Bow Window Covering Options?

kashmiAugust 13, 2012

This forum was so helpful with ideas for covering the trapezoid windows in our bedroom. Now we need help with the bow window in our family room.

We just removed part of the wall between this room and the foyer and replaced two double-hung windows with a bow window. (In the picture below, please ignore the blue sheet hanging from the left side of the window + the yet-to-be-rehung pictures + the extra bits of furniture yet-to-be-moved out.)

From Curtains

Right now the trees provide enough privacy, but that won't be the case later on. We're trying to decide between cellular shades and curtains. For cellular, we'd like the bottom up/top down style (when we need to open the windows for air but want privacy) and would really prefer cordless. Since experimenting with the sheet, we've discovered that we don't need the black out option. Here are our thoughts so far.

A. Cellular for each window (since each opens). But reaching them over the couch, especially if they are cordless, will be difficult. We're also worried about obscuring some of the view (at the top of each window).

B. Two cellular blinds mounted on the top trim, concealed by a wooden valance, probably painted to match the walls. It would be easier to reach these blinds, but probably would require the corded instead of cordless version.

C. Curtains that would stack on each side of the bow window. Probably with large grommets so they would be easy to pull back and forth. The problem with curtains is loosing the ability to get both breezes and privacy.

What do you think? Cellular? Curtains? Something else entirely?

If curtains, we're assuming something close to the wall color, but with a subtle pattern. Yes? No?

Oh, yes, we're also open to ideas for changing the rug.

Thanks in advance.

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What type of budget do you have?
Do you sew?
How formal/informal is the space, and adjoining spaces?
Do you require something that will be completely open during the day?
What direction does the window face?
What is your location/climate?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:18PM
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Grommet curtains are not really all that easy to open and close unless the rod is Much smaller in diameter than the grommet.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Thanks for the quick response. Here are some answers.

Budget: The price for cellular looks like it would be around $500. We could spend that if need be. We priced remote controls for cellular: about an extra $700. I don't think I'd spend that much ($1,200).

Sewing: Yes. I've made drapes before (lined and unlined). Sometimes, panels can be purchased more cheaply than they can be made. But not always.

Formality: Not formal. The family room opens to the kitchen and dining area.

Day opening: Yes. We'd like the windows to be completely uncovered during the day. We love the view of trees and flowers from the new window.

Direction: The window faces west. During the summer, lots of sun, but blocked by the trees. In the winter the sun shifts quite a bit -- well, the earth tilts! -- so that it's not quite the "direct hit" that it is in the summer.

Location: New England - though growing up, Shawnee Mission KS was home! (From your user name, I'm assuming you're from the Kansas City area.)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:40PM
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You guessed right, I am in KCMO.

I also sell HVAC, which is why I asked about your orientation and locations. I also see that you have a high wall air handler in the space. I can't tell for sure, but do you have a baseboard radiator for heat on the window wall? If you do, you may not want drapery on them.

Since the room faces west, you might find that you will want some light control later in the afternoon, in particular as it spills into the other rooms.

What is the overall type of window treatment and amount of window layering in other rooms adjacent to this room? What I mean is, do other rooms have, say a shade only, shade layered with a drapery, blinds and valances, etc. I think in an open space that the windows need to have some balance in the amount of visual weight that is on them.

During the winter when the leaves are not on the trees, do you think you will want some window coverage during the day?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:21PM
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Pal: Thanks for the heads-up on grommet curtains and rods.

Julie: Thank you again for the quick response.

Yes, because of having those charming New England hot water baseboard radiators, we installed mini-split systems for AC. BUT, we are considering radiant heat in the floor for the first floor, which would mean we could get rid of those baseboard dust catchers. (Can you tell that I really detest them?!)

You make a good point about symmetry of window coverings. Because of the way the house it situated, the downstairs windows have no window coverings, except for exterior Coolaroo shades to block the morning summer sun on two East-facing large windows in the dining area. Upstairs we have cellular black-out shades in the bedrooms + the "drapes" I made for the trapezoid windows.

As to the winter, because of being in RI, the first thing I'd do in the morning is open the window coverings on the former windows in this room to get more light into the house. And there they would stay until dark. In the spring, though, there may be some days when the sun might be too bright. Come summer and leaves, however, that issue goes away.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 11:11PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

You can treat the window exterior....valance and side panels....then mount short sheers on each window panel that will go from as high as you need for privacy to the shelf of the bow. That way the top of the window will always be open for light and ventilation and you'll have privacy on the bottom. But it won't give you full open window during the day.

I can't see bottoms up shades as the strings and such will be messy. And top down shades won't give you the ventilation+privacy.

Putting curtains on the outside with an under curtain of sheers to close will give you full privacy, but not the ventilation you want.

