There are so many aspects of designing and building a home that it is easy to overlook window treatments as a consideration. This letter offers some help for avoiding the most common pitfalls.
• Sill depths-Window depths should be at least 2 1/2 inches, especially when decorative casing surrounds the window opening. Home owners prefer to mount treatments like shutters and plantation size wood blinds (two-inch) within the window frame.
When installing double-hung windows the 2 1/2 inches applies to the bottom half, where space is especially shallow. Some plantation shutters have 4 1/2 inch louvers, necessitating even more room. Many other window treatments have large headrails and require even more than 2 1/2 inches.
Double and triple windows encased in one window opening usually have vertical trim strips between the windows. Do not forget to include them when measuring the depth. Consideration should be made for minimizing the strip and possibly eliminating it.
Sliding doors are less popular these days; however, the door's handle size should be considered when reviewing minimum depth sizes. To be mounted inside the frame, verticals usually require a four-inch depth plus room for the handles.
• Window styles-Window styles such as circular, arched, eyebrow arched and angled are aesthetically appealing, but restrict the possible choices of window treatments. This is especially true for eyebrow and quarter-arches.
Shutters usually are the choice for inside-mounted treatments for these windows. Fanned fabric treatments can be fabricated, but will permanently cover the opening and home owners are reluctant to permanently cover the arched portion of an arched window.
• Obstructions-Crank-style casement windows prevent treatments from lowering completely because the crank handle sticks out too far.
In a set of bow windows consider separating the individual windows. There usually is a privacy problem when this separation doesn't exist because of the gap between each blind or shade. Full traversing draperies will alleviate this problem, but a long drapery might be inappropriate, for example, in a breakfast room or kitchen.
French doors usually swing inward eliminating many types of treatments hanging above the doors. Even though blinds and shades can be mounted on the doors, consider allowing the doors to swing outward. Also, the handles and dead bolt locks usually prevent optimal placement of shades, blinds and shutters. The door handles should be installed toward the center of double French doors to allow easier stackback of draperies to either side of the doors.
The number of panes across a window should be an even number, so that the break in a two-panel shutter will ALIGN with a line in the window.
Window placement is equally important. Sometimes the outside edge of the drapery cannot even extend outside the window itself. This problem can be caused by fireplace mantels, chair rails and trim that butts up against the window. It is best when an equal amount of wall space is provided on both sides of a window. Center the windows on the wall whenever possible.
Make sure there is enough space between the top of the window and the ceiling or crown molding. A minimum of two inches is required for bracket placement. Wood headers should extend up to the ceiling or crown molding. Heavy treatments are best mounted into wood instead of sheet rock, even when molly or toggle bolts are used.
Access to all windows is necessary, even those in unfinished attics. Windows over tubs are sometimes difficult to reach without stepping into the tub.
Front doors with smooth glass usually are covered with a gathered sheer. The sheer is not preferred in contemporary homes. Consider using beveled glass to eliminate the need for a drapery treatment.
Other considerations such as motorized treatments require special wiring and strategic placement of wall plugs.
Windows in the same room should be of the same style.
The bottom of windows along stairways should be high enough for draperies to hang at an equal length on both sides of the window.
Built-in cornices usually are of insufficient depth. Check with your client to establish the correct depth.
Fire sensors and motion detectors are sometimes in the way of rod placement. Alarm contacts can be particularly tricky.
Surely many of these suggestions will be determined by cost, aesthetic value and structural integrity. Just try to include window treatments as a topic you discuss with your clients.
Jay Steinfeld is owner of Laura's, Houston, TX, established in 1937 and specializing in custom draperies, shutters and blinds; (713) 520-7100;
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.lauras.com