Two-story Window Treatments: The Dos and Don’ts

Two-story Window Treatments: The Dos and Don’ts

Two-story window treatments are a showstopper—a dramatic centerpiece in a great room that brings in tons of natural light and unbeatable views. But when it comes to styling those windows, things can get a bit tricky without the right guidance.

So, what are some general rules for styling a two-story window?

My first bit of advice is to use layers. Layering breaks up the height and brings the window proportions back into the space.

For example, I might use drapery panels that run the entire height of the two-story window, paired with a roman shade placed only on the lower section of the window. Alternatively, I might suggest using drapery panels that run the entire height of the window with an overlay in a contrasting fabric.

This might be another drapery panel running down just part of the window, or the drapery could have a straight valance or “flap” attached at the top. Both options provide plenty of design interest, and also help balance the height of the window with the furnishings in the space.

What are the best fabrics and prints to use with two-story window treatments?

Colleen Mcnally Interiors Window Area.

Consider fabric options that drape well. Longer drapes that don’t have the right weight might give you trouble with flaring or be otherwise uncooperative.

It’s also important to use fabrics that won’t stretch. Linen isn’t usually the best choice for drapery as it stretches. If your heart is set on linen, you could always go with a linen blend that has a man-made fiber woven in for more stability.

My go-to fabric is light-weight wool or a lined sheer. Wool is always consistent in how it hangs, and I love the softer look and feel of lined sheers.

In terms of print, a neutral solid might be your best bet. Neutral solids work well because the soft backdrop on the window brings the outdoors in and won’t distract from the view.

That being said, large prints are fine as long as you understand that they’ll be demanding to the eye. If a print is meant for the space, I tend to lean toward a neutral background with only one or two colors.

What do you do with window treatments over arched windows?

Simplicity is key here. For an eyebrow or palladium style window, you can’t go wrong with a simple pair of panels and gorgeous hardware. The rod has to be perfectly placed so the drapery stacking showcases the shape of the window without being distracting. And then the panels could traverse to close when you want privacy. With this window design, it’s important to work with the entire height of the window.

Another option could be shutters, depending on the design style and size of the windows. Since shutters are custom-built to the shape of the window, they provide a beautiful, clean look and work well in a space where you’re not concerned with blocking the view. For example, shutters tend to work well in a bathroom where privacy and cleaning are the most important factors.

What are some other things to know before investing in two-story window treatments?

Light exposure is a big consideration. The large windows make a beautiful statement but can be damaging to the interior of the space. It’s important to factor in which direction the room faces and consider shade treatments along with the drapery styles. Motorized shades are a great choice for smooth operation.

Another big consideration is the expense. Be ready, as there are many components that add to the equation for two-story designs. Additional fabric, and installation costs are much more involved as well. Just try to be upfront about your budget at the start of the project.

Two-Story Window Area by Colleen McNally Interiors in Plainfield, Illinois.

Here’s an interesting anecdote to leave you with…

One client had their home built but held off on dressing the windows. After three years, they decided to do something about the east-facing windows, as the sun exposure was making it unbearable to be in the room at certain times of the day.

So, we went through the design process and they placed their order for a combination of shades and drapery panels. While the order was in process, they decided to have their area rugs cleaned.

When the rugs were pulled up, we realized that their floors were two different colors. The sun exposure over the years had completely damaged the floor’s finish.

Window treatments aren’t just a pretty accent in a room. Floors, walls, artwork, and furnishings are all susceptible to damaging UV rays from natural sunlight, but the right window coverings will help protect everything inside your home.

(1) Comment
  • Elle
    | 28 June 2023

    It’s wonderful that this article discussed how light exposure is a key factor. Although the enormous windows create a striking statement, the interior of the room may suffer as a result. It’s crucial to take into account the room’s orientation, as well as the shade treatments and curtain designs. For easy operation, motorized blinds are a fantastic option.
    My partner, who recently told me that he needs window coverings for his workplace so he can keep some privacy inside, will find this to be beneficial. In light of this, I’ll be sure to pass along your advice to him so he may choose the appropriate window coverings.

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