Window Treatments
DIY Home Staging Tips
for a faster, more profitable home sale

Window treatments are used in home interior design to control light, create privacy, frame a view, add accent color and texture and make a living space warm and inviting.

Kitchen interior design picturesNeutral-colored window blinds filter light and accent the windows in this kitchen

They can be used to emphasize architectural details or soften hard edges, as in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. 

Adding window coverings can instantly change the look and feel of a room— sort of like adding accessories to your favorite outfit. 

Home buyers today are looking for homes with plenty of natural light in every room. Window treatments for home staging should be basic in design-- not too fussy. You want people to focus on your fantastic view or back yard, not the window blinds.

Keep it simple by sticking to light neutral-colored draperies, curtain panels, window blinds, or shades.

Types of window treatments

Window treatments can be divided into two groups; soft and hard. Soft treatments, like drapes and curtains are made from fabrics, and hard window coverings include blinds, shutters, screens, and specialty glass like frosted or stained glass. Hard and soft window treatments can be used alone or together.

What is the difference between curtains and drapes? Drapes are always lined, whereas curtain refers to any other fabric window treatment. 

Outdated window treatments

Lacy window curtainsToo fussy and "taste specific"

Remove outdated built-in valances and cornices, as they are often heavy any overbearing, in addition to blocking natural light.

If home staging, remove heavy window treatments, such as draperies made from velvet and brocade fabrics. Heavy drapes can make a room look dark, stuffy, and too formal.

Take down worn or outdated blinds, especially the vertical blinds. Every time I see vertical blinds, they're missing slats or hanging crooked.

Remove old window coverings in passe colors and styles, fussy ruffled or shirred curtains, ornate laces, bishop sleeves, swags and tassels…all these styles will become an unwelcome focal point, and may cause home buyers to think the house is outdated, as well.

Theme-based window treatments, like “My Little Ponies” or “Disney” characters are too taste specific, and won’t appeal to a lot of people over the age of 10. Wild patterns, like animal prints, are often a buyer turnoff, as well.

Take down window coverings that're worn, broken, or simply don’t compliment your home decor, architectural features or room function.

If you have customized window treatments that still complement your home, consider leaving them for the new owners. This a great selling feature, plus it’s one less thing you'll have to pack up for your move. Chances are, they won’t go with your new home anyway.

Interior window shutters- Shutters are sort of the odd-guy when it comes to window treatments. Traditional-style shutters are louvered, which means they're angled to let in light. Most people love the look of them, especially the wood-slatted ones. (Not so much fabric shutters!) They do block a certain amount of light, so you need to determine whether they are actually enhancing a space or detracting from a room’s assets.

Window covering colors, patterns, and textures

Wildly patterns or shockingly bright-colored window coverings should be avoided when selling your home. This is your opportunity to add a bit of color to your home staging, but try to keep them fairly neutral and patterns subtle. I really like geometric patterned and striped draperies— they’re stylish without being too taste specific.

Window coverings should complement the color palette and style of each room. If a fabric in the room has a distinctive color or pattern (neutral!) consider using the same material for the windows. A general rule is to use the same material from at least one other thing in the room; a love seat, a chair or pillows.

Texture can greatly influence the mood in a room. In general, the smoother the texture, (like silk curtains) the more formal a room will seem. Smooth textured fabrics can also make fabric appear lighter.

The reverse occurs with coarsely textured fabrics. Coarser textures absorb more light and colors will appear darker. Heavily brocaded draperies will look heavier than silk drapes. 

In the same manner as textures, heavily patterned fabrics will look weightier than solid colors. See space planning to learn about “visual weight.”

It’s okay to combine different textures, but be sure that the contrast isn’t too great.

For small room window treatments, see small bedroom decorating ideas.

Window treatments for home staging

Beautiful windows with a sea viewLet beautiful windows speak for themselves!

