Thursday, May 31, 2012

Woven Shade Placement

A while back I came across a very interesting article that talked about where you should hang your woven/bamboo shades when you have drapes.  I was a little surprised by this author's (adamant) view that there should never be 'dead space' between the curtain rod and the woven shade.

Ashley Putman in Lonny

You see the 'red' arrow above?  This is considered "dead space".  And, instead, the author was arguing that the top of the woven shade should be flush with the curtain rod in order to eliminate any dead space.  See below.

Markham Roberts in House Beautiful

I am embarassed to say that I have never noticed this before.  So I began looking around at images (with different lighting, ceiling height, window sizes, etc.) to figure out if I had a preference.  And after all that looking ... it's pretty much a toss-up (maybe 60/40 in favor of leaving the dead space).  I like seeing the molding around the top of the window.  And there isn't a sudden change in the amount of light passing through the shade as your eye looks above the window.  

But there doesn't appear to be uniformity out there.  For example, here are some rooms by Ashley Whittaker that feature woven shades that are flushed up with the top of the drapes.  

Here, Celerie Kemble has the shades flushed up with the drapes as well.  

By contrast, here are a few rooms by Amanda Nisbet, Steven Gambrel and Sara Gilbane that feature woven shades with the dead space visible.  

So there's clearly not one accepted way to proceed.  But it does beg the question, "is there a clear benefit to one technique vs. the other?"  At first glance, I can't see a clear practical reason favoring one method, e.g., one is much easier to mount (am I missing something?).  And so this seems to come down to aesthetics.  But either way, this is just one more example of the dozens upon dozens of little details that impact the overall vibe of a room.  


  1. Hi Fran!
    I visit your blog almost everyday!! Love your Germany posts!!!

    While looking at the last photos of a little "dead space" I noticed that in all the beautifully designed rooms, they only have a couple inches of space, which is the window casing trim. I feel that this method looks beautiful and clean, however if you have a large amount of wall space between your window/window casing and ceiling/ceiling trimwork then I believe it looks a little awkward; like your window treatments and window coverings are not on speaking terms, they almost become two seperate elements in the room

    Thanks for sharing the pictures!!

    1. Hi Terri,

      You make a good point regarding the "amount" of dead space. The first image has maybe 6 ~ 8 inches, while the last two images have less (maybe 3 ~ 6 in). But it seems to me that the color matters as well. For example, in the 2nd to last image the dead zone is a very muted blue/green. It doesn't call attention to itself. Conversely, the 3rd from last and last images have very stark colors in the dead zone (red/orange and green, respectively). And these really shout at you. So I agree that the size of the dead zone matters … but I think the color plays an important role too. Keep your thoughts coming!

  2. I agree with Terri about having too much 'dead space'. I have to say that I prefer the 'dead space' windows much more than the ones with the blinds flush to the curtain rods. Also, it depends on the kind of trim you have on your windows. Mine have a crown molding detail (it's a 120 year old house) so there would be no way to bring the blinds up to the level of the curtain rods.

  3. Interesting. I never thought about the dead space, now it has me wondering. Hugs, Marty

  4. Hi Fran,

    I believe that dead space may be essential for the option to take away any drapery. It would look somewhat awkward if you wanted an airier look and have your shades mounted in front of your window casings. LOVE your blog!

  5. I'm good either way...tomato-tomata...Depends on the room I'd say!

  6. I think I've read the article you refer to. I like the shades mounted higher - makes for a cleaner look and gives the illusion of a bigger window. Have a wonderful weekend, Fran!

  7. Interesting...I would agree with Terri that too much space is a little confusing. If the drapes are mounted high enough to want to create height on that wall, then having so much contrast between the curtain rod and the shades is only going to bring the eye down initially to recognize that negative space. But if the drapes are truly functional and closed often enough then they have achieved the goal of creating height I suppose. I'm going to be thinking about this.

  8. ooh, great post! i have given some though to this lately, as i've used romans in a few of my last projects, but now that i see so many images in one place, i think i'm actually in favor of less dead space. to me, the flush look seems a little more polished, although that could also be because most of the images that show this look are professional pics. i'm not against dead space, but you've helped me realize what it is i don't like--i not in love with the look of 12-18" of dead space in between the shade & rod. loved this!

  9. This is a great post and I am going to bookmark it to refer back to. I often hang drapes after shades have already been installed (existing shades). So obviously that would be different case. When possible I like to hang the shades inside the window molding (I think you said that too) and so if drapes were added later of course there would be some dead space there which I don't mind. If I am mounting outside the moulding I like to raise the shades about 6 inches above the window to add height. I honestly never thought about putting the shades all the way to the ceiling as some of these photos are showing but I have to admit they look great. I like that doing that really adds height to the room. But it would also make a difference if there were other windows in the room that had the blinds but did not have the added drapes which has often been the case for me - then all the blinds should all be at the same level and where the drapes were there would be some wall space showing. Great examples and I have something new to think about! Thanks :D

  10. Hmm. This one's making me think! I don't mind the dead space, to be honest. I think I prefer to see the molding? But I'm really not sure. I think I might be defending dead space (or perhaps we can think of it as a place for the eye to rest?) because that's how I do it in my house! Hee. Great post, Fran.


  11. Wow, I had never thought of this issue before. I have definitely been in the second camp, where I want to see the modling. My rooms, and my clients', therefore have lots of so-called dead space. I can see the point of eliminating the dead space though and unifying the window tx. Interesting! I will think about this the next time I hang some wovens!

  12. Great post! I think I read a post on Cote de Texas about how you especially want to mount the shade high if you have several windows side by side each with their own casement and you are doing one long rod that spans the width of the entire set of windows. I think pictures 3 & 4 are a good example of this. Something to do with the fact that one long outside mounted shade is less chaotic visually and it looks more cohesive with with the one set of draperies. I'm no professional but that made sense to me.

  13. Interesting that I was just debating this personally. In my master bedroom, which has a large three window unit, I had hung inside mounted blinds. Later I hung drapes close to the ceiling. Everything is light and in tan/beige family - but still unsure about the dead space, I don't think it looks very finished! But in a magazine recently, they had sheers hung lower than the drapes. A definite dead space - first time I had noticed that! The reason I noticed is that could work in one of my guest rooms, but do I like the look?! Unsure!

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