Transforming Your Space with Drapes and Large-Scale Windows

Share This On Social

In this episode, I answer a question about dressing windows in a small space and painting staircases.  If you have questions for me, make sure to submit them here. I’m currently on maternity leave but will be popping in once a month to batch answer your questions.  This episode, we discuss… [01:35]  Dressing windows in a small open concept space (Mayan)  [10:04]  Painting staircase spindles (Benjamin)  Question: I’m currently decorating my home with a shabby chic feel. My home is a small open concept space with a big wall full of windows facing the yard. Some are seated windows and the others thin and tall. We currently have blinds but I don’t like the look. I want curtains but I don’t want to overwhelm the space. How can I decorate these windows? Please help! Answer: First of all, I do not blame you for being anxious and having questions. Dressing windows is very complicated and not always straightforward. Each window has its own challenges. When we’re trying to design a space that has many windows, it’s hard to make a space feel cohesive while treating the windows differently because they are different.  Now in your case, I’m scrolling through these pictures. And yes, you have one very long wall that has five windows on it but one of the windows is more incepted and has a deeper ledge. I would not call it like a seated window by any means. I don’t know what you meant by seated window. I was thinking a window seat but looking at these pictures, I don’t see anything like that here. I’m just seeing a series of windows, one of which has a deeper ledge. The other thing that’s exciting me is that these windows tend to be at the same height visually so I actually think we can treat these windows very similarly. I think this is a pretty easy solve.  Now, the blinds are meant to be manipulated, depending on what type of light and privacy you want, whereas the drapes tend to stay at the side, flank the window, add color pattern texture height, but they aren’t typically manipulated, you wouldn’t typically close them unless you need blackout, or unless your windows are quite drafty so you’re wanting to prevent that air from getting in.  You would just leave them at the side so that they’ve kind of framed the window nicely. What I like to do when I’m treating windows or when I’m deciding how to treat a window is go to the most complicated window. The most complicated window can mean the one closest to the corner. It can mean the one that’s kind of the oddest in shape like the dining room window that has three windows stuck together, it can mean one that sort of sticks out as different. In this case, the one that sticks out as most different is that dining room window that is a little bit inset with the deeper Lodge, I would say it has a six inch ledge, and other windows have a three inch lens so it’s not even all that different.  The other difference for this window is that the glass doesn’t go all the way to the sides with the window frame, there is a piece of wall that’s about six inches between the side of the window frame and the corner of the window box, or where the ledge begins. I would say that’s a little bit different as well. Keeping those two things in mind, I would do it.  There’s one other thing I feel like I might want to tell you. I’m on the fence here. Now, I’m going to assume that you’re never going to draw these drapes but if I look at the other side of this deep dining room window, I can see that there’s only about eight inches from the window box right to the corner of the room and I’m not gonna let it trouble me because what I would do here in this much wider window is use a double wide panel. Typically, you want double the width of drapery that you have with the window. I’m going to guesstimate here that you have like 115 inches of window. That’s just a guesstimate, between 100 and 150 so that means that each panel needs to be 100 or 115. We know that panels come in between 40 and 50 so we would need to double wide panels. That means that each panel would be 100 inches on either side of this long dining room window and we would hang the rod up above the window box and hang it so that it brushes the floor.  What we want to do is go with a standard size of drape, you don’t want to have to get this hint so hopefully you’ll find something. I’m eyeballing this and thinking the 96 inch range would work well. Because if the 96 doesn’t work, then you have to go 108. Anyway, I would hang the rod the bracket on the rod outside the window box like four inches, because that will cover that weird space between the window frame and the corner of the window inset box where it meets the ledge meaning that we’re not going to see that weird piece of window, because the other windows are going to be so much easier to treat. So we went four inches outside and we’ll do the same thing on the other side of the window, four inches outside so that it covers that weird little void, and it’s going to brush the floor.  Then with all the other windows, you’re going to hang the rod at the same height that you did the dining room window as well as having them brush the floor, the amount outside could vary. Although in this case, I don’t think it should, I would do four inches outside. On these windows, you’ll do a single panel, a single panel wide drape, because these are much narrower windows, I’m eyeballing it 36 inches wide. That will be the perfect thing and will make everything really flow. It will really break up this long wall of windows and add color pattern texture softness, I think the room desperately needs window treatments.  