This design element is fun and functional.

By Southern Living

My grandmother knows that when one door closes, a window opens. And in her case, that window always opens to a gorgeous window treatment. She'd advise: When you're doubting your home's designs and decor, make the windows beautiful, and the rest of the room will follow. It's a secret—or, if not a secret, then a too-rarely-touted—decorating weapon that makes a huge difference in your home's style.

Where to begin? Window treatments. Drapes. Curtains. Shades. Valances. Fabrics in beautiful colors and patterns and textures. The options are endless. Is there anything a window treatment can't do?

They're the unsung heroes and the workhorses of any room. They'll do whatever you need them to do in any interior design. Act as a neutral base? Check. Add a punch of color? Voila. Unify the room's color scheme? Presto. Block external light? But of course. Well-chosen window treatments are fun and functional. They can bring any room together, providing elegance and visual interest, and adding contrast or cohesiveness to your design scheme. (And, you know, they also help create the optimal environment for a midday nap.)

In her choices of drapery, my grandmother tends toward bold patterns in unexpected hues. In fact, one set of curtains I remember vividly from childhood was patterned with vertical robin's egg blue-and-cream stripes alternated with intertwined roots, birds, and flowers in vegetal columns stretching from hem to hook. There were also matching valances emerging from the top of each window, artfully hiding the curtain rods—and tricking the eye while making each window look just a bit larger.

Now we all have this in our decorating arsenals, but the key is to deploy it in a smart and considered way. When it comes to window treatments, bare panes just won't do. There are so many possibilities out there, and a few inspired options are rounded up below. I find myself wanting to try each and every one in my own home. Grandma would be proud.

An Injection of Color

Try Triple-Hung Windows
Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyon
Teal 2016 Idea House Bedroom
In our 50th Anniversary Idea House, this bedroom mixes the brand-new with the well-loved. A pair of tall, antiqued mirrors by Mirror-tique hang above the vintage nightstands, adding both height and age. Associate Decorating Editor Elly Poston wrapped the room with a textured, blue-green raffia wallcovering to "play up the jewel-box effect," she says. Then, she had overscale monograms in chartreuse by O'Connor Monogramming appliquéd on the bedding; layered two rugs (a sisal one from Jaipur Living and a vintage one from Paige Albright Orientals); and pulled everything together with the drapery fabric, Le Lac Toile Linen. When decorating with new things, it's important to pull in older pieces to jump-start some patina," advises Poston.
| Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

A Dose of Pattern

Master Bedroom
Credit: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller
Balance Rustic Elements
Front and back doors open directly into a two-story-high living room, where spruce-planked walls and wood beams salvaged from an 1890 Tennessee barn reflect the home’s rural setting and give the space a refined, barnlike feel. Interior decorator Pho
| Credit: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

A Touch of Texture

Texture 2
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn
Bold Patterns in Small Living Room
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

A Spot of Subtlety

Living Room with Antiques
Credit: Photo: Laurey Glenn
Kaynor Home in New Orleans
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

A Dash of Contrast

Mix Modern and Traditional
Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.
| Credit: Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King
Credit: Ngoc Minh Ngo

An Infusion of Cohesion

2016 Idea House Living Room
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn
Dreamy Master Bedroom
Credit: Photo: J. Savage Gibson; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Cheery Valances

The Twin Bedroom
Credit: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller
Guest Room
Meg gave ceilings a lift and added height to a series of short casement windows with custom valances and curtains. A neutral wall color sets off the bedroom’s punchy aqua-and-pink color combination. To avoid sensory overload, she opted for a large-s
| Credit: Photo by: Lisa Romerein, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

Fun(ctional) Shades

Maximize Your Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins
Built-in bench seating in this small sitting room provides a lot of seating and storage for books and games.
| Credit: Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman
The Crofter
Credit: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller