Window treatments reduce the amount of visible light and heat that is transmitted into a room through the windows while "dressing up" the windows with a cover or a frame.
 Window Treatments
Window treatments are interior decorating elements which are placed on, in, around, or over a window. Window treatments include various types of layers and designs that cover a window to protect privacy, filter light and insulate against heat and cold. They are designed to be both functional and aesthetic.
Window treatments are divided into hard treatments which are made from things like vinyl or natural materials and soft treatments which are made from soft materials such as fabrics. There are also mirror films that are created to enhance privacy options and window treatments that surround the window's frame which don't actually cover the glass at any point.
 Hard Window Treatments
Hard window treatments are treatments which are made from natural fibers or laminates. They are generally accepted as anything that is used on a window which has not been sewn. They are available in many styles and colors. Hard window treatments require less maintenance and are easier to clean than traditional soft window treatments.
Cellular or woven shades provide an attractive and functional window treatment that blocks heat and light. Shades are available in bamboo, woven fabrics and other pleated materials and natural fibers. Mounting may be accomplished by using tension rods or a cord installation. Some shades may be operated electrically but most shades are raised and lowered by a pull cord.
 Shade Styles
Shades are available in a large array of colors and textures which can blend in with most any decor. They can be operated horizontally, vertically or from the top down. Shades allow for privacy but will admit a certain percentage of light. There are new shade styles that have flexible slats which are sandwiched between two layers of transparent material. These shades add a sophisticated look to the windows while allowing for light control. One popular shade style involves honeycomb style shades that are made of two or more layers of material. These shades provide good insulation for windows.
Shutters are installed on the inside of the windows and result in a window treatment that offers both privacy and light. They are made from laminate or wood. A rod or lever allows the homeowner to adjust shutters' openings.
 Shutter Styles
Shutters are available as half-shutters or full-shutters. Half shutters are often installed one on top of the other so that the homeowner can leave one the upper portion of the shutters open for more light flow near the ceiling while the bottom shutters are closed to darken the room below, or vice versa. Full shutters are also available which add an elegant appearance to a room.
Blinds, once known as "Venetian Blinds" are a traditional window treatment. New options in slat widths are fueling their renewed popularity among homeowners who are looking for a window treatment solution for their replacement windows. Blinds are easy to clean. They are available in laminate or wood and come in a wide range of colors. Blinds close easily to prevent light from entering a room when needed but they do not offer very much window insulation.
 Styles for Window Blinds
Homeowners can choose to include wide slats in their blinds which result in fewer slats. This type of blinds results in more light entering a room. Other consumers prefer narrow slats which block more light and result in a more refined room style. Some blinds can be raised into a cornice so that they are almost hidden.
 Soft Window Treatments
Soft window treatments are coverings made from fabrics and other soft materials. They add style and warmth to any room. Soft window treatments can provide a room with a modern, contemporary, chic or traditional style, depending on the fabric, colors and chosen design. Soft window treatments include curtains, drapes, sheers, Roman Shades, swags and valances.
Sheers are sewn using very thin pieces of fabric. Sheers allow more light to flow into the room than other window treatment alternatives. They softly filter the light to add a luminescent quality to the room. Sheers can be versatile and are available in a wide range of colors, designs and prints. They can be paired with other window treatments to provide the filtered light effect while offering the additional privacy and light-filtering capabilities of other window treatments.
 Curtains and Drapes
Drapes and curtains are pieces of hanging fabric. Drapes generally feature fringes and tassels while curtains are hemmed at the bottom with no additional edgings. Curtains and drapes are commonly used to block out sunlight while they increase privacy. Drapes or heavy material curtains are used to help insulate a room during both summer and winter months. They provide a more elegant look than sheers and are often hung in formal rooms such as a dining room or a living room
A valance is an ornamental window treatment and does not serve any function. The valance is a shortened piece of fabric which is hung from the top of a window, oftentimes as an upper border over a longer curtain or drape. Valances that are hung alone can commonly be seen in bathrooms and in windows which are above a kitchen sink.
 Roman Shades
Roman shades are window shades which fold onto themselves when they are raised, creating a layered effect. Roman shades are available in a range of fabrics including shades that darken a room, filter light or, for thermal fabric Roman shades, conserve a room's temperature. Roman shades are available in dozens of colors as well as in prints. They can be used in conjunction with other window treatments including under curtains, draperies or valances.
Swags are long pieces of fabric which are often partnered with drapes, sheers and curtains but can be used on their own. The two ends of a swag are fastened on to the two ends of a curtain rod and looped around the rod once or twice, leaving the swag to hang down slightly in the middle in two or three low hanging drapes. Swag fabrics can include heavy fabrics, lace and linens, sheers and curtain or drapery fabrics. Swags are generally used for extremely large window units such as bay or bow windows.
 Window Films
Different types of window films are available to enhance privacy or reduce the solar heat gain coefficient. These films are similar to contact paper and are applied to the window. Privacy window films are available as black, mirror shade or frosted glass. Films designed to reduce the solar heat gain coefficient are clear films.
 Black Films
Black films create a dark appearance and dim the light that is coming through the windows from the outdoors. The black film totally blocks the vision of people who are standing outside the window from seeing into the room.
 Mirror Films
Mirror film allows light to penetrate and slightly obscure the view of the inside of the house from the exterior of the house. People within the house, however, can easily see outside. Mirror films are effective privacy films but cannot completely block the view, especially at night when there is more light inside than outside.
 Decorative Films
Decorative window films are available in decorative patterns which add style and color to a window. They obscure the view of the home's interior from the outside but allow light to enter into a room in the same manner as light streams into a room through a stained glass window. Decorative film can come in traditional or contemporary patterns. While they do not allow someone outside a house to see into the house easily, they also limit the view from the inside to the outside.
 Low E Film
Low E film, also known as a "low-emissivity" coating can reduce heat loss b 30 - 50 percent. The Low E coating provides a thin metallic coating to the window that blocks heat and ultraviolet rays. The coating is generally applied to the interior pane of the window in the wintertime which traps the heat within the house. During the suumertime the film is slipped to the outside pane to prevent sun infiltration and keep the house cool. The film is available in pre-cut kits or in rolls. Large window applications may need a professional to install the film.
 Window Treatments Surrounding a Window
The window treatments that surround a window can add significant elements to the window's appearance and function. Window treatments that surround a window include cornices, decorative moldings, pelmets and valances.
A cornice is a decorative molding that crowns a window's exterior. These moldings may be shaped like a crown or in another geometric, floral or other type of shape. Cornices may project outward from the building which throws rainwater free of the window. Cornices may also simply act as a decorative addition to the window's exterior frame.
Decorative molding is a strip of materials that is used to cover the gap between a window frame and the rough edges of the wall's window opening. They are available in different profiles and materials including plastic and wood. Window molding is also sometimes referred to as a window's "casing."
Pelmets free the space above a window while they hide the curtain rod. They are boxes which are built from wood, foam or any other material. Wooden pelmets are attractive as is but other types of pelmets are generally covered with some type of fabric to match the room's décor.
 Style Considerations
Window treatments can vary widely. A standard window treatment may be paired with something less traditional. Window treatments should coordinate with the room's décor but can also contrast slightly in color or texture to mix and match different design elements.
 Layering Window Treatments
Generally, only one type of window treatment is used on a window but there are layering possibilities that incorporate both style and function. For example, light filtering blinds may be used to filter light and a valance may be placed over the blinds to add color o soften the lines. A cornice may be placed over floor length curtains to create a dramatic effect or shades could be installed for daytime/light filtering useuse. Sheers are generally available for nighttime effect.