decorating, setting up home

Design Dilemma: How to Dress the Dream House’s Windows


window dilemma in American System-Built home

I’ve been struggling with a major design dilemma at the Dream House. While I have a fairly clear picture of how I want most of the rooms to look, I’m struggling with how to dress the windows. My usual approach to window coverings is to go high and wide. That is, hang long beautiful drapes that will reach the floor as high as you can get, just below the ceiling or crown molding, and much wider than the window itself. This treatment frames the window beautifully and often makes the room look taller.

There are a few reasons my high and wide plan won’t work in the Dream House. First of all, there’s the trim. Unlike most homes, our American System-Built home has picture rail trim that divides the wall. This trim would make curtains installed close the ceiling look a bit odd, don’t you think?

And then there’s the fact that many windows (like the one shown above) practically abut a wall. If I were to hang curtains, how would they look when they’re open? While the curtain would open on one side, what would happen to the other side?

corner lead glass windows in our American System-Built home

But the big reason I’m struggling with a window covering decision is that I don’t really want to cover the windows at all! The windows in the house are just too damned gorgeous to cover with curtains. In each of the upstairs rooms, the windows are in the corner of the room, a hallmark of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School style. Some of these windows, as well as a few on the first floor, feature lead glass designs. Who would want to cover up all the gorgeousness!?

Still, we NEED to cover the windows. For one thing, it would be nice to have some privacy. For another, we’re freezing our butts off with these drafty old windows uncovered. So I’m finally starting to come up with a plan – at least for the first floor.

I ordered fabric roller blinds for the dining room last week. I’m thinking that roller blinds will allow the trim to be unobstructed while affording us privacy at night. I started with the dining room and, if I like how the blinds look when installed, I’ll order more for the other rooms downstairs.

I’m still flummoxed with curtain options for the upstairs bedrooms. Blinds may be the final solution but I really would like to have curtains in the bedrooms. I like the way curtains provide softness to a room. And in a house full of hardwood floors, curtains would be great for providing some noise dampening.

If you’ve never shopped for curtains, let me be the first to inform you that they’re damned expensive. And that poses another problem with covering the windows in the bedrooms. We’re on a very tight budget so I can’t justify dropping hundred of dollars on curtains for each room.

So of course I’m contemplating DIY options. I’m currently on the hunt for cheap, basic cotton fabric in large quantities so I can sew my own curtains for the bedroom windows. And then the problem is to figure out the best way to hang hardware on the corner windows. Oh the dilemma of it all!

— J. Blandings

Images: Mr. and Mr. Blandings

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  • Reply Lolly 03/25/2014 at 1:35 pm

    I can’t tell from these pictures what your ceiling looks like– if it has a lot of rich detail this idea won’t work, but in our old craftsman bungalow, we ended up hanging the curtains from a rod we affixed to the ceiling– that way when we had jalousie style windows, or a bank of windows which opened inwards the curtain could be pulled aside. It does seem a shame to cover up your windows, they have such character.

  • Reply Sarah @ 702 Park Project 03/25/2014 at 1:36 pm

    Lately I’ve been loving roman shades in fun fabrics. There are some great DIY options on Pinterest. I think they would make the windows look “complete” and put together without covering them up too much or taking away from their beauty. Can’t wait to see what you decide! 🙂

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