Shadings put window treatments in a new light

April 30, 2006|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT - Copley News Service

Q: I don't know how to handle the windows in this 1900s farmhouse we are trying to renovate. The neighborhood has grown up around the house - the family who built it sold off the land in the l960s. We need something more than sheer curtains on the windows for privacy, but I don't want to block what little light we get or spoil the "farmhouse" feeling. What do you suggest?

A: I'd suggest that you investigate a whole new category of window coverings that are neither curtains nor shades, but hybrids that offer the best features of both. In professional window-speak, these new window fashions are called "shadings," so dubbed by Hunter Douglas, the manufacturer that invented most of them.

The shadings we show here are Luminettes, sheer fabric vanes encased in translucent fabric panels. The vanes rotate to give you varying degrees of light control and privacy without shutting out the light. In fact, as Hunter Douglas VP Joe Jankowski puts it, such shadings can actually "suck in and soften" the light. And, as you can see, they still look traditional enough to fit into a farmhouse atmosphere.


Another advantage shadings can offer over ordinary window curtains is energy control. Because they fit snugly at the window, they can cut heat- and cool-loss dramatically. In fact, multi-layered honeycomb shades promise the highest R-value of any window covering (R = resistance to the transfer of heat), and the higher the R-value, the lower the energy loss. Honeycombs are also highly effective at noise control, another potential problem with neighbors who, like yours, may live a bit too close.

To check out more options, click on or call (800) 274-2985.

Q: What can I do to make the tiny powder room in my rental more attractive if I can't change the cabinets or even paint them?

A: Concentrate on making temporary changes. For example, hanging a wall of mirrors in handsome frames will add instant sparkle, especially in such a small space.

Plus, there is a way to change the walls themselves without forfeiting your security deposit: "Peelable" wallpapers really do live up to the description. They look and apply like regular wallpapers, but when you're ready to move on, just pull on one edge of each panel and it should peel right off. Sponge away any remaining glue and your landlord will never suspect.

You can also lay a small colorful area rug - no threat from shower moisture in a powder room. And don't neglect the ceiling. One New York designer jazzed up her own powder room ceiling by painting it dark then centering a square of gilded wallpaper, framed with a decorative wallpaper border. Definitely worth looking up to!

Q: Love your stainless steel appliances, but hate those constant fingerprints?

A: There's good news in the latest bulletin on kitchen fashions: the new hot metallic finish is bronze. Jenn-Air has just introduced such appliances as refrigerators and ovens in what they're calling Oiled Bronze, an antique metallic finish that's warmer and richer than stainless. And, we hope, less prone to fingerprinting. (Have a look at; 866-385-4370).

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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