Window Treatment Primer – Part 2 – Get What You Need

How do you cut through the noise and confusion when it comes to excellent custom window treatments?


a) With luck and a prayer
b) With a martini and a map
c) With a good, fair, sensible and ethical designer.

Hopefully – you selected option C. Now, put down the vodka…this need not be painful.

Here are some things you should look for and discuss with your designer when dipping your toe into the deep waters of custom window treatments. As you read, you’ll see a variety of treatments I’ve done for clients in the not too distant past. They range from simple and understated, to lush and richly detailed, or as you see here – to quite signature and show stopping. Always – the design concept comes from my careful analysis of my clients’ design fingerprint…what they they crave and how to make their interiors look and ‘feel’ marvelous to them. The shots shown in this post were not taken when the rooms were fully completed… ….but they do show the endless range possible with excellent custom window design.

Here are some pointers to help you on your custom window treatment journey:


1) Budget. You must know your budget so your designer can work to that budget – not over it. Avoid the cat-and-mouse game of “what do you think it will cost?” That’s like asking…”What will food cost?” Do you mean breakfast, lunch, dinner – a meal out or a meal at home – at Duncan Donuts or at the Four Seasons? If you’ve picked the right designer, you should be able to honestly and comfortably discuss ‘the b word’ – budget – with her. And if you didn’t…go get another designer. You deserve better!

2) Function. What do you need to do with your treatments? Do you need opaque privacy? Veiled privacy and light control? Must the treatments close? Do you need layered treatments – one component that closes and another that remains stationary for ‘decoration?’ Would you like your window treatments open and close with a remote control? Bare in mind…the more moving parts put on a window treatment – the more fabric and the more flourishes – though they may grow in beauty and function…they they will also grow in dollars out of pocket. This is logically due to the elevated raw materials and labor needed to achieve those very enhancements.

3) Design (Aka…what you want it to look like.) Notice this last topic came AFTER budget and function. Pretty comes last – function comes first – and regrettably budget drives all of design so get budget and function ironed out first. A smart and talented designer can guide you.


As far as the ‘beauty end’ goes – Do pull inspiration photos to share with your designer. Look for patterns in what you’ve pulled out to show her. Do you like simple straight lines? Lots of flourishes? Are you drawn to lots of folds? Do you like when your window treatments leap off the wall – or settle quietly against the wall color? Do you prefer under-dressed windows? Do you like lots of glass? Do you like unexpected flourishes? Are you confused? A smart and talented designer should be able to reach underneath your language to find your true cravings.


4) Correct challenges. Consider features in your room you’d like corrected or enhanced with your window treatments. Do you need to pull together some furnishings? Are you trying to update your space? Do you wish your windows appeared larger or your ceiling higher? These challenges can be addressed with Wise Design in window treatments. Pictured here – these lush, formal treatment perfectly appeal to my clients formal and French preferences. She originally asked for floor length panels in this narrow hallway…but for safe footing in both day and in the evening, we agreed that sill length would do the trick.

A word of help if you are budget squeezed:

If you are the top of your budget just trying to get into the custom drapery world, but you really do want the customized fabric choices and fullness that custom window treatments provide – (not to mention flourishes and dress-maker details…) then do yourself and your squeezed budget a favor and keep your designs as simple as possible. Think about it – simpler designs require less fabric and far, far less labor. As an aside…let me share that custom treatments are a high labor game. They require endless hours to fabricate and fabricate well…that’s why they cost what they…and look as marvelous as they do.


If custom window treatments are out your price range entirely – than go for the best you can afford in ready mades. Try catalogers like Smith and Noble for what I’d call “solid” semi-custom product that delivers a good value within the price range. And if you’re looking for ready mades, I think Restoration Hardware does good looking simple treatments in the ready-made world – but they do them with a more lush and full look than the big bed and bath shops will. (for kids rooms and nurseries…bed and bath shops are great…please no pull chords however!)


So how do you get what you want in the custom window treatment world? Be clear on your goals – clear on your needs – clear on your budget – and go to the right resources. A good designer should be able to assist – or at the least – help point you int the right direction when it comes to plunking down dollars and decisions on such an critically important room element as window treatments.

Good luck!