Treat windows with accordion shades to gain more privacy

October 16, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: I don't have a clue about what to do with the six windows in our dining room alcove. We are right on the street corner, so we need something for privacy, but I refuse to keep the windows covered all the time. Suggestions, please!

A: You have a number of viable options, ranging from a one-way window film that lets you look out but not in, to the kind of acrobatic, bottoms-up solution that is pictured.

The floor-to-ceiling windows in the pictured dining room are dressed from the waist down, so to speak, ensuring privacy but leaving the upper half of the windows open to the outside light.

Custom-rigged with decorative cords and rings, the graceful accordion shades can be lowered to the sill, should the occasion ever warrant it. But the fabric is sheer enough to keep the room light and cheery even with the shades at half-staff.


What makes this arrangement work well is the small valance that the window designer, Pat Mills, has hung all around the dining bay. Its simple shape and strong color create a visual framework at the windows, as author Nancee Brown points out in her new book with photographer Melabee M. Miller, "Can't Fail Window Treatments" (published by Creative Homeowner).

Q: Confused about choosing a color scheme you'll love living with?

A: Lifestyle reporter Heather Knight has a simple answer: go for blue or green. They're almost everyone's favorite color, she writes in a publication called "Ensemble," published by the paint people at Benjamin Moore.

"Roughly 70 percent of adults, regardless of gender, nationality or income, will choose either blue or green as their favorite color," Knight reports. "But ... we also have an innate desire to fill our world with color variations," which, she maintains, is why "hot" colors are constantly shifting in and out of fashion.

Q: Confused about how to choose the right furniture?

A: The National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA) has an easy answer to this one: look it up online. The organization's newly launched Web site,, is designed to answer your most burning questions about shopping for furniture.

What are eight-way hand-tied springs, for example, and why should you care? Should you choose leather over fabric, or vice versa? Where should you put a new flat-screen TV? Where do you find all this stuff in the first place?

"Our research shows that every time we want to know something ... we look it up online," says an NHFA director Karin Mayfield.

The new site guides your decorating decisions, right down to finding a Certified Retailer in your area. There's even a personal "my ideas" section where you can build your own decorating file, Mayfield reports.

PS: You'll find those eight-way hand-tied springs in top-of-the-line upholstered furniture and some mattresses. Labor-intense and therefore expensive, such construction is a good indication that you're buying a quality piece of furniture.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

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