My family has allergies. With that said, beautiful flowing draperies are not in our house. If one has problems with allergies (especially if they are dust related), fabrics can be a huge nuisance that collects dust and other allergens from people, pets, outdoors, or whatever. This is not to say that you absolutely cannot have fabric draperies if your people have allergies. It just means that if you decide to install long fabric draperies, you will need to have them cleaned and dusted more than usual resulting in a higher ownership commitment to the product. As we want to make our homes & places of business comfortable to those who inhabit it, I find it helpful to think outside the box to come up with a solution that is not only beautiful, but practical and healthy.
Here are my top ten alternatives to heavy draperies that you may find helpful:
1. Plantation Shutters & Blinds: They do need to be dusted but they are great for those w/ allergies as they can be wiped down easily. I suggest going with a vinyl as this material doesn’t warp as bad as the wood shutters in the heat.
2. Window Film: This is a great option for windows that don’t require a ton of privacy or have a view that you don’t want obstructed. For example; a lake, beach or mountain house with a panoramic view. Window film can also be a great option for those beautiful but pesky to decorate palladium windows that are too high up for traditional window coverings. Films certainly do help with heating and cooling expenses, too! This is not a DIY – have a professional company install.
3. Hang a stained glass in the window: This option provides more privacy than a window film. Still needs to be dusted but this can be accomplished easily and quickly. The downside to this option is that stained glass products tend to be more traditional, and one may have a difficult time finding contemporary or modern styles. Would be a great option for a more traditional, eclectic or bohemian space.
4. Moveable panels: Panels can be constructed out of a woven plastic, fabric or even metal. Your imagination is the only limitation. This option has many choices that are especially suited to contemporary, modern and even commercial applications. The lack of folds leaves less surface area for dust and other allergens to collect. Panels can be installed to swing out or slide in front of each other making it great for various window casings.
5. Naked Windows: There is no steadfast rule that every window has to have a window covering. Lack of window coverings can add a clean, no-fuss aesthetic to your interior. I personally have no window covering in our office as the window is a beautiful bay window that is private and looks out on a tree filled with birds and squirrels. This is such a joy to watch.
6. Shades: Shades have come a long way since the narrow product lines of the 1970’s and 1980’s. They can be produced to fit various styles and needs. Shades can be woven, plastic, wood, cellular, etc… The automation features that have surfaced in the last decade make them an option to strongly consider.
7. Fabric Valances: Would still need to be washed occasionally, but their small size would allow this task to be done quickly without much fuss. They are easy to hang and usually cheaper than their drapery counterparts.
8. Cornice Boards: This is such a versatile type of covering for windows. It’s small, but can make a great impact on the aesthetic of the room with its wide variety of styles and types. A cornice board can be made from anything; wood, metal, plastic, foam core, etc.. One is only limited by their budget and imagination! Wood and metal ones can be left uncovered to achieve a specific look or any of them can be covered with fabric or whatever material strikes your fancy.
9. Sliding Barn-Style Doors: Most people only use them for actual doors, but the sliding aspect makes it equally great for window applications. Sliding doors would allow your window to be open for enjoying a view during the day and easily close in the evening or whenever you want privacy. They come in so many different styles and materials that this is worth a look. Obviously not ideal for every window.
10. Rouladen Rolling Window Shades: When we lived in Germany, our rental house (and all the other homes, too) had these rolling shades affixed to the outside of the window casing. These rouladens were operated from the inside via a pull cord or motorized switch. Typically constructed of a metal material, this would be the absolute perfect window material for a hard-core allergy sufferer. Not only is the treatment on the outside of the window, but can be easily cleaned with a water hose or pressure-washer. When they close, the rouladens completely block out the light making it a life-saver for not only the allergy-prone, but also shift workers and baby nurseries. I think rouladens would be great for beach homes, too, to help protect windows during storms. You can see a demonstration of them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KePLmie7lE
This is just a small list of many options out there, but hopefully this helps those with this question start thinking about the alternatives to traditional window treatments. Happy Designing!