Dollhouse Window Treatments That Work
By Deb Roberts
When it comes to interior design, windows can be the most important focal point of any room. That’s true in miniature as well as life sized rooms. Windows were originally created to let light into a home, but I’m pretty sure that 15 minutes after the first window was invented there was a woman measuring it for curtains!
I love windows in every shape and size... and there are so very many shapes and sizes to choose from. Every window has its own character and that character sets the tone for a room. Dressing a window can enhance its personality or even change it to something entirely different.
There’s more to dressing a window then simply selecting the color and shape of the drapes, especially in miniature. In our small world, even color has its own scale. Too much color can overwhelm a small space and so can a busy pattern. The shape of the window dressing can compliment the shape of a room and its contents, or it can clash horribly and throw the entire room off balance. Too much can distract from the miniature scene and too little can leave the entire room looking bare and unfinished. It’s not always easy to find the perfect balance when it comes to miniature windows, but when that balance happens, it’s magic!
Let’s take a look at some important aspects of window dressing and examples of how they work.
Creating Balance in Small Spaces
In miniature, one of the biggest challenges is dressing several windows in one small room without making the room appear to be filled with nothing but curtains. In the Jefferson there are three large windows in one corner of this room. The white space in between the floral sprays in the wallpaper helps the area to appear more open and spacious. Wendy uses a light solid fabric with just a hint of texture for the draperies, coordinating the color with the primary color in the wallpaper. The choice of textured fabric allows the drapes to harmonize with the wallpaper rather than fight for attention as a busy print would do, and the texture adds depth to the fabric. Wendy created a lovely contrast in styles as well. The straight lines of the tailored drapes and cornice off set the delicate floral print of the wallpaper. The drapes are tied back with a flat band of matching fabric that creates an open diamond shape of space in the center of the window. To keep that space from being too bare, Wendy added a tasseled shade whose shape echoes the open space between the drapes, creating a diamond within a diamond. Not only do these drapes make the most of the windows in this room, but they make a perfect back drop for the darker green of the upholstered furniture.
Wolfie has arranged a cozy table setting in the bay window of her Vineyard Cottage. The window frames have a beautiful arch that is such a charming architectural feature, it would be a shame to cover it up. Wolfie strikes just the right balance by placing a lamp in the center of the window and using lacy café curtains placed at chair rail height. The white lace allows light thru the window while giving the space a feminine touch. The delicate ribbons and bows on the lace give it the right hint of color as well. The placement of the drapes not only provides privacy to the little people sitting in the chairs at night, but it also carries thru with the height of the room’s furnishings. Placed at chair rail level, the curtains provide a continuity of movement from one side of the room to the other. The viewer’s eye will naturally follow that line when gazing at the room. For just the perfect touch of balance and contrasting color in the window, Wolfie added a single hanging plant to one side of the bay.
In Victorian décor, it’s easy for furnishings to overwhelm a room if the window treatments are too heavy or dark. Victorian décor is based on “more is more” but when it comes to dressing windows in a miniature Victorian room, a little restraint should be practiced.
Greg is a master of Victorian décor in miniature and his rooms are a delight to explore. Greg’s Victorian houses are full of tiny treasures, ornate lamps, heavy furniture and multiple occasional tables filled with fabulous knick knacks. It would be a shame to distract from these delights with window treatments that stand out rather than blend into the décor and Greg knows how to achieve that balance.
In his Seaside Farmhouse living room, Greg uses a sheer white fabric edged in just a hint of lace to coordinate with the white stripes in the wallpaper. The choice of gathers at the top of the curtains as opposed to pleats or a heavy valance keep the space open and light so that the focus is on the paintings on the wall rather than the windows. The placement of a mirror reflecting the windows gives the illusion of twice as many windows than actually are in the room which is yet another reason to keep the treatments light and open. The mirror illusion also makes the room seem twice as large as it really is.
The parlor in Greg’s Syosset house is also a Victorian delight with deep mahogany furniture and lots of gilt. The touches of gold throughout the room lend sparkle and are carefully placed to be in balance with the darker furniture. Greg chose a neutral color for the tailored drapes and cornice window treatments for this room with just the right touch of luster. The glow of the fabric draws attention to the drapes without permitting them to overwhelm the room. The neutral shade sets well against the wallpaper, giving the walls a smooth and elegant appearance. The most attractive feature of this room however, is Greg’s placement of furnishings to balance with the drapes. The picture on the wall and the black and gold secretary underneath it fill in the space between the two windows while allowing the right amount of wallpaper to show thru. Best of all, the chair and its occupant are centered in the diamond shape between the drapery panels and the tie backs are perfectly even with the back of the chair, framing this exquisite piece of furniture. What a delightful balance this gives the room!
Teresa used the attic of her Willowcrest as the master bedroom and filled it with gracious and elegant wicker furniture. The entire room is very light, airy and feminine. One of the most elegant architectural features of this room is the alcove with floor to ceiling double windows. It would be tempting to fill this space with heavy draperies (and with the right décor that would look wonderful!), but Teresa knows how to keep a balance with the space. There is a great deal of movement in the room already with floral prints in the wallpaper, bed and chair. While Teresa could have used a sheer white window treatment, she chose a more effective look by placing a lacy fern in a white wicker planter in the alcove in front of the window instead. The fern picks up the green foliage in the floral prints as well as highlighting the green wicker of the furniture. This window treatment is beautiful and perfect for the room... and it’s all done without the use of curtains!
