How To Dress Awkward Windows + Where To Shop For Readymade Options
If you’ve been paying attention to the insta-stories from while we have been up in Portland working on the fixer-upper (more here), then you’ll know that picking out window treatments especially for windows that aren’t exactly obvious what you should do with them, isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are multiple things to consider like, privacy, accessibility, if the window requires shades or drapes, if there are multiple windows in the same room that will require different types of hangings, if the windows are two stories or are large windows in a small room, or small windows in a large room…. the list goes on and on and it can be exhausting and confusing. On top of that if you’ve got oddly shaped windows or a more complex arrangement of windows then you’ve got your work cut out for you. Although most windows will work with a set of drapes on them there are some that are a bit harder to dress, so today we are walking you through some of those as well as our suggestions for how to make them work in your own space.
Let’s start with the arched window. One of the most beautiful in concept, but one of the most complicated when it comes to execution. When you think “arched window treatments” you may be thinking something like this.
People get really creative with their treatments. Some people choose to go with custom curved rods, some do some sort of valance situation, some take the curtains all the way to the ceiling in a decorative fixed way and some have accordion style shades installed to the shape of the window. While all of these in theory work and won’t get you in “design-jail” if yours look like this, our suggestion would be to go with a more simple treatment that doesn’t take over the wall or the window. Most importantly (and with all the following types of windows) they should work and be functioning more than just a decorative piece of fabric on the wall to look like a treatment. Now let’s talk about how to dress them.
If you’ve got a break between your arched window and the rest of your windows you could go with something like this where the curtain rod hangs just in between the two windows which visually keeps things from feeling too heavy. This works when the lower set of windows has enough height so that when the treatments are up it doesn’t look like you are cutting the wall in half.
And if you’ve got the ceiling height and wall space you could take them to the top of the window. A note on this one: it works here because they didn’t take the curtains all the way to the ceiling line, which would have resulted in way too much visual weight and could have ended up looking like theatre curtains on that one wall. They treated the lower windows with a custom rod and drapes and then left the upper windows bare. It dresses the windows without completely covering the wall or the windows.
If you don’t have room for hanging curtains then you could go with an option like this where they had a custom roman shade built that fits the inside of the window but still can provide privacy and light filtering for the room when needed.
To help you visualize the possible options (or should we say solutions) a bit more, we photoshopped two totally possible window treatments options on the windows below. For the first one, we took the curtains to just below the crown molding and then long enough to kiss the floor. Too much puddle at the bottom could have resulted in too much visual weight in the room what with all that fabric dressing the walls.
For the second option, you could take the curtain height to the place where the window begins to curve. This only would work in a space where the height of the ceiling and the window is quite tall (which it appears to be here). If you have these types of windows in your space and your ceiling height is only around 8-10′ then it is best to go with the previous option. This also works for these because they have some trim in between the lower set of windows and the upper arched window. If your window is one large piece of glass with an arched top then cutting the window in half like this won’t work and instead, you should go with option one.
Next up, what we are calling “tiered windows”. These are very popular in a lot of new build houses especially in two-story “great rooms” or living rooms.
Similar to the arched window people can get really creative with this option especially when their room has multiple different heights of windows like the above two examples. We would suggest treating the bottom windows with drapery and leaving the uppers untreated so you don’t run into the issue of having a full two-story wall of curtains in your living room. We dressed the windows on the right of the graphic with a simple rod and drapery and then the windows on either side of the fireplace with a matching set of roman shades. You could also leave the windows on either side of the fireplace empty if you didn’t need the privacy but we would suggest a roman shade if you are going to dress smaller more slender windows like these.
Now, if you have a more complex wall of windows like below then we would suggest simple roller shades or roman shades to fit into the trim work on the lowers which will give you the privacy you need without an awkward hung drapery situation.
And if you have something like this which won’t allow you to go all the way up to the top of the window (due to the vaulted ceiling in this case) then we suggest dressing the lower set of windows with simple roman shades so that you don’t have a set of curtains hung too low on the walls.
We briefly touched on versions of these above in the other examples but “stacked windows” are when you have a set of windows “stacked” on top of each other with a bit of space in between them on the wall. You’ll notice in the above and below examples, all of the windows either have some trimwork in between them or drywall.
With the majority of these windows, we would suggest having the drapery rod installed just above the first set of windows like they did above and below rather than taking them all the way up to the top window – resulting in two stories of fabric curtains.
Here is a quick mockup of what this might look like if you have “stacked windows” like these in your home.
And another version that has two additional windows above the large window, which we would leave untreated.
Bay windows can be very tricky to treat which is typically why most people just pretend to ignore the fact that they might need treatments. Some people go for a cafe curtain like above or a fixed valance. But for these types of windows, if you do want to add treatments, then we would suggest a simple roman shade hung at the same height and in the same material on all three windows like we did below in our living room.
The below photo is another example of how you can use three of the same treatment to dress a bay window.
And to help you out visually with a graphic here is how we would treat the windows in a situation like this, which allows some privacy while still allowing the light to come in through the top windows. If you do need full privacy you could take them all the way to the ceiling as well.
Wall of Windows:
Last but not least, what if you have a wall of windows with no room on either side of them have your curtains gather? For something like this we would suggest treating each window on the wall individually with a roman shade rather than trying to hang individual curtain panels for each window or a huge wall of fabric across the entire wall of windows. It gives you privacy and light control but doesn’t dominate the wall with an entire wall of fabric.
It’s a simple, clean and timeless treatment that works for just about any style of room.
In the graphic below we show how this can be down with roman shades for each individual window.
Now that we have all the basics covered, and have hopefully answered a few of your questions let’s talk where to get these extra long draperies. There are so many good options out there that can assist with custom drapery options that we have loved and used. We used Calico Corners for all the window treatments in our house (they came out to measure, brought fabrics and had everything custom fabricated for our windows). We’ve also used Decorview in a handful of projects (who offer the same services) and if you know what you want and would like to order online and have it shipped to you Tonic Living does a wonderful job at custom curtains and romans. And although custom curtains can get expensive it is something that you don’t want to skimp on or get wrong as it can be a costly mistake if you try and do it yourself just to find that your measurements are off by a few inches.
If you aren’t ready for fully custom curtains and trust yourself to measure and install then there are a handful of places online that stock readymade curtains over 120″ which should work for just about any of the window arrangements we have highlighted in this post. Some of our favorites are below. A quick note on this, less is more when it comes to color and pattern for any draperies you are installing, especially when you need them in longer lengths like you would for any of the windows above. Unless you live in an old french chateau or a reclaimed broadway theatre in the arts district save the saturated colors and patterns for a throw pillow. And if any of these are too long for your windows then you can buy the panel and have them hemmed at your local dry cleaners.
1. Washed Belgian Linen | 2. Dark Grey Washed Linen | 3. Belgian Heavyweight Textured Linen | 4. Natural Linen | 5. Perennials Canvas | 6. Meaghan Solid | 7. Belgian Heavyweight Textured Linen | 8. White Blackout | 9. Pyrogi Solid Sheer
Let us know if you have any questions, and if you have a set of windows that you think might be a good fit for us to showcase in a full blog post about how to dress them then send through some good scouting shots as well as what your issue is to “firstname.lastname@example.org” and we might address it here in a blog post.