This Orange County (California) native loves helping clients re-imagine their homes. With a degree in interior design from Orange County College and 14 years of experience, she believes window coverings make an enormous impact.
Today’s modern window treatments are not your grandmother’s drapes. Everything from the material, to the patterns, styles, and, more than anything, the technology, has evolved.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that window treatments are still the most focal and functional part of a room’s design. When the window treatments are done just right, people may not even notice them — but when they’re done wrong, they’ll absolutely be noticed. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to put careful consideration into your window treatments, no matter what style or function they provide.
To fully appreciate today’s styles and window treatments, it helps to consider the origin story. There was a time when a window was just a literal hole in the wall; wooden shutters were used to keep out the cold and decor had nothing to do with it. Even as fabrics were developed, curtains and drapes were used to keep the cold air out of a bed frame or to divide a one-room home into two. For a long time, it was function over form. Eventually, when different fabrics like silk and cotton became more widely available and people began experimenting with different dyes, style became a factor. Wealthier households had hand-stitched drapes hung over windows, doorways, and around their bedposts; this is when interior design started playing a major role in window treatments.
Today mass-produced curtains and blinds dominate, but those with an eye for design often take the custom route, and there are great options available. Homeowners are no longer limited to the bare minimum of shutters or overly heavy drapery. With custom options, they’re also not limited to the same patterns and styles everyone else has. Popular window treatments include Roman shades — which still reflect the same concept developed centuries ago — roller shades, solar shades, wood blinds, faux wood blinds, draperies, a variety of top treatments, and many more. Many of them can be made from eco-friendly materials, set up to be automated / integrated with an existing home automation system, and customized to fit a home’s exact specifications. No matter what a homeowner’s preferred style is, there’s a window treatment to fit it.
Today’s hottest window treatments trends include tech-savvy home automation, environmentally friendly products, and a shift to cooler neutral shades. This article will reveal a few of the major trends our designers predict for the next year.
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1. Custom Drapes Over Off-The-Shelf Curtains
Custom drapes and window treatments used to be a major investment. Today, however, it would be a mistake not to consult a professional designer before deciding on your next window treatments. Besides being commitment and cost-free, a consultation with a professional design specialist may uncover some affordable window treatment options you hadn’t considered when looking at off-the-shelf curtains, drapes, or blinds.A designer will take the time to personally understand your decor goals for a room, taking into account budget and practicality before presenting you with some options that work with your overall style. Considering it’s often a free service, there’s really no reason not to engage with a design professional as you begin your search for the ideal window treatments.
Still, some people might wonder what advantage custom drapes offer over off-the-shelf curtains. The first and most important factor is fit. While off-the-shelf drapes may be the right size for your window, that doesn’t take into account factors such as frame coverage — that is, how far drapes should extend beyond the window width or height. In many instances, selecting custom drapes that extend beyond the top height of a window can immediately transform the room, making ceilings seem higher than they actually are by drawing the eye upwards. Similarly, a room with particularly small windows or low light can be helped with sheers or drapes that extend far wider than the window itself. This helps diffuse light throughout the room and also creates a luxurious feel.
Another reason to opt for custom window treatments is to cope with quirks your house might have, such as uneven floors or angled ceilings. Custom drapes can account for any oddities such as these and will help avoid drapes that are too long from slouching or drapes that are too short from creating uneven floor gaps.
2. The Rise of Greige
Greige has, indisputably, become the new neutral for the new decade. A combination of gray and beige, it’s a tone that’s both neutral and rich at the same time — which works well in any room. Despite their name, neutrals can actually be some of the hardest colors to match. When it comes to choosing the right shade of beige or the right white, it can be difficult to find the right balance of warm and cool tones. Too cool of a tone can make a room feel cold and unwelcoming, and too warm can make it feel dark. Greige offers a 50/50 blend of cool and warm tones, making it one of the most versatile neutral color choices. Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing shades of greige take top billing when it comes to modern window treatments.
The greatest thing about greige window treatments are their versatility. They work with just about any style, from classic colonial to minimal modern. Greige is also an excellent choice for rooms where a defining style is still unestablished or may change soon — simply because it matches everything. When choosing custom window treatments for a rental property, for instance, greige is definitely the way to go.
One thing our designers advise clients to keep in mind when selecting greige window treatments is how natural light will affect the look of the chosen fabric or blinds. Greige has a tendency to appear warmer under natural light and cooler under most artificial light. For darker rooms, this means you’ll want to make sure the rest of the room’s color palette complements the cooler tones of greige, and for brighter rooms you’ll want to skew warm. Our designers can help you decide which window treatment colors will work best in your space based on your existing palette and natural light. From there, you can order swatches to try out different fabrics and colors and see how they work with the natural light in your space at different times of day.
3. Faux Is the Way to Go
Long gone are the days when faux wood blinds looked like cheap plastic replicas of the real thing. Today’s faux wood blinds truly look the real thing, and may even offer some advantages over real wood. First of all, they’re more affordable, so they make a great choice for larger projects such as entire home renovations. They also offer more stability and durability. Unlike wood blinds, faux wood blinds can be used in areas of high humidity such as bathrooms or outdoors. The durable composite material doesn’t warp when wet and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth. They can also be crafted in such a way as to completely eliminate visible cord holes, which blocks out more light for ultimate privacy and light control. For bedrooms, this is a big advantage and eliminates the need for blackout curtains in order to have complete light control.
