Home & Style

Ask a Designer: How Can I Find Inexpensive Window Treatments That Won’t Go Out of Style?

Here, we bring your home design questions straight to the experts—interior designers.

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Washingtonian’s “Ask a Designer” series takes readers’ home design questions and conundrums directly to the experts—interior designers. Struggling to find the best kid-friendly rug for your mudroom? Looking for a desk to fill an awkward space? Need exterior paint recs? Send your questions to mmontgomery@washingtonian.com and we’ll get them answered. 

We asked DC designer Shannon Claire of Shannon Claire Interiors to give her advice:

“With window treatments, you can often tell if you’ve skimped or splurged, so be sure to set aside some of your budget for these often-overlooked elements of a room. Window treatments can be more than just functional pieces, as well—make sure you’re considering the texture, pattern, and color they can bring to a space.

“I love the look of custom drapery—who doesn’t?—but oftentimes there isn’t a need or budget for it. Instead, I double up: I like to install woven or linen Roman shades and frame them with a pair of curtains to give the window a custom look for less. Off-the-rack blinds are plentiful these days, so installing something with your choice of lining that can be raised and lowered in the window is your foundation. This adds texture and will be the functional part of the window treatment.

“Next, layer a pair of decorative curtains to the window—these can also be functional when you need to block extra light. Shops like CB2 and West Elm have great off-the-rack velvet options, and Ballard Designs and Anthropologie have wonderful patterned and statement drapery options that won’t break the bank. For something more on the semi-custom side, I love Half Price Drapes and Pepper Home. You can choose your length, lining, and pleat type in a variety of colors and fabrics.

“My best tip for curtains, however, is to stay away from rod pocket curtains—aka where you shove the curtain rod into the long tunnel of fabric at the curtain’s top. This is a dead giveaway for an inexpensive drape and looks too scrunched and ruffled at the top. I much prefer a tab back or a curtain that can be hung from rings and clips. For the curtain rod itself, keep it simple—I like a classic French Return rod in a sleek black or iron to make sure it won’t feel dated in a few years.”

This response has been edited and condensed. 

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.