It’s okay to simply leave some windows bare— it’s better than having the wrong window treatments in place. Some windows are so beautiful that they don’t require any embellishment. If you aren’t worried about privacy, this is the best option.

A plain roller blind is an affordable and good choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

Blackout roller blinds work well in children’s bedrooms, especially when you soften the edges with some coordinating curtains. Stick with neutral colors— avoid falling into the “pink” or “blue” stereotype.

Living rooms will look more warm and comfortable by adding soft window treatments like light drapes and curtains. Try to coordinate with or select from a fabric already in the room, like an upholstered chair, throw pillows or sofa.

Window curtains for home staging

Kitchen window valanceThis kitchen window valance made from burlap adds a rustic informal look to this home decor

Tab-top curtains - these are a good choice for an informal, casual look. The curtain rods are threaded through the tabs and look best mounted outside the window frame.

Tie-top curtains - Fabric tabs are tied directly to the curtain rod, giving them a very informal look.

Tie-back curtains - These are simply curtains held open with fabric ties. I don’t really like to use these as they can block out natural light.

Grommet-top curtains - Curtain rods are threaded through grommets at the top of the curtains resulting in a contemporary look which looks great in a modern decor. Another option is to hang the grommets on hooks for a more traditional look. 

Rod curtains - Curtain rods are shoved through a pocket sewn in the top of the curtain. This creates a straighter, crisp look. Rod curtains are mounted inside or outside a window frame.

Valances - Window valances are a horizontal decorative feature that hangs at the top of a window. They're often used to hide curtain rods. Valances can make a window seem larger when mounted on the wall above the window rather than on the window frame. Hanging a valance by itself in areas like the kitchen and laundry room works well, where just a bit of fabric and color is wanted to soften and brighten a space.

Window blinds and shades for home staging

Kitchen with window blindsKitchen with pull-up blinds

Avoid shades with overwhelming volumes of pleated or billowing fabrics, like balloon and Austrian shades.

Pull-up blinds - Pull-up blinds create flat pleats as they are raised and tend to look more formal in tone. Pull-up blinds can be mounted inside or outside the window casing. They can be pricey if your windows aren't a standard size and you have to custom order.

Venetian blinds - When layered with other forms of window treatments, venetian blinds can appear softer. These come in handy when you want to “obscure” an ugly view or simply need privacy. Wood blinds look good in traditional rooms, whereas metal blinds look more contemporary. Always leave partly open when showing your house to buyers to allow filtered light in.

Roll-up window blinds - Rollup blinds are rolled up from the bottom by hand. They look best in a casual, contemporary space.

Roller window shades - Roller shades lift up and down smoothly with a spring-roller mechanism— they can be conveniently adjusted to any position. Very affordable, they're made in a wide variety of materials and typically covered with a plastic coating, making them easy to clean. Some roller shades are covered with fabric, lending them a softer look. Roller shades can look a bit stark and boring on their own and look better when combined with other forms of window treatments.

Sources for affordable window curtains, blinds and shades

Cheap and affordable ready made curtain panels and hardware are available in a variety of colors, styles and sizes at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, Fred Meyer, Walmart, jcpenny.com, Sears, budgetblinds.comcountrycurtains.com, IKEA, Pier 1, and overstock.com to name a few.

How to hang Curtain panels and drapes

The width of each panel should be 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times the width of the window.

Treatments can be hung in two ways:

  • To the windowsill
  • To the floor

Curtains and drapes shouldn’t hang partway between the window sill and the floor. If you have a radiator or air conditioner in the way under a window, hang curtains at the windowsill. A full length curtain over a radiator won’t hang right and may be a fire hazard.

Floor length curtains should break at the floor about an inch or two to create an elegant drape.

If floor length curtains will be opened and closed daily, a 1/4 to 1/2 inch clearance at the floor will allow them to operate smoothly.

If you want to go for the elegant “puddling” look, (where extra curtain fabric is gracefully arranged on the floor) the allowances are 6 to 9 inches.

