Because they make such a difference to the way that light enters a room, upgrading windows is one of the most dramatic ways to change the appearance of one’s home. It’s often more affordable than redecorating walls or floors, or purchasing new furniture. In combination with accessories such as rugs and pillows, it can be an easy way to change the color scheme, and a feature window can really bring a quiet room to life. The latest trends in home window upgrades are making a big impression.
They’re the simplest way to decorate a window, but too often curtains are taken for granted, their potential overlooked. This year has seen them reinvented in a number of ways. Bold geometric patterns are big, as are vertical stripes made from different types of fabric, which can have a dramatic effect on how the curtain folds and moves as well as how it looks. Trim has also become a favorite, with bold patterns running down the inner edge of curtains, or frilly edges in silk or chiffon giving them a feminine aspect ideal for bedrooms.
When light is important but so is privacy, what are the options? Lace and net look very old-fashioned and don’t really cut it, except in rooms dedicated to antique styles, but voile can look floaty and fluid and fantastic. Patterned voiles are the big thing this year, with organic patterns – leaves, stems, and curving vines in pale green, silver, or gold – a particularly popular choice. It looks best when cut to floor length, and it can be trimmed with ribbon to enhance its colors.
Sleeker than voile and available in a wider and wider range of designs, window film is coming into its own. Silvered film has expanded beyond business use into private homes (though it’s worth noting that it can’t be used when there are plants in the room because it cuts out UV), but there are lots of other options, with smoky privacy film bearing a variety of designs from flowers to cobblestones. It’s also possible to get film prepared to one’s own design at surprisingly affordable rates.
As other areas of window design embrace the modern, traditional stained glass is making a comeback. This ranges from whole panels to detail work at the edges of windows that casts splashes of colored light into the room. A good way to engage with the trend is to visit antique stores or online auction sites to find reclaimed panels rescued from old churches and public buildings. These can be mounted in front of existing windows to dramatic effect.
One of the best ways to make windows warm and secure is to add shutters. The finest window shutters will also add a touch of class, and they’re available in all sorts of attractive designs. They can be painted to bring out the colors in a room, and they’re fantastic for letting in the light because they don’t occlude the edges of the window, like curtains, or the top, like blinds. Flat shutters create a classic look, while slatted shutters provide subtler control over light and are particularly good insulators because of the way they trap layers of air.
A more elegant solution than the popular roller blind, Roman blinds are making a comeback this year. They’re gentler on fabric, and some styles have an outer fabric layer that can be completely removed for cleaning. Textured fabrics work particularly well because of the way they scatter light when half open. Many of this year’s designs are focused on stripes. Properly cared for, Roman blinds can stay in great condition for a decade or more, so it’s a good idea to choose a style with staying power or one that will be easy to re-cover.
Venetian blinds have always been attractive, but they have a bad reputation for tangling and jamming. The good news is that there’s a new generation of them hitting the market that don’t have these problems. Wooden slats are a particularly handsome option, providing the same advantages when it comes to the control of light but with a stylish matte finish that doesn’t scatter it in unwanted directions. They’re also better insulators.
Sometimes, nothing less than a full window refit will do. This is, naturally, one of the more expensive options, but the effect can be stunning. Traditional sash windows restore the character of Victorian and Georgian buildings, and can look surprisingly good in more modern ones. Made with modern materials, they’re no longer drafty, and they’re easy to keep clean. They look particularly good with tall shutters (sometimes still present in old buildings but painted over), or with floor-length drapes.
Windows with a lot of small panes add character to a house and are a great way to create a pleasingly old-fashioned or rustic look. Because the frame becomes as much of a feature as the glass, it can be painted different colors to suit the room, and it’s easy to redo in order to enhance a new color scheme. Windows like this look particularly good paired with square wooden shutters, dark curtains, or floral ones.
In ground floor rooms or rooms with balconies, French windows (aka French doors) are the best way to maximize the light. They’re wonderful for providing garden views, and arranging indoor plants around them can create the sense of a smoother transition between indoors and out, making the whole room feel like a garden. Sweeping ballgown curtains make them into an elegant alternative entry point for the home.
Any style of window can be improved on by using one or more of these techniques. There’s something to suit every budget, and new look windows mean a new look room. Because everybody’s attention is drawn to the light, beautiful windows are one of the best ways to make a statement. They’ll impress guests and provide pleasure every day, turning even the most ordinary house into a home of which you can be proud.