Ten Tips: Window Treatments

Done right, shades and drapes are equal parts style and substance.

Window Treatments

Done right, shades and drapes are equal parts style and substance.

By Lila Edythe

Not to put any pressure on you, but, “draperies make or break a space,” says Glenda Lawrence, the interior designer behind Matterhouse, a showroom and design firm founded in 2012. Designer Nanette Mattei, who was an executive with textile superpower Kravet for years before moving to the valley to open her own design firm, makes getting draperies sound a little less intimidating: “The right window treatments add warmth to a room, showcase personal style, and at the same time [are] functional. The wrong ones can look forced and aren’t functional.” With these tips from Lawrence, Mattei, and Jim Schulz, the founder of Grand Teton Floor & Window Coverings, you can make sure you get your window treatments right.

Photograph by David Bowers


In this house south of town, Nanette Mattei used a hand-block fabric she bought directly from the source: “I love supporting textiles designers and studios by going directly to them,” she says. Hand-block fabrics are an “all-time favorite” of Mattei’s. In this house, she used different patterns in each of the three bedrooms, and made things consistent by using the same 100 percent cotton, dark blue background fabric.

  1. These drapes are double-width, lined, and interlined. Interlining (sometimes referred to as a “bump”) is lining used inside the drapes. It adds insulation and helps to not let light through, so the fabric is more prominent.
  2. A neutral drape is always safe, but I love pattern. Sometimes that investment will make you happy for years because you took that risk, and you’ll always love that you added such a unique touch to your space.
  3. You can use any fabric to make drapes, just make sure you work with a fantastic workroom—it makes all the difference. Poorly made drapes and/or the wrong width of yardage can minimize a space and cause it to look unbalanced.
  4. To create a sense of height and balance, each wall-to-wall rod was hung from the ceiling.
  5. Window treatments can be a big added expense. It is important to address them early in the design process.
  6. I look at a room as a three-dimensional piece of art. We live in it, though. I like the eye to travel and connect why things are chosen. Drapes can connect the overall direction and aesthetic of a space.


Photograph by David Agnello
Photograph by David Agnello

“It seems in the last few years that there has been increased demand for custom interior soft furnishings like draperies,” Glenda Lawrence says. In this apartment in Teton Village’s newly finished Caldera House, she worked with a sheer fabric to create draperies in the living/dining room that hang from the ceiling and shade a twenty-two-foot-wide span, as well as a much smaller Roman shade.

  1. We used a system here that I’ve been installing a lot lately—cubicle track. If you make this choice early enough in the design process, which we did here, the builders can recess it into the ceiling so it’s kind of hidden. The hardware to do this is pretty affordable, too—it doesn’t cost as much as traditional rods and rings and brackets. Cubicle tracks don’t need to be recessed into the ceiling. If you’re doing a remodel, the track can be surface-mounted as well.
  2. I think a cubicle track helps achieve a cleaner, modern look in a space.
  3. We went with sheer drapes because we didn’t need nighttime privacy in these common areas. We did want daytime privacy, though, because the tram is right next door. Sheer fabric gives a room lighter coverage and minimal sun shading.
  4. These drapes are opened by a wand because they’re light and it’s easy. I was doing an installation of really heavy drapes on another project, though, and came to the conclusion that you’re supposed to touch and move draperies. These were luxurious and felt so good to touch. So, don’t be afraid to touch. You might not want to do drapes you have to move by hand in a commercial space, but in a house, I love the idea of them.
  5. The [Jackson Hole Mountain Resort] tram goes right past one of the windows, so we wanted to create some privacy there. Because this window is smaller—it’s not floor-to-ceiling—we went with a Roman shade instead of drapes. It’s the same fabric, though.
  6. Draperies can soften the architectural elements of a space and bring balance.
Photograph by David Agnello

Jim Schulz worked in construction for years before founding Grand Teton Floor & Window Coverings. On each project, he noticed the window treatments. “It seemed the part of the process that made the biggest change in the smallest amount of time,” he says. “That was cool because I don’t have a lot of patience.” Having now worked on more than a thousand window projects, he still enjoys seeing shades and draperies transform a space. In this bedroom in a home in 3 Creek Ranch, Schulz and the client went with Hunter Douglas’ Duette Architella Honeycomb Shades.

  1. The goal in this room was to control the western sun. Where we live, in the afternoon, the western sun just creams any room with a big west window. And, by then, you’re typically already hot and the house is already warm and then you get the western sun drilling you—you need to control this light as it’s coming in.
  2. Clients often tell us that they don’t really want to cover their windows, but they need to deal with sun, or privacy. Sheers and top-down/bottom-up shades let you see the mountains and protect you from the sun.
  3. Most of the time with windows we try to mount shades on the inside (like we did here) unless there’s a specific reason like light gaps to mount them outside.
  4. The cost of remote-control shades has come down quite a bit. Ten years ago, we did a job and just the control system cost about $5,000. Now, with your phone and a $400 component that plugs into Wi-Fi, you can have the same capability.
  5. The clients can control these shades, and all of the shades in the house, with a remote control, or, if they’re not here, with their phone. They can also set the shades to automatically lower and rise depending on where the sun is.
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