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Designing Dilemma October 2004

Window Coverings for a Contemporary Room

Dear Designing Solutions: My family room has three tall windows each 30" wide, with 12" between and individual transom windows above. The windows have a great view of the woods. I am a contemporary person and can't figure out something that doesn't block the view but gives the windows a finished look. What do you recommend? L

Dear L: Here are some ideas for your windows:

  1. Use a simple, tailored fabric valance just on the tops of the windows, leaving the transoms bare. The valances should have a 12 - 16 inch drop. This will give a soft, finished look to the windows without blocking much of the view at all. You'll need to choose fabric that complements the room colors and room style. Luckily, there are many good contemporary choices from a solid linen or woven "straw" look to colorful prints.

  2. Choose a bottom-up shade that gives you privacy, when you need it, from the bottom of the window- leaving the view from the top half of the window fully exposed. Leave the transom window alone. Hunter Douglas has many good choices at (www.HunterDouglas.com).

  3. Install sunscreen mesh roller shades that protect furnishings from harmful sunlight but allow the full view to be seen. Sunshades are roller shades that act like sunglasses for your windows. They come in many colors and degrees of translucency.

  4. Consider woven reed and grass shades in a soft-fold roman style. You can leave them in the "up" position to keep the view or bring them down for privacy. The natural fibers give a contemporary look and echo the natural, outdoor feel you are trying to preserve. When the shades are up they will give the same effect as a valance and finish off the windows nicely. Again, keep the transoms bare.

Decorating a Hall

Dear Designing Solutions: I don't know where to begin with my hallway. It is the main focal point of my house. At one end of the hallway is the front door and all the rooms branch off it. The hallway is about 60 feet long and 6 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Once you enter the house, the kitchen is exposed on the right and the living room to the left and behind you. There are three sets of double glass French doors going down the hallway on the right that lead to outside. Going down the hallway on the left are three sets of double glass French doors that lead to bedrooms and there are two solid doors going to bathrooms. The floors are red brick. The house has a rustic, mission style flair to it. I like warm colors (our kitchen is a terracotta color, our living room is a warm golden yellow), but I have no idea what to do with the hallway. Any suggestions on how to make it cozier? The lighting is poor even though we have sconces going down the walls. S.

Dear S: To help warm up and decorate your hall- start with the lighting. Since the wall sconces are not providing enough light, add more with recessed lighting. You can choose small low-voltage fixtures that are perfectly sized for a narrow space. The bright low voltage light adds drama as well. If you have any art on the hall walls, choose some adjustable recessed fixtures that angle the light back to the wall- accenting any pictures or decorative items you want to display.

The red brick flooring sounds lovely but can be easily warmed up with a lively runner in wool that coordinates with your colors and style. It's a great way to reduce noise from walking on bricks and decorate a space that cannot hold soft furnishings. A Tibetan-style rug would work great with your mission decor.

Regarding color- why not mix up the terra cottas and golden yellows you are already using? Use a medium shade of the terra cotta on your ceiling- yes- your ceiling. Choose a golden yellow for your walls- it does NOT have to be the same shade you have already used. The golden yellow will give a nice contrast against the red brick floor and then you can select a Tibetan rug in earth tones. Pump up the lighting with the recessed fixtures we recommended earlier and your hall will be colorful, bright and dramatic.

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