Window top treatments not an open and shut case

August 08, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer

Q: Please give me some advice about top treatments for windows. I'm considering such an addition for a pair of windows along one wall in my small dining room, which is furnished with 18th-century-style mahogany pieces. Specifically, I need to know it's all right to use a top treatment with window coverings other than draperies.

A: Yes, it's quite all right, though the effect will look best if the entire window treatment is kept simple. Its color and texture should also blend with the nearby wall, whether painted or papered.

In a more formal setting, a top treatment for a window will generally accompany floor-length side panels of drapery as well as sheer under-curtains. But that's not an all-purpose standard, because different rooms do have different properties. Modifications often need to be made due to the size of a given space or because less formal styling is preferred.

For a relatively sparse and tailored look, a lambrequin alone may be sufficient. As the photo shows, no side draperies are necessary with this kind of top treatment. An even more simple version, involving a single swag with no fringe or rope trimmings, may be appropriate for a small room.

A lambrequin top can be described as a combination of swags and long-sided jabots, sometimes mounted on a board to keep the fabric pleating securely in place. I personally prefer the jabots to be slightly longer than the mid-point of the window's length.

The top treatment shown here, while decorative, would look fine in most small and formal rooms. The "Rosanno Imberline" damask fabric from Stroheim and Romann is used alongside a companion wall covering, a damask stripe touched with gold. Complementary wall and window top treatments have the effect of blunting the visual impact of a relatively bold pattern. And that comfortable match, in turn, enables this small room to accommodate a top treatment that's not paired with a drapery.

If, however, you prefer a plain fabric, it can be used with or without decorative trimmings to produce a similarly tasteful design, as long as the color of the wall covering blends with that of the top treatment. Under-curtains can be either sheer or opaque, but they must always reach the floor. As for color, under-curtains should be in a neutral or a much lighter shade than that of the top treatment.

I like to compare top treatments to hats. Properly scaled and colored, a fashionable piece of haber--ery will add just the right finishing touch to everything below. But absent those attributes, a top treatment can "finish you off" in a very different sense.

Q: There's a serious shortage of storage space in my small apartment. I've added some stow-away compartments in the kitchen and living room, but I still need places to put shoes and extra clothing. My bedroom closet is already filled to overflowing. Any suggestions?

A: If you're like a lot of people I know, your storage problem might be at least partially solved by radically rearranging that closet. The standard closet in an American home is 24 inches deep. It contains a rod for hanging clothes and a single shelf above it for storing miscellaneous items. Most of us assume that this configuration is logical and permanent.

But without proper design, closets often degenerate into an impossible jumble. The fact is, hanging clothes from a rod is usually very wasteful of space. Perhaps you should remove the rod and replace it with a series of divided shelves and drawers that will accommodate a large amount of folded clothing. If you feel that some of your clothes simply must be hung, then leave part of the rod in place and use the rest of the closet for drawers and shelves.

Because the space for folded clothing doesn't have to be more than 15 inches deep, you will easily be able to store shoes, hats and bags on the inside of the closet doors. Hats and bags can obviously be hung from hooks, but what about shoes? A smart way to store them is by suspending them by their heels from wooden dowels that have been placed between two 6-inch uprights installed on the inside of one of the closet doors.

I would also recommend that a large pull-out drawer be built into the bottom of the closet. There should be plenty of room for such an addition because long dresses or trousers will no longer be filling the closet wall-to-wall and top-to-bottom. Bags and shoes can also be put into that drawer, along with whatever else is in your way.

I don't know if you rent or own your apartment, but if you are willing to spend a bit more money on this overhaul, you could remove the bulkhead that's usually above the closet doors.

Closets' interiors are generally higher than the doors. By tearing out the bulkhead, you will have much easier access to the upper-level storage space. But this does mean, of course, that you will have to install new closet doors.

If you're handy with a hammer and saw, only this last option is likely to entail the need for professional services. And even if you have no idea of how to build shelving, don't despair. You'll probably find all sorts of space-saving accessories at a specialized closet store.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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