• Subtle patterns: Patterns aren’t out of style, but these designers suggest deploying them strategically. One approach is using a pattern done all in one color.
“There are a lot of sheers now that have a subtle pattern in them, a tone-on-tone stripe or wavy design that adds a little bit of interest,” Mathison says, but still “looks simple and light.”
Burnham sometimes favors that approach, bringing in pattern through texture rather than color: “It’s nice to find a rougher linen, just not a plain flat cotton,” she says. “So you get a little texture in your solid color drape, and that’s adding more dimension to your wall.”
Subtler patterns work especially well in a bedroom, Burnham says, “where it’s nice to have something calmer. In your dining room you can indulge your alter ego, and go a little crazier.”
Furniture also matters: “In rooms with mostly solid decor,” Flynn says, “I turn to window dressing to add pattern.”
If you’re using a print, “always think of how far away you will be from your window treatments,” he advises. “Tiny rooms like powder rooms are ideal for small patterns since the eye will never be far enough away from the pattern for it to become busy or hard to read.”
“Medium and larger patterns give the most bang for the buck,” he says. But if the design “is very large, this means you need way more fabric” to appreciate it. That, he points out, will add to the cost.
• Don’t forget strategy: For all their decorating value, window treatments of course have practical purposes.
Draperies and shades can mask old windows that look weathered, buying you time before you need to replace the windows.
They can also block excess light, keep warmth from escaping through drafty windows and block sound from outdoors. In spaces where you want quiet, such as a home office or baby’s bedroom, Flynn says the right window treatment can make all the difference.