Cover the lower portion of arched windows with curtains

July 04, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: We bought a new home in the post-modern style. Two windows in the great room have big arched tops. Do I put curtains on the arch? How? What about the bottom part of the window, which comes all the way to the floor? I don't know what to do!

A: Relax. Arched windows needn't be a home decorator's archenemy, even if contractors have gone a bit excessive with Palladian architecture. When Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect, used multiple arched windows in Italy's most exquisite country homes, they were meant to be left beautifully alone, uncovered, uncomplicated and uncommonly lovely.

Fast-forward to today. The average "country home" is in a development, and those arched windows, so beloved of post-modern designers, look directly into the neighbor's arched windows - which look into that neighbor's arched windows, and so on down the block.

Obviously, some kind of window covering is in order. One of the simplest and easiest ways has been used to colorful advantage in the pictured sitting room, designed by Anne Goldsmith and taken from a new book called "Can't Fail Window Treatments" (by Nancee Brown, American Society of Interior Designers and photographer Melabee M. Miller).


Designer Goldsmith chooses to leave the arch completely bare. And why not? It lets in the light, even when privacy demands that the lower curtains - hung on a simple wrought-iron rod - be slid closed over the bottom part of the window. The same treatment works on the other unarched window in the room to create a comfortable balance.

Q: We are redoing my grandparents' old place at the beach. The little house meant a lot to me as a child and I want to respect it at the same time. We need to make it work for a family of five, plus all the other visiting relatives that come with summer.

Here's my question: The floors were always covered in linoleum, which became really scratched from years of sandy feet. We have to replace the floors, but with what? Would ceramic tile or nylon carpet be better?

A: If sand is your problem, you're asking for trouble with either tile or carpet. The former will scratch because tiles are glazed with glass. And the latter harbors grains of sand, which will eventually abrade their way through the carpet fibers.

I say you should consider more alternatives. Laminate flooring, for example. Invented by the Swedes about three decades ago, laminates may look like wood - in fact, they may even contain a large percentage of hardwood - but they wear like iron underfoot, thanks to surface finishes unique enough to warrant a patent.

For example, Pergo laminates are virtually impervious to irritants like grinding, sandy feet. Don Cybalski, Pergo's director of design, also points out that lighter colors, such as Pergo's "Seaside Pine" and "Nantucket White Pine," are best-sellers in coastal areas.

In fact, Cybalski says his research shows that all floors are trending toward lighter values, what he calls "mid-golden caramel colors," whether you're at the beach, living in 19th-century splendor or practicing midcentury, modern cool.

A final hint: If you want heavy-duty floors that can shrug off virtually everything, consider stepping up to commercial-grade laminates. Talking about his company's floors, Cybalski said that for less than $2 more per square foot, you can buy heavier and more durable commercial laminates, which will significantly outwear residential grades. Learn more at

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