Each week, Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week, we discuss how to thoughtfully dress a window for a contemporary look.
Window treatments are often considered an element in traditional interior design, be it swags and jabots, pinch-pleated curtains, or trimmed Roman shades. But modern and contemporary spaces can sometimes benefit from an understated yet well-dressed window.
“For modern interiors, we always prefer a clean look when it comes to drapery and shades,” said Sharon Rembaum, an interior designer based in Scarsdale, New York. “Simple, minimalist choices go a long way for a relaxed, modern aesthetic.”
We asked several designers for advice on dressing windows in modern and contemporary rooms.
Blend With the Architecture
“In contemporary design, the window treatment should blend with the architecture, not draw attention to itself with bold patterns or colors.
“Roller shades as well as simple draperies and sheers work well in contemporary spaces. The best fabrics to use for drapes are linen, cotton and in some cases a low- pile velvet to give a more luxurious feel. Sheers will be made of cotton and a cotton/polyester blend.
“When a combination of functionality and aesthetic is desired, roller shades in the back with drapery or sheers in front can still be a good solution. There are modern styles of Roman shades available if that look is desired. Motorized shade options can be useful for high windows in tall spaces.”
— Sarah Bay, director of interior design and senior associate at Three, in Dallas
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Streamline the Design
“Avoid drowning your window treatments in layers of fabric. Less is more. We often use flat Roman shades as well as ripple fold drapery, especially in living spaces. Ripple fold drapery gives a very sleek look due to a beautiful undulating wave that ripples across the entire fabric. It’s highly functional and glides effortlessly.
“We also like tailored pleat drapery or French pleat drapery. They are a little more formal and classic so tend to work well in both modern and traditional spaces. Tailored pleat drapery is fuller and known for its elegant waterfall pleat design in which the pleats are held stiff at the top. French pleat drapery, also known as a pinch pleat, is another classic look that pinches a few inches from the top and gives the drapes some shape. French pleat drapery is often seen in more traditional spaces but can be designed in more contemporary settings depending on color, pattern or texture.
“For modern interiors we prefer clean, narrow hardware with a simple finial for a non-fussy look. When the drapes are open, you want the drapery to just cover the edge of the window frame so the rod should be hung wide enough to do so.”
—Designer Sharon Rembaum of Sharon Rembaum Interior Design in Scarsdale, New York
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Don’t Pool Curtains
“In a modern home, you’ll want to let the furniture and decor speak for themselves. Let the window treatments play into the scheme, but not take over the show.
“Some materials are better than others when it comes to light filtration, durability, and how they hang and drape. For a modern room, I’d opt for linen drapery. It’s not too heavy, but its weight hangs beautifully. The material also naturally allows air to flow easily, so it’s great for all seasons. It’s also quite a strong natural fiber, so you can count on it to last.
“Traverse rods are great for a modern look. They don’t include brackets or rings so they offer a super sleek design that’s visually appealing and contemporary in nature. Another way to ensure your curtain style reads modern is to make sure they end right at the floor, any fabric pooling on the ground will give a traditional flare.”
— Leslie Murphy, owner and creative director at Murphy Maude Interiors in Memphis, Tennessee
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Keep Color in Mind
“When you utilize or implement an interior stained window––whether in a room with fully-stained millwork or simply a stained window by itself––the best window treatment is something that disappears. The stained-wood blind strategically allows that wood element to disappear into its application.
“The trick to making a wood blind feel less traditional and more contemporary/modern is to start with a stain color that is not in the golden warm brown family. A light sandy or light gray toned wood evokes that more transitional feeling.
“In addition, the contemporary aesthetic frequently utilizes dark interior windows such as metal. If wood blinds were then stained to match those dark windows, a more modern feel could be achieved.”
— Architect Cathy Purple Cherry of Purple Cherry Architects in Annapolis, Maryland
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