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June 18, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, June 18, 2004

Plan ahead for window treatments Plan ahead for window treatments (June 18, 2004)

Pre-planning can avoid costly fixes later

By Richard Morrison

If you're planning a remodeling that includes new windows, it's not too early to start planning ahead for your window treatments. Thinking ahead makes it far easier when it comes time to embellish the interior with curtains, shades or draperies.

Too often, windows are placed in locations and configurations that make window treatments difficult, if not impossible, to install later.

The point was vividly illustrated at a recent talk given by an interior designer colleague, Rise Krag, Allied Member ASID, for a group of local architects. She provided excellent examples of how effective window treatments could be for softening and enhancing interiors. Some dramatic and attractive interiors, produced through the collaboration of a couple of architects in the audience and herself, helped the architects understand the benefits of working with a good interior designer.

Krag then illustrated some unfortunate "problem children" windows, which were having difficulty finding good solutions for their window treatments.

For example, one window was so close to the corner of the room, that a curtain rod couldn't be installed with enough clearance to get the typical finial (the ball or other decorative end to a curtain rod) to end up beyond the side of the window where curtains would normally hang. Another pair of windows was installed slightly off-center in the room, so any hanging fabric would have looked horribly lopsided.

Early planning for proper clearances and symmetry would have helped in these cases. So think about how much space you might need for curtain rods to extend past the window, and provide enough wall space so that curtains can hang in a comfortably sized area when they're open.

You might think about motorizing the window coverings in hard-to-reach areas, or even motorizing all of the major window treatments. Imagine pressing a button, and having the draperies close elegantly at your evening dinner party. Or raising a large semi-transparent shade when the sun's heat dies down in the late afternoon. You'll need to plan ahead for the electrical work, though.

If you plan ahead, there is also the opportunity to build almost invisible pockets above the window to allow shades to be raised and be virtually invisible when they're open. Intriguing motorized shade systems are now available, such as those by Lutron ( These look great if carefully designed into the walls in advance, and electrical provisions made, but are very difficult to retrofit smoothly after your project is built.

This is definitely one area where bringing an interior designer into the process early can help you avoid problems later, or take advantage of opportunities you might not have considered.

Richard Morrison, AIA, ASID, is a Menlo Park architect and interior designer. He teaches a course in home remodeling at the Palo Alto Adult School. He can be contacted at 321-3729.

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