When I picked up Design Ideas for Windows by Dorinda Beaumont, I first flipped quickly through the book, enjoying the beautiful room photography throughout. Truly, there are some terrific roomsets featured in this new book from Creative Homeowner, a powerhouse in the home decorating book industry.
The author, too, has pretty decent credentials as a designer, stylist, writer and editor with a degree in art education; though no solid background in window coverings is mentioned.
Inside the book, the information is helpful and informative, covering various aspects of window treatment design, construction and selection—things we in the window treatments industry are exposed to day in and day out: scale, exposure, privacy, ventilation, size, proportion, how to measure, designer details, et al. Helpful and informative to a degree—but new? Nah. And this is where the book gets in the way of its own good intentions. There is so much banal copy, so many pop boxes full of “helpful” hints, so many sidebars and colored circles with hints, clues and tips, that I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with text and simply forgot about the photographs. In almost every instance, every page, I was struck by huge single-page titles, screaming “modern minimalism,” “pare down formal treatments for a sophisticated look,” and “use simple treatments for functional coverage”—which, in my opinion, is dumbed-down pabulum for the masses. Do we really need another window coverings book that tells us, “American style is warm and welcoming”?
TOO MUCH ROOM, NOT ENOUGH TREATMENTS
The worst choice made in this book is that you cannot turn to a section specifically focused on draperies, for example. You will find them everywhere, mixed in with shutters, shades and shoji screens. My other complaint (and maybe others will see it differently) is that there is too much room shown in the photos and too little window.
Many of the treatments are shown how they look in a room setting . . . and a lot of people will like that, especially those who are looking to redo an entire room. But I thought the focus of this book was on the window treatment and do wish that the book designer had cropped a little more generously and brought the treatment to the forefront, so we could examine the details.
What happens, then, is that the lived-in clutter/accessorizing of each room draws attention from the treatments. A lot of the pages just look, well . . . messy. I find myself looking at an overstuffed chair rather than the top treatment, which is hanging off the upper left of a photo. I look at the blaring text headlines telling me to “use bold styling for contemporary drama” and I look at the big oak table and chairs sitting in front of the Roman shades, half obscured by a hanging light fixture. What I think we want to be looking at is the window treatment, if this is, as it touts, a book about window design ideas.
It isn’t that this is a bad book. It’s not. As I said, the text is helpful for those who are approaching the window treatment arena for the first time, the photos are very nice and many of the sections are broken up into rooms rather than treatment styles, which some people will find very convenient. It’s just that . . . it seems to me that I have seen this book a hundred times before over the years. To me, it’s just another big corporate book producer, jumping on the bandwagon to try to sell a colorful window treatments book without really thinking through the process. It’s fast food for windows . . . and I just don’t care for it.
But remember: use floor-length panels for a sleek look!
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis, MN. She is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions magazine and is the author Dream Floors, Hundreds of Ideas for Every Type of Floor, and Dream Windows: Historical Perspectives, Classic Designs, Contemporary Creations. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend information at email@example.com.