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The Trouble with Transoms

Covering Up the Bathroom Window
Designing Dilemmas October 2005

The Trouble with Transoms

Dear Designing Solutions: I have transom windows above all of my windows across the front of my house. I need to cover each transom with curtains because I am getting faded carpet and hardwood floors. My dilemma is that one window is in the master bedroom. The other is at the foot of a staircase in the foyer and another in a 10 year oldís bedroom. I want all of the curtains to have the same color to them because of the appearance you would get from the street. I want them to match. The outside of the house is stucco in front and the colors are wheat with white trim and burgundy shutters. I also have a bay window in the dining area that also has the transom windows above them. Can someone please help? Oh, I also have wood blinds on the windows under the transoms. Help! I'm not decorative savvy. I also have 10' ceilings. Thanks, Rhonda

Dear Rhonda: You have so many options here; it's hard to know where to start. I'll review a few:

  1. Fabric Valances: The advantage of covering your transom windows with fabric valances is that each valance can be a different style and fabric, resulting in unique window coverings that suit each room. From the outside, they will all look the same, because you can line each valance in the same white or off-white fabric. From the inside, you can use a formal fabric and style in the master bedroom and foyer while using a fun, youthful fabric and style in your child's room. Work with a local designer or fabric shop that makes custom window treatments to get pricing and great ideas for fabrics and styles. Using soft, colorful fabric on your windows keeps rooms feeling warmer (the fabric will help absorb sound and insulate the windows too) and adds style and personality.

  2. Matching Blinds: I like this option best for a clean, contemporary look. You can install matching wooden blinds, plantation shutters, cellular shades or sheer "Silhouette" shades (from Hunter Douglas) on your transom windows in the same color/finish as the wooden blinds below. You can even order many of these coverings with a battery-operated remote control so that you can raise, lower or tilt the shade's veins to adjust the light as you wish.

  3. Sheer Shirred Coverings: Gathered sheer fabric, stretched and shirred on rods mounted at the top and bottom of the transom window gives a simple, traditional look. The sheer fabric will allow some filtered light to enter through the transom window while still blocking harmful rays that ruin your home. This solution will work best on taller transom windows.

  4. Window Film: This is the easiest and simplest solution that will not change how your transom windows look- just how they perform. In this instance, a sheer, tinted plastic film is applied directly to the glass and works pretty much like sunglasses, blocking harmful rays and protecting your furnishings. Some clients love this option because the transom windows will look just as they did before, with no additional coverings. Others are bothered by the tint (usually a greenish gray). It's probably worth making a few phone calls and viewing some film samples in person.

Donít delay! Choose your sunscreen and protect your expensive furnishings and hardwood floor from any further damage.



Covering Up the Bathroom Window

Dear Designing Solutions: I have a clear stained glass type window in my master bathroom and want to see out but don't want others to see in, particularly at night. Can you think of a privacy solution which will not destroy the beauty of the glass? Is there a type of plexi-glass that would work? I prefer not to put up shudders and blinds would be ugly. Thanks. Sincerely, Carol

Dear Carol: I have two solutions for a window such as yours. Have an inexpensive, unfinished wood frame made (from an art framing shop) to the same dimensions as the glass around your window. If you need to, make a template of your window and bring it with you to the frame shop. Stretch a gauzy print or solid fabric of your choice across the frame and staple it to the back of the frame. Whenever you need privacy, place the framed fabric over the glass, sitting inside the window trim. When not needed, lean the fabric-covered frame against the wall or on it as a decorative object. You can also have a window scarf made in a sheer fabric that frames out your decorative glass and provides some privacy without totally covering the glass window. Either way youíll keep the integrity of your window and glass without providing the neighborhood with a peek inside.

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