Window treatments require many considerations

Does your head spin when you consider window treatments?

A bit of thought about what it is you’re covering will help.

Is the home traditional or contemporary? Is it seasonal or year-round? What are the sizes of the rooms and the windows themselves? What’s the room’s function? Are there rooms with mismatched window sizes?

Window treatments are often thought of as accessories or accents to a room, but they also serve a function.

“It makes a nice, softer environment,” said David Smallidge, who owns Covered Yankee Interiors in North Lamoine, with his wife, Victoria. “It helps insulate your room.”

The Smallidges have the notoriety of having been declared “the best slipcover maker in Maine” in 2002 by Seal Harbor summer resident and lifestyle maven Martha Stewart. At Covered Yankee, located on the Douglas Highway, the May/2002 issue of Martha Stewart Living in on display. A photo in the magazine, autographed by Martha Stewart, shows David Smallidge with one of several chairs that he slipcovered for Martha Stewart.

“It was a fun project,” said Smallidge, who has been in business for 36 years.

When choosing window treatments, keeping an open mind is key. Just because one window has drapes doesn’t mean the others must have them too, according to Smallidge. He recalled a room in a Mount Desert Island cottage, where there were two large windows and a small window in an alcove.

“There’s not a lot of room in that alcove for a rod,” Smallidge said. So, he used the same fabric used for the drapes to create a soft Roman shade for the alcove window.

“You can still use the same material around the room,” Smallidge said. “People are afraid to do this, but once you see it, it’s good.”

Another point to consider is the space surrounding the windows.

“Rooms will you tell you things,” he said. “Pay attention and you can make things work.”

Accents can be added to drapes as well, such as fringe sewn along the bottom.

“It makes a nice detail on draperies when you trim them,” Smallidge said. He suggests this for a more formal environment.

“Window shading is very popular,” Smallidge said. Those include Hunter Douglas pleated shades to soft Roman shades.

You can get spring-loaded cordless varieties of pleated shades as well.

Standard cloth pleated draperies are popular.

“There’s really a myriad of things people like for windows,” Smallidge said.

Consider the home. Is it traditional or contemporary?

“In traditional homes, the windows are more appointed,” Smallidge said. “The windows are covered with cloth, even sheer cloth as well as drapes. In contemporary homes, windows are treated with shades, Roman shades or wood shades.”

The size and shape of the room as well as the windows themselves are factors.

For a larger room with higher ceilings, you might choose a substantial 2-inch rod.

“Scale is very important in the design trade,” Smallidge said.

Of course, the fabric itself is paramount and Smallidge’s showroom is chockfull of textiles as well as shades.

However, of all the possible choices, cotton is best for Maine, according to the Mount Desert Island native.

“It wears very well, it’s comfortable to the touch and it fabricates well,” Smallidge said. “It allows me to work with it well. It sews well. It upholsters well, it comes out nicely.”

When appointing a Maine home, it’s really best to avoid silk drapery.

“Silk will sun rot quite quickly,” Smallidge said.

He explained that the trajectory of the sun in Maine, especially during winter months, is so low that it comes through windows quite strongly, wearing out the silk.

Plus, silk isn’t a good fit for the Maine aesthetic.

“When you apply silk on windows it’s a fairly formal event,” Smallidge said. “In Maine, we’re more traditional and even the summer cottages, we’re more traditional and relaxed, not as formal and fancy as a Park Avenue apartment or a home in Washington, D.C.”

Don’t forget the underpinnings or liners, which can add volume to draperies as well as warmth. Liners also protect fabric from sun exposure and moisture.

“When you don’t do it, you expose your drapery,” Smallidge said.

To that end, the home’s location should affect choice of liners.

Smallidge is currently outfitting a property on Sugarloaf Mountain with thermal suede curtains.

“You might use a lighter lining in a summer cottage,” he said.

A room’s environment is another consideration. You won’t want long drapes in a steamy kitchen or bathroom.

A valance is a good choice for a kitchen window.

“It gives a splash of color in the room but it doesn’t allow the cloth to drop down and get near heating surfaces,” Smallidge said. “Water and steam are in the kitchen environment and you don’t want fabric close to those.”

An aluminum blind can be a sensible choice for a kitchen.

“They can open and close so you can see out or pull them up all the way,” he said. “They’re also very cleanable. If you have grease, you can take a cloth and clean them up nicely.”

An aluminum mini-blind can be a good choice for bathroom windows also. A pleated shade or wooden shutters are more options.

“Again people might put a cloth valance in a bathroom just for a splash of color,” Smallidge said. “It could match the shower curtain.”

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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