Faux wood blinds are also more durable than real wood blinds, which can warp or otherwise be easily damaged over time. This makes them more eco-friendly — another trend we’ll get to in a bit. Not only are they longer lasting than real wood, they’re also fully recyclable when it does come time to replace them. Aesthetically, the selection of faux wood blinds offered today also rivals their real counterparts. Thanks to a wide variety of available colors and finishes, more and more designers choose faux wood.
One caveat to consider when it comes to faux wood blinds is their weight. For larger windows, they may not be the ideal choice as faux wood is heavier than real wood. While they could still be a practical choice if they remain closed most of the time, opening and closing faux wood blinds on a large window can be something of a struggle. In this case, it may be smarter to go with real wood blinds which are lighter and require fewer slats. A professional designer can assess your specific situation and help you decide if real or faux is the way to go.
4. Eco-Friendly Automation
One trend we’re especially excited to see evolve year after year is eco-friendly home design. From solar roofs to smart thermostats, energy-efficient design has become the norm rather than the exception for savvy developers, renovators, and builders. Given that over 75% of the average home’s energy use is spent on heating, cooling, and lighting, it should come as no surprise that energy-efficient window treatments are at the forefront of eco-friendly home design.
Investing in window treatments such as solar shades (which help block UV rays and keep things cool) or cellular shades (which insulate windows and help retain heat in colder climates) has long been an effective strategy for energy efficiency at home. More recently, automation has come into play. Custom solar and cellular shades, among other types, can be automated to maximize energy efficiency according to the day or seasons. Scheduling shades to be open or closed depending on heating or cooling needs goes a long way in saving on energy costs and expenditures, and we expect this trend will continue to evolve well past 2020.
These days, there are kits you can buy to turn existing blinds into smart blinds. However, these kits are not as reliable as custom roller shades and blinds that are installed with a motorized operation already in place.. In both cases, the motor mechanisms connect to your Wi-Fi so you can set up a shade schedule with an app on your smartphone. For energy efficiency, the concept is pretty simple. It generally means leaving shades open more often during daylight hours during the winter to save on heating, and closed during the summer to save on cooling. However, there are also other factors to consider, such as your personal schedule at home and privacy needs. Also keep in mind that insulated window treatments such as cellular shades are designed to increase energy efficiency year-round by insulating windows, and may not require automation at all to save on heating and cooling costs.
5. Bold Prints
You’ve probably heard of accent walls, but how about accent windows? Bold prints are making a comeback when it comes to custom window treatments. Since custom panels, drapes, and even roller shades come in such a wide variety of colors and patterns, we’re seeing more and more designers treating window treatments almost like wallpaper. Choosing a bold pattern, or even just a vibrant color, can add a serious punch to any room.
When it comes to patterns and prints, most designers tend to stick with an established theme for an accent window. Whether it’s a color palette found throughout the space or a print that reflects other nature-inspired elements of the room’s overall design, selecting a window treatment that complements the established space is a classic way for designers to add interest without taking things too over-the-top. In a space that otherwise is relatively neutral, almost any print could work, from bold florals to vibrant paisley.
One advantage of accent shades that designers also love is the fact that they’re a dynamic element in the room. Unlike wallpaper, bold designs on window treatments get adjusted throughout the day. A bold print on roller shades can look just right at night when the shades are down but can be drawn away during the day time for a more minimalist look. Unlike accent walls, bold accent window treatments offer flexibility in any setting.
6. Layered Window Treatments
While it’s not exactly a trend, layered window treatments in a modern setting are having a bit of a renaissance. Thanks to modern automated solar shades, roller shades, and blinds, treatments such as custom drapes, valances, and panels have begun to take on a purely decorative role in some arrangements. Pairing purely practical automated shades with decorative custom drapes or panels offers the best of both worlds. The shades offer flexibility when it comes to privacy and energy efficiency, while custom drapes help establish the style of a room and can add visual interest with bold colors or patterns.
This type of layering allows immense creativity to come into play–which also means the options are endless. An easy way to start is by asking yourself about the practical aspects of your window treatments. Do you need blackout shades? Or is the priority purely a decorative pattern? A consultation with a professional designer can help you determine your priorities based on both practicality and style.
Once you’ve nailed down the essentials from a practical perspective, your designer can help you get as creative as you’d like with layered window treatments. A recent trend has been pairing minimalist roller shades with custom floor-to-ceiling panels. The panels create a dramatic effect that makes windows appear larger while the shades offer a practical yet neutral backdrop to control light and privacy.
Sheers also play a big role in the layered window treatment trend. They have long been the go-to for providing privacy and softening the look of a space without completely blocking light. On their own, they’re a minimalist’s dream, but they can also take on a maximalist attitude with layered looks. Simple sheers can provide a neutral backdrop for bold valances or dramatic panels in bright colors or patterns. This is an ideal setup for windows where privacy is a constant issue — sheers can be left closed all the time without sacrificing too much natural light.
7. A New Decade of Window Decor
While not a trend per se, most interior designers will also tell you that custom window treatments offer a much better return on investment in the long run. On average, quality custom window treatments last twice as long as off-the-shelf varieties. This is mostly due to the fact that custom treatments are made with better quality materials to begin with, but also because properly fitted and professionally installed treatments experience less wear and tear over the years.
Custom window treatments also add value to your home, just as a room renovation or kitchen upgrade would. So, even if you’re not living in your forever-home yet, investing in custom windows can be well worth the cost.
Stoneside Blinds and Shades is the #1-rated full-service window covering company in America, offering a wide selection of high-quality coverings that provide privacy and light control while enhancing the beauty of your home or office.
By Stoneside Design Consultant, Gabby De Melo