Creating Balance with Color
In some spaces, a bold statement of color at the windows gives strength and energy to the room. In this bedroom, Wendy uses a soft palette of neutral, textured wallpaper and glowing wood as a background for vibrant salmon colored drapes and bedding. The clean lines of the straight drape panels and the cornice make the color appear even more dramatic without being overwhelming. The tiny hint of lace on the bed and in the window shades adds the right amount of contrast to the room. While the colors are bold, the room is elegant and gracious.
In this bedroom, the colors are a cool green and white, again providing contrast in balance. To bring the focus to the wallpaper and downplay the windows on either side of the bed, Wendy uses a simple shade with an interesting zigzag hemline and tassels. The unique shapes make the windows distinctive while keeping them in balance with the rest of the room.
Kathie makes a stunning statement with this kitchen window by combining colors and patterns for a very dramatic look. Using only three colors in her palette, Kathie keeps this bold combination from overpowering a small room with distinct separations of space and contrasting colors. The geometric combinations of diamonds, squares and dots in the walls and floor are all pulled together by the coordinating colors and pattern in the curtains. Kathy also echoes the straight line of the chair rail in the tie backs on the curtains, again using contrasting colors for distinction. The uncluttered design of the curtains is the perfect style for this look.
Window treatments can be shaped to cause the viewers eye to follow a specific line in a room. Sometimes this creates an optical illusion as we saw in Greg’s placement of a mirror, and sometimes it creates a “movement” in the room.
Teresa has a glorious stained glass skylight in her Beacon Hill which is the focal point of the third floor. However, since the skylight is mounted in the ceiling, it could easily be overlooked and needs just a little help to become the center of attention.
Teresa chose drapes with a flounced valance featuring several small swags. The shape of the swags draws attention to the curving lines in the stained glass overhead. The drapes are of a neutral shade so they harmonize with the wallpaper, yet the pulled back style creates that diamond shape in the center of the window. In this case, that diamond shape leads the eye upward to the stained glass skylight.
The Orchid has a large bay window on one wall and a small double hung window on the adjoining wall. Kathy used a shaped cornice with a gently curving bottom edge over both windows and covered the bottom half of each window with gathered sheers. For a bay window with a window seat, this is the perfect look! It keeps the window in balance while giving the illusion of more space and highlights the window seat as an architectural feature. Kathy added panels to either side of the bay window to give it more distinction, however, panels on the single window would have given a heavy look to an area that Kathie wanted to keep light and airy. Using just the cornice and half sheers without the side panels kept the windows coordinated without being too heavy.
Florals work well to bring interesting shapes into a room but they require a light touch to keep them in balance. Wendy is a master at combining florals for a beautiful effect. In her country house, she uses a light striped wallpaper to set the stage for her color palette. Then she creates a fascinating combination of florals by using contrasts. The pink on blue floral of the sofa coordinates with the blue on pink floral of the drapes but each space remains distinctive. Rather than overpowering the room with too much floral, this combination sings in harmony. With the busy patterns, Wendy wisely selected a tailored look of pleated panels topped with a cornice, however, the V shape in the center of the cornice continues the movement of the wallpaper stripes. The finishing touch is a light floral pattern in her lampshades to create the perfect feminine living room.
Greg’s period kitchen features the boxy appliances and fixtures of that era in crisp and cool colors with a light and cheery wallpaper. Keeping the same tone at the window, Greg uses a combination of a gathered lace valance over a blue plaid café curtain. The deep valance maintains an even line with the bottom edge of the cabinets to achieve a balance in line and movement. The small table with potted plants under the window creates the perfect accent.
Janet softens the appearance of a wide window by using pulled back drapes just a few shades darker than the wall and tops them with a swag and cascade valance. The vertical lines of the cascades combined with the soft drop of the swag turn a wide, boxy window into a balanced and gracious focal point to the room.
Unique Window Treatments
Jo uses a combination of window treatments in her Garfield for a unique and elegant look. At the side window, she applies a single, gracious swag accented with darker ropes and tassels. The side panels are drawn back slightly and held with gold tie backs that pick up the gold in the wallpaper border. At the bay window, Jo makes a daring statement with a wooden filigree partition. Pleated drapes are pulled back at the entrance to the partition and peek thru the filigree. The perfect accent in this window treatment is the placement of cobalt vases in the partition cut outs. The mariner’s compass carving in the floor directs the eye to both windows for a little extra visual charm.
The Harrison has a large bay area in the living room which provides endless options for window treatments. Wendy gave the bay a large expanse of drapery by using a contoured cornice that follows the line of the entire top of the bay windows. Pairs of pleated panels hang smoothly from under the cornice and are tied back with smooth bands of matching fabric. The choice of one fabric for the entire arrangement makes the space look even larger. The fabric picks up the color of the wall to wall carpet for a luxurious and elegant look. This window treatment is strong enough to hold its own even with a grand piano positioned in the bay area! This is a fabulous look for a modern miniature home.
Draperies can be used as treatments in other places besides windows. In this unique arrangement, Karin creates a cozy and romantic space for a Victorian bath. The drapes give the illusion of a separate room for the bath as well as creating a vertical line over the slanted roof wall.
Sapphi has her own ideas of the best possible window treatment. She demonstrates that the most dramatic and beautiful window treatment of all is to simply leave the windows bare and place a Siamese cat on the sill.
The possibilities for miniature window treatments are endless and limited only to your own imagination. Just remember two things... scale and balance. Experiment and you’ll soon find the perfect look for your mini home.
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