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Sometimes curtains just won't do


Curtains, draperies and just about any type of styled fabric are often problematic as window treatments in kitchens and bathrooms. The high humidity and sudden changes in temperature common in both these rooms can make this material most impractical. What's more, curtains over sinks or ranges can be hazardous.

Added to these functional demerits is my personal dislike for fancy window treatments in kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens in particular usually have enough decorative interest without resorting to elaborate effects for the windows.

I do recognize, however, that it's also necessary to respond to issues such as privacy, glare and the forbidding look of a dark night through a bare window.

In those instances, I usually opt for shutters or decorative shades. One interesting new treatment of this sort is the Hunter Douglas Vignette window shade, which is composed of layers of gently contoured fabric folds. It creates a soft look that often complements more traditional room designs such as the French country kitchen shown in the photo. Shutters, metal mini-blinds and other, more architectural window treatments wouldn't be nearly as appropriate.

Vignette has a texture similar to drapery, and it's as easy to handle as any other kind of shade. When lowered, this sophisticated window covering guarantees privacy even as it admits a soft glow from an outside lighting source. Raised, the shade disappears into a sleekly curved head rail that is shaped to adhere to the fabric folds.

Vignette is available in a range of neutral colors. It also comes in either a basket weave, which offers a textured look, or in a more lustrous satin weave. And this 100 percent polyester fabric has the advantage of being resistant to stains and dust.

But as you can see, the covering alone isn't what makes this window treatment so attractive. The decorative ceramic tile border adds definition and flair to the shade.

Window treatments in the kitchen and bathroom can be enhanced in other ways as well. One possibility is to install wood cornices at the top and sides of the opening, thereby creating a frame-like effect. The cornices can then be painted in a color that works with the room's overall design.

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