taste play a role in all window treatments. Don’t be daunted by the choices; the right window dressing enhances any room.

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Deborah Macdonald is the owner of Textured Design Napa (formerly, Napa At Home), an interior design firm that believes in modern livability and creates elegant interior design with a practical purpose. TDN finds solutions to design challenges in unexpected places and is fluent in a wide range of styles. Contact Deborah at 707-255-0246, Deborah@textureddesignnapa.com, www.textureddesignnapa.com.

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