Warm Up Your Windows

Nell Hill's windows

I have fallen back in love with window coverings. Do you remember back in the day, when we covered our windows in big, heavy drapes? I was not a fan. Then, as people grew tired of all that fussy finery, we gravitated toward clean, simple coverings like blinds and plantation shutters, or left our windows unadorned. Now, I think we’ve found our happy place, right in the middle. Whether it’s a drape with a simple pinch pleat that breaks on the floor just like a man’s trousers, or a tailored Roman shade, today’s window treatments bring charm and character to a space without overwhelming it, adding that perfect finishing touch to well-decorated room.


Make Them Personal

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Window coverings can be like art, a focal point of a space. When our daughter Kelly and her husband, Britt, moved into their home, they did some major renovations, including creating this sensational kitchen. The window coverings, simple and striking, play a starring role in this beautiful space.

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We’re seeing lots and lots of interesting trim on shades and panels now. And Kelly’s kitchen is a great example of how something as simple as an intriguing black outline on cream fabric can make your jaw drop. The crowned jewel of this kitchen? The monogrammed shade. Love! When I went to the fabric market this winter, I was wowed by the new looks in trims. Among my favorites were the variations on the classic Greek key pattern. Nell Hill’s customers are crazy about them, too!


Add Layers of Interest

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Customers often ask me if it’s OK to add window panels over other window coverings, like Roman shades, woven coverings like matchstick blinds, or plantation shutters. Yes! Yes! Yes!

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Everyone has a different color quotient, so the bold treatment in my friend Matt and Kristen’s dining room might be too much for some, but I am over the moon about this courageous choice to layer two complementary but very different fabrics together on a window. The panels give pizzazz to the room all day long, but in the evening, when the shades come down, the room is extra special.

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For years in my Atchison home, I resisted adding fabric treatments to my living room windows. I was pretty happy with the look of my plantation shutters and I was worried curtains would accentuate the irregular widow spacing in my old house and make the room feel darker. But drawn by my irrepressible desire to always add gorgeous new textiles to my rooms, I decided to go for it. To make sure I allowed in all the natural light possible, I hung the panels on the outsides of the windows. The addition of the curtain panels, a soft blue floral finished with a green flange, warmed up the room so much, I was sorry I had waited so many years.

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Do you have blinds or shutters that you still like? Leave them up! Just finish them off with panels. The photo above is of a designer’s show house Nell Hill’s did a few years ago. To make this bedroom tres romantic, we echoed the dreamy bed curtains with soft panels. If your windows are bare, what about woven shades, like matchstick blinds or bamboo shades? These simple, rustic beauties even look at home in formal room.


Variations on a Pretty Palette

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When I worked with my friends Julie and Mark on their country dream house, they wanted to create a family home that was filled with color and pattern. They landed on a palette of gray and yellow for a number of the rooms, telling the story through one beautiful window covering after another.

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In their living room, the floor-to-ceiling windows got a zip of pattern, thanks to these sensational Roman shades. The pattern is bold, but done in a palette of soft grays and yellows, it supports the design choices in the room, accenting without overwhelming.

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The charming color palette of gray and yellow continues in the master bedroom. Once again, Julie selected a stunning combination of fabrics to bring the colors to life and make the room truly unique.

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The floral fabric used in the panels had sweet embroidered centers. Love the canary yellow flange trim!

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I’m a big fan of the time-honored café curtain. Simple and sweet, these timeless treatments do an excellent job of allowing natural light into a room, yet provide privacy. Julie went with a darling black and cream toile for the curtains, an unassuming treatment that lets your eyes drink in the fabulous coral ceilings. If my laundry room looked like this, I might do the wash more often!

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In the family’s light and airy dining room, the curtain panels are yet again an ode to yellow and gray.


Stay Simple with Neutral

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You don’t have to add much color to get a powerful effect with your window coverings. My friend Marsee, a member of the visual design team at Nell Hill’s, is the master of mixing soft, subtle neutrals for a dazzling affect. This sweet shade in her sun room is a great example, lovely on its own, but also a part of the quiet backdrop that allows her vast collection of art to shine on the walls.


Marsee wanted to be able to gaze out her kitchen window when she was doing the dishes, but have privacy at night. So these sweet and simple café curtains were the ideal choice.


Next Week…Come join me at Innisfree, my cottage on the lake, when I’ll share a big design decision I made when we were renovating our cottage, and how it’s worked out.