Pulling Away? Curtains fighting for a window treatment comeback against blinds

2013-02-21T00:00:00Z 2013-02-26T11:36:04Z Pulling Away? Curtains fighting for a window treatment comeback against blindsBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Melissa Neuberg shares what she calls "some of her mom's design tastes."

"I know most people just have window blinds now, but I'm like my mom when it comes to window treatments," said Neuberg, 45, of Valparaiso.

"I have blinds, which I love. But I also have curtains. I think it makes a room seem more homey."

But don't compare Neuberg's taste in curtains and drapery with her mom's favorite looks.

"I grew up with my mom's big, heavy window draperies, with the big valances above and the sheers and all the fringe and cords with tassels to pull it all back," she said.

"I go for a more simple look."

Curtains are beginning to make strides with designers who are offering new options for homeowners who have spent the past decade pulling away from curtains as window treatments.

Julie Steinberg, an interior designer with Tilles Interiors of Munster for the past 7 years, has been in the design field for 25 years and specializes in window treatments.

"Draperies, curtains and window treatments are those final touches to tie together a room's entire decor," Steinberg said.

"And they provide both functional and decorative purpose."

Tilles, which has been in business for more than 70 years, has a team of eight interior designers, including Steinberg, to assist customers.

There are some curtain elements and features that Steinbeg says not only have consumers still pulling away from, but also so are manufacturers.

"You're not likely to see those draw string cords as much any more, and there's definitely less layering," she said.

"We also don't see much in the way of cafe curtains in kitchens. When I say curtains still serve a function in today's world of blinds, it's for the purpose of preventing light from coming in for a bedroom or maybe adding a way to protect from a drafty window."

Steinberg said, for example, for a bedroom with existing blinds, she often recommends simple curtain panels on either side of the window to shield light that would likely pour in from any gaps from the hanging blinds.

As for patterns, when Steinberg was starting her design career a quarter of a century ago, bright, and what she describes as "more over-the-top, floral patterns, dominated design.

"We then went from florals to more textures and now, we are starting to see some return to prints and florals," she said.

"And we still do some of the traditional touches as well, like padded and wood window cornices. But it's definitely a more softer look. Curtains and window treatments are an excellent way to change an entire look of a room. It's a way to help draw the eye to key highlights for a room's design."

By keeping today's curtains and draperies more simple, using easy rings and fabrics that slide along a basic curtain rod, Steinberg said there are far less "mechanics" compared to the day of the draw string draperies systems which could jam or snag fabric.

Sue Beach, owner of The Sewing Studio in Valparaiso, said creating custom curtains are one of the easiest and most fulfilling "beginner projects."

"As long as you have a sewing machine, it's just basic straight lines, compared to making something more involved like clothing designs," said Beach, who has been working as a seamstress for 40 years and whose shop is six years old.

"Curtains for a bedroom, and especially a nursery, are especially popular. It's nice to be able to make something yourself and to do it to your own specifications. So, if you want a bumper for a crib or a dust ruffle on a bed that matches the same curtain fabric, it's done the way you want it to be done."

With today's improved window designs, Beach said there's much less demand for the "insulated" drapery fabric, which was once so common as a backing for curtains and drapes, especially when framing a large picture window in living rooms.

She said many bolts of fabric can start as low as $8 a yard.

"What can be tricky is to work with special fabrics, like lace," Beach said.

"People still love lace curtains, but it's delicate. It can tear when using a sewing machine. I just takes careful stitching, but well worth it."


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