Six Tips for Great Window Treatments

Spruce up those windows to make your kitchen more attractive to homebuyers. Here are six ideas from decorating and real estate experts.

Home buyers don't necessarily have the time or the design skills to make their own kitchens pretty, so they're looking to buy something with "built-in cute," says real estate broker Mark Nash of Evanston, Ill. One sure-fire way to create a look that sells is to focus on the window treatments, says Nash, the author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home.

Nash and Sue Pelley, national spokesperson for Interiors by Decorating Den, based in Easton, Md., offer these ideas for window treatments to wow potential buyers:

1. Minimal Is In

"Strip away heavy window coverings and replace them with simple shades," says Nash. "Younger buyers in particular are into a streamlined look. And no one seems to want a lot of fabric."

One path to less fabric is using an upholstered cornice, says Pelley, or a flap valance like the Ace three-piece set from Swags Galore.

2. Lighten Up

"Not enough natural light in the kitchen is a deterrent to buyers," says Pelley. "Pleated shades offer a privacy treatment and still allow plenty of light."

Just one example of an attractive pleated shade is the Smith + Noble version, available in tones ranging from Whitecap to Lilac, in subtle stripes and a tropical-looking pattern. It even comes in versions suitable for skylights or arched windows.

3. Pick Current Colors

If you're using fabric, make sure it's in a contemporary tone.

"The terra cotta shades, with persimmons, peaches and oranges are very 'in' mixed with greens, blacks and golds," says Pelley. "You can also mix cotton fabric prints, either within a treatment or coordinating a print in the valance or cornice with another print on the cushion tie seats or place mats."

If your kitchen is particularly tiny, then light, cool colors can make it look larger and brighter, while dark, warm colors can make an oversized kitchen more inviting.

4. Try Some Texture

Another hot trend to get buyers enthusiastic about your kitchen is Roman shades made of rattan, bamboo or other natural fibers, says Pelley: "They add visual interest with their texture, but still roll up smoothly like the Roman shades of old."

5. Soften Direct Light

Too much direct sunlight is also an issue in kitchens, says Pelley, since it makes it hot and unpleasant to work in. Simple wood blinds or woven wood shades, like the Provenance sold by Hunter Douglas, will filter the light without looking too heavy.

6. Consider Some Curves

"There are typically lots of straight lines in the kitchen — the cabinets, the appliances, the counters —everything is straight or square," says Pelley. "It's a good idea to add a window treatment with soft curves to open the space up, especially in a small kitchen."

Arching a valance is a good option, particularly over the sink. JC Penney sells a Clear Arched Window Rod that will do the trick. Other options include a curved cornice, a box-pleated valance with a curved line along the bottom or a London Shade from Smith + Noble that is nearly flat at the top but falls from inverted pleats to gentle swags along the bottom, with wings at either side.

And don't forget about your window treatments when selling or buying a house.
"Custom window treatments are fixed to the wall, which is a negotiation point and ordinarily means they're required to be left at the house," says Pelley. "Make sure to calculate that when you're figuring the price."

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