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Style: Folsom | El Dorado Hills

Sacramento Interior Designer Offers Six Energy Efficient Window Treatments

Jun 01, 2015 12:08PM ● By Kerrie Kelly

Photo courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Besides contributing to the design and coziness of a room, window treatments—whether drapes and blinds or shutters and shades—help block sunlight from heating up the house on hot days and keep warm or cool air from escaping through leaky windows. Some materials do a better job than others. Here are six eco-chic treatments that may work for you.

1 / Curtains

Curtains consist of panels of fabric that are gathered on a rod attached by tabs, ties or rings. Eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton and hemp are available in a growing number of colors and patterns for custom window treatments. Our current quick and organic curtain solution is to buy ready-made linen drapery, as it’s grown without pesticides for flax. 

2 / Drapes

These are a mainstay of window treatments. By definition, drapes are pleated panels that hang from hooks and attach to small slides on the rod. When it comes to choosing to drape, a layered look delivers the most options for light control and energy efficiency. According to, should you choose to line a medium-toned drapery with a white plastic backing, you could save up to 33 percent on heat gain in the summer and 10 percent on heat loss in the winter.

Photo courtesy of SacRep Photography.

 3 / Shades

Shades are one of the most practical and hard-working window treatments; they offer easy light control, instant privacy and a clean, tailored silhouette in a wide range of colors and materials. Options include simple roller shades, insulated honeycomb shades, woven shades, wooden shades and soft fabric shades like Roman and balloon styles. Naturally woven shades made of bamboo, reeds and grasses have a handmade feel and an organic texture. For the most efficiency, shades should be installed as close to the window glass as possible.

4 / Blinds and Shutters

Blinds and shutters have adjustable louvers and veins that can be tilted to filter the light, leveled to reveal the view or shifted to completely block the view. Blinds can be used solo, or—for a layered look and extra insulation—under top treatments made of fabric. These types of coverings are reported to reduce heat gain by up to 45 percent; just be sure to look for shutters made of FSC-certified hardwood and finish them with low-or-no VOC stains and sealants. Also, avoid plastic shutters and blinds, as well as polyester fabrics that won’t biodegrade. 

5 / Valances

These top treatments provide the crowning glory for a window. Valances are generally shortened versions of curtains, drapes or fabric shades, 12-18 inches long. Used alone, they bring style to an otherwise plain window. Place over another treatment and they can seal the heading and add a flourish. The extra layer sitting atop the face of the window will capture any cool air that may seep in. 

6 / Cornices

Because their edges are so clearly delineated, cornices add architectural interest. Like valances, they can be used alone or paired with other window treatments. When covered in batting and fabric, cornices soften the overall look of the window and absorb extra heat and chill. Wood cornices can mimic the look of deep crown molding and should coordinate with the other woodwork and trim in the room. Here again you will want to use FSC-certified woods and low-or no-VOC stains and paints to finish the wood.

What will you choose for your home’s window treatments to be both beautiful and energy-efficient? Send your photos to

Kerrie L. Kelly is an award-winning interior designer, author and multimedia consultant. She has authored two books: ‘Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide,’ published by Oxmoor House, and ‘My Interior Design Kit,’ with Pearson Professional and Career Education. To contact her, visit or call 916-919-3023.

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