I’m glad you wrote in. Even though that was a very long winded explanation, I hope it’s applied to a lot of your situations for those of you listening, because window treatments are very tricky. Once you know some of the rules, you’re able to apply them to lots of different scenarios so hopefully you guys can find a nugget or a bit of information that will work for your situation. Question: Hi Betsy, I love listening to your show on my way to work. Your voice sounds so calming to me. I love your story telling and your solutions always sound spot on! My wife and I have a dilemma on what color to paint our staircase handrails on the staircase and entrance. Currently, it’s red oak with white spindles and newels. The staircase risers and treads are also red oak as well as our living/dining floors and front door are also red oak. We want to update the area by getting rid of the red oak, except for the floor. Our design is traditional/transitional with rose wood furnishings. Should we paint the handrails and front door all in white to match the spindles/newels or should we paint the handrails glossy black or dark brown to match the furniture, but then we feel it wouldn’t match the staircase steps as we want to keep the red oak? Pls help us. Thank you for your time and good luck to your pregnancy. Wishing you a happy healthy baby! Answer: Well, thank you Benjamin, I really appreciate that. When looking at these pictures, the floors are a pretty big visual element in your space and typically I keep all the architectural elements so the handrails, the stairs, the floors, the same in terms of the finishes. Then, the furniture does not have to match. Your architecture in terms of the wood floor does not have to match your furniture. In fact, sometimes that can feel too matchy matchy so I am totally fine with the furniture not matching these elements.  The thing that is bothering me is that these pieces of staircase would then not match the flooring, which to me feels quite incongruous. You mentioned in your note that your style leans more towards transitional/traditional, and I worry that painting it black, in terms of the handrail, would just feel very severe. Now, I understand if this color of wood is not your favorite but what I would be more inclined to do is do a stairway runner, which is like a carpeted stairway going all the way up, that will conceal quite a bit of this wood. Then I would leave the post painted white and I think you could paint the front door. The front door being the same tone is not a necessity, but I think it will feel very odd if you’re changing the color of the stairs and handrail and don’t change the color of the flooring.  If you really don’t like this color, you’re going to be here a long time, it may be worth changing the color of the flooring but in my opinion, and based on the question you asked, I would go with a path of least resistance and add a stairway runner and paint the front door. Now the front door typically would be painted the same color as the trim or depending on what the front door is, you could do a fun color or something like that but I think this is the opportunity to break free.  I also think that you could consider adding more rugs painting this main area a different color just to draw your eye away from the flooring. If resanding the floor just isn’t in your budget, it might be a way to help detract because right now, this floor is very featured. Because it’s so uncovered, I would challenge your furniture layout. So the next time you write me, maybe write me with furniture layout questions because I think a nice big rug under the dining table would be quite impressive. I think a larger rug, showcasing the living area would be really nice.  When we have big open concept spaces, it can be tempting to carve out tiny corners or tiny vignettes within the space on little rugs but really, we want to make each zone feel as large as it is, while still allowing for a three foot walkway between the zones. I’m not suggesting wall to wall carpeting or having a carpet that just leaves you with a little narrow runway. I do think you need to separate these with ample space but you’ve left too much space between the edge of the living room rug and the piano. There’s at least six feet and so it’s making that living room look so small and dinky. What’s further emphasizing the fact that your living room is kind of small and dinky even is that you have these huge vaulted ceilings. I mean, I think the ceilings are between 15 and 18 feet high. We really want to rise to the occasion, not only by expanding our furniture and making it fit the scale of the space, but also going a little bit higher with our artwork.  You have artwork that’s not very tall, and it’s really dwarfing the space. I would want you to focus on some more vertical pieces abd some out of scale, large scale pieces, a large mirror. Right now your furniture is playing as if it was an eight foot high room with small little rooms. Instead, you’ve got this big open concept space and you’re really not bringing a big picture and a big vision to it. I know that’s a lot more than you asked Benjamin and now you’re in your car driving to work or whatever, and you’re so frustrated. You’re like Betsy, this was much more than I bargained for and I don’t want to make any of those changes but I think you’re focusing on all the wrong things, Benjamin and I think by refocusing on these problems that I think are much more dire, you’re going to get a better affect everyone.  Links: Website: Book: Become a Premium Member: Submit Your Questions: Instagram: Facebook:

Related Post


Your Design