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The Best Window Curtains and Shades, According to Interior Designers

Sheer shades from The Shade Store — The Strategist reviews best window treatments
Photo: The Shade Store

Windows are intimidating. Leave them bare and a place looks naked. Overdecorate them and your best source of natural light gets fusty. Plus, brass or pewter rods? Woven shades or black-out shades? Printed curtains or all-white? Below, we talked to interior designers who had easy answers to some of those hard-fought questions, and let us in on their budget-friendly, go-to sources for setting the window-scene.

Of natural wooden shades, Virginia Tupker of Virginia Tupker Interiors says: “They work seamlessly in any interior and layer beautifully with curtains to diffuse the light, cutting glare and allowing you to see through them while still offering privacy. I have used them in modern, rustic, and classic style interiors with equal success.” Tupker also designs her own. Her made-to-order blinds have thread with an intricate Moorish-motif scaling the backside that can be custom-colored. “I recently had them made with black thread and they were perfect in a Scandinavian boho-style project in the Hamptons.”

“These are both budget-friendly and chic,” says Nashville-based interior designer Jessica Stambaugh, of simple wooden shades. She often uses a company called Select Blinds for her projects, and like the pale color seen here, in a similar design from Home Depot. “I’ve used South Beach in tan in my own home because they have a modern Zen-like feel.”

“Woven wood shades are like the jeans of window treatments — they are so versatile, can be dressed up or down, and can work with modern or traditional interior styles,” says Erin Gates, principal and owner of Boston-based design firm Erin Gates Design. “They add texture to a room, can be black-out lined, and are cordless, making them perfect for families with small children.”

From $187

Substantially different from the razorlike metal mini-blinds, New York–based interior designer Bachman Brown uses them to create a slinky and somewhat seductive mood in a room. “Wood slated blinds are timeless. I always think of that 1980s romantic thriller American Gigolo with Richard Gere standing in his apartment at sunset and the horizontal blinds are casting those iconic shadows across his face.”

“My favorite and most used window accessory are drapes. I tend to lean more toward simple and elegant ones — usually white linen — because they do a great job of completing a space without making too much of a statement,” says Toronto-based designer Anne Hepfer. “They work with nearly every space, no matter its style or color scheme. There is something elegant yet approachable in these drapes that makes a room feel entirely more crisp.”