Window treatments are about so much more than framing a pretty view or disguising an ugly one.
Today's window coverings often are a key element in a property's overall design scheme for both guestrooms and public space, while also serving an important function in regulating heat and protecting interior fabrics from the damaging effects of ultraviolet light. Hospitality designers could be considered the "view masters" of window dressing. They have ever more creative options at all price points at their fingertips, thanks to advancements in performance fabrics, mechanical components and a growing number of global design sources.
"In hospitality design, one must consider the functionality of window coverings, as well as the aesthetics," said Jo-Anne Spencer, senior designer, DiLeonardo International.
"Important factors to consider are the climate, the view, privacy and light control," she said. "The perfect window has layers of functionality and is flexible enough to suit a guest's needs at different times of the day."
Another factor that determines the window treatment is a room's formality. A formal room, or one in a colder climate, may call for more heavily draped treatments that are sculptural and insulating. For a more casual room in a resort environment, for example, lighter weight or transparent fabrics that enhance a great view make sense.
Finally, maintenance factors and durability should be considered—the greater the budget, the less a factor this consideration becomes.
Heavy window drapery with elaborate embellishments has gone the way of clunky armoires and floral bedspreads. Except for in the most formal, traditional hotels, they are considered so last century.
Simplicity rules the day across all lodging segments, claim the designers with whom HOTEL & MOTEL MANAGEMENT spoke.
"The current trend in guestroom window treatments is the use of clean, simple lines that complement the architecture of the room without screaming 'window treatment,' " said Jo-Anne Spencer, senior designer at DiLeonardo International. "Guestroom schemes today are typically very serene and calming, and fabrics are textural but not heavily patterned like the hotel drapes of old."
"I see less and less layering of fabric," said Tim Sefchok, director of interior design, Marriott International. "It is more cost effective and provides a fresher, cleaner look."
Sheers have exploded in popularity as the primary window treatment element, both for their versatility and beauty and their ease on the design budget.
"There are so many nice materials available that we don't want to hide them," said Meagan Jacobi, senior designer, interiors, for design firm WATG. "And the blackout curtains behind the sheers are more refined today, creating an extra layer of color and elegance."
The green movement has made its mark on fabric trends to lean toward organic textures such as nubby linens, lush cotton velvet and raw silks in solid colors, proving that ornate patterns are not necessary to impart an impression of quality, Spencer said.
"Unusual window treatments, such as sheer oversized roller shades, decorative panels and custom folding screens are also becoming popular for boutique properties looking for a fun, modern solution when budget and practicality are not the first concerns," she said.