Window treatments have the unique challenge of pulling a room together without stealing the show. Here's how to achieve this careful balance with your window treatments.

When someone walks into my house, I don't want to hear: "What lovely window treatments." I want to hear: "What a lovely home."


For me, every element in an interior space, from furnishings to accents, should work together to create a cohesive look. To get there, each individual piece in a room needs to be superb but not selfish, screaming above the rest to get attention.


This maxim is especially true when it comes to window treatments, which have the unique challenge of pulling a room together without stealing the show. Here's how to achieve this careful balance with your window treatments.


For the past 22 years, the windows on my main floor were covered with white plantation shutters. I really like how the shutters offer privacy and light control, all with a simple tilt of the levers. But this year I decided to take the next step and dress up the windows a bit more by adding drapes.


I'm not a fan of fussy window treatments. In fact, I think designers go too far when they concoct complicated treatments that detract from the beauty of the overall room. So I opted for simple pleated panels hung from a nondescript curtain rod. (I mounted the rod well above the tops of the windows, just a few inches from the ceiling, then hemmed the panels so they barely broke on the floor, just like a man's trousers.)


What makes the window treatments so beautiful isn't the fancy design but rather the killer fabrics. Because I used simple, classic, unassuming pinch-pleat panels, I had more freedom to give the drapes lots of personality via gorgeous textiles and trims.


I wanted fabric with colors and a pattern that would complement the room's decor, yet one that was so subtle I wouldn't get tired of it. The hands-down winner was a lush blue-and-cream floral print. I'm gaga over this fabric line because it's a reproduction of an old English pattern, yet it is surprisingly affordable. Then, to give the drape a bit more kick, I trimmed each panel with a 1-inch flange in parrot-green silk.


This was my first foray into bringing bright green into my living room. And I have to say, I love how that green pops! To tie in the drapes, I added just a hint of lively green with a few accent pillows.


The English “men's club look,” with its yummy leather furnishings, menswear-fabric pillows and hunt-club accents like silver trophy cups and faux antlers, is one of my favorites. So when I designed our den, I wanted to play up the room's dark and cozy feel by weaving in elements of a men's club.


The chocolate-brown sofa, covered with menswear-fabric pillows, is one of my husband’s and my favorite places to snuggle in to watch TV, read or enjoy our morning coffee during the winter months. Since the sofa stands in front of the room's biggest window, I knew that the fabric I selected for my panel drapes would need to frame this sofa well. My pick was a black-watch tartan. And once the window treatments were up, I cheered when I saw how well they tied in with other elements in the room.


The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.