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What I Am Loving Now: Bare Windows

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I have been assessing my house for the past few weeks trying to figure out what projects I need to do if we have to move and what projects I would love to do if we stay.     One thing I noted is that I see a window decorating trend happening in all of my rooms – I am removing the window treatments!  Well – not all, but for the past year I have noticed I like my windows with less – less fuss, less fabric. I want to see clearly outside and don’t want too much competition with the outside view, but I still want them to look nice.

I once read in a decorating book that windows are the smile of a house.

Window Decorating Trends Windows are the smile of a house



Think about it – when you walk up to a house with shiny, clean, unobstructed windows you feel the house is welcoming you with a big smile.   Now imagine walking up to that same house where all the drapes and shades are closed tight and never opened or they are crooked and uneven or there is a different color at every window and spider webs in the corners.   It is like the house is saying – GO AWAY!    I like my house to smile from the outside as well as the inside.

When I was a college student living in NYC I had two very nice windows in my apartment, but not even what seemed 4 feet away was another building.  No view at all.  It was stifling. I felt trapped and spent many hours on the roof where I could enjoy the view for miles.  A view opens up the possibilities and keeps life bright and cheery.

I have curated a window decorating trends Pinterest board titled Wonderful Windows.  Someday I imagine the windows in my house will look like these-

Interior Wall of beautiful windows
Two Ellie

Unique window with a view


Beautiful windows

Verdigris Vie

For now this is as close as I can get-

In my Dining Room and Family Room

Right before Christmas I removed the curtain panels from the French doors in my family room.  We used to need them to shut out the sun glare when the TV was in one of the corner cabinets and not mounted above the fireplace where it is now.  It felt so good to take them down. There is no need for privacy in this room as it opens up to the back of the house, plus there is a row of trees between properties, so no one can see anything anyway.

I love white or a neutral color fabric at my windows because I don’t want the fabric to dictate what I can or can’t bring into the room color or style wise. If I like something I can place it in these rooms and it goes automatically.     At Christmas I was able to just that when I added snowflakes and wreaths with fuchsia ribbon to my dining and family rooms.


Dining-Room window treatment ideasFamily-Room-Decorating Ideas


Snow-flake-window curtainChristmas Decorating Ideas for doors

In my bedroom

I need privacy, but have a wonderful view that I want to enjoy during the day.  I simply use cloth roller shades at night.  They are classic and 18 years old!  Talk about good classic design!  The panels are from Target and I made the no-sew valances from tablecloths.

Window treamtment solutionsNo Sew Tablecloth Window Treatment

Where I don’t have panels – I like valances to add some color and interest.  The valance in my bathroom is a simple rectangle of fabric tied onto an antique swing rod that I found at a flea market.  Above my kitchen window is my most elaborate treatment. I used a M’Fay pattern to make it and let me tell you  – It was not easy!!!  Sewing the beaded trim on the bottom edge was a breeze compared to the construction involved with making the valance.

antique-Swing-Curtain-rod-with no-sew valanceWindow treatment ideas - valances

In my kitchen by the banquette we needed a sun filtering and blocking treatment.  We get full morning sun that can make it impossible to read the paper or even sit without getting sun glare in your eyes.  Since this is a bay window, drapes would not work or if I did add them the window would end up looking like a “stage”.

Installing 3 1/2- inch wide plantation shutters was the best choice in window treatments I ever made.  The wide louvers when set straight across provide much more light and a view. Smaller louvers will obstruct the view.    I bought these from Smith and Noble. They told me they would not fit or work on a bay window, but I insisted they would. I was told that if I ordered them, I could not return them as they were custom.    They didn’t know – an obstacle is like a creative challenge for me.  They fit perfectly.

Plantation shutters in a bay window from Smith and Noble

The hall bathroom only had one little window. I “faked” it to make it look much larger by adding molding above it to hang the valance and keeping the window clear.  For privacy, there is a roller shade hidden behind the valance.


How to make a sindow look larger with molding

In my studioffice – I just took down the cardboard valances since I am re-doing  this room.  I just painted the trim around the windows – more on that coming soon.  Guest room has no-sew panels and a sun blocking roller shade for guests who like privacy and do not like to wake up in a bright room.

Pretty Home Office Window IdeasWindow treamtnent ideas for Guest Rooms

The window in the upstairs hallway has nothing on it.  I tried to make it have more presence by adding old shutters to the sides and by making a small window seat to place in front of it.  If we end up staying in this house, I want to beef this window up with molding.

