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Decorating With Draperies

Formal fashion is timeless, tasteful…and never been easier to achieve. Indeed, today anyone can create a sophisticated style statement with draperies! The wide variety of constructions, fabric choices, and colors available in ready-made drapery panels make it an effortless process to update your décor or completely transform a room. Curtainworks offers this step-by-step guide to help you select the perfect components to develop a formal look you’ll love.

First, take a look at the type of room you are decorating: formal window treatments generally are used in the so-called “public” rooms of the house, including living rooms, dining rooms and guest bedrooms. Many people also prefer formal window fashions in master bedrooms; these window treatments often are designed to complement, or coordinate with, bedroom ensembles.

Second, carefully examine the colors in the room. If you already have a dominant color theme, you should select window treatments that complement or accent the existing shades. Conversely, if your walls and furnishings are in neutral shades, you may want to pick window treatments in rich colors to add dimension and a vibrant contrast within the room.

Third, check out the design motifs in the room. If your furnishings are covered in patterned fabrics, you may want to choose solid or textured fabrics for the draperies. Or, use a decorator’s trick and go with a contrasting pattern to add panache: for example if your room currently features a lot of smaller scale patterns, go with a bold, large-scale pattern at the window, or vice versa.

Other considerations are the functions your window treatments will address, including privacy, light control and energy efficiency. Most formal window treatments use heavier weight fabrics such as velvet, chenille, suede and silk, and many of these fabrics can be purchased with lining, interlining or special coatings to enhance energy savings and block out light. You also may want to use multiple layers, including sheer under-treatments, to filter out harmful UV rays that can fade carpets and furniture. As an added bonus, layered window treatments allow you to mix and match several styles and colors to maximize visual impact and create a truly decorative look.

Once you have a rough idea of what you’re looking for in terms of color, style and function, it’s time to start narrowing down your choices. Curtainworks presents a large assortment of formal drapery panels in solids, textures, stripes and fashionable florals. We also offer a wide variety of coordinating top treatments, as well as a complete range of stylish sheers.

Formal draperies generally are constructed of heavyweight, decorative fabrics and are offered in either lined or unlined styles. Drapery panels can be either stationary or moveable, and typically are offered in two constructions: a rod pocket configuration or a traditional pinch pleated style. Rod pocket draperies are hung by sliding the panels onto drapery rods or decorative poles, while pinch pleated draperies typically are hung on traverse rods, which open and close using a cord. If you wish to pull back and hold the drapery panels away from the window, you will need to purchase coordinating fabric tiebacks or fixed decorative drapery holdbacks mounted on the sides of the windows.

Draperies almost always are sold as individual panels, and measured width by length, with the width stated first. You will need to purchase enough curtain or drapery panels to give your window treatments “fullness,” generally one-and-a half to three times the final measured width of the window. Drapery panels typically are sold as individual panels, but should be purchased in pairs; wider windows will require more panels to achieve the desired look.

A critically important decorative feature in creating a formal window treatment is the valance, or top treatment. Valances usually cover the top one-quarter to one-third of the window, and are offered in myriad shapes and styles, including tailored valances, balloon valances, ascot valances and swags. Valances generally feature a rod pocket construction that slides onto a drapery rod or pole, and usually are stationary, rather than moveable. Formal valances often are trimmed in tassels, braided cording or beads as an additional decorative component. Valances almost always are sold as individual pieces, and measured width for length, with the width stated first. Again, you should purchase enough valances to give the appearance of "fullness" — generally one-and-a-half to three times the measured width of your window.

Another optional ingredient in a formal layered window treatment is a sheer under-treatment. Sheers are lightweight, airy curtains made of finely woven fabrics. Sheers allow a good deal of outside light to enter a room, yet filter out harmful UV rays that can fade furniture and carpets. Sheers almost always feature a rod pocket construction that slides onto a drapery rod or pole, and can be either stationary or moveable. Sheers generally are sold as individual panels and measured width for length, with the width stated first. Sheers almost always are sold as individual panels but should generally be purchased in pairs; wider windows will require more sheers. Various types of blinds or shades also can be used as under-treatments, especially in areas where greater privacy and light control are desired.

One final essential element—and finishing touch—for a formal window treatment is decorative hardware, including decorative rods or poles and coordinating drapery holdbacks, which are mounted on the sides of the window and used to “hold back” the drapery panels when they are open. Decorative rods and holdbacks are made of metal, wood, resin or plastic and offered in a wide variety of home-décor-friendly finishes and colors. Generally the ends of the poles and holdbacks are embellished with ornamental finials in various shapes, including balls, leaves, flowers, urns or scrolls. Decorative drapery clip rings also can be used to enhance the overall look, clipping onto the panels and allowing greater ease of movement while adding another fashion focal point.

Most decorative drapery rods are sold in adjustable widths; you will want to purchase a rod that is at least as wide as the final measured width of your window. Make sure that the finials extend beyond the final measured width so that they will be visible. Layered window treatments will require more than one rod; combination rods and rod sets are available to make the installation of layered treatments easier.

(Please see our “How To Measure & Install” section for more information on selecting the appropriate window coverings to fit your individual needs.)

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