Ask Design Mom: Window Coverings

April 25, 2007

Ask-Design-Mom Question:

I need some ideas for stylish window treatments in my living room that are not super expensive (no Smith+Noble for me!) but are baby-proof! I have an “almost-walker” who is 10 months and my existing curtains are just another means to pull up these days! I am looking for nighttime privacy but don’t need light control — I prefer bright rooms! thanks, Jen

Design Mom Answer:
Great question, Jen. I totally get you on the almost walker stage. I have very strong opinions on the whole window treatment subject. So, if our design styles don’t mesh in this area, my apologies in advance for giving advice you won’t use.

Basically, I prefer and am most drawn to simple, simple window coverings. If you have a substantial budget, I always recommend plantation shutters. They’re made of beautiful materials. They add an architechural element to any room. And because they’re mounted inside the window, they show off both the window itself and the moulding that surrounds it. Plantation shutters look good in pretty much any decor. Plus, there are no strings or weird hardware to present potential choking hazards — very baby friendly. I love the photo above from the West Elm summer catalog. I so crave a window like that.

If plantation shutters are a no go, my second recommendation is roman shades. Like plantation shutters, they can be mounted inside the window if you have a pretty window to show off. Alternately, they can be bought/ordered a bit oversize if you need to hide unattractive mouldings around the window. You can have them made — or make them yourself — from virtually any fabric, which is a great way to bring some color into a room. They look neat and clean and proper either opened or closed. Depending on fabric and construction, they can look either modern, formal or casual. Their installation is the simplest of any window covering I’ve discovered: just 2 brass hooks, no tools required.

I use roman shades throughout my house. A satisfying part of my morning routine is going from window to window, raising the shade to let the sun in, then winding the cord in a figure eight on a latch out of reach of the children. Ikea has a wide selection of inexpensive roman shades. I’ve even had excellent results dyeing their white ones (in my bathtub) to achieve a custom color.

I hope that helps, Jen! Design Mom Readers, what do you do for window coverings?

roman shade pic from pottery barn

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jen April 25, 2007 at 8:39 am

Oh my gosh! How fun to see my question popping up today. Thanks for all the great ideas!! –Jen


2 VIKY July 8, 2012 at 5:49 am


Here’s my work in the window balcony:

These old crochets from the grands that you ever know how to use can also became curtains ornaments.


3 Michelle April 25, 2007 at 8:49 am

We have Ikea roman shades. If you have great window panes then it’s a good way to show them off. Plus they work well with different decorating styles.


4 love.boxes April 25, 2007 at 8:50 am

I love Roman Shades because they can add a bit of color without being an over-foof. :)


5 HodgePodge April 25, 2007 at 10:09 am

If you have old single-pane, energy-inefficient windows like we do, honeycomb shades are great. They allow some light through but provide enough of a privacy barrier. We have the triple cell shades that lower from the top and raise from the bottom, and they make a noticeable difference in temperature.


6 sara April 25, 2007 at 10:32 am

i love our honeycomb shades too. we got the single cell ones, light filtering in the downstairs and room darkening upstairs. they look clean and really do insulate. i got them from, which is way cheaper (but still good quality) than smith and noble. plus i installed them myself, so they must be really simple.


7 Bubbles April 25, 2007 at 10:32 am

I have roman shades in my kids’ room – and being the tight wad that I am, I made them myself – you can find instructions here or here.
Initially it was a bit confusing, but once I got the image in my head, it wasn’t too difficult. I have since helped my sisters create some for their own homes. The advantage to making your own is being able to pick the exact fabric you want for the space. Just a thought . . .


8 Hilary April 25, 2007 at 11:01 am

I have the honeycomb shades in my front room. I REALLY love them because it gets REALLY hot in there… wow, looks like someone just said that. But, I love mine. Because that room does get hot I have the triple space shades, and it really does an amazing job.


9 Anonymous April 25, 2007 at 11:48 am

I LOVE plantation shutters. The last house we lived in the previous owner had put them in every room in the house, even the basement. They are so kid friendly, and add so much to the look of the house. Like Gabby, I loved going through the house each morning opening them and letting the light in. They are quite pricey, though, so I was grateful someone else paid for them before me! I love the look of the Roman Shades and will try those out in our next house. It will be fun to choose color and designs to go with each room.


10 Alyssa Coberly April 25, 2007 at 11:54 am

another great idea are the linen window coverings (those ones that roll up and you can pull them down to any length) they are fairly cheap, you can customize them with paint or cut outs and i like them with the top of the window boxed in with one of those decorative pieces of wood glued on (think martha stewart type thing) you can google and see the shades.


11 janeannechovy April 25, 2007 at 12:38 pm

I have honeycomb shades on all our second-floor (bedroom/bathroom) windows, and on two windows on the first floor that face south and east. I have a homemade roman blind on a south-facing window in the kitchen, and I’d also recommend doing that if you have rudimentary sewing skills and access to a good (home decor) fabric store.

All the north and east facing windows on the first floor of my home have no window coverings at all (though they do have exterior-mounted storm windows–if they didn’t I might want to cover them for insulation in the winter, since they’re 97-year-old single pane wood windows). Here in the Pacific NW, light is at a premium three seasons of the year, and I love not having that extra barrier between us and the out of doors. So, if you don’t need the shades for privacy, to block the sun’s glare or to keep out winter’s chill, go without!


12 Queen Scarlett April 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm

When we moved into our new home 4 years ago we found that around Thanksgiving JC penny has a hunter douglas sale. We purchased roman shades for our room and silhouettes for our dining/living room areas. then we did honeycomb for the rest…

I may be the only dissenter…but I hate honeycomb shades. If they get dirty they are hard to clean and if you get any insects that fly…they get stuck… ditto with the silhouettes…

So now I’m doing what I should have done… Plantation shutters. I’m with Gabby here.

Shutters – at least here in Calif – also are the only window coverings that add value to your appraisal.


13 stringbing April 25, 2007 at 3:09 pm

It is so fun to read about what everyone uses on their windows. Just as Gabby mentioned, I also love plantation shutters & roman shades come in a close second. I absolutely love romas shades that can be drawn down from the top and also up from the bottom. The top-down option allows for appreciating a great view outside without compromising your privacy. Some of my favroite shades are woven/ natural wood shades…They can be purchased almost anywhere, but you ought to take a look at the natural/ woven woods on

Another option might be to buy exactly that fabric you want and then have a local interior designer make the shades for you with your fabric.

Good luck and have fun. I am also going to be in need of window coverings for a whole house in a couple of months!! I will also be anxiously awaiting all of the other responses to this question.


14 Homefile April 25, 2007 at 9:28 pm

You are a genius. Plantation shutters are definitely the way to go. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out the window dilemma. I also have a 10 month old. All he wants to do is grab whatever he can to pull himself up to a stand. Thank you.


15 Stancia August 15, 2008 at 6:05 am

I will never buy from Smith+Noble again. Anywhere else, just not there.


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