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From the Homefront: Shed some light on window dressings

Some days, while I’m walking the dog, something catches my eye that I never noticed before. This is true on mornings when the dog stops to sniff what seems like every blade of grass along the route. A few weeks ago, I noticed the window treatments hanging inside one home.

Are those ... tied-back draperies?

They weren’t the exact style of tied-back draperies I remember growing up in the 1970s – but they were definitely two panels pulled back to the sides. As I recall, our ivory-colored draperies were held back with green fabric tiebacks and never closed. At Christmas, my mother would add a red silk poinsettia to each tieback.

That got me wondering. I know that some retailers sell drapery hardware or “holdbacks” for pulling back panels, as well as softer options such as chenille rope. But do many people still opt for tied-back draperies these days?

So I asked Margaret Jendrejzak, in-home design consultant at Calico in Williamsville.

The center split – tied back symmetrically – window treatments are not done too often anymore because they eliminate two-thirds of the window’s light, she explained.

Today offers other alternatives, she continued.

“People in Buffalo always tell me that they want as much light as possible in their house so I often use a formula for functioning draperies called “stack back.” Using the stack-back formula you can get the fabric off the glass when the draperies are opened, exposing as much of the glass as possible,” she said.

According to a description from Calico, “stack back is the term used to describe making a drapery rod long enough so that the draperies have room to completely clear the glass when open. Adding stack back makes the window appear larger, allows the maximum amount of light into the room, maximizes the view and provides extra protection to delicate fabrics such as silk.”

“The current trend seems to be less is more. I am doing a lot of stationary side panels and draperies that open and close. I often take them completely off the glass. By doing a window treatment that opens and closes, you kill two birds with one stone. When you want the window open, they stack off the window. When you close them, they will provide privacy and protection for your home,” Jendrejzak wrote in an email after our initial conversation.

She added a few other notes as well:

• Draperies on the glass will add warmth to the room. Anytime you trap a layer of air between you and the glass you add insulation to the room. Adding a layer of flannel also adds to the energy saving principle. The layer of flannel is added to a window treatment between the face fabric and the lining fabric, she said.

• Keeping the window exposed on a warm sunny winter day and letting the sun warm the room also adds to the efficiency of heating the room. In contrast, on a hot humid sunny day in the summer, closing the draperies or window treatments will keep out the hot sun and keep the room cooler – and consequently not push the air conditioner into over drive.

• Honeycomb shades (aka Hunter Douglas Duettes) trap a layer of air and add to the energy efficiency of the room. These shades also do a wonderful job of blocking UV rays, which can be very damaging to furniture, flooring, carpeting, artwork etc. The UV rays can damage fabrics and in turn make them look worn and old prematurely, she added.

“I follow the energy efficiency rules myself and they make a huge difference in my home. On a hot, hot summer day I close all the draperies before I go to work. When I get home, the sun is not beating down so strongly, and I open them up. In the winter I do just the opposite. I open the draperies to let in the sun on a nice day and let Mother Nature warm the air in the rooms,” Jendrejzak said.

And to think this whole conversation started with a lawn-sniffing dog, a glance at a neighbor’s window, and a memory of red silk poinsettias tucked inside curtain tiebacks.


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