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By:  Helen Houston CreamerHelen Houston Creamer

Stand in a beautifully decorated room and notice how your eye is drawn to the windows – they’re inevitably the focal point that sets the tone and the “bones” of any successful decorating plan.  And, how you accessorize your windows affects not only the mood inside your home, but also the appearance from the outside.  When shopping for window custom window treatments, don’t buy blindly.  Come prepared with the info to help you make better choices.

During a client consultation last week, we’re sitting on the carpet in a HUGE flex room of a soon-to-be- complete custom home talking about window treatments.  We are surrounded with dozens of fabric selections, diagrams, wood and metal hardware samples, and then I notice my clients’ eyes have glazed over.  I know they are trying to listen, but I’m sure all they are hearing is, “MWOH-MWUH-WUH-MWA-WAW.”

It may not seem like it, but there are tons of details involved with creating the perfect window dressing.  As an overly-energetic window fashions certified professional, they are all compelling, but to others it’s like sitting through a trigonometry lecture.  From matriarchs to macho men, attention spans stop where talk of fabric choices end and pleats and lining begin.

Whether you’re saving up to have a wall of windows draped or ready to place a custom order with a designer, just knowing the terminology will go a long way in understanding what goes into creating draperies and make you look as though you know what you’re talking about when you are ready to place your custom order.  You’ll get the look you want and save time and money, too.  Here are just a few:

Pleat Style

Here is where I usually send my clients’ brains into sensory overload; choosing a pleat style.  It may seem like a small detail, but it can change the look from feminine to masculine, formal to casual or from ultra-modern to uber-traditional.  The pleat refers to the tailoring at the very top of the panel.  There are more than a dozen styles to choose from.  However, if you want to stick with styles which are gender-neutral and fit for both contemporary and traditional homes, stick with an inverted box pleat or top-pinch tailored pleat.


When it comes to window treatments, break is just a term to where the bottom of the drapery panel sits in relation to the floor.  A half-inch off the floor is traditional and keeps the drapery from gathering dust or from being trampled on by the dog.  For a more dramatic look, draperies can “puddle” on the floor.   I encourage the “puddle” because if you’re paying that much for fabric you should enjoy all of it that you can.  That extra length of fabric lets you arrange the drapery so you achieve a fuller look and also take advantage of the folds and the light reflection off the fabric.


Lining can make or break the way your draperies hang.  Terms like “bumph,” “1-pass lining” and “3-pass lining” can be bandied about and confuse the issue even more.  But, there is some practical advice on when to line and when not to line.  Linings on lightweight fabrics ensure they will hang well.  Thicker fabrics are given an extra boost, resulting in a more tailored effect.  While regular lining helps block a little of the sun, you’ll need to go with blackout lining if you intend to keep light 100 percent out of your room.  On the other hand, decorating with a sheer drapery certainly lends itself to a light and airy feel and lining would detract from the overall appeal.  A good lining will have an impact on your drapery budget but is worth it in the way the drapery looks and the way they last.

Pattern Repeat

If you choose to go with a print fabric on your window treatments, keep in mind the effect is totally different than if you were using the fabric for upholstery.  When the fabric lays flat on an ottoman, for example, you get the full effect of the pattern.  When the ripple effect from the top pleats of the drapery factor in, the pattern takes on a whole different appeal.  A large pattern repeat on a fabric will also have impact on the budget.  Matching patterns may result in fabric waste.

Drapery Hardware

Now we are entering budget-breaking territory – hardware. It’s not unusual to hear a gasp from clients when we discuss hardware pricing.   If you’re simply putting up two single panels, it’s no big thing.   But, if you’re covering an entire wall of windows or several rooms, that’s another story.  Just as the wrong accessory can make or break an outfit, drapery hardware can totally change the dressing of your window and pull off that ultimate statement.

In addition to choosing the right finish for the hardware (wood, resin, metal), you need to keep in mind how the hardware will attach to the wall or ceiling.  In serving a critical purpose for hanging draperies, brackets are also created to fully complement the other hardware components in design and color. And then there are finials—the crown jewels of drapery hardware.  When deciding which one is right for our space, think about cost in relation to how visible it’s going to be from different vantage points in the room.  If the window is the star of the space then spend away!  But, if finials butt up into corners or adjacent walls, go for the budget version.

Helen Houston Creamer is the owner and principal designer for Hues and Vues, a window fashion design studio.   Hues & Vues is located in the Falcon Mesa business complex off of Falcon Ridge Parkway near Boulevard Home Furnishings in Mesquite, NV.  Helen is a window fashion certified professional and certified color consultant.  The retail showroom is open weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and evenings and weekends by appointment.  Helen invites all to stop by and enjoy the creative and colorful fabric vignettes, the shutter, blind and shades displays and the thousands of fabrics available for custom fabrication.   Contact Hues and Vues by calling 702-346-0246, or stopping by 350 Falcon Ridge Parkway  Building 100 Suite 102.   www.huesandvues.comAce-RadioShackHH NovHues & Vueshh Kokopelli HH Liberty Tax.HH Lock Doc HH Rooster CottageHH Sears-BF HH F