Home Decor

How To Pick The Best Window Treatments (Without Going Broke Or Crazy)!


Did you know that in some countries and cultures, a New Year is welcomed with new window coverings?!

Honestly, I’m not sure quite why… but it’s a fact. I swear, I didn’t make it up.

In my case, I’m also starting off 2018 with a reluctant focus on window coverings — I’ve got 14 of my own to contend with at the house! No matter how many homes I style (my own and clients’), window treatments are probably my least favorite part of the design process. I partially blame this hatred of blinds, shades and curtains on the price.

Ok, I fully blame this hatred on the crazy cost!

Window treatments are one of the most underestimated and overlooked decorating expenses. If you like to feel an enormous pit in the bottom of your stomach and possibly throw up a little in your mouth, just go price out custom window treatments for an entire house. Unfortunately, not only are window treatments a practical necessity (privacy, light control, heat efficiency) but a home can look sad and unfinished until the last piece of decor is beautifully hung in place.

No one wants a sad and unfinished home. So here’s how to fix that — without going broke.

Design Tips For Planning Your Budget Friendly Window Treatments:

Consider the Space

When considering new window treatments it’s important to first consider the function of the window. Is it in a bedroom where privacy and light control is critical? Is it in an open, high-traffic area where you need some basic light filtering? Or is it in a nursery/child’s room where you’d like your child to slumber away in darkness for as long as possible? Go room by room completing this exercise and figure out your specific needs. Once that’s done you can narrow your selection.

Pick A Style

There are so many different styles of window covering these days, I’m only going to touch on the most popular, giving you the pros and cons as I’ve encountered them.


•  Cellular Shades
Cellular shades (sometimes called HONEYCOMB SHADES) are best known for their light filtering/blocking abilities and insulation. While you may be able to find these out of the box, most options are custom orders and the price will reflect this. If you’re in a home with small children and/or pets, a cellular shade is available cordless and has the flexibility of being opened from both top or bottom. From an aesthetic standpoint, they’re not always the most exciting window treatments and most families opt for additional curtain panels or valence to give the windows a bit more of a finished look.


•  Horizontal Blinds
Definitely the least expensive and most accessible of the bunch. Horizontal blinds are available in many materials ranging from metal, to plastic and wood. They come in assorted colors and finishes and are available in a large number of standard window sizes. So, that’s the good stuff. The not so good stuff list is a little longer — horizontal blinds can read outdated and builder grade. They’re also not the most effective for efficiency purposes. As far as light filtering, depending on the style and brand you select, you’ll have decent light control. Unfortunately, (just like cellular shades) horizontal blinds they don’t add much design to your home on their own. This style can look unfinished without additional curtain panels hung.


•  Roman Shades
Historically speaking, Roman shades were the some of the most traditional styles of the bunch and predominately a custom (read: expensive) product. I say WERE because these days, there are so many fun styles and patterns of roman shades that are not only pretty (and contemporary) to look at, but can also be purchased at a reasonable price. If you’re a lucky owner of standard sized windows, the Roman shade world is your inexpensive oyster! Just take a peek at any WAYFAIR, OVERSTOCK, or even ETSY (I’ve ordered custom gorgeous roman shades from HERE!)… a perfectly fit and matched roman shade is just a few clicks away. Roman shades have proven to be timeless in style and offer a softness to a window that horizontal blinds just can’t compete with.

You have two options when it comes to a Roman shade: inside mount or outside mount. Inside mount is my preferred style for its clean look and better light control. However, inside mount is not always possible depending on your specific window casement. You’ll need your window casings to be about 2″ deep for the inside mount to sit flush. If your specific window style doesn’t allow that clearance (mine do not), the outside mount is just as pretty, but you may have some light peeking out from the sides.


Recently, my favorite styles of Roman shades have been the NATURAL FIBER/BAMBOO shades. I love the texture and organic feel they provide to most modern spaces. With these natural styles of roman shades, you also have the option of upgrading to a blackout liner if you’re looking for light control. Personally, I love the light filtering through the weave — it makes a room glow. Also, something to keep in mind: woven roman shades will typically run you a little less than fabric ones!


