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Curtain help for big picture window

Posted by on Feb. 20, 2011 at 4:57 PM
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I have no idea what kind of curtains or blinds to have for our big picture window 80.5 inches wide by 57 inches tall.  The window treatments were left in the house and they had a decorative wrap around curtain on top which provides no shade only for decoration and cellular blinds for the shade/privacy.  We took down the cellular blinds since they are covered in black mold and we attempted to put up some thick blinds (we were going to buy three sets to make it fit all the way across) but it really looks like crap.

So what other options are there besides blinds for such a big window?  Do sheer curtains provide privacy but still let you see out?  How would I go about getting a sheer curtain?  Do I need a track or something.  I'm really clueless when it comes to curtains.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

by on Feb. 20, 2011 at 4:57 PM
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by Silver Member on Feb. 20, 2011 at 5:26 PM

The "in" way to dress a window like you describe is simple drapery panels on a decorative rod hung so the panels go floor to ceiling. You can do grommets or ring clips on the top so they are easy to pull open and closed for privacy and light control. In that case, the panels would need to be lined so they keep the sunlight out and provide privacy and look good from the outside. There are varying degrees of linings depending on whether you want light filtered or blacked out. I even have some window where I have done shirred tops and open and close them.

It is also very popular to do fixed panels to each side (that you don't really plan to open and close...that are there just to frame the window and look pretty) with natural shades underneath to provide privacy and light control. One important thing to consider is whether there will be a sofa or other piece of bulky furniture positioned in front of the windows that doesn't allow you to easily get to the window to open and close drapes.

Another alternative is to hang sheers with more substantial panels layered over them. In this case, you would use a double decorative rod made just for this purpose. This is the most traditional way to dress a window, so a lot depends on what your style is. If you are more contemporary, I would pick something other than sheers.

I always recommend panels to anyone doing new treatments. They are up to date, classic, and will never go out of style, unlike valances, swags, cornice boards, etc. I will try to add some pics of examples in a new post. Used the quick reply that doesn't allow pics!

by Silver Member on Feb. 20, 2011 at 5:48 PM

These are grommeted drapes on french doors, but they would work the same way on a picture window.

These drapes are shirred:

This is my living room. These are 95 inch drapes hung on one very wide picture window. I put panels in the center to break it up a bit. I don't have any shades underneath and never move the panels because we have a very private back yard and don't need privacy and we don't watch tv in here so don't really need light control.  

This is my son's bedroom. I have layered simple linen panels over espresso colored bamboo shades. These are smaller windows than yours, but you can get the idea of what it would look like:

A couple more examples:

Hope these help to inspire you. If you need more help or definitions or explanations of what some of the choices/types are, just let me know. Drapes are my thing. I don't do them professionally, but I might as well. I offer help to lots of people on how to hang them and what kind would look best on their window. I also know where to get them at bargain prices. You can spend thousands having a window professionally dressed but  I've never spent more than $200.00 and usually much less. It would help to have a pic of your window.





by Member on Feb. 21, 2011 at 11:35 AM

You might try looking into plantation shutters or a roman blind/shade.  Both can give privacy and be opened up to let the light in without taking up room.  

by Member on Feb. 21, 2011 at 11:19 PM


Thanks for so many examples and taking the time to go so in depth answering my question.  I think I like the shirred example the best.  I will need a sheer curtain to be covering the window all the time so one that is see through but at night will provide privacy.  In the shirred example is that what they have?  I want another curtain panel to provide more privacy if we choose to use it.  Does that make sense?

by Silver Member on Feb. 22, 2011 at 12:11 AM

You are very welcome. In the shirred link with the beige drapes and the orange walls, they have some type of shade on the paned portion only and the shirred drapery panels layered over it.  It sounds like you want a traditional sheer with a solid panel over it. You would need to use a double decorative rod like this (of course in the correct size for your window and in the finish you like):

However, when I went to try to find examples of sheers under panels, I had a hard time finding any. They are very traditional and more and more people are moving away from that type of treatment and more toward shades, blinds, or shutters under the panels. The ones I did find look old fashioned and almost always contained valances or swags covering the tops, which are also out of date more and more each day.

Here is the link for Penney's drapery site. Once you get to it, you can go page by page for inspiration on arrangements and styles. My personal favortie is grommets. They are the most contemporary, which is my style. Remember to consider if you're going to be closing the outer panels regularly some are easier (grommets, ring clips) to close than others (shirrs). I would always stay away from tab tops. The are messy looking and just "ick" plus hard to pull open and closed.|70821


by on Feb. 22, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Here is my picture window - sounds like the same size.  I'll be honest, the window would be one of the first things I would change if I won $1,000,000!  Anyway, I have drapes with sheer curtains.  I got these at Calico Corners.  To answer your questions...

Sheer curtains do provide privacy, but if you have lights on, you can see right in - thus no privacy.  So during the day, I either open the drapes and or sheers, but at night, I shut both, because you can see right in the house - which drives me batty.

You will need a track.  Word of warning, when I first purchased the drapes, the sheer track was a plain white metal bar and the drapes were on a nice wood-looking rod.  Well, during the day, when I opened both of them up, that ugly white metal track stood there look at me in the face.  (Personally, I was very disappointed with Calico Corners at that moment in time, they should have advised me against that.)  Anyway, I went back and ordered a matching track for the sheer blinds.  

Oh, and one more thing, if you get sheers that are well made, they have special pleating at the top, which makes dry cleaning expensive.  I had to drive 30 miles to a specialty dry cleaner to get them cleaned.  And it was about $100+ to clean.

Sorry about the photo, but if I open the drapes, to show you the shears, the light comes in through the window and the photo gets messed up.

by Silver Member on Feb. 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Patnic gives some great cautions about using sheers. The ugly white tracks are how they used to be hung when track systems were much more popular. They usually were hidden by a valance so it didn't matter so much. But nowadays people want the clean lines and don't want to see the ugly hardware. That's why I say if you must have sheers, go with a double decorative rod. You won't be able to open and close them with the rope pulls, but neither will you have the ugly hardware and special pleating to contend with. That's why I'm just over sheers under drapes. It's more updated to do shades under them or do one set of lined panels that can be easily pulled opened and closed.

by Member on Feb. 22, 2011 at 11:57 PM

Geez, I didn't realize just how confused I am when it comes to curtains.  In the last example from blondepegasus, I think full panel curtains with blinds looks goofy, a little redundant.  Is it for style or extra darkness?

I was considering just going with sheer curtains alone but that was when I thought they would provide some privacy but Patnic points out that they do not.  My husband has this thing about needing to be able to see what is happening outside...headlights and stuff but we still want privacy.  Make sense?  So maybe there is some middle ground between thick panel curtains and sheer panel curtains.  I would like to make it simple with one set of curtains if at all possible. 

by Member on Feb. 23, 2011 at 12:36 AM

I I think what I need are semi-sheers.  Would this be a good compromise between light and privacy?

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