Architectural Considerations
Don't Build Your Home Until Reading This

Think about window treatments before building a home, not after. It will enable you to consider necessary design components that will ultimately complement the overall interior design and aid in proper selection and installation of your window coverings.

There are so many things to think about when designing and building a home or an addition that it is easy to overlook window treatments as a consideration. This article will help you explain to architects and builders how to avoid the most common pitfalls:

Window Depths

Window depths should be at least 2-1/2 inches, especially when decorative casing surrounds the window. Homeowners prefer to mount treatments like shutters and plantation size (2") blinds within the window frame. When installing double-hung windows the 2-1/2 inches applies to the bottom window, where space is especially shallow. Some plantation shutters have 4-1/2 inch louvers. These, and some other treatments, require even more room.

Double and triple windows encased in one window opening usually have vertical trim strips between the windows. Do not forget to include these strips when measuring the depth. Consideration should be made of minimizing or even eliminating them, since they are usually just decorative and take up valuable space.

Sliding doors are less popular these days; however, the door's handle size should be considered when measuring the depth. Verticals usually require a 4" depth plus room for the handles.

Window Styles

Window styles such as circular, arched, eyebrow arched, and angled are aesthetically appealing, but restrict the choices of window treatments. Manufacturers have only a few blind and shade products which accommodate these windows. This is especially true for eyebrow and 1/4 arches. Shutters and arched honeycomb shades are usually the only choice for treatments mounted inside these kinds of windows.

Homeowners are reluctant to permanently cover the arched portion of an arched window, and there are few treatments that can be opened. Use care when incorporating these fashionable but difficult-to-treat windows.

Crank style windows sometimes prevent treatments from lowering completely. In a set of bow windows without sheetrock separating each window, there is usually a privacy problem because of the gap between each blind or shade. Full traversing draperies will alleviate this problem, but a long drapery is probably inappropriate in, for example, a breakfast room or kitchen.

French doors usually swing into the home, and this eliminates many types of valances that hang above the doors. Blinds and shades should normally be mounted directly on the doors. Consider allowing the doors to swing outward. Also consider the handles and dead bolt locks, which sometimes prevent optimal placement of shades, blinds, and shutters. The door handles should be installed toward the center of double French doors to allow easier stack back of draperies on both sides of the doors.

The number of glass panes across a window should ideally be an even number when you are using shutters, so that the center of the shutter lines up with the middle vertical line in the window.

Window Placement

Window placement is equally important. Chair rails and base boards should not be wrapped around into the window openings. This prevents shades and blinds from raising and lowering. Chair rails and trim from an adjoining perpendicular wall sometimes butt up against the window or its casing. This restricts the proper placement of a drapery, and does not allow the drapery to stack back sufficiently. Sometimes the outside edge of the drapery cannot even extend outside the window itself. This problem also can be caused by fireplace mantels. It is best when an equal amount of wall space is provided on both sides of a window. Center the windows on the wall whenever possible.

Make sure there is enough space between the top of the window and the ceiling or crown molding. Usually, a minimum of 2" is required for bracket placement. Wood headers should extend up to the ceiling or crown molding if the window treatment is being installed that high. Heavy treatments are best mounted into wood, instead of just the sheetrock. If there is not a stud where you need one, consider using molly or toggle bolts.

Avoid a soffet that causes the top of the windows under the soffet to be lower than the tops of other windows in the same room. It is preferable to eliminate soffets in bay or bow windows.

Access to all windows is necessary, even those in unfinished attics. Windows over tubs are sometimes difficult to reach without stepping into the tub. Front doors with smooth glass are usually covered with a gathered sheer. The sheer is not preferable in contemporary homes. Consider using beveled glass to eliminate the need for a sheer.

Other Considerations

Other considerations such as motorized treatments require special wiring and strategic placement of wall plugs. Windows in the same room should be of the same style. The bottom of windows along stairways should be high enough to allow for draperies to hang at an equal length on both sides of the window. Built-in wooden cornices should be sufficiently long and deep to handle the window treatment you are going to use.

Fire sensors and motion detectors are sometimes in the way of rod placement. Alarm contacts can be particularly tricky.

Consider giving this article to your architect, contractor, or client. Whether you are able to incorporate all of these ideas will be determined by cost, your personal aesthetic preferences, structural integrity, and the flexibility of the people who are working for you.