In the beginning there was light...and heat. Originally curtains were used to keep out cold drafts, and hot sun rays. This practical use eventually became an aesthetic element, as new fabrics, and other materials became available, and the consumers artistic level of sophistication was heightened.
No wonder this element of a well designed space is often left in the cold...
An unobstructed view is wonderful, but at what expense? Carefully planned and thought out treatments can satisfy all parameters. Perhaps the question is better put...are you being cheated by your windows?
Windows that receive full east or west sun, should have some sort shading treatment during the times of full exposure. The suns rays can increase your electric bill by 10- 20%. In addition, the light spectrum can fade and deteriorate fabrics, wood floors and furniture.Conversely in the winter, your precious heat can escape even the best insulated windows at an alarming rate.
Solutions range from energy efficient screens available in many different levels of protection, to films applied to the glass. Although not usually thought of as window treatments, they are very effective as controlling elements.(Above top: Solar shades disappear into low profile headers. Bottom: Woven bamboo and grass shades are hidden in a sleek valance when open.)
Draw curtains are extremely effective at heat/cold and light control, and can be excellent décor strengtheners, bringing all the pieces of a room together, and softening the edges of the windows, blurring the barrier between inside and out. (Left: Lined burnout sheers blend with the stone wall when open, while allowing just enough light to filter through when closed to enhance the beautiful scroll pattern, yet protect delicate silk upholstered chairs, and an Aubousson rug.)
Cellular shades are one of the best solutions for high sun exposure, and drafty windows. Available in many different sizes and configurations, these offer measurable R factor insulation ratings. They are also very low profile, and have many options including top down/bottom up, cordless controls, and vertical shades. Many practically disappear in the closed position.
All images Interior Design by PL&D/Patrick Landrum Design