a peek inside the fishbowl

23 May, 2012

Reno post #28: thinking about window dressing

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

I promise I will stop moaning about the packing we have to do.

At the earliest possible opportunity I will be heading out to Ikea to pick out something to cover up the bathroom window in our apartment, because as it stands right now we’d be like Peking ducks on Somerset Street whenever we walked in here, ON FULL SAUCY DISPLAY:


I’m no expert window dresser but I am pretty sure we’ll pick out something really simple like this panel from Ikea.

I have actually been thinking about windows lately, and how the window covering trends have changed so radically over the past years. Do you remember the curtains our parents used to hang? I’m sure the thermoplastic tendencies of the polyester used back then pretty much guaranteed they could stand up on their own. No rods required! (Just kidding.)

I’ve never really liked overly fussy curtains – the BOWS, and the artfully draping ruffles, tassels and frilly valances – and DON’T EVEN TALK to me about how long curtains are supposed to be, because I have no idea.

Some people have tricked out curtains that masquerade as the second cousins of prom dresses whereas other people are satisfied with an old bed sheet hung up with a couple of thumbtacks. We are somewhere in the middle.

From that I’ve seen the trend is not to overdress modern windows in areas where privacy isn’t a major concern. Maybe this trend is limited to houses of a certain size and price range, in a place where windows are tiptoeing into territory of art. Some windows are gorgeous things that don’t deserve to be covered up with a blind or a panel or a billowing chartreuse sheer with ribbon ties.

These windows, for example, belong to local artist Christina Lovisa, who I profiled for the Spring 2012 issue of Our Homes Magazine. Christina insisted on French windows (these ones are from Théo Mineault) that open inwards and lack a centre bar (HELLO unobstructed views). In the summer she has window boxes on them. Isn’t that nice?

Le sigh. So why would you want to put a curtain on these beauties? :)


When we walk around Westboro I’ve noticed that many new homes with larger windows just don’t bother covering them up anymore. At first I wondered about it, I mean, if we lived in that kind of home we wouldn’t be able to walk around in our housecoats (!!), but now I kind of get it. Some windows are just too pretty to cover up. And who cares if someone can see into our living room/addition/whatever? As long as no one can peek into our bedrooms and bathrooms it’s ok, isn’t it? On the flip side, window coverings can definitely be a way of injecting some personality into a room. Fabric can be just as artful as a gorgeous window. We have some custom-made roman blinds that accentuate a nice frame and I’ve always liked them (although custom doesn’t come cheap)! Window coverings can cut down on heating and cooling costs too.

What about you? Are you a curtain person, or not? :)

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11 Responses to "Reno post #28: thinking about window dressing"

1 | Carly

May 23rd, 2012 at 8:18 am


I prefer blinds over curtains, though in some spaces, I do like the softening look curtains can provide.

What I’ve loved, loved, loved in our last two homes, are my “top-down, bottom-up” blinds. If your windows are really large width wise you can’t use them unless you put them up in panels, but I love using them in living/family/dining rooms.

Basically they’re a blind (often cellular, which you can get in all kinds of fabrics/materials and colours), that can either be raised from the bottom OR the top! Which is great for privacy. You can let them down from the top, leaving the upper portion of your window uncovered. Then you’ve got privacy and light all at the same time.

In our bathrooms, I use window film. You can get it at home hardware type stores and it’s just a film that gives you the look of etched glass (plain or in a multitude of patterns). It “sticks” to the window with a bit of water and offers privacy without compromising on natural light.

2 | Fiona

May 23rd, 2012 at 9:09 am


We also loved our “top-down, bottom up” cellular shades in our last house. Our new house is more contemporary with much larger windows so we decided on solar weave roller shades. They have a minimal profile when all the way up and we can still see thru them a bit when they are down. Any way you look at it, good window coverings are expensive. The upside is they can last a long time if you choose something neutral in style.

3 | Valerie

May 23rd, 2012 at 10:13 am


me, I’m more of a curtain person. Our (new-to-house) had plain white blinds (side to side) in every window and I’m gradually changing them. In the bedrooms, I like something to match the bedspreads to give more colour and warmth. In the dining room with the hardwood floor and blinds, it was SO echoey that it drove us nuts. Curtains on the huge window and a pretty afghan on the wall really helped. The front hall and living room still have blinds (for now, maybe ’til they fall apart), but the family room has nothing on the patio door/window. It looks into a private backyard, so no need.

I don’t mind open windows and housecoats, but sometimes we streak mostly naked down the stairs to the laundry room for clothes – if the hall blinds aren’t closed, we’re in full view! It’s nice to open them to let the sun in, but I find curtains much easier to throw back or flip closed.

4 | Tara

May 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 pm


We used custom blinds through out the house. We have the top-down/ bottom up cellular shades, as well as the regular bottom up ones.The only curtains in the house are the lace curtains in the playroom (it was originally a dining room) We also have the solar mesh in the kitchen window, and the H-D Sillowettes on the front windows. We are happy with all the choices the decorator suggested.

For temporary shades, you might want to consider the Redi-shade. We still have them on the basement windows 9 years later. They initially went on with double sided tape, but we late stapled gunned them to the frame (basement is unfinisrhed). we height adjust them with clips.

5 | Ginger

May 23rd, 2012 at 2:58 pm


We have blinds in all of our windows and roman shades in the a few places. I have no idea what to do with curtains, even though I think they would look nice in certain rooms. We have an insulated roman shade in our dining room because it faces West and West facing rooms in summer in Texas means a hot room! But the insulated shade helps immensely.

6 | coffeewithjulie

May 23rd, 2012 at 4:23 pm


Andrea – I need your reader friends to tell me where to get these “top down bottom up” things! Details please :)

7 | Fiona

May 23rd, 2012 at 6:50 pm


@coffewithjulie – Ours were Hunter Douglas Silhouette cellular blinds. We bought ours from Randal’s Paints because they had a sale on, but there are many stores that carry them.

8 | Tara

May 24th, 2012 at 8:34 am


Ours top down/bottom up are Hunter Douglas as well. We have the cellular ones, not the Silhouette ones (our Silhouette are just regular ones). We also bought ours through Randals because of the sales and also the service.

9 | Carly

May 24th, 2012 at 5:52 pm


I forget what brand our top-down bottom-up blinds are, but we got them at Blinds to Go (for two homes now) and were pleased with their quality and service.

10 | coffeewithjulie

May 24th, 2012 at 8:21 pm


Fiona, Tara and Carly – Thank you for your help! :)

11 | BeachMama

May 29th, 2012 at 9:06 am


Ha! Thank you!!

We don’t have curtains in our living and dining rooms, mostly because we felt they shrunk the space. We like that the room seems open and at night we always have a light on in the front room, so people can see in, however, unless we purposely sit there in our robes, no one can see us walk around the rest of the house and we have curtains elsewhere. We just didn’t feel it was right for those rooms and so they stayed bare. I am happy to hear I am not alone in that :)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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