Window treatments add so much to a room. They reflect your theme, mood, style and color scheme. Think of window treatments as a great scarf on a basic black dress. They add pizzazz and frame your window just as molding frames a piece of art.
In my model home, I spent 12 percent of my total budget of $49,430, or $5,932, on custom window treatments. The home had 20 windows, which comes to a mere $297 per window. I know this may sound like a lot if you've never had custom window treatments made, but an average treatment normally starts at $500 per window opening. So, when designing on a budget, you need to be very careful with the design as well as the fabric selection. Here's what I did in each room to save money as well as dress the windows with style.
Living and dining room: I had three windows that I treated with top valances; I also added stationary side panels to the dining room windows. The valances were straight fabric mounted on a board with tabs on the bottom, but I added pizzazz by running an inexpensive decorative iron rod through the tabs.
Nook and family room: There were three windows where I wanted some extra color and pattern. The nook window was a sliding door so I did simple straight panels. Straight panels are inexpensive treatments since they require just straight sewing.
In the family room I went with a shaped cornice box. Cornice boxes are good treatments when you have more expensive fabrics as they use less fabric than a gathered treatment. The labor cost is a bit more, but the tailored look gives a more expensive feel than a cute ruffle treatment.
Master bedroom, retreat and bath: In the master suite there were five windows so I had to be extra careful with my design. Three were in the master bedroom, one was in the retreat and one was in the bath. The windows were also fairly wide so placing valances on each would have eaten up my whole budget. I had simple valances and panels made, and used ring clips to hang them from a decorative rod. The top of the treatment was sewn straight, but by using ring clips I got a swag look without paying to have it sewn in.
Guest and girl's bedrooms: In these secondary bedrooms I did simple shirred valances on continental rods to keep the labor costs down. I made the valances out of a matching sheet which came with the bed set. It gives the room a custom look without the custom price.
Boy's bedroom: There was just one window and I created a rolled stagecoach treatment with the matching bed sheet. His theme was space ships and robots.
Hall baths: In the extra baths, I did one single-width panel mounted at the ceiling on a board. A single width means one width of 54-inch fabric, which gathers down to between 16 and 20 inches. When I have a larger budget, I'll use two widths for more fullness.
Loft: There were four windows in this room, which is a lot of windows to treat on a limited budget. Again, I kept it simple, creating a mock roman valance. A mock roman valance has the look of a pulled up roman shade except that it is not operable. It is one of my favorite treatments.
You can be very creative with window treatments, but be aware as labor costs will increase with the complexity of the treatment. Custom window treatments are an investment, but one that I feel is well-spent if you invest wisely when designing on a budget. Just like on a basic black dress, a little splash of color and style can go a long way.
Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, mail to: 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her Web address is: www.GMJinteriors.com.