DESIGNING EYE; Draperies Are Back!

IF IT'S BEEN A WHILE since you've purchased any window treatments, you might not be aware of the new styles available.

There are just so many choices, it may be a bit overwhelming.

Here's the fashion curve. In the 1980s, opulent swagged draperies, loaded with fringe and tassels and topped with elaborate valances, made some windows seem like over-the-top debutantes. As the 1990s progressed, there was a move away from excess, and minimalist decorating styles led to a desire for plantation shutters, bamboo blinds, Roman blinds and tab-topped panels.

But now draperies are back, and in a big way, with more fabric and hardware options never seen before.

Velvet is prominent. One of the best fabrics for draperies, it catches the light, and when done in rich dark tones it has great visual weight. Velvet is perfect if your room is short on furniture.

Exquisite gossamer sheers in dramatic colors such as cocoa and smoke are a trend, as is combining two tones of sheers. Some have subtle iridescent fibers and are interwoven with other unexpected materials, or have embossed or printed patterns. If you have beautiful views or would like a lighter treatment, this is a lovely option.
Longer, loose pleats — or none at all — are popular. They look less prim and proper than the shorter, tighter ones. Double, rather than triple, pleats are used for the same reason. This styling detail works well if the fabric has a large pattern repeat. It makes the print more visible.

Draperies with grommets are a simple treatment that can be quite dramatic. If your style choice is modern, this is perfect. With the right pole and finials, this treatment can be casual or slightly more formal.

Extra-long fabric puddled on the floor has been replaced with floor-length draperies. But I still like the fabric to puddle just a few inches, the way that well-tailored trousers "break" over a shoe.

Fun patterns that exhibit a sense of whimsy are becoming more popular. Everything from zebra stripes to Zen-like modern motifs are emerging.

Instead of lavishing fabric on swags and valances, the trend has turned our attention to creative hardware. Rods, finials and tie-backs in wood, metal, glass or ceramic are treated like jewelry. This hardware is as important to the entire look of the treatment as the fabric itself.

Most designers advocate having draperies custom made, but if you can sew, many instruction books are available. Although the results might not be as impressive, the cost will be.

Another economical way to go is with ready-made draperies, packaged and available at your local department store. Keep in mind that with ready-made drapery you're limited in the sizing and they usually are not as full or rich-looking, and they may not be lined.