The wispier the fabric, the more casually it hangs.

Tips on Using Window Scarves

by Lorna Hordos

Window scarves offer an effortless, casual look, depending on how well you hang them. You can use them alone or with other draperies, but as for the latter, the results can turn stomachs rather than heads, if you are not selective about patterns. For a design that shows off your window-styling talents, consider the fabric’s weight, color, design and length, and the window behind.

1. Fabric Weight

You can loop or drape two or more scarves over a rod or from posts or cornices for a relaxed layered look using window scarves. Another option is to create an informal bunched effect by folding a scarf back and forth or accordion style, and then tie it to a rod with ribbons or strips of fabric every two feet or so. But casual drapes, bunches, swoops or swags are only achievable with the right fabric. Lightweight or mid-weight fabrics, such as linen, chenille, silk or any material that resembles sheers are ideal for such applications. They hang loosely and freely when draped across a rod or swooped between poles, posts, sconces, cornices or finials, while heavier fabrics, such as dense velvet, polyester, tweed or denim do not.

2. Window View and Light

Consider the window’s view and the amount of natural light that you want to allow in when hanging a window scarf. If the swooped fabric consumes much of the glass area, it will compromise view and light. Hang the rod or any scarf-draping posts or hardware higher to bring the swags up to the wall area above the window, let in more light and expose the view. But if you are hanging a scarf over blinds, do not hang them so high that the unattractive blind header is blatantly visible. Work the swags or pull them into place to hide a header or any other unsightly hardware no matter how high or low they hang.

3. Patterns

When hanging a window scarf with other draperies, the colors and any patterns should not clash or seem incompatible. As for compatibility or visual harmony, a small red-on-white floral print works with a large, white-on-red floral print because of the obvious similarities, as do pastel stripes with pastel polka dots due to the interesting differences tied together by color. But beyond pattern harmony, consider pattern direction. A window scarf runs up one side of the window, along the top and down the other side. Non-directional patterns, such as polka dots and floral prints appear visually the same no matter which way they point, as compared to stripes, which will show an obvious and distracting change of pattern direction.

4. Length

Window scarves need not follow any strict design rules but one: If you have small children in the home, keep the fabric out of their reach; curious hands can easily pull a casually draped scarf out of place, and loose material can be a suffocation hazard. Although you can hang a window scarf from the floor up or simply as a swag-like topper across a rod, find a happy-medium length that looks attractive that a toddler or infant cannot reach. To bring up the material at the sides, pull the upper draped fabric to create fuller, deeper swags or swoops, form an additional swag or two across the rod or use a shorter scarf. To keep the fabric more secure, consider creating decorative knots, such as rosettes at the finials.

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