Also, the dining room is formal and used frequently. The previous treatment was two layers of cream colored sheers, wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor. The client feels sheers are outdated. Should I use a floral or a tone-on-tone cream treatment at the top of the windows? Should I create a swag? Or should I consider drapery panels hung over lace curtains to the floor, which I have noticed is popular in older homes? Answer: The first thought that came to mind when reading your questions was the beautiful casing around the windows should be visible to admire. This is part of the personality and charm of older homes and should not be covered up, especially if you are trying to keep the authenticity of the 1905 home. It should not be a problem to have the curtains installed within the window casing.
Regarding your dilemma about floral fabic or tone-on-tone, I would consider the color of the lace which you already have purchased. If it is the same color as the cream trim around the windows, a floral would be a nice complement and add some contrast of pattern and texture. If the lace is white, in contrast to the cream trim, you should select a fabric that has both white and cream along with a color that you choose to blend with the room's furnishings. Consistency is important when working with white and cream. One shade may make the other look "washed out."
A swag treatment would lend itself to the period of the home, assuming your client is not opposed to covering the casing at the top of the windows if the swags are mounted outside. Because the windows are so close together, you might design the swag treatment as one across the windows. This depends on how many windows there are and how much of the wall is taken up by the windows. With the windows only 32 inches in width, I would suggest only one swag per window. There also is a possibility the swag treatment could be mounted inside the window, providing adequate space is available to accommodate the necessary hardware.
The length of your curtains and possible over treatments depends on whether the 60-inch window comes to the floor or near the floor. If you choose to use the existing rods, and the bottom of the window is close to the floor, I would bring the treatment to the floor.
Regarding the previous treatment, sheers are still very elegant. Many new styles of sheers are available to update this traditional look. However, it may be that your client wants more of a change in style to feel that the treatment has really been updated.
You also may try books on historic buildings or specialized consumer magazines such as Traditional Home and Colonial Home for photographs that depict the windows or a similar style to those in your client's home.
Editor's Note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson which will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings, as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business.
Sharon L. Anderson, Associate Member, Interior Design Educator's Council (IDEC), has more than 14 years experience as a commercial and residential design professional. She has taught numerous courses at colleges and universities throughout Southern California and is a published author and frequent public speaker.