Custom window treatments can be intimidating for many consumers.  Many are overwhelmed by the choices in treatments.  Others worry that custom window treatments may be cost prohibitive.   There are even those individuals who feel that window treatments are only appropriate for traditional design styles.  The reality is that yes, there are thousands of style, fabric and design options for custom window treatments.  Window treatments can be as diverse and creative as the creative mind can imagine and a good seamstress can create.  And although custom window treatments can be costly, they should be considered as an investment, something that, if done correctly, you will live with and enjoy for many years to come.  Certain window treatments can help improve energy efficiency within your home which can save you money in long run as well.  However, if you have some basic understanding of window treatments, their function and basic design elements you may be better suited to navigate through the choices and work more intelligently with a professional to achieve just the look you are after for your home.  

There are two basic categories of window treatments, hard window treatments and soft window treatments.  Hard treatments are your more functional treatment like shades, shutters and blinds.  Many manufacturers are working very hard to find ways to make hard window treatments more attractive.  For the most part, however, hard window treatments are functional, they are meant to serve a purpose: to provide privacy or to conserve energy or block or allow natural light, etc.  Soft window treatments include draperies, top treatments (valances, cornice boards, etc.) and soft shades (roman shades, balloon shades, Austrian shades, etc.).  Soft window treatments, although are often quite functional, are meant to be more asthetically pleasing.  

Often times the design and functionality are both important elements within a design scheme, and therefore both types of treatments need to be combined to create a completely functional and attractive window treatment design.  A good decorator will carefully listen to and observe the needs of the client and the space in order to create a treatment that serves its functional purpose while still creating an appropriate design statement.   Her job should be to help you navigate through the thousands of design, function and fabric choices in order to find the perfect window treatment for you.  That is why it is so important that you choose a decorator that you can trust and that clearly shows an understanding of your design style and needs.

There are several ways to go to purchase custom window treatments.  You can go through a big box national chain stores.  These companies can provide competitive pricing because they deal in large numbers of sales, however they do not sell soft window treatments and therefore can only provide you with the functional hard treatments (there are some very attractive hard treatments and if your design style calls for that, this could be a good alternative).  Because they are dealing in large quantities (quantities of clients and orders nationwide), however, these companies may not always provide you the quality of customized, “on your time schedule”, personal and hands on service that a smaller “mom and pop” type of company may be able to provide.  And again, they are only going to sell you what they sell and nothing more so you may not be given the best possible choice for your home and design style.

There are many smaller companies specializing in different types of window treatments that can also provide competitive pricing as well as more hands on, customized service.  Some of these companies may only provide hard treatments and some may only provide soft treatments while others may provide both.  It is important to ask a potential vendor what types of treatments they specialize in and if they only do one or the other.  Some, if they only deal in hard treatments, for example, may work closely with a decorator or seamstress who can also provide you with the soft treatments if you should need them (and vice versa).  Ideally, however, if you are interested in learning about and seeing ideas for both types of treatments, it is best to find a vendor who deals in both.  If she is good at her job she will be able to tell you what type of treatment will best suit your home.

Window treatments are like the jewelry of the room.  However, they are often the most neglected part of home design.  Many homeowners who work hard to create a cohesive decor for their home are often at a loss as to why it does not feel pulled together and complete.  More often than not it is because they have neglected to address their window treatment needs.  Windows are a very important part of a complete design scheme and need to be addressed appropriately, whether your design style is traditional or contemporary.  

Hopefully you have a little better understanding about the different types of custom window treatments and window treatment vendors available.  If you have additional questions about custom window treatments that we have not answered in this article or would like to schedule a window treatment design consultation please feel free to contact us at or by phone at (571) 331-4801.