Contemporary window treatments are a bit of a mystery to most of us. "What's the difference between contemporary and modern?" we ask. No answer. No one seems to know.

As far as definitions are concerned, the words are associated with history. 'Contemporary' is 'immediately relevant to the present day', so is open to interpretation. 'Modern' is anything after the Middle Ages.

For home furnishing purposes, the two words appear to be interchangeable. Contemporary is what's 'in' at the moment, as opposed to traditional, or historical styles. In many situations 'modern' applies more to the architectural style, or the overall style of the interior.

Keep it simple

This is the key. If you look at illustrations of contemporary furnishings you'll see they tend to be simple, even minimalist. It's the complete opposite of the Victorian style, which had lots of trims, tassels, and other fussy bits and pieces.

Another way to think of it is from a shape point of view. Everything is straight, and in it's place. There's no loose ends, nothing is superfluous. Curtains and drapes don't cascade or drape in flowing folds, rather everything is neat and tidy.


contemporary bedroom

This bedroom window relies on the seat and pillows to add color. The curtains are plain and simple to blend in with the walls.



Colors are different, too.

Bright and airy tones are ignored, as are traditional sophisticated ones. Muted colors are chosen, but not dull. In fact, contemporary window treatments can be quite adventurous and challenge our traditional conceptions.


yellow and black style

A typical contemporary scheme with the curtain panels taking the dominant color into the window area. Notice only the browns are included in the curtain fabric.



The simplicity we mentioned earlier applies to pattern, as well.

Traditional flower patterns would have a dozen or more colors making up the print. Contemporary ones make do with three or four. The patterns are more stylistic and bold.

Your options for contemporary window treatments


If you want to play safe, when using curtains use simple tracks or poles. A well tried heading is the gromet or eyelet heading, where the curtains have eyelets inserted at regular intervals through which the pole passes.

Tabbed headings are another favorite, but be careful as it isn't a very practical choice. The tabs don't tend to run easily on the pole, and this method is therefore more suited to static or dress curtains which don't move.

Roller shades

Roller shades can be a good choice.

Their simple lines and straightforward looks can be just enough to enhance your window and not detract from your contemporary style. Just make sure the color (and pattern, if it's not plain) are contemporary and in keeping with the rest of the room.

Roman shades

These are probably the most used. They have the simplicity of a roller shade, but add a touch of softness. Although you can fit your shades inside or outside the window recess, roman shades in particular look good when fitted outside.


contemporary furnishings

The roman shade in this illustration shows how a contrasting color with the walls is used for the window treatment.


Horizontal shades

Horizontal, or venetian shades can also be used for your contemporary window treatments. Interestingly enough, many designs use them outside the window recess, to very good effect. The horizontal pattern surrounding the window on all sides is certainly one to think about.



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