Although Charla Traugott has worked as an interior designer for 16 years, she’s only dealt with window fashions since she started her Decorating Den Interiors franchise, C&J Interiors in Montgomery County, Texas, four years ago. “At first window coverings were very intimidating to me,” she confesses. “I’d always do straight panels and nothing else.”
It’s hard to believe that Traugott once shuttered at the thought of sourcing draperies. Her clever design for window fashions in a child’s playroom won first place in this year’s Decorating Den Interiors Dream Room Showcase. The windows in the room (pictured below) are set in a recessed space. She fabricated lambrequins and set them 20 inches from the wall to create two “hidden” play spaces for the little girl and her friends. They’re commonly used for dressing rooms and a puppet theater.
Traugott decorated the room for a long-time client who loves children but was only able to have one and
is determined to give her little girl everything she’s ever wanted. Of her decorating style, Traugott says, “She’s over-the-top dramatic. The way she likes to think is Moulin Rouge.”
The playroom—probably the sixth room Traugott has done for the client—was hard because the windows are so short and the room contained no furniture—just children’s play toys. “To make it feel like a pulled-together room, I didn’t want to just put some simple panels on the wall,” she says. “Plus she wouldn’t have accepted that. She always wants you to go a step further.”
It took Traugott about two weeks of pondering and brainstorming to come up with the idea of making the window wells work for a play space. After that, the rest of the room’s design fell into place quickly. She picked paint colors and had Decorating Den’s craftspeople make custom frames for the canvas art pieces that were in the room.
The client was thrilled with the results, which Traugott says is the best part of any job (and of being an interior designer in general). “I love making people happy. I love how excited they get that we pulled stuff together when they couldn’t envision how a room should look themselves.”
She offers some helpful tips for other interior designers:
How to Deal With Difficult Clients During Installation
“I like it when we the clients leave and we don’t have to go through the details of the decorating and putting the installation together. The hanging of drapery and tweaks you have to make are so stressful, so I prefer it when they’re not part of it. I’ve learned over the years to be a little more forceful if I need to, especially if they’re a stalker and they’re antsy and I can feel their negative energy coming toward me and my team. I’ve learned to get firm and say, ‘This situation is uncomfortable and I’d rather you weren’t here.’ It’s a smooth way of getting them to take a step back and know they trusted us with their whole room and they need to let us pull it all together.”
Window Fashion Trends in General
“On these bigger homes where we have the double and triple stories, we do just the side panels with the short rods. That’s very popular. I see a lot of the designers doing the sheer pleated draperies. I haven’t been lucky enough to have a client who wants that. But I see it as a trend and I think it’s beautiful.”
Window Fashion Trends in Her Home State of Texas
“Texas was drippy castle for a long time and now the look is a little more simplified. People are going toward the sheers and simple panels. No more of the overtreatments and the drippy castle look. We’ve moved away from that. That’s a good thing.”
Advice for New Designers
“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and have fun. Also, be prepared for mistakes because that’s how we learn. I have a warehouse full of draperies where I missed a few inches, or I didn’t realize polyester draperies don’t lay the same way as a blend. There’s going to be lots of mistakes that happen, but you’ll never make that mistake again.”