Now sew window treatment - exterior shutters inside

My daughters’ rooms are both pretty bare now, but there are roller shades for privacy in each. I won’t be doing anything with their rooms until I know if we are moving or not.

There is also a window and door in my mudroom. I made no-sew relaxed Roman shades for them after seeing $250 per window ones at Restoration Hardware that were way out of my budget.

How to make No-Sew-Roller-Shades-to-look-like-a-relaxed-roman-shade

At one time I added a seashell swag on the window. I made the swag as a project for one of  the appearances I did on Lifetime TV. It is in my basement now, all wrapped up  – waiting for a beach house someday.

How to make a window treatment using seashells

The sidelights by my front door – I used clear Gallery Glass Window Color to resemble a beveled glass design.  It looks nice from the street – the light comes in and you can still see out.

Gallery Glass window tutorialGallery Glass Window Color by Plaid

Which brings me to the outside of the windows – how do the treatments look to people passing by?

I did a screen test – no – not for Hollywood, but a window screen test to show you in the winter months how much better a window can look when the screen is taken down.  The window in the photo below with the screen is grayed out – no shine and the mullions are not crisp and white. Imagine all the shiny windows above and next to it with the same gray look.  It looks flat – no shine and life to the windows.  I should have put the screen in one of the upstairs windows to demonstrate this as the two on the bottom are in the shade and it is not as obvious.  I love my screens – I am an open window kind of girl and put them back in as soon as the weather gets warm, but I love the way my house looks more in the winter when the screens are off– it smiles brighter.

Exterior house decorating tips

When I used to help Realtors and homeowners get  a house ready for sale, one of the first things we looked at was the exterior windows – Not only to make sure they were sparkly clean, but also to make sure all the linings were a neutral color and the treatments were even with the sash.  The exterior of a house is all about curb appeal.

When I am in a rush to get somewhere in the morning, I am the first to admit I  am guilty of not taking the time to pull my shades up.  When I come home and see that the shade is down or all askew, I immediately have to fix it. It just looks better.

Are your windows smiling?  Take notice of these little details on the exterior of your windows to make sure they are smiling to the world and look as good from the outside as they do from the inside.  :)

I am working on the two windows in my studioffice now and will show you what I am doing with them soon – nothing elaborate, but definitely more interesting.

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  1. Our house in Seattle had very little in the way of window treatments. It was more of a decorative swag or fabric trim around the frame of the window. I could do that because we lived at a higher vantage point above Puget Sound than the other houses nearby. I didn’t feel like we were “exposing” all to the world. However, now that I live in a very small town in Pennsylvania and have a European style “up against the sidewalk house”, I have window coverings everywhere. It does make it darker but it does afford privacy.

    When I open windows, I always line up the sash with a line of the panes and all my windows have to be open to the same point. It DOES look so much better from the outside! Next year I will try your trick of taking down the screens in the winter. Great idea. I always learn something new when I read your blog!!

  2. I love open windows too! Yet I have faux would blinds on them all :( But I am thinkng in my next house I will get those roller shades so that during the day I can roll them up and have a beautiful uncovered window to look out of.

  3. What a great post. My family members and I just had an argument/discussion about windows. I agree with you, minimal window treatments and always an “open” feeling…even at night. My sister, mom and cousin HAVE TO have something covering their windows, especially at night. They have that “someone may be watching me” syndrome, lol. Right now, my sister is OBSESSED with finding curtains for her back windows and no one lives behind her house. I just don’t get it.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever looked so closely at windows! I too love the way the outside looks without the screens. But here’s my feeling about windows without full coverings: in the night time they are big black holes in the room. I hate that! For me, drawing the drapes (or blinds) at dusk is like pulling a cozy blanket across my windows. I guess that would be MY own style!

    1. Hi Bettsi-

      There is nothing more elegant than beautiful drapes or long panels at a window. They are the perfect window treatment because you can hang them to clear the window so that during the day you have a view and at night draw them over the window for a cozy feel. I love the fact that you know what style makes you happy – that is the best feeling ever to be confident in your choices.

  5. I have to agree with you 100%, Diane! The only window coverings we have are the sheers that I pull across the living room windows at night. They’re the first things I pull open in the morning to let the daylight in, though! We have Roman shades on the French doors in our small kitchen eating area. It gets the morning sun like your kitchen, so in the summer, those get pulled down during the heat of the day. Other than that, I just have sheer cafe curtains on the bottom half of our bedroom windows, but the pull down shades come in handy when we want to keep the cold or heat out! :) But bare nekkid windows are the BEST! lol!

    xoxo laurie