A friend of mine sent me an e-mail asking for advice on window treatments. Her bedroom has three large windows set out like a bay window, currently with a beautiful view of green trees and a lot of sky. However, as townhouses are slated to be built next door, soon her only view will be of windows and siding. Depressing!
She asked me, “Do you have any ideas for recreating the tranquility of our current view with window treatments? I’d like to keep the room very clean and light.”
Natural Woven Shades
One option I love is natural woven shades. Besides being available in various colors, they’re also available in various grades of translucency, which means you have some control over privacy from the outside and light streaming inside.
Also, if you’ve painted the walls, carefully chosen textiles, and invested in beautiful furniture and yet your room still feels like something is missing, natural woven shades add texture and warmth and can possibly balance out your room, especially if it feels slightly stark.
A second option is solar shades. On the average, solar shades may be more expensive, but they are, in all honesty, worth it. They have UV protection, so your books, fabrics, and furniture won’t fade; they also reduce heat transfer from outdoors, so you’ll save on energy bills. They come in a variety of colors, textures, and, like natural woven shades, various grades of translucency.
Another thing I really like about solar shades is that you can continue enjoying your view, since they’re sheer. If you just don’t want to look at the neighbor’s house, however, this is probably not the right option for you.
Creating the Illusion of Stained Glass
A lesser-known option, especially appropriate for DIYers (i.e. not me), is painting your window to resemble stained glass. It looks much more authentic than using contact paper, because the paint holds a texture. And you can buy the paint in a kit that comes with “lead strips”—which are actually raised stickers.
I don’t know how difficult this process is, but as you can see, it really does look like stained glass.
Top-Down, Bottom-Up Shades
Top-down, bottom-up shades are my personal favorite option. If I wanted privacy from my neighbors but didn’t want my shades closed all the time, this is what I’d choose. And the fact that you can get them in patterned fabric, sheer linen, woven wood, and a variety of other materials makes them even more appealing.
Other Light and Airy Window Treatments
Roman shades, roller shades, and what Smith+Noble calls “horizontal illusions” are other options I like if you want to bring light in yet keep a sad view out.
Drapery for a Bay Window
Many of the above options can still be combined with drapery (not a bad idea if you want two levels of privacy and light filtering). To leave you with this last piece of inspiration, check out how William and William have used curtains on the bay windows in their Chicago living room. Lovely.