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If These Walls Could Talk

What is a Window Treatment?

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05/01/2009 - The term "window treatment" usually refers to a functional or decorative covering hung over the window's glass like curtains or draperies. However, it can be anything done to a window to enhance, emphasize, cover, disguise, hide, or "decorate" it. It includes curtains and draperies, but also includes shades, blinds, shutters, swags, cornices, decorative rods, and trim painting. It can be anything done to the glass itself, such as tinting, etching, or adding stained or leaded glass panels.

Why does a home need window treatments? A room's windows are one of its' strongest architectural elements both physically and psychologically. They are a bridge between indoors and outdoors, and the changing light that comes through them is one of the room's liveliest features. They deserve decorative consideration.

Window treatments can enhance or even set the mood of a decorating scheme. They can emphasize or de-emphasize the window. If the window has a spectacular view, side panels and top treatments draw attention to it as a focal point. If the window has an especially interesting shape, treatments can accentuate the shape. If the windows are badly placed or awkwardly proportioned, camouflaging treatments cause them to blend into their surroundings and "disappear".

Beyond the decorative aspects, there are also numerous functional issues a window treatment should address. One concern is privacy. A sheer window treatment will filter the sunlight during the day and restrict visibility from outside the house. At nighttime, draperies, shades or shutters provide privacy.

Light control is another issue. Sheers, tinting, stained glass, and some loose-weave shades filter light. Shutters and blinds can alter the angle and amount of light entering the room. Lined draperies and opaque shades totally eliminate unwanted light when desired. Often, a combination of treatments works best for the highest flexibility.

The best window treatments also address energy conservation. They help lower both heating and cooling bills. Closed against the afternoon sun, they lower the room's temperature by several degrees--- especially if they have white or reflective linings to deflect the sun. Closed at night, they reduce the heat lost through the glass, and keep the inside temperature a few degrees warmer. Shades and draperies designed with extra thermal insulation increase this effect.

Noise control is another benefit. Even lightweight treatments reduce the room's noise level. The more insulated the treatment, the greater the noise absorption. They go a long ways in reducing outdoor noise infiltration as well.

Each house, each room, and each window has different needs. Window treatments can be combined for the perfect blend of benefits.

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