When I had a big window in front, I put on roman shades that would draw up at first.....then I went with cellular that would draw up. We skipped privacy in the summer or would lower them part way for some privacy....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 8:33AM
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I've struggled with that same size window for over 25 years! And my sofa is also under the window. Years ago I had a horizontal blind made that covered the entire window. It was mounted above the window and covered with a valance and matching side panels. I only used the blind in the winter when the sun came in. Now I have wood blinds in each pane. I leave the blinds open in the summer and they really don't interfere much with the view. I have a black skinny rod mounted high above the window with panels on clip on rings on either side and I'm happy with that.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 10:42AM
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Annie: Once again you have presented interesting ideas. Thank you. I hadn't even thought about locating curtains half or 2/3rds of the way up. If instead of curtains, we could install cellular shades, that would leave the window mostly open. So the question is whether the resulting line through the middle of the window would over time become something we would just "see through." Hmm. Will have to think about this one.

You've also nicely reviewed the other options. As you suggest, none is perfect.

Gracie: Thanks for your relating your experiences. It helps to know that we aren't the only people struggling with how to deal with this sort of window. We do love the look and the view; just wish finding the right window treatment were easier.

We've read about electrically switchable smart glass that allows a window to go from being transparent to either translucent or obscure. That's what I think we really need -- that and a federal grant to pay for it!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:01PM
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Kashmi, still thinking about your windows, but had to share that my older DS started teaching last year in Shawnee Mission Schools. Teaches orchestra at Ray Marsh, Broken Arrow and Rising Star, and was named the assistant director of orchestras at SMHS-Northwest with Jef Bishop(an amazing educator). He did his teaching internship in 2010 for his master's degree in education out there with Mr. Bishop, came back for a year here, and then a position opened up out there. He is very happy with the schools and the support for the music program, and likes living there He lives in Mission.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:20PM
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les917: Congrats to your son. He must have been a terrific intern -- and you must be very proud.

Unfortunately, I haven't lived in the area for 40+ years -- and SM-Northwest wasn't even around when I was in HS!! We go back once a year or so to visit family, however. Though I don't think there is a location in Mission, has your son mentioned Sheridan's Custard? When we visit, we try to partake of their offerings every day, summer or winter!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 7:42PM
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Thanks, kashmi. He is a great guy, and we are very proud of him.

Actually, he has mentioned Sheridan's. He was invited by Mr Bishop to come out to SM the first time, two years before his actual internship, to meet him and check out the program. Fun story behind that. Anyway, he arranged for DS to stay with a family out, so that Jason didn't have to pay for a hotel. The family took DS to Sheridan's one night for custard. He said it was delicious.

We're going out in November, as DS has been hired to conduct the SMHS-NW school musical again this year, and I get to go and be a proud mom. I guess we'll have to try and get to Sheridan's - the one in Shawnee wouldn't be that far from where he is.

And as for your space, wondering if you are open to a furniture rearrangement? Would love to see a few pix of the rest of the room from other angles - not having the couch in front of the window could make other window treatment options more feasible.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 8:42AM
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Les917. That's a great story about your son's SM saga. Sounds like the position was just waiting for him. We hear from family that KCK weather has been horrid this summer. By November it should be much better.

Yes, we're certainly open to rearrangement suggestions. The room is long and narrow, so we've never been happy with the furniture placement. I'll take a couple of other pictures tomorrow. Thanks for the offer of help.

In the meantime, we went to Ikea today and purchased a set of curtains + hardware. Figured that if we didn't like them, we hadn't lost much. If we do like them, though, I'm going to have to get a second set and sew them together, as the curtains have to stretch completely flat to cover the space -- which is way too close to the dorm days of sheets at the windows! As you can see from the pix, we also rolled up the big rug and moved in a smaller one to see what we thought about the size. We also finally put up the stained glass we'd purchased in New Hampshire almost a year ago in anticipation of putting in this window. Whew! From Curtains

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 12:24AM
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I think the rug is just too small. Nice find on the stained glass. I like where you've placed them. I think it'll add a nice layered look once you get the additional curtains up. Yes, additional pics of the room would be helpful.

Honestly, I'm decorating challenged but just have to jump into your side conversation.

Kashmi - What a small world. DH graduated SMWest in '73, and his brother lives in Jamestown. We love visiting RI and would move there in a heartbeat if we could afford it.

Les917 - I vaguely remember you mentioning Kansas in a previous post but had no idea why. That's great news for your son. The area he's in is very family oriented and I think he'll find they really support the arts. If you're in KC over Thanksgiving I highly recommend seeing the Plaza lights in the Country Club Plaza.

Julie - I didn't realize you sold systems. I'd have supported a GW'er. We just installed a system (Anthony H&C). I'm sure you've been busy this summer since AC's have been running non-stop.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:04PM
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Jennifer. I am not a dealer, I work at a distributor. I won't mention the name because don't want to violate any terms of service, or be one of "those" people on GW. Yes we have been super-busy. I will say that you worked with a good company.

