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Put some pleasure back into your window panes
These sage-colored drapes in silk taffeta create a very formal look, appropriate for any study or sitting room.

Naked windows need your attention.

Glass, wood, molding-windows are the portal to the outside world. Bare and undressed, they require much more than the streak-free shine offered by a bottle of Windex.

Windows impart a first-rate view to the passing of the seasons. They serve as makeshift sneak-a-peek holes as we simultaneously wash the dishes and check on the kids playing in the yard. They create perfect sunbathing slumber stations for our napping pets.

They are important. And there's no reason why yours should be left bare, unfurnished and uninteresting. Window treatments, like drapes blinds and shutters, don't have to obstruct your view to the outside-they simply dress it up a little.

"Adding window treatments to your home is like putting the icing on the cake," said Pat Davidson of Davidson Home Furnishings in Billings. "True, you can eat the cake without the frosting, but it tastes and looks better with it."

With the right advice and proper mix of materials, your windows can be the perfect combination of function and fashion forward. Try incorporating some of these tips from local experts to add some sass to your glass.

From idea to inception

Drapes, shades, shutters, valences, curtains-all of these items are a part of the window treatment family. Preference, space and function will determine which of these, or a combination of them all, will best suit your windows.

Carol Ehrman, certified window fashion designer for V2K Window Décor in Billings, offers a special service to her clients who might be hesitant about letting the faux wood and fabric fly. She has a software program called the "Décor Creator" that allows customers to enter window measurements and swap-in drapes, shutters, blinds, etc. on-screen to get a visual of the desired look.

"By showing clients their options on the program, we are able to piece together a window treatment that fits their personality," Ehrman said. "Sometimes clients like a pattern or a fabric, but once they see it scaled on their wall, they might change their mind."

Ehrman has a wide variety of fabrics, colors, textures and materials to choose from for clients interested in dressing windows. The program also has an automatic estimate feature so you can price-out prospective projects immediately on-screen.

Chic technique

Certain design elements work best in specific locations—light-filtering Roman shades will work well on a west-facing wall, for example, and free-flowing, neutral-colored drapes can accentuate a spa bath. Ultimately, though, piecing together a design strategy is totally subjective.

Asking yourself some basic questions can help jump-start the selection process.

"Do you want to add height to your windows? Is your window centered? Do you need treatments for insulation? Are you looking to create a mood? What textures do you like," are all questions clients should ask themselves, said Susan Keyes, owner of Ambiance Interiors in Billings.

Keyes encourages clients to evaluate basic needs like sound protection, light emission, insulation, proper fit and hardware support for window treatments before clients decide on color, pattern and style.

Once clients answer these questions, the color and material selection process can begin.

"Silk and faux silk draperies create a more formal look," Keyes said, "while treatments made from natural materials create more of a contemporary, minimalist sentiment."

Reds, rusts, olive greens and corals are all contemporary colors this season, Keyes said.

Lavish layers

"Our home is our refuge, our safety zone," Pat Davidson said, "and being able to wrap a room around us is comforting."

Layering your window treatments can create this comfortable, cozy feeling.

Adding soft curtains to an already interesting accordion shade or installing neutral blinds behind your bright curtains are some great layering techniques that add depth and interest to your room.

"What I try to impart on my clients is to do it the right way the first time," Davidson said. "Window treatments can last the life of the house when done right."

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If the project you have your heart set on is too cost-prohibitive, Keyes suggests selecting a basic under treatment as a foundation and adding layers as your budget allows.

And the pros agree. Like Davidson, Keyes and Ehrman, Bob Witham of Blinds Shutters and Shades advises to consult a window treatment specialist before installing bad blinds or droopy drapes.

'If clients don't consult with an expert, they are not exposing themselves to everything that's available," Witham said. "We can offer tips and insight that the prospective customer might miss, but love."

Mood motifs

Window treatments can evoke a particular feeling or experience that few other home décor items can elicit.

Warm-colored drapes or curtains in deep red or oranges can induce a sense of comfort. Drapes dashed in strong, contrasting colors or retro designs can elicit a more artsy vibe. Long, whispy white curtains in a bed or bath could convey a very relaxing, peaceful sentiment.

Window treatments can also create continuity of form to the shapes in the room.

"All of the appliances and cupboards in the kitchen create a very restrictive and angular feel," Ehrman said. "Adding curtains with rounded bottoms or a valance can greatly soften the space."

As windows themselves have become more unique, window decor must reflect this.

"Homes are not necessarily designed with window treatments in mind," Davidson said. "Oddly-sized, combination windows can often make design a challenge, and you have to create a treatment that's right for that space."

Another caveat to keep in mind is that treatments should also be aesthetically pleasing from the outside looking in—waning curtain rods, crooked blinds, tattered shades and frayed tie-backs are just as viewable to the passerby.

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