Window dressing: how to make the most of your window features

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Window dressing isn’t just the preserve of department stores at Christmas time. In the home, windows are probably the most important feature of a room. There are three main reasons for this:

For one, we can’t usually change the windows we already have. That can be frustrating from a design perspective, but most types have their plus points. Modern windows, for instance, are much better for insulation and for keeping maintained, while older windows add a lot of character to a room.

Secondly, windows are the primary source of light in any room, so the way we present them will have a direct impact on the way the rest of the room looks. Not only does this depend on how big your windows are, but also on which side of the house they’re on and what times of day they get the most light.


Finally, windows open up our rooms to the outside world. You might be lucky enough to have a picturesque landscape on the other side of your window, or at least some blue sky. But even if you haven’t, how you dress your window should take into account how much of the view you want to be able to take in, or how much you want to obscure!

So there’s no excuse not to incorporate your window into your design. Here are a few things you could try out:

1. Use blinds to maximise the light while keeping the privacy

If your window faces out onto the street, your instinct might be to block it off all together with some thick curtains. But using a venetian blind can be the best way to keep the light coming in while blocking off the view almost entirely. Blinds can be positioned at an angle to let the light from up high in the sky in, while obscuring the view for anyone at street level.

2. Vary opacity to change the way light comes in

Frosted glass is common in a bathroom where we don’t want anyone being able to look in. But it can be used to change windows in other rooms too. Living rooms on street level, for instance, can make unfashionable net curtains almost obligatory to stop people from looking in. But frosted glass panels can be a more modern alternative. You can make the lower portion of a window frosted, while keeping the top portion left transparent to let in the natural light.

3. Window boxes, a classic for window features


You can have them on the inside or the outside; but either way window boxes are a fail safe feature that almost always looks good – so long as you keep them maintained! Outdoor window boxes can look great if the plants are picked to hang down from the window ledge (although bear in mind health and safety!). Window boxes inside are an easy way to get a more natural look in your room. In the kitchen, for instance, your window ledge could be a perfect place to grow some cooking herbs. Anything natural on a windowsill will make the whole room look great on sunny days when the light comes in through the leaves and petals.

4. Light curtains for an airy cool, heavy for a warm snug

You probably already know that when the heat ramps up in the summer, airy linen curtains can be the perfect way to keep the beating sun out, without losing too much natural light. They also catch the breeze and help to give a room a cool feeling. Heavy curtains naturally do the opposite; blocking light altogether and making a room feel a little bit cosier.

window-dressing-how-to-make-the-most-of-your-window-features_2 There’s nothing to stop you doing both though. The light curtains can be a great sun-breaker during the day, and heavier curtains can draw things in at night, emphasising the warmer internal light.

5. Want something even more unique?

Give modern windows a vintage look by dressing your house with shutters. There is no denying this is a bold move, and can be costly too. But taking your designs to the exterior of your house is going to make a classy design statement. In some cases planning laws might prohibit making changes to the outside of your property. But, if you’re allowed, adding shutters to your window is a unique and attractive way to invoke a little bit of Mediterranean style into your home. Shutters not only look rustic and give your house a cottage-like feel, they also keep your house incredibly cool, and therefore a great idea during summer.

And maybe, if you’re feeling even more adventurous, stained glass could be an option. Although usually only found as a preserved original feature in period properties, there’s nothing stopping you form installing your own. It’s quite hard to do in a tasteful way, and can cost quite a lot, but stained glass above your front door can look amazing.

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