The freshest look in window coverings? Going natural. The basic elements for these organic solutions can include grass, reeds, wood or bamboo, which are woven together to create texture and warmth. “Most of these materials come from the tropics, which makes them ideal for the climate in a Florida coastal home,” says Cindy Gayer of Window Wear Designs in Naples, FL. “We see more customers requesting them all the time.” But these easygoing shades are no passing trend—they’re functional, attractive, and it looks like they are here to stay.
“Most natural window coverings are Roman shades, though rollershades, panelscreens draperies and top treatments are also becoming more popular,” Gayer says. She continues, “and shades can even be motorized for use on larger windows. Unlined natural shades allow for more light to shine through—appropriate for a dining or living area, while liners can be used in bedrooms, baths, or other rooms requiring more privacy.”
Castec’s DuoShade combines a Roman shade with a roll shade in privacy fabric for use individually or together, essentially allowing for the best of both worlds.
One of the great advantages to natural window treatments are that they are low maintenance, and as such, well suited to the busy modern lifestyle.
“These materials hold up beautifully over time—I’ve personally had them in my master bedroom for eight years and they’re in perfect condition,” Gayer says. “We also find that the natural shades mix easily and elegantly with fabrics–anything from cotton ducks to raw silks. Sometimes we also make cornices from natural products as well.”
One of the benefits of using natural shades in a coastal setting is that they complement the landscape and interior furnishings without compromising the quality of ocean views, allowing the vista to be the dominant focal point instead of the shade. By definition, these woven products are sheer, designed to let light flood the room and bring an earthy sensibility inside. Yet at the same time, the variegated colors in the fibers and the inherent patterns of wood grain within the raw materials add another dimension of texture that can be a subtle enhancement to the room.
The neutral tones of most natural window treatments—brown, gold, taupe, ivory—offer a warm counterpoint to a room without competing with the dominant color scheme. They can also pick up other wood or wicker accents in the room.
Though natural shades are often associated with “Tommy Bahama,” the truth is that looks can range from the rustic, tropical or bohemian to the more chic and sophisticated, as in a palladium window in a master bathroom. The overall effect is clean and minimal, blending into a tone-on-tone look with the wallcovering to go easy on the eye.
The versatility of natural window coverings means that they have a broad appeal for decorators and architects looking to add more personality to a room, whether traditional or contemporary. Some high-end manufacturers like Hartmann and Forbes work with local artisans to recreate traditional patterns and designs in their product. Even better: Plant fibers such as ramie, arrowroot and abaca are sustainable and renewable. While Gayer says most customers aren’t necessarily choosing natural windows for their green pedigree per se, it’s a nice bonus.
Written by Elisa Ludwig