We were very happy that our builder wasn't stingy on their windows offerings. Throughout our house, most of the windows are very generous in size. Our living area on the ground floor faces west, so we always love to see an abundance of natural light pouring in from those large windows and patio doors, greeting us as we come home from work. Large windows are naturally a focal point to any room - they're the first thing your eyes would find, being the brightest "object" in the room. We knew then we should dress up our windows, and beautiful draperies always get the job done!
We chose a silk fabric for the family room for its lovely sheen, and a two-tone woven fabric for the living and dining area for a more formal ambiance. We added a thick liner for a heavier look, as well as to block out the UV rays that may cause discolouration of the fabric. I've to be honest, I was in it more for the look... more waves/ folds in the fabric with weight makes the drapes more luxurious. That was exactly what we were going for!
With large windows come privacy issues. We definitely didn't want to put on a show for our neighbours, not that they would care to peek... unless they're like me. Anyhow, knowing there's always a "neighbourhood watchdog" out there, we went with sheers underneath the drapes. It would still let light through during daytime, and would provide adequate privacy at night. Again, the more folds, the more privacy the sheers would provide. I think we went with 3 to 4x the width of the windows for the sheers.
Now comes the physically intensive part - hanging of the drapes. Although our drapery company offered installation services for the drapes, we opted to install them ourselves... nothing's too complicated for my Mr.!
Conventional wisdom has it that hanging above and beyond the frames around 6" would make the windows appear larger. However, we wanted to create an illusion of even taller windows than we have, so we carried the length of the drapes from the ground all the way up to the ceiling (minus enough room at the top for a future crown moulding project). The higher you hang the drapes, the taller the windows would appear to be, as the eyes need to travel further upwards.
It's also unnecessary to hang drapes constrained by the sides of the window frame. If the side of a panel ends at the side of the window frame, it would block a lot of light through the window. I guess the only exception would be if you're blessed with large and full wall-to-wall window. We hung the drapes such that when open wide, the inner side of the curtain panel is at either side of the window frame, so we can get maximum light into the room.
I totally enjoy the view of this red brick wall... NOT! I guess the builder thought it isn't much of a view facing a brick wall, so they installed a small window here on the side. Well, then let me use this tiny window to demonstrate how to hang your drapes to bring in more light and create an illusion of a bigger window.
If we had hung the drapes close to the frames, the room would be darker, because much of the window is closed off to let light through.
Just for fun, here is how the window would've looked if we had installed the drapes just around the frame. Same drapes, but hung lower and closer together.
You see how all the light would be lost by hanging the drapes right around the window frame? "OH, THE HORROR!" as the Mr. would proclaim! I mean, it's not too bad if the purpose was to see as little of that red brick wall as possible.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the 2 hanging methods: our way on the left, and the tiny dollhouse way on the right. Having the drapes around the frame makes it look like a dollhouse's window - a definite "DONT" that windows with high ceilings should avoid.
A more cost effective way to achieve height with store bought panels would be to add a band of extra fabric at the top or bottom of the panels. This is a simple job that any seamstress can help with. To add width, you can either sew panels together length-wise, or sew that extra band of fabric on the sides. This is a great way to personalize your ready-hang panels!
And the finishing touch, a sparkly finial at the end of the rods. It dressed up our windows with an elegant feel like a jewel, letting our windows shine like the stars that they are.
Check around your house to see if you've hung your drapes to give your rooms proper incoming light. Give yourself a pat on the back if you did! If you haven't, see how you can play up this optical illusion at your windows!