Often the thing that makes your window treatment design different from a competitor's is found in your ability to create something that is different and uniquely beautiful, something that cannot be competitively shopped. To be detail-oriented-that is, to pay attention to the small touches that make your work one-of-a-kind-can be the key to building a reputation for quality creations.
Detailing is adding finishing touches to a window treatment design that will make it extraordinary, interesting and distinguished from the typical solutions. A window treatment rich in detail often begins with a blind or shade that will meet the basic needs of covering the window. These essentials include light and glare control, heat and cold insulation, privacy and protection, and exterior aesthetic consistency. The unconventional qualities really begin with the fabric treatment that surrounds the practical treatment. So does the excitement.
Exploring the options that make a window treatment original and distinctive should be a routine part of all window treatment presentations. Except for those times when the client adamantly wants only an alternative window treatment for the sake of brevity, ease of upkeep or the desired look of simplicity, the design and decorating professional can acquaint the customer with a few good options for making the treatment innovative and impressive.
A word of caution inherent here is that the reason why you are hired is to give them the best solution, and if too many options are presented, the customer will become confused. This is not to say that every sales call should offer the customer the same thing. Although many sales persons do this, it really is not a truly professional approach. Cookie cutter or recipe window treatment combinations are easy, but lack the creativity that makes the job a lot more fun and meets the individual needs of the customer, one by one.
Many decorators and interior designers believe the motivation for their involvement in the business is the satisfaction that comes from solving unique problems, of finding just the right look, solving the design problem and, thus, meeting the individual needs of customers. This means having a gamut of solutions from which to choose, and it is the key to creating remarkable window treatments.
EXPLORING THE OPTIONS
The eye for detail really comes from knowledge and sources. If there are product sources in each issue of Draperies & Window Coverings magazine that you do not have in your offerings, now is a good time to contact the company, or circle the inquiry card number, or return the three- by five-inch card in the postcard packet of sources. Or, just pick up the telephone and get the information on its way!
A checklist of "detail products" will help you to see where your inventory of options stands. With a well-balanced selection of distinctive products, you can make any window covering singular and remarkable. And the client will know the rare find you offer them cannot be shopped! Your exclusive product offerings are unique.
The three categories of detailing include passementerie, custom trimmings, and hardware.
Although it would be nearly impossible-and neither desirable nor wise-to have every company that supplies passementerie as a source, a few good companies with a variety of looks still is important. Consider using the following options:
Fringe down the leading edges of drapery panels (that overlap when closed) and across the bottoms.
Fringe down the outside edges of draperies (where there is no return to the wall, such as panels on a decorative rod).
Rope along the bottom of the pleat heading, tacked at the bottom of the pleat and festooned between pleats.
Small or key tassels on the bottom of pleats (attached to the rope), on the ends of tiebacks, on top treatments where scallops or junctures can be emphasized and enhanced.
In place of tassels, place cut glass or crystal prisms or small jewelry items.
Add the three- to five-inch-deep bullion fringe at the bottom of cascades and jabots, and even swags or valances if it is not too heavy in appearance for the proportion of the treatment.
Double up on the trimmings. Combine two types, a rope or braid with a fringe, for example.
Add fringe to tiebacks. This touch alone is a classy addition and one that will not increase the price tag much at all. Add a tassel, small or large, and consider the large tieback rope and tassels.
Rope and tassel tiebacks can be used at the top of draperies and over swags. Look for creative applications! They are available in a wonderful variety of styles, colors, and sizes.
Explore beaded and jeweled tassels, ropes and braids as a rich alternative to fringe and thread tassels. Jewelry for the window is another category of passementerie that is at the beginning of its hey-day. Be on the fashion front!
Add appliquιs, ribbons or braids to create a novel design. Passementerie that is ordinarily applied to haute couture or high fashion clothing is finally being applied to window treatments.
The concept of the window treatment as a fashionable ball gown gives license to explore new avenues. Margaretta Claesson, manager of the home accessories division of Claesson, a Conso Products Co., ranks among the most innovative, creative and avante guarde designers and inventors in the window treatments industry. Her products are a must for any professional with an eye for detail.
Look for innovative ways to use passementerie. Combine traditional fringe with beaded fringe or elegant accessories, for example. Add fringe, tassels, braids, appliquιs and jewelry to pillows, table covers and custom bedspreads.
