Types of Window Treatments

Window treatment styles and choices are as varied and as unique as individual personalities. Window treatments help establish a theme and a mood for a home as well as unifying the décor. Many homeowners and renters choose window treatments based upon past experience and personal preferences. When making choices, there are several options available for the various rooms in a home regardless of whether you want the feeling of a romantic country cottage or a dignified manor house.


Curtains are perhaps the most well-known window treatment commonly found in homes today. They hang vertically from a fixed rod using rings, tabs or a seamed channel or pocket hem (for a rod) at the top of the curtain panels. Curtains may hang straight or be held back with curtain tie-backs. Curtains are a good choice for informal, more casual rooms and settings and may be straight, flat panels or shirred (gathered) panels – all of which come in a variety of styles.


Draperies hang from a rod or pole by attached rings. They are generally pleated and made of heavy drapery fabric that may be lined or unlined. Draperies are usually floor-length and have a more tailored appearance which lends a more formal feeling to the room and décor.

Swags and Cascades

Swags are long lengths of fabric that are draped over a rod to create a center swag that bulges downward. Cascades (also called jabots or tails) are usually hung at each side of a swag to make a complete window treatment. Swags and cascades are layered together for a more formal treatment.

Cornices and Valances

Cornices are a type of wooden box built to cover the top of a window frame. The cornice can be painted, stenciled or upholstered for a softer look and feel and to match the room’s theme and décor. Valances are also placed at the top of a window and are made of fabric – usually about one foot in length. Both of these window treatments may be used alone or in conjunction with a set of drapes or curtains that hang behind the cornice or valance.

Blinds and Shades

Pull-down shades are generally fabric or plastic and may be very plain or more decorative (think fringe) – depending upon the homeowner’s personal taste. Horizontal and vertical blinds come in a variety of sizes, colors and styles – from fabric insulated vertical blinds to roll up horizontal blinds.

Blinds and shades may be used alone as window treatments for minimalist appeal or may be matched with other types of window treatments for a layered look. Blinds and shades come with a mounting board at the top which is mounted on the inside or outside of the window trim. There are also styles available that can be mounted on a decorative pole.

When choosing window treatments you should take into consideration initial cost, care of the window treatments and the aesthetic value. In short, choose window treatments that fit within your budget, are low maintenance and above all, something that fits your own personal style.


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