If your new set of custom drapery, window shades or blinds do not have the finished look you expected or do what you want them to do--you will never be totally satisfied with them. When it comes to window treatments, it is easy to get sidetracked by the way they look in the store and forget about how they may look in your home. It is also easy to forget the functional need of window treatments. In order to get the most for your time and money, it is helpful to know what type of window covering best suits your needs and how you want the window treatments to function.

Window Treatment Function

One of the main elements of window coverings is light control. When choosing drapery or other types of window coverings, you should consider the amount of coverage you need and want. For example, to avoid being woken up at the break of dawn on a Saturday morning, it is best to have drapes that block out the light. On the other hand, if you have a room where you want a lot of light to come into, you could consider sheer curtains.

Curtains Vs. Draperies

Although the terms curtains and drapes are both used to describe fabric window coverings, there are a few differences between the two. Curtains are typically unlined, lightweight and suspended from a rod, rings or tabs. Curtains are casual and used more for decorative purposes than functional purposes. Drapery panels are usually lined and more formal, floor length and attached by hooks to a drapery rod. Drapes typically have a cord mechanism that allows you to open and close them.

Valances and Cornices

A valance is a decorative piece placed at the top of the window. It is typically used to conceal drapery hardware or add a decorative element to window blinds or shades. Valances include short pleated drapes, swags, canopies and cascades. A cornice is typically made of plastic or wood and covered with fabric. A cornice is placed at the top of a window to cover hardware or to add a decorative element to the design.

Blinds and Shades

Blinds are made with slats of various materials, such as wood, aluminum or plastic. They are available with wide or narrow slats that are vertical or horizontal. A pulley is used to raise or lower them, which allows you to control the amount of light let into the room. Blinds can be used alone or with draperies, curtains, cornices or valances. Shades, unlike blinds that have slats, are made with a single piece of material large enough to cover the window. Roller shades are the most common type of shades and are often made from a thick material, such as vinyl.

Interior Shutters

Louvered shutters are ideal for small windows that are difficult to cover with curtains or drapes. Shutters can be stained or painted to match your decor, and they can be used with cornices or valances. The louvers allow you to adjust the direction of the light entering the room. It is important to have the correct measurements for window coverings, so make sure to measure the window ahead of time. When measuring the window for curtains or drapes, allow for room to hang the rod at the top of the window. For example, for floor length drapes, measure from 1-2 inches above the glass to the floor. When measuring for blinds and shades, measure the width of the window.

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