It started when Maggie and Nick Barnthouse replaced hand-me-down furniture with new leather furniture. The couple’s 1960s home in Leawood was starting to look like a place that reflected their tastes.
But with great new furniture came great responsibility.
“We realized that the sun shining into the hearth room, where we spend all our time, was going to fade our chairs, and we also knew we needed more privacy,” says Barnthouse.
Enter designer Melody Davidson, who suggested folding Roman shades to protect the furniture and soften the look of the room. She also added full balloon shades to the bedroom, which originally had only wooden blinds.
“They coordinate with the bedding, and can be pulled up to create a valance effect,” she says, adding that the blinds and curtains also serve to block nearly all the light in the room — a plus for the couple, both doctors who work long and often late hours.
Like the clothing we wear, the “dressings” on our window serve to protect us from the public eye — and from cold, wind and burning rays. And, like our clothing, the fabrics, shades and embellishments we dress our windows with change with the trends.
So unless your windows face only the spectacular sea or a majestic forest, and the surrounding climate is a constant 65-75 degrees, chances are those windows need to be dressed, says Davidson, owner of Interiors by Melody.
The interior designer’s own home showcases some of the trends in today’s window treatments.
Woven wood blinds in the kitchen, popular in the ’70s, are back in style, but with a few important changes to the eco-friendly design.
“Back then, they were wood with yarn, and wonderful dust-collectors,” she says, pointing to the woven bamboo shades in her own kitchen. “These are much different, but I’m glad the style is back, because it looks beautiful when the light filters through them.”
Like wood, plantation shutters have undergone a few changes over the years. Some of the older shutters are about an inch deep. The shutters in her bathroom, and other rooms in her home, are about 3 inches deep.
“The larger the louver, the better the view when they’re open, and they’re also easier to clean,” Davidson says. “I call plantation shutters window furniture, because they really become part of the room.”
Nichol Cramer-Boeger, with One Stop Decorating Center, says about 75 percent of the work she does involves window treatments.
In the 14 years she’s been with One Stop, which has four locations in the Kansas City area, she’s learned that shopping for the right window treatments takes time.
“People think they’ll come in, and it will all be decided in a half hour,” she says. “We schedule people for two hours, because we want to be sure we do it right.”
Some of the issues she addresses: light control, privacy and automation.
Safety is another big factor: “If we see dogs or small children, we point out that cordless options might be best.”
Hunter Douglas has a lot of choices for those who opt to automate their blinds, she says. So in addition to deciding between blackout blinds and plantation shutters, you can now choose between remote control and an automated system. The latter means that shutters are programmed to open and close at a certain time of day — or even at certain temperatures.
While blinds are the bulk of her focus, the trend toward draperies and more fabric is welcome, Cramer-Boeger says.
“After the blinds are up, often the room still feels so stark and unfinished,” she says. “Then you add the draperies and the valances, and with the colors and the patterns, your customer’s personality comes out.”
A quick glance at Jennifer Hermreck’swebsite
illustrates the abundance of choices you’ll make if you’ve purchased a new home, or an older home stripped of all shutters and draperies.
The distributor for Budget Blinds of Olathe and Prairie Village starts with a phone consultation.
“Then we take a look at the windows, what moldings they might have, and figure out whether they need things like filtering light or insulation,” she says.
The options seem mind boggling: Do you want those blinds motorized, child safe, moisture resistant, eco-friendly or some mixture of all of them? Do you like the look of Roman shades, or are classic shutters more your style?
Budget Blinds, a national organization with more than 800 franchises across the U.S., tracks many of today’s trends in window coverings. Some of those national trends, like a more layered look and sustainable organic materials, are reflected in Kansas City homes.
“But here in the Midwest, we’re a little behind in catching up with some trends,” Davidson says. And some simply don’t fly in the city’s older homes.
“We have a very traditional look, and avoid the heavy industrial look, unless you go into some of the lofts,” she says. “A lot of people don’t want drapery that takes up a lot of space, and is easy to pull to the side. So grommet draperies are popular. And pleats — especially Windsor, inverted or French pleats — are popular, under a pretty decorative rod.”
Grommets, the rings inserted into holes in the draperies, make moving the curtains a snap, she says.
Green draperies might be in style across the East Coast, but here in Kansas City, “we’re still recovering from the jewel tones of the ’90s,” Davidson says with a laugh.
Shiny brass-finished hardware also popular on the East Coast, takes a twist in the Midwest:
“This translates to a more brushed brass that offers an elegant aesthetic,” Davidson says.
The trend away from dark finishes is welcome, she added. “Lighter finishes show the beauty of the wood, and I am ready to see it.”
Subtle colors, along with florals and toiles, are making their way into the bedrooms of Kansas City homes. But she’s not seeing the national trend toward checks.
“Monochromatic graphic patterns — white background with one color pattern — seem to be more the trend here.”
For Barnthouse, the curtains completed the home.
“Maggie had some ideas that scared me, like curtains in the bedroom that started at the ceiling, but it looks great,” Barnthouse said. “The window curtains and treatments were the finishing touch. Now it looks like a real home.”