To the OP, I do think the rug is too small. I also have a long narrow room, and yes, please post more pictures and we will all work on the layout. I like the drapes and rods. You placed the rods at the perfect spot too.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:18AM
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Thanks, Jennifer. He has found the district and the families very supportive, a great place for a new teacher. SMHS-NW just added a $5 million fine arts addition the year before Jason came out, and since he spends a lot of time there with Mr Bishop, he reaps the benefit of that.

Unfortunately, we won't be in KC for Turkey Day - Jason will be here. Maybe another year, though!

Kashmi, sorry to hijack the thread. I keep checking back to see if we have more pix. Your stained glass pieces are very cool!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 2:06AM
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No need for apologies about the thread hijack. These side stories are the best part of GW.

Jennifer: that's so cool about your DH. I'm a SMWest grad, too -- though 1967. We would have loved to have found a place in Jamestown when we moved up here. It's such a great part of RI.

Jennifer & Julie: thanks for the comments about the rug. And Julie, I really appreciate the curtain comment. DH was holding it up, saying, "Where? Here? Or, here? Quick, decide, my arms are getting tired!"

Les917: I'm going to have to check out that fine arts center at NW when we are next in Kansas. Glad you like the stained glass; we are really happy with it.

Ok, now for the pictures. I made a scale drawing of the room in case that helps. Here it is first.
From Curtains

You've seen the picture of the couch in front of the window. Here's another one that incorporates the front door/entry.
From Curtains

And here's the view standing in front of the couch, looking toward the kitchen. Mess and all!
From Curtains

Now your back is to the entry, looking down the length of the room to the TV end. We hope to get a wall-hung TV sometime in the next year, after prices fall. That should free up some floor space.
From Curtains

And now you're standing in front of the TV looking the other way. I can't believe the dogs slept through the picture taking!
From Curtains

Thanks to you so very much for the help. Nothing is set in stone, except, obviously, places for the dogs to alight!
* We need to keep the big dog crate as our oldest and youngest are suddenly not getting along and cannot be in the same room unless one is crated. So sad, but it's better than adopting one out.

* We've very willing to buy a new rug/rugs. The circular rug clearly does not belong. It's an inexpensive polypropylene one that we use at the entry because it cleans up well. We were just trying to see what a 5' rug would cover, space-wise.

* The other small rug can go back to its original spot, too.

* The black chair by the bookcases (in front of the light) will also go somewhere else.

*The black chest behind the dog crate goes away, too.

*Here's my favorite chair that used to be in the room, but doesn't seem to fit now. It has a footstool, too.
From Curtains

Ok. That's it. Thank you, again, for the help and for reading this far!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 2:47AM
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Okay, thanks for posting the other pix. I have some thoughts of another arrangement that might work, but of course that is up to you.

Move the TV onto the wall marked as 'low table', by the bookcases. Put the chaise into that area by the tv and bookcases.

Move the couch to the wall where the tv is currently, shifted to the left so that you don't block the built-in bookcase there. Put the dog crate underneath that. Use the low table as a coffee table for the couch.

Put the black chair and ottoman, and your fav chair that isn't in the room now, in front of the window, with the end table and a lamp between them.

Find a floor lamp, or wall mount a lamp, down by the couch for lighting. Get a clip-on like they sell made to clip on to the edges of bookcases, so you have some light up by the chaise.

Your rug should define the seating area with the couch and the two chairs by the window. The chaise could have a smaller rug in that corner.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 5:23AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Hah! Les beat me to it...I was going to suggest moving the TV to that corner too...frees up so much wall space.
Too bad the dog crate doesn't fit under the wall hung china cabinet....

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 9:05AM
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Your dog loves the camera :)

Is that an Ekornes chair (not your old fav, but the one in the room now)? I am seriously wanting one. Seems like the most comfortable seat in the world.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 9:41AM
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Les917 and Annie: How interesting that you should suggest that. We did have the TV at that end of the room for about a year and a half, putting the couch on the opposite short wall, but pulling it forward so that the back was in line with the wall-hung cabinet -- so that we could get to the built-in bookcase.

We moved the TV back to its present position because DH declared that he could no longer sit on the couch: it was too low and too uncomfortable for TV watching. He wanted to go back to his Ekornes chair. He also likes to sit about 9' away from the TV. I'm very happy to be much further away.

I now realize that while I said above that nothing was set in stone other than the dog crate, there are other constraints I forgot about. I've revised the sketch with your suggestions and will show it to DH. It does get both our favorite chairs in the room. It's also a more pleasing layout. Plus, since both chairs swivel, it makes conversations easier when we have company.

Woodie2: Yes, it IS an Ekornes. This is our second one. They are indeed very, very comfortable. (Obviously the dogs think so, too!) The other one is the Royal in the large size. Whenever one of us is sick, we veg out in that chair. It seems to have therapeutic powers! From Curtains

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 7:23PM
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