Consider using passementerie on walls, or festooned over top treatments but not attached to them.
This category requires a bit more skill or experience in calculating and specifying. Yet a few kinds of trimmings are not difficult at all, and none need be very hard once a training session with the fabricator is complete.
Indented banding on the outside edges and bottom of Roman shades to add interest and richness.
Banding also is a great addition to the leading inside (or outside) edges of draperies and straight-hemmed valances and on tiebacks as well.
Consider solid colored banding on printed fabrics, and printed fabric banding on solid or textured fabrics.
Welting or cording on tiebacks is a delightful detail (add a tassel and appliquι, too).
Welting or cording is standard on cornices. Look for other detailing on cornices.
Ruffles can be fabricated in a variety of ways from deep to shallow, from symmetrical to asymmetrical, layered and as header ruffles. We think of ruffles as a more feminine and fussy treatment, yet there are places where no other trimming is as appropriate as the addition of a ruffle.
Pique edges, which are small triangular lined pieces sewn into the side hems, are a traditional British effect.
Shirred effects with various string-pulled tapes can add a distinctive European look to headings-less perfect, perhaps, but unusual and casual in their detailing.
Shirred fabric sleeves over extra-wide cording, known as ruching (pronounced rooshing) or ruched (pronounced rooshed) can make a unique tieback.
Drapery hardware, especially decorative hardware, has been one of the fastest growing areas in interiors.
Insist on a variety of sources and styles of decorative hardware. Categorize the hardware types: traditional, contemporary, Victorian, Beaux Arts, French Rococo, Southwest, European, etc.
Beyond decorative rods, consider using other hardware in creative ways. For example, use tieback holders and swag holders as valance brackets for many types of top treatments.
Brackets now can be used with many styles of snap-on, thematic resin decorative sconces or plaques-fun designs that will support the style of many rooms and can be found from animal themes to water themes.
Hardware now goes beyond the top and sides of the window. Look for hardware to festoon fabric on walls, around beds, at the shower/tub area, even as towel holders!
Hardware can be used at the bottom of the window, such as column bases and capitals through which the fabric is installed to give the effect of a soft column shaft.
Let your imagination be your guide. Look for ways to make the treatment different, special, incomparable and unshoppable!
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She is a practicing interior designer and has authored several books including Window Treatments and Understanding Fabrics. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.
Quality and detailing go hand-in-hand. A window treatment that has been accessorized through passementerie, trimmings and hardware also should be beautifully fabricated. Following is a list for quality checks that give a soft window treatment the perfection that is synonymous with fine detailing:
Generous fullness and depth in the pleats.
Spacing between is very similar, close to exact.
Seams are hidden at the back of the pleats.
Pleats are crisp or smooth and not crumpled. Note: a pinch-pleat is pressed, a French pleat is softer and unpressed.
Selvages should be trimmed (with some exceptions) and lay flat, unpuckered.
Pattern repeats are matched perfectly.
Hems are blind-stitched with colorless monofilament or matched colored thread.
Side and bottom stitches should not show on the face of the fabric where possible.
Bottom corners are diagonally folded and hand-stitched with small blind stitches.
Bottom hems are appropriately weighted.
Side hems are double-folded and one to two inches wide.
No visible hanging threads anywhere on the treatment.
Quality lining sewn without puckering or askew placement.
All applicable detail quality checks as above, plus
Visible top-stitching straight and neat.
Ends of rod pockets are folded, stitched and all threads trimmed.
No puckered seams.
Weighing with small weights or a rod to hold shade to window at bottom.
Except for lace and sheers, fabric shades should be lined.
Rings or tapes sewn straight and evenly placed.
No center seam; seams are on the sides with a full width in the center.
Swags should have deep folds and be evenly spaced.
Swag folds are neatly tucked on ends or top and not bunched.
Swags should be lined (except for sheer fabrics) and hang well, not curled at bottom.
Valances sewn in vertical panels have hidden or well-placed seams.
Valances should be weighted where and when appropriate to ensure a smooth face.
Passementerie and trimmings are precisely and neatly attached.
Ruffles and banding are consistent depth and attached consistently.
No loose or hanging threads; threads are clear or matching.
Cornices have no gaps between ceiling or wall and the cornice.
No wood is exposed; the back of cornices are lined.