Interior Designer Carrie Hayden's Custom Window Dressing Creations

The Great Jones Home owner shares how she created this custom window statement
Carrie Hayden designed these luxe draperies for a Capitol Hill home with a couture ball gown in mind. The key was choosing a fabric with volume that meshed with the room’s existing surfaces—from dark gray ceiling and decorative-painted, patterned flooring to the graceful Gracie wallpaper. The drape’s antique golden rod has bird finials that mirror the wallpaper’s bird life.

What's the story behind this recent Capitol Hill project?
The client wanted us to put together a living room plan, as well as to finish off her dining room...[for which] she needed some window treatments. She wanted to bring out the beautiful value of the Gracie hand-painted wallpaper (graciestudio.com) that she had on one wall…something that would support its texture and colors, something that was really beautiful in evening light and something that had a couture feel to it. She had a great big window and we did a beautiful ball gown treatment for it.

How did you accomplish the look?
We went with this Barbara Barry fabric that had such great body. I mean, on its own, it stands so beautiful and proud. It kind of stands itself away from the window. It has that kind of couture ball gown feel with a beautiful gold metallic woven-silk threading in it. At night it has a really beautiful luster that complements the gold tones in the wallpaper. The panels are extra full, blackout-lined with a beautiful antique gold rod with bird finials that ties in with the Gracie paper.

What can first-time clients expect?
Finding the fabric first is the starting point. Then we call out our window treatment consultant, and they measure and guide the client, with our assistance, on the mechanics of how it’s going to get made: Is it a Roman? An inside or an outside mount? They make it in their workroom and handle the install. We use Mari Swanson from Bartlett Blinds (206.329.1419; bartlettblinds.com) in Madison Park. We love her because she has such great taste.

A common first-timer mistake?

Starting on a window treatment before having a concept of what the rest of the room is going to look like. If you are only missing the window treatment, that’s a great scenario for a custom shade, because you know exactly what the room needs.

The popularity of modern design—plus rich views but limited light—often leads to naked windows in Seattle. Are you a fan?
I find that views get lost when the windows are naked. I always have to sell people on the fact that if you dress a window, your eye is actually driven to the view because it has an outline around it. It’s a very different feeling than having an undressed window. However, you have to be aware of the weather and the environment outside. If you don’t use blackout fabrics, and you have a lot of sun coming into your house, your fabrics fade in the sun. So we do a lot of blackouts. For people on the water, it’s also a good idea to have a protective film on your windows. Window treatments are an investment and you want to protect them. These things are handmade; they are not indestructible. 

Your favorite window dressing?
We do an abundance of Roman shades. I don’t know if it’s the Seattle architecture that doesn’t call out for drapes as often as Romans. We’ve really been having fun doing custom Roman design, whether we’re applying a tape trim in a unique pattern, mitering the corners and doing a really cool design or adding a valance. There are also these beautiful wide embroidered tape trims that go down the lead [a shade’s edges] from Mary McDonald (marymcdonaldinc.com) and now at Samuel & Sons (samuelandsons.com). People love these because it gets them a pattern without having it on the whole window treatment. …That’s probably ninety-eight percent of what we do; and it gives you great flexibility in the design of the room.

How much can this custom style cost?
Depending on your window size, and all of the technical aspects of the design, just the labor for Roman shades can start anywhere from $600 up to $900 per shade. Then it’s usually 2 to 3 yards of fabric, and if that’s averaging $90 per yard, you can easily spend upwards of a $1,000 per shade. So that’s why I tell people, you want to be smart about it and have a plan. But it’s so worth it to have a handmade item in your house that was perfectly sized for your window, that’s a perfect color, a unique design and something you can look at every day and be excited about.

A good store-bought option?
I think shutters in some kind of wood material, not plastic stuff, are great. And, whether it’s a Restoration Hardware or a Smith and Noble, you’re seeing more and more great designs out there.

Carrie Hayden has dressed up hundreds of Seattle’s windows. As well as an interior designer, she is the owner of Great Jones Home (greatjoneshome.com).