Short curtains that fit inside the window sill should sit at the windowsill. Curtains that fall outside the window sill should fall at the window sill. Shorter curtains shouldn't hang partway between the sill and the floor.

Selecting window hardware

Curtain rods are made from a variety of products; metal, wood and plastic. I've seen rods made from tree branches, an oar, a hockey stick, an antler and a piece of bamboo and they all looked great! Keep it simple for home staging though— don’t be too taste specific. 

After taking down old window coverings, you'll be left with ugly holes in the walls from the hardware. Fill the holes with spackling paste or another product called "erase-a-hole." 

Stay away from outdated thick clunky rods with large finials and fat rings. Select an updated, version that is thinner, but substantial enough to match the window’s importance. 

Try to coordinate all the metals in a room. For instance, the window treatment hardware should go with metals already in the room, like a metal-framed coffee table.

For really wide windows, you’ll need at least one center support bracket, maybe two depending upon how wide the window is, and how much weight the rod will have to bear.

Please don’t put holes in beautiful window molding, especially if the house is historic. It’s often best (and easiest!) to leave the windows bare to show off the molding. If you must have window coverings for privacy, mount the hardware outside the window frame.

Choose the appropriate wall anchors for hanging the rod brackets. Don’t use the screws and wall anchors that come in the little packages with the curtain rods when you buy them. In my experience, the wall anchors break easily and the screw heads strip out really fast. Ask a hardware store worker to help you pick out better quality wall anchors and screws.

Home staging tips and tricks for window treatments

Living room interior design picturesCeiling to floor draperies make a low ceiling feel higher
  • To make low ceilings appear higher, hang curtain rods close to the ceiling instead of just above the window. Use full length curtains that hang to the floor. This will add a longer vertical element to the room, making the ceilings seem higher.
  • To widen a narrow window and allow more light in, buy a rod that extends beyond the frame. When the curtains are pulled back, more of the window will show, making the window seem bigger. Make sure the edges of the window frame don’t show though, or the illusion won't work.
  • To make a window appear taller, install the rod a few inches higher than the frame. Add a valance to cover the gap between the rod and frame.
  • Another home staging tip to make ceilings and windows appear taller is to use a curtain with a vertical stripe or pattern.
  • To make a window look shorter, install a valance on the frame instead of the wall. The valance will cover part of the window, making it seem shorter. 
Modern curtainsGrommet curtains and geometric patterns look well in a contemporary interior
  • If a window is off-center with little or no wall space on one side, you can hide this with a curtain. Hang a rod and curtain across the entire window, swag the curtain toward the side with more wall space. This will draw the eye away from the off-centered side.
  • For windows situated in the wrong place, use a window treatment that's the same color as the walls. It will be less noticeable that way.
  • Soften ugly views by hanging sheers that’ll block the outdoors, yet filter natural light in. Sheers can be used alone— it’s not always necessary to hang drapes with sheers.
  • For privacy on a window too small for window coverings, try applying frosted window film. This technique still allows plenty of light in. It’s easy to apply and is removable! Window films work well in bathrooms, doors, or windows that look into the neighbor’s yard or an ugly view. Go to www.gilafilmscom, windowfilmandmore.com, artscape-inc.com to buy window film. You can also find at lowes.comamazon.com, Home depot and most home supply centers.
Living room interior design picturesThese formal and overly elaborate window coverings become the focal point instead of the beautiful view!
  • If you want to direct a buyer’s attention to a great view outside, hang curtains that're the same color as the wall. This will give the illusion of more space in a room as well.
  • Consider the mood you want to create in each room. For instance, if you're going for an elegant feel in the master bedroom, go ahead and stage it with window coverings made from luxurious and smooth fabrics.
  • If the scale of a room is large overall, use window coverings that complement that grander feel. 
  • In small rooms, don’t use overwhelming treatments that’ll take over or oppress the space. Keep it simple.

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