•  Curtain Panels
I think the window covering that we are most familiar with is the curtain. I like to compare curtains to  a woman’s hair. It gives a woman personality and frames her face. Long, billowing curtains in formal silk shantung can be likened to a southern pageant queen’s do’: primped, dressy and high maintenance. Easy, breezy textural linens are a bit more Giselle-undone-beach-waves. Stiff cotton grommet tops are like a sharp, meticulous bob. Think about your own personal style and make your home a natural extension.

Personally, I prefer RING HUNG (vs. GROMMET or ROD THREADED) curtain panels in softer textures (linen, cotton) but with some structure/pleating at top. The ring clip/hook makes the finished product look a little bit more custom and rich, in my opinion.

Also, I’m letting you in on an interior designer secret — IKEA RITVA curtains. The price is unbeatable ($25/pair) and people rave about the quality and texture. It’s also pretty hard to find a true white curtain and this is as close to that as you’ll get. I’m planning on using a few of these in my new home! If you’re the crafty type, make sure to check out the assorted DIY CUSTOM PROJECTS using IKEA curtains… it’s amazing what people can do!

Sadly, I am not one of those people.

Hang High and Wide

Hanging curtains or shades is not a job for the weary. Measure twice, hang once is the name of the game… and make sure you secure into studs vs. drywall.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you is to hang your rods HIGHER than your actual window frame. Every window is a little different, but a general rule of thumb is that the rod will look best at least halfway between your window frame/trim and ceiling — occasionally higher. This will give your window and ceilings visual height and that designer flare. Also, when hanging rods, ensure that you extend the rod 3-6″ beyond each end of the window. Again, this will visually widen the window and keep your drapes from blocking out all that light when they are fully open.

Before your drill those holes, confirm that the length of your curtains work with this rod height. The bottoms of the curtains should kiss the floor and never be any shorter. If you’re looking for a more dramatic and formal look (remember that southern pageant queen look?), puddling the bottom of your curtains will work too.

I love this helpful cheat sheet for reference:

budget friendly window treatments cheat sheet

Keep It Full

Most standard curtain panels are approx 50″ wide. Keep that in mind when you’re buying panels for larger/wider windows and doors. When your drapes are closed, you don’t want them to be completely flat and lifeless — you’d still like to see some body and fullness. Minimum panel fullness should be 2x the width of the rod. However, 2.5x the width of the rod is my ideal calculation. Moral of the story: if you’re dealing with a wider window/door, consider buying multiple pairs of panels to fill out the space.

In full disclosure I spent 3 hours yesterday laying the window treatment groundwork for my own home, so clearly I’ve got windows on my mind!

Have a question or style challenge!? Send it my way — happy to offer my window treatment design services and hopefully, save you some money, time and aggravation!

best budget friendly window treatments

(Header image via)


Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Jennifer Erhardt January 3, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the post! Definitely could use the advice when it comes to window treatments and can’t agree more that the price can be very overwhelming. I too love the natural bamboo roman shades, they add such a different texture and element to any room. Do you have any suggestions of where to purchase them or where have you had the best luck buying them as far as colors and styles??

    • Reply scompiseno January 4, 2018 at 8:18 am

      Hi Jennifer! Happy 2018!

      Here are my 2 cents when it comes to those woven natural roman shades… As I learned myself, there are SO many different colors, textures and light filtering options in these shades and no single one is a universal fit.

      What I did was bring a sample of my hardwood floor to the showroom and try to best match the tones of the floor to the tones in the shades. For my own home, I wanted more privacy vs. blackout, so I purchased them unlined. I picked a pretty tight weave, so not much light passes through anyway. This is a product I really think you need to see in person — or at least a sample — before buying. Surprisingly, JCPenney has a pretty good selection of brand name custom blinds like Levalor + Bali… in addition to their own in-house line. After their promotions and discounts, you can get a pretty good deal on a custom product AND they offer installation for an unbeatable price (I think it was under $200 for 14 shades!).

      If you’re one of the lucky few with standard window sizes, check out Wayfair or Overstock and really read through those reviews. That is definitely going to be your least expensive option. Maybe buy one and if it works in person, go ahead and splurge on the rest.

      Lastly, I’ve used SelectBlinds.com for some clients. They offer free samples and run great promotions. Their customer service is also great if you have any questions or concerns about their products or selecting the right size.

      I hope that helps a little! Let me know if you have any other questions! XO

  • Reply Jennifer Erhardt January 7, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the advice!! I am definitely going with the natural blinds in our home and will check out a few of these places like Penney’s to see some of there samples!!

  • Leave a Reply