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Dealing with floor-to-ceiling windows

Floor-to-ceiling  windows in today’s condo market are pretty consistent. We get caught up with the light and view they provide. What we don’t talk about is how this architectural element can create a cold and stark contrast to a cozy space you desire to call home. 

Many purchasers overlook the high ticket costs of dealing with floor to ceiling windows, until they have moved into the unit and reality sets in.  Today we are going to look at why we need window coverings and explore different ways to soften the bold contrast of architectural glazing (windows).

Access your Needs

Floor-to-ceiling  windows in condos  provide a fantastic light source, spectacular  views and access to the outdoors from our urban oasis.  Before buying it is important to assess your lifestyle against the realities of the unit. From there you can assess your decorating needs by looking at the direction your unit faces noting whether will you have morning light or afternoon light, indirect light or nosy neighbours?

If your unit faces east, it will be showered in beautiful morning sunlight. While this may be a blessing for the early bird, it might not be for those who prefer to sleep in or  those that do shift work. You will have to deal with the realities of trying to sleep in a sun-filled room.  Black out privacy blinds and/or drapery will be required.  Perhaps a west facing unit will provide you with better rest and allow you to enjoy the sun when you wake from your late slumber.

If you are nestled among a pocket of condo developments, you may not require sunshades, but perhaps privacy blinds.  A general rule of thumb: if you can see your neighbours, they can see you.  Privacy blinds help you control the privacy of your space while helping  to regulate heating & cooling in your space. They also protect your furniture, possessions and electronics from direct sun damage. If your purchase agreement does not include blinds, you will need to factor this expense in your overall budget.  You will also need to inquire about the rules and regulations about window coverings from the condo board in your building.  Most buildings regulate the colour of window treatments from the outside.  Usually they need to be white or off white from the exterior.  The interior is where you get to have some fun!

A place to call home

Once you have addressed your lifestyle and practical privacy needs, it’s time to look at how you can soften floor to ceiling glazing.  We encourage our clients to hang privacy blinds and then layer drapery or window treatments overtop.  Investing in blinds is a good idea and is great for resale value.  Drapery treatments, if done well and neutral in colour, can also add value to your condo.

If you don’t want blinds, consider drapery, sheers or side panels to soften glazing. This will add the comforting “hygge” we are all looking for in a living space.  Drapery also helps to insulate the windows from the harsh winter winds and the extreme summer heat.

Drapery valances are another way to help hide inconstencies in window heights and bulkheads, (a common problem in condo units).  They also help create a cozy atmosphere in your space, by visually closing in the space.  Designers and decorators alike have been reinventing valances, and the internet is a great place to look for inspiration.  We completed a project where we had a valance, laser cut in mirrored acrylic to create visual interest, balanced with layered sheer side panels behind.  The result is dramatic and jaw dropping!

In concrete condos which are notorious for sound reverberation, drapery panels provide needed attenuation.  You will instantly notice a difference once panels are installed.

Drapery styles are abundant and can be executed in both modern or  traditional and masculine or feminine styles.  For a modern or masculine clean look, try a simple S track system that is ceiling mounted and creates neat and tailored folds.  Crisp roman blinds may also give you the simplicity you desire.  Transitional or traditional interior styles are plentiful; pinch pleat casual headings on exposed rod and rings to french pinch pleats and beyond.

Consulting with a local decorator or designer can help ease the overwhelming number of decisions that you need to make regarding the appropriate window treatments.  A consultant will be able to help you find the right manufacturer, retailer, style and colour to help you create a cozy space to call home.


Tania Richardson is a partner with Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc.

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