Window Treatments 101 with Ashley Colombo Interiors

It's time to upgrade those work from home views. We believe a room is never complete until the windows are dressed, and let’s face it, we’ve all been staring out of our windows a lot lately. 

Window coverings are not only practical, but they are a great way to refresh a room without making any structural changes or splurging on new furniture. From roman shades to drapery, there are a handful of ways to spice up your windows. We spoke with Ashley Colombo to get the inside scoop on how to incorporate window treatments into your design and why you shouldn’t treat them as an afterthought. 

First off, tell us a little bit about Ashley Colombo Interiors!

Ashley Colombo Interiors is a full service interior design firm based in Winnetka, Illinois, just north of Chicago. I am known for my love of bold patterns and pops of color. My approach is to make a house look effortlessly beautiful by using simple interior design solutions. A room isn’t finished until it’s fully styled with gorgeous pillows, decorative accents, and of course - window treatments!

Why is it important to incorporate window treatments into your designs?

I LOVE window treatments! No room is complete without them. They add dimension and can really tie a room together. Not to mention there are so many options, and they don’t have to break the bank. I love using bold fabrics with coordinated throw pillows. Or for a chic, simple look - accent solid drapes with a beautiful wide ribbon trim. Window treatments add character and sophistication, with a little whimsy, to any room. I don’t let my clients have naked windows - forbidden! There’s always room in the design budget for window treatments.

There are a variety of window treatments to choose from - drapes, roman shades, valences, the list goes on! How do you choose the correct style for each room?

There are so many window treatment options and it really depends on the size of the room and the size of the windows. For large windows, I recommend drapes. They make the space feel more cozy and intimate, add height to the room, and create a stylish frame for any view. In bathrooms I recommend roman shades. They don’t block out natural light, and add necessary privacy. Valances are perfect for bedrooms. They hide the mechanics of roller shades or blinds. I’m working on a little girl’s room for a client. We’re doing a relaxed roman shade with hot pink trim. The roller shade is monogrammed with the girl’s initials for a little extra flair. Get creative! There are no rules for window treatments...except that every window needs one.  

What advice do you have for choosing a pattern? 

My rule for choosing a pattern is that there are no rules! I love bold prints and don’t be afraid to do pattern on pattern or matching wall color with window treatments. My dining room at home is painted in Benjamin Moore Bold Blue. I picked a bold print fabric with the same navy blue background for a rich color-on-color look. Or try pleating geometric patterns for a really cool visual effect. Dining rooms and bedrooms are great places to get creative with window treatments.  

Finding the perfect pattern is half the battle. What tips do you have for hanging curtains - length, height, etc?

My seamstress is a master at hanging window treatments. Height depends on how you use the space - if they need to clear the floor where you get a lot of foot traffic, or brush the floor in the dining room, which gets less day-to-day use. General rule-of-thumb is that ½ inch off the ground will keep them from getting dirty!

*Check out our Curtain Measurement Guide to help choose the correct style and length for your space.*

We’re all about mixing and matching color and patterns here at Pepper. What are some creative ways to give your window treatments that extra oomph?

It’s all about trim! I go to Samuel and Sons weekly and could spend hours there. Especially if you’re using a solid fabric, add trim or tape to add some sophisticated style. I’m also obsessed with monograms. I use them everywhere, including on roman shades! And my last tip is hardware. Have fun with the rod and finials! I’ve used this gold and acrylic hardware from Ballard Designs on multiple projects, including my own home. And you can never go wrong with a classic black rod and round finials. Every room needs a touch of black!

What rooms would you suggest leaving the windows bare? Why?

Rooms with wall-to-wall windows, especially those with a more contemporary style, don’t usually need window treatments. Bay windows in a living room or family room can also hold their own. When the style and architecture of the space make their own statement, window treatments may actually be too much.

Get to know the designer

Top design influences: My mother - the most talented interior decorator I know. Kate Spade - I interned for her in college and she’ll always be my number one style icon. My fellow designers - Kate Smith Interiors, Prudence Home & Design, Bees Knees Interior Design, Cameron Ruppert Interiors, Ash Street Interiors and so many others. I’m honored to be part of such a talented community. 

Describe your style: Traditional with a Twist

Where do you get your inspiration? Browsing through showrooms at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Schumacher, Brunschwig & Fils, Quadrille, Thibaut, and Samuel & Sons are a few of my favorites. I also love following fabric designers like Madcap Cottage, Vern Yip and Dana Gibson. Inspiration can come from unexpected places too. Try stopping by your local resale shop. A little paint can go a long way!

Wallpaper or paint? Wallpaper. I’m addicted to wallpaper and not ready to quit!  

Favorite project you've worked on: My current project! A 26-room house built in 1942. The client is renovating and restoring this gorgeous historic home, and giving me a lot of flexibility. Making it a mix of traditional so staying true to the style of the home, and colorful by painting ceilings pale blue and mixing lots of chic animal prints, chinoiserie wallpaper and some bold patterned fabrics on upholstery and windows. It’s my dream job!