by Kurt Cyr

The right window treatments add style and function

Function versus aesthetics, architectural versus decorative, wood versus fabric. These are just some of the factors to weigh when deciding upon the perfect window treatment for your log home. Window treatments have to work for a variety of uses. Not only do they need to frame the view, they also need to be able to shield the occupants so that they don’t become the view.

Whether the window treatments you choose are draperies, curtains, blinds or shutters, they will play a vital role in your decorative scheme. For ease of discussion, I divide window treatments into two basic categories: architectural and decorative. The division is quite a simple one based on construction and fabrication.

“Architectural” refers to window treatments that are rigid and usually fitted within or upon the window frame, like wooden blinds and shutters. On the other hand, we can consider curtains, draperies and fabric valances as “decorative.” (There are a few window treatments that blur these boundaries. We’ll discuss them later.) Let’s begin with the category of architectural treatments.

Architectural window treatments give a forthright, solid appearance that some might call masculine. This is largely due to the materials used in their construction: wood, metal or synthetic polymers.

Classic wooden shu  tters are arguably one of the most popular window treatments today. Ranging from the operable wide-blade plantation shutter to the narrow fixed-blade bi-fold shutter, they control light and privacy very efficiently and are available in several materials and numerous finishes. Since the advent of applied technology, wooden shutters can be replaced with ones made of polymer and resins. Shutters may never again be in need of paint or stain. These new materials even have the wood grain pressed into them.

But shutters need not always have blades for light control. Frames can be fitted with other materials: Frosted glass, fabric and woven cane panels will provide both light and privacy. Japanese-inspired shoji screens can lend an exotic feel. Nowadays, shoji screens are made with a new acrylic material that looks like rice paper but is much more durable.

Blinds, like shutters, allow light control and privacy. Fitted within the window frame, they repeat the horizontal line of the log walls when closed or partially open. By simply pulling up the blind, the blades are tucked under the fitted valance, enabling home owners to choose between an uninterrupted view or the option of privacy. Like shutters, blinds also are available in a variety of finishes. A decorative tape can be used to conceal the string lift mechanism while adding a touch of personality.

Entering the realm of shades, we begin to see the blurring between architectural and decorative window treatments. Trim and functional, yet constructed of fabric, shades offer the best of the two categories.

Roller shades are quite straightforward. Consisting of fabric on a spring-loaded reel, they give an architectural and fitted feel. Any fabric—patterned or plain—can be used to continue the room’s decorative theme. Whether mounted on the inside of the window frame (inside mount) or over the casing or molding (outside mount), they provide a visually clean window treatment. The Scandinavians are known for their use of unconstructed roller shades. Imagine the soft northern light filtering through unlined cotton and dappling pine floors. This is certainly a look appropriate to log homes.

For a soft look, there are Roman shades and the even softer balloon and cloud shades. I like to mount these types of shades just below the ceiling. This allows full window exposure when the shades are drawn up.

Roman shades can be of two types, the flat or the soft-fold version. The flat shade is simply that: When it is in the down position the shade is simply a lined fabric panel. The soft-fold version has looping folds when it is unfurled. Decorative contrasting tapes and trims are an easy way to add a distinctive touch to these simple shades.

Balloon and cloud shades are often mistaken for one another or their terms interchanged. They do look similar when they are in the up position, but are quite different when they are let down. A balloon is a flat shade with inverted pleats and a gathered bottom. This allows the fabric pattern to be showcased in between the pleats. The cloud shade is much more unstructured. It has a gathered heading like a drapery and usually a ruffled bottom.

When the shade is drawn up, it forms a loose cloud-like shape.

Soft delicate fabrics work best for these shades. Seen best in the context of a feminine space, balloon and cloud shades are especially appropriate for girls’ rooms or bathrooms.

The best-known and hardest-working window treatments are the drapery and the curtain. The term “drapery” refers to a floor-length window treatment. Most likely a drapery will be used in a more formal area such as the living or dining room. It usually is lined. Curtains are more informal, unlined and made of lighter fabric. They usually are used to cover smaller windows.

Hearty, textured cottons and linens seem to be the most appropriate fabrics for log home draperies. Their texture and coloration are a natural extension of the earthiness found in a log home. Couple that with rusticated iron poles and rings and the look is complete. The same applies to curtains. Simple open-weave fabrics, like cotton and linen, are easily fluttered by a breeze, adding to their casual charm.

When deciding on your window coverings, there is only one rule to remember. Truly good window treatments don’t call attention to themselves. They should quietly go about their duty. Whether this is to control light, provide privacy, frame a stunning view or all of the above, they should fit just as comfortably into your log home as you do.

Interior designer Kurt Cyr resides in Reseda, California.

Sisson Co. photo by Roger Wade