Beach House Window Treatments Beach House Window Treatments

Q: I need suggestions as to how to do window coverings on two sliding doors and two windows in the living area of a house close to the ocean. The living area is an open concept which includes a dining area and kitchen, with a lot of exposed wood. The area around the house is very private, so shielding the room for privacy is not a great concern.

What do you recommend?

A: The first thing I recommend is that you throw a house party for the Designer Monthly staff, say for the month of July.

But in terms of the window coverings alone, I think you're right to point out the privacy consideration. All too often, decorators will swaddle the windows in all kinds of fabric, unnecessarily cutting out the light and the view. In terms of windows, the first thing to think about is the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design: what is their function, what is the mood of the room, and how can the coverings harmonize with the rest of the room's décor?

It sounds as if the function of the windows in this beach-side house is to provide a fabulous view and let in lots of that clean, blue, ocean light; since there isn't a concern about window coverings providing privacy, you're free to do whatever you want.

It's hard to say what would fit well with the mood of this room, but assuming it's a casually-furnished beach house, I'd go with something casual, in natural fabrics, and something minimal.

You also want window coverings that can function equally well at the windows and at the sliding doors.

How about Roman shades, which you can drop down with a pull of a string? These come in a variety of fabrics, including natural tones, and they won't block the view when they're rolled up to the top of the door or window. You can lower them when you do want to cover the windows - for instance, when you're not home, to discourage burglars, or when the bright sun is heating up the room.

An alternative to this would be Japanese paper shades, which also would be in keeping with the fresh look of a beach house, and which would could also be pulled up or dropped down, depending on whether you want to appreciate the view or block the sun.

Even though privacy isn't a concern, you do want to keep in mind the importance of blocking the sun, so that your furniture and rugs don't fade before their time.

And don't forget: we're free for a beach house visit any time from May to September.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!