Recently I heard from a previous client, Lynn, who has decided she wants new Roman Shades for her bedroom.
We have done lots of window treatments for her home in the past. Everything from adding silk accent bands to her existing Pottery Barn velvet drapes, to custom drapes on wood poles for her living room, to sheer stationary shades with beaded trim in her stairwell.
She and her husband like their bedroom to be dark for sleeping, and they decided they wanted to block out as much light as possible from the streetlights in their neighborhood.
Their upstairs bedroom windows are short, so floor length draperies would look out of proportion. They currently have tiers half way across, but now they want to totally cover the window, so I advised them that inside mount Roman Shades would be the perfect solution.
Like many of my clients, Lynn likes to be involved in the creative process of her decor. She counts on me for guidance and execution of her decorating projects. So she went fabric shopping on her own.
That's where the whole thing gets a little sticky.
She visited the delicious and awe inspiring Lewis and Sheron Fabrics and Forsythe Fabrics in Atlanta. For people like me, those two places are a feast for the senses! The amount of fabrics and trims in gazillions of colors and textures sends my creative juices flowing with ideas.
For people like Lynn, however --a creative soul, but a scientist by trade-- the whole experience is a little overwhelming. The first ten minutes are exciting to her, then her head starts to spin!
Oh, and she took her husband with her. Yeah. Grin!
Now Dave is very creative and artistic. A scientist by trade, Dave is also an accomplished photographer with an amazing eye for detail and color.
In the past he has always had an opinion of what we were doing design-wise in their home, but would put in his two cents worth sweetly then let Lynn and me make the final decisions.
They saw lots of fabrics they liked. They wanted plain white for their finished shades and an inside mount so that their bedroom wall color and pretty craftsman trim was the focal point, and so that their view was also highlighted without pattern or distraction.
Plain white sounds pretty simple, right? Well...she came to me with about 15 swatches and had no idea how to narrow them down.
Therein lies the lesson. We're back to the old design standby mantra, the answer to most decorating dilemmas, Form Follows Function.
Here's where I come in. I will be constructing and installing the shades for her, and I know they want them to be room darkening.
First, the lining. There are drapery linings called "blackout lining" which are foam coated to eclipse out any light. This type of lining is very helpful when strong sun is a problem. I have used this kind of lining on drapes many times for people who work nights and sleep during the day. I've also used blackout lining in my own home in a room that gets such strong sun during the summer it was raising the temperature in that room by 10 degrees! By closing the drapes around 3 p.m. every day, I saved on my electric bill and kept that bedroom cool easier, plus the lining helped save my drapery fabric from sun damage and fading.
Blackout lining definitely has its benefits, but a problem with it is that it is very stiff, almost plastic feeling, and difficult to manage on window treatments that have to be opened and shut a lot.
I explained this to Lynn and we compromised on a slightly lighter lining that is felt-backed instead of foam-backed. It wasn't going to make their room pitch dark, but it was heavy enough to block the streetlights, and light enough to accommodate the folds that come with raising and lowering a Roman Shade.
I suggested that they hang a swatch of it in their window with tape at night, and check that with the lights off the swatch blocked out enough light to suit them. That sold them on the lighter, felt-backed lining.
Okay, we have the lining selection. Now, what about the fabric? The swatches Lynn found varied from linen to denim to cotton to silk. The cotton swatches were a couple of different weights and the linens were of several different textures. Of course they weren't concerned with the fabric's makeup; they just picked stuff they liked and told me to make the final decision.
The silk was lovely and elegant, but I knew from experience that backing it with the somewhat heavy felt lining was not going to be a good combination. The silk is slippery, the lining has nap. The only thing I can think of to compare what would happen is like oil and vinegar dressing! The two won't ever actually attach to each other and therefore raising and lowering the shade was going to be somewhat messy.
Scratch the silk.
The true linens, made of flax, were gorgeous but very stiff and easy to wrinkle. It would be perfect for long drapes with a regular lining, but that type of fabric mixed with that execution (roman shades) is not a good combo. Here's a comparison that the ladies will understand. It would be like wearing a linen jumper over a cashmere turtleneck. You are going to be itchy and pulling at it all day. Those two just don't jibe.
I totally scratched all the linens and didn't even give consideration to a couple of the cottons she chose because they were too lightweight. More like apparel than decorating goods.
That left me with the denim and a really nice cotton tweed. Either would work for functionality, but I thought the denim would look a little nautical, like they belonged in the bedroom of a yacht, so I chose the cotton tweed.
The cotton tweed offered several benefits. First of all it is so easy to work with and keep clean. Not to mention a sustainable resource, which is important to the client and to me. Plus its weave and texture gave it visual weight and interest. You've heard me talk about visual weight before, right?
The fabric is shipping to me and I should have it any day. I'll show you the final results when they are done.
Meanwhile, why don't you consider some custom window treatments for a room in your home? They make an enormous difference in the feel, warmth, and sound of a room. Winter is coming and wouldn't it be nice to have that bit of cozy added to your room? Think about it. Go to our local fabric shops and just daydream a little. Run your hand over the fabrics and see if something draws your attention.
It's fun. I promise!