WINDOW TREATMENTS FOR SMALL WINDOWS: IDEAS & TIPS
While more and more people are opting for small spaces to cut down on their mortgage and utility bills, one of the décor challenges they invite unknowingly is dressing small windows. Even large residences have to deal with some Lilliputian windows in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, store rooms, serveries, laundry rooms, mud rooms, and so on. Those who’ve tried a hand at covering small windows know that they’re not as much a designer’s dream as a homeowner’s challenge.
If you’re looking for the right window treatments for small windows, rest easy, we’ve got you covered. Coming ahead in this blog are tips from our expert stylists to make the right choice of window treatments for your small windows.
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Small Windows – Big Design Opportunity
Covering small windows may seem like giving up even the little light and air that they allow in. But, for fear of making the space feel cramped, if you leave them bare, you’ll relinquish control over light inflow and privacy altogether. You need an in-between solution that consists in finding the right window dressing and styling them correctly.
Some of the challenges you might face with small windows in your home are charted below for reference:
- The small window is the only source of natural light in the room. You need to cover it but be wary of overdoing it.
- You want functionally effective treatments but doubt that their bulky form may overwhelm a small window.
- The small window has no space on the sides and/or above, so the treatment may take much stacking room off the window.
- It is close to the ceiling, making any window treatment at that height look awkward to sight.
- It has furniture or built-ups underneath that are a hindrance for floor-length treatments.
Interestingly, small windows come with big challenges, but proficient designers see in them the opportunity to put their best creative skills to the test. The power of small things is often underestimated and small windows are no exception. While we cannot expand the volume of the window in any way, their smallness can be camouflaged with the right window treatments installed in the right way. Let us now walk you through some smart ideas to maximize the functional and aesthetic potential of small windows with window treatments.
Let the Window Size Inform the Choice of Window Treatment for Small Windows
The first step in the process is quite obviously selecting the treatment that best suits a small window over and above the decor style you follow.
For example, a traditionally designed living room can attain its elegant best look with long flowing drapes. But those opulent pleats and rich gather of fabric will niggle away some space from the small window of a laundry room and overwhelm its dwarfish frame. And so, sill-length curtains or roman shades may offer a better-suited option.
These sill-length treatments cover just the window area without gobbling up adjacent space, which then helps expand the space visually. So, you can free the wall and the floor for the furniture and still bring in the softness of fabrics to the space that is ideal for a traditional home.
If you adhere to modern design styles, you can go for one of our lovingly handcrafted roman shades or machine-made blinds. As they take no more space than that of the window, they will not overwhelm a small window.
For a window that’s not positioned in a very private room of the house such as the small bathroom windows or small bedroom windows, you can go for decorative window toppings like valances and faux roman shades. These dressings make the window look elegant and also elongate them visually if designed and positioned strategically.
READ MORE: CAFE CURTAINS: SHORT, SWEET, AND IDYLLIC
Go for Light-filtering Materials and Structures
When it comes to designing window treatments for small windows, we neither want to make them look stuffy, nor cut off the light very rigorously. Bulky window treatments can overwhelm a small window, even if you keep them at a minimal length. You need window treatments that help to maximize the potential of the window without compromising privacy and light control.
Among fabric treatments, avoid heavy fabrics like velvets and interlined silks as they block inﬂow of light and air. Instead, choose semi-sheer or sheer fabrics in linen, cotton, or polyester blends for maximizing incoming light.
Bathrooms and bedrooms might need an exception, though. Transparent fabrics fail to provide privacy during the night which is a key requirement in these spaces. But if the windows are above shoulder height or facing a vacant area, it may still be safe to go with sheers.
Among non-fabric louvered treatments, you may do better by avoiding heavy-built ones like plantation shutters – and instead opting for venetian blinds. Light and air can stream in through the slats even as they blur indoor views from outside. Or, go for sheer roller shades that are sleek and lightweight and also filter in light softly.
Let the Palette Support the Cause
Once you’ve chosen a window treatment based on its length, structure, and material, the next step is to choose the right palette. The palette of the window dressing has a big role in making a small window look large.
Designing a space with shades of the same color flowing throughout the room creates a sense of visual continuity whereas stark color contrasts break that continuity and garner interest.
Window treatments that match the wall paint sink into the background seamlessly and create a continuous space, thereby visually elongating the small space and calling less attention to the small size of the window.
The mind fails to discern the starting point and ending point of the window treatment since they are not well-defined. The window looks larger than it is and the room also appears larger as it is visually one whole rather than many smaller separate units.
Be Clever with Patterns
Depending on the solid-pattern ratio in your room and your personal aesthetic preference, you can decide whether your window treatments should be solid or patterned. If you do go for patterns, there are a few tips to keep in mind since the window is small.
