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Allusion or Illusion Part 4: Draperies and Built-Ins

It is easy to assume that draperies, installed over windows hosting an incredible vista, would overshadow a beautiful view. But if those draperies are designed and installed by professionals, they certainly will not. Rather, side panels can actually enhance the view by subtly framing it, as though the landscape beyond is a painting.

Curtains as a Bridge to the Outside

With a simple dip upon the floor, long curtains add an elegance and softness to the hard lines of the window itself. They are the bridge to the outside and, as such, mediate between sky and interior space. But, here’s the catch: they must look flowing and be proportionally scaled to the room. If they are layered with swags upon pronounced swags, it obfuscates the view. They call too much attention to themselves, distracting the viewer. The idea here is to be simple and subtle. If interest is called for, select a fabric with an attractive pattern. Also, if additional drapery is being used in conjunction with the heavier side panels, be sure to use sheers. This creates the necessary contradiction between light and heavy, and ensures proper balance between the two distinct layers.

Pole versus Cornice

When determining whether to use a pole versus a constructed cornice, consider how the wall just beneath the ceiling is configured.  If there are layers of mouldings or if there is a lot going on architecturally, it is beneficial to frame the window with a solid cornice. If, on the other hand, it is a clean piece of wall, a pole will fit just right above the window frame, with no competition.

Sometimes, modern apartments have a series of ganged windows that stop short midway up the wall.  In these instances, roman shades that fall to the top of the sill are most effective.  Set within a pair of side panels, the shades create a perfect composition within the window frame.

The Magic of Built-in Cabinetry

It may not be obvious to some, but built-in cabinetry, when professionally designed and built, enlarges space. That’s because built-ins are unobtrusive and recessive. They are there, and they are not…meaning they don’t call attention to themselves. Couched between two walls, or below a sill, they are function masters, serving as major storage units. Unlike a piece of furniture, this type of cabinetry is subtle. With a unique wood veneer or stunning poly-resin color, they are rich. Or they can be plain white, and still skillfully serve their purpose. In addition, they are non-competitive. They are married to the walls to which they are attached and, for that very reason, they enhance those very planes.

Here’s a professional secret that elevates the scale of the built-in: the insertion of the reveal.  This small space between cabinet and wall, like a musical elide, gracefully transitions the two pieces together.  Most importantly, it gives the cabinet the appearance of floating between walls, achieving a light, airy feel.  If on the floor, the cabinet should have a recessed bottom fascia, adding to the floating aspect.


14 Responses to “Allusion or Illusion Part 4: Draperies and Built-Ins”

  1. Applique murale…

    One question: Are you in favor of eliminating incandescend lighting for LED?…

  2. Nice post! These are excellent tips about draperies and cabinets arrangements. Beautifully done. thanks for sharing.

  3. Donna Lee says:

    Thanks for the valuable information. This is excellent. I’m new to the trade and I appreciate good people like yourself who is willing to share.

    Donna Lee

  4. Great insights, thank you

  5. You are totally right about drapery. They really can add a lot to a room and not obstruct your view out the window. They add that decorative touch as well. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Bobby says:

    Wow, that first room especially is stunning. Flooded with light

  7. DrapeStyle says:

    We are really seeing some new interest in the use of cornice boxes custom drapery installations. It’s great to see some of the traditional styles coming back into vogue.

  8. Great insights and inspiring photos. Thanks for taking the time to share thes great ideas. I could not agree more that built-ins help enlarge spaces. This is true for almost all areas of a home or office.

  9. Celeste says:

    I absolutely love these ideas and pictures!! Thank you for sharing some of your ideas!!!

  10. Blinds Uk says:

    Wow! Nice pics and good information… thank for share

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