Design Line

Privacy and Palladian windows

December 16, 2007|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Tribune Media Services

We're planning a casual design for the two-story living room in our new home. Decorative rugs will be used to add color to the limestone floor, and we'll hang some fabrics on the off-white stucco walls.

A large window with a curved top poses an unsolved problem. It offers a beautiful view, but we need to add some kind of window treatment for privacy. Any ideas on how to cover a picture window with such a shape?

I assume you're referring to something like the Palladian-style window. A window of this sort is usually left without a covering, in part because it is indeed difficult to fit one to its shape. In cases where privacy concerns are paramount, one common tactic is to hang under-curtains and add a stationary fabric lunette for the curved upper part. This sort of treatment can be quite attractive, but it's more elegant than the rest of the design you describe.

In a casual setting, whether contemporary or traditional, the best option might be to emphasize the shape of the window with fitted wooden blinds or shutters. Depending on the actual size of your window, wood blinds may be easier to operate and will allow for more flexibility in regard to the position of the vanes. You can open the blinds fully in order to enjoy the view or close them top-to-bottom in order to ensure complete privacy. If your own window is really large you may want to consider a motorized system. Battery-powered and hard-wired options can readily be found.

The renovation we're planning for our 20-year-old kitchen includes the installation of wood cabinetry in a cherry finish. We're also thinking of putting in a cherry wood floor but have concerns about staining as well as the effects of ordinary wear. What do you think of these additions?

I don't think you need to worry about maintenance of a wood floor, even in a kitchen. Just apply three or more coats of polyurethane. But I also think your remodeled kitchen may contain too much cherry wood. At least give some consideration to cabinets of a color that won't match that of the floor. Better yet, why not choose a material other than wood for the floor?

Look around and you will find some attractive ceramic tile pavers and other easy-to-maintain, hard-surface flooring materials such as porcelain tiles. You'll also come across a variety of colors, ranging from neutral to bright. With cherry cabinetry, I'd choose something neutral for the floor as well as for the countertops. Black, dark green and a rich brown would all be complimentary.

Granite rates as my personal favorite for a countertop material. Wood, marble and concrete do not make it onto my own list of preferences. Even when sealed, these and other materials will eventually become highly porous -- and who wants a stained countertop?

You asked specifically about the cabinetry and flooring, but I hope you'll pay just as much attention to lighting, the color of the walls and details such as hardware and backsplash.

Rita St. Clair is a Baltimore-based interior designer. Readers with general interior design questions can e-mail her at

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