Patterns are eye-engaging and can easily make the space they occupy feel busy, if not designed wisely. Hence, skip patterns that are overly bold, intricate, and oversized because they can make the small window look even smaller.
Rather, choose striped curtains or roman shades that are minimal and clean or window treatments with other miniscule and neat patterns like upward-pointing arrows, chevrons, climbing vine patterns, and so on. Any such patterns that guide the eye to travel upwards or sideways visually elongate the window.
In case all the walls in the room are wallpapered, consider window treatments custom-made with the same print so they sink into the background seamlessly. The smallness of the window is drowned out by the continuous flow of the design. Although it’s a slightly expensive way to go, it helps to relay a designer appeal to the space besides camouflaging the minuscule dimensions of the window.
Make Room for Stacking Room
Now no matter what decor style you follow, sometimes architecture will have the louder say and with small windows, it gets loudest! Whichever window treatment you square down on based on your personal preferences, do account for their stacking room.
For example, if you don’t have free wall space on both sides of the windows, the curtains will take away some from the windows, compromising light inflow. In such cases, we recommend going instead with roman shades and mounting them a few inches above the window frame. This allows them to stack up above the wall and clear the window fully if positioned correctly.
Similarly, if you’d like a vertically folding treatment but there is no space for your roman shade to stack on the wall above, consider a sleek option like roller blinds. Its cassette is so slender that it can’t even make its presence felt.
Apart from all the design decisions, the scaling and sizing of window treatments can help aplenty to make a small window look bigger. Since you can’t elongate the window actually, how about creating illusions to trick the eye? With correct mounting position, length and width decisions, style and hardware decisions, and so on, you can achieve it. And here are the secrets:
Roman shades & blinds: Opt for a no-fuss style such as ﬂat fold shades and mount them a few inches above your window frame, while only slightly overlapping the window trim. This helps to create the illusive notion of a taller window.
Instead of mounting your shades and blinds inside the window frame, mount them outside and let them extend to about 6 inches on both sides so that, when closed, they provide better coverage and render the illusion of a larger window behind when closed.
Curtains: Mount the curtain rods at least 6-10 inches above the window and likewise, extend it by the same measure on both sides of the window. This helps to create an illusion of a larger window in the visual perception. When the curtains are drawn aside, they will frame the window and not hamper the light coming in.
Also, make sure that the width of the curtain panels is not too much to overwhelm your small windows. Instead, opt for low-fullness/gather with relatively sparser pleats for a cleaner, minimalist look.
Valances: Typically, valances are designed to be a fourth of the window’s length plus an inch. On a small window, place the valance high enough to overlap the window trim by an inch. This situation makes it impossible to discern the window trim, thus tricking the mind into thinking that the window is taller. Accentuate the effect further by dressing the valance in patterns, so they’ll call attention all the more effortlessly.
READ MORE: BATHROOM WINDOW VALANCES: TOP IDEAS & TIPS
For the same reason for which you avoid cumbersome treatments, avoid multi-layered window treatments on small windows as they add volume to the space. The only exception could be a bedroom which typically needs a second layer for room darkening. But, do consider whether you can opt for the blackout layer as a standalone even in a bedroom to avoid adding voluminous details to the window. Or, go for a treatment that provides both sheer and blackout options at one and the same time like the banded Zebra roller shades.
If you were thinking of installing the time-tested combination of valances and curtains, a rethink might be good. While they can cramp up a small window when together, on their own alone, either one can look good. Or, opt for cafe curtains instead of sill-length curtains if you don’t want to part with the idea of layering.
Another way to layer window treatments on small windows is to keep one layer so sleek and nifty that it can get tucked away when not in use. Roller shades are a perfect example. Their cassettes hardly take up any space and often are not even noticeable. When not in use, the shade gets coiled within the cassette, taking away no space from the window.
We hope you can now confidently approach the design decisions involving window treatments for small windows. Whether you’re decorating a cozy, new studio apartment and need assistance in dressing its small windows or trying to dress tiny windows of rooms like bathrooms, laundry rooms, or basements, apply the tricks and tips described in this blog, and you’ll have done the most that you can with a little window’s design to make it look larger. If you’re looking for fabric window treatments and wondering how you’ll customize them to fit the small-scale dimensions of your windows or on the flip side the wide-scale required for bay window treatments, arched window treatments, or sliding door window treatments, worry not, for it is all possible at economic rates at Spiffy Spools. We look forward to being part of this design project and are just a call away in case you have any doubts. Do browse our collections and blogs for more inspiration.
READ MORE: HOW TO MAKE A SMALL APARTMENT LOOK BIGGER