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Bathroom Curtains: Not Just for Windows

Photo provided by Brenda Hite Baxter

Diana Apgar with Decorating Den Interiors believes every room needs window treatments, but they play an especially important role in bathrooms. There is a real need for privacy in these spaces. In addition, bathrooms (especially those done in a modern style) can feel cold because of the tile, metal and porcelain. “Those elements are pretty, but if a bathroom has a window, you should dress it up,” Apgar says. “There’s so many styles you can do that it doesn’t have to look froufrou.”

Designers and workrooms involved in bathroom projects should also consider recommending custom shower curtains to clients. These soft treatments—which don’t have to be more involved than creating a pair of lined drapery panels—are an added profit center and can bring a real sense of style and function to the space. Three designers share their thoughts on both window coverings and shower curtains for modern lavatories.   

Brenda Hite Baxter, owner/principal, Custom Drapery Designs, Dallas

Styles for Bathrooms

“Texas bathrooms are generally large or well ventilated, so moisture is generally not a big concern,” says Brenda Hite Baxter with Custom Drapery Designs. “We focus on convenience, color depth and volume, coordinating yet softening the hard surfaces. Our designs will often feature layers, including motorized roller shades from BTX with stationary decorative valance or Hunter Douglas motorized shades.”

Other designs that Baxter loves are cafe curtains paired with a box-pleat valance or full, relaxed roman shades with full-body layers and embellishments. “I imagine the view I would like to see looking up from the bath: full of volume and interest, captivating the imagination,” she says.

Shower Curtains: Right Product, Right Place

“The purchase of a shower curtain is very specific and requires the proper space for optimal application,” says Baxter. “Some showers are positioned right beside the toilet. I do not feel this is the proper application. If the space has the proper scale, then I would recommend the shower drape or curtain as a beautiful centerpiece. A shower drape can help with the acoustics and allow wonderful personalization.”

When a client says yes to a shower curtain, Baxter likes to go all out. “We love to embellish and create a grand statement, either with pops of color and texture or by adding accents with French welt, decorative bands and/or braids.”

Shower Curtain Hardware

Baxter favors grommets on both the shower curtain and liner and typically mounts them together with rings. “Our favorite hardware would be the Gaby’s Shoppe inside mount for the cafe. Their hardware has such a great bracket finish with artistic character. For other applications, a standard option would be a stainless steel or bronze straight or curved rod, or double rod.”    

Baxter enjoys the creativity of crafting a pattern within a pattern. In the photo at left, she used a white textured fabric to create a diamond design with a slight tuft in the center. The cornice is finished with a nailhead trim.

Tracie Bresnahan, Owner, Custom Creations, Cartersville, GA

Functional, Convenient Treatments

In a bathroom, it’s vital to think about what goals the treatment must achieve. “Is it for privacy, sun control and/or aesthetics? Should it be off the floor for cleaning products?” says Tracie Bresnahan with Custom Creations.

She also makes recommendations based on convenience for a client. “We’ll sometimes specify solar shades with motorization, especially over tubs, where it is difficult to open and close the shades every day.”

Shower Curtains: Put It in Perspective  

“After clients have custom window treatments, they do want a custom shower panel. However, they are usually shocked by the cost,” says Bresnahan. “I try to explain that it is really like a pair of custom panels and hardware for a double window. That usually helps put it into perspective.”

For the budget-conscious client, she’s come up with a few good solutions for hardware. “Sometimes we value engineer with a 13/8-inch wood rod, rings and brackets, and you get a lot of beauty for the price. Sometimes we do metal, which works well in a bathroom.”

This beautiful bathroom shade was motorized for convenience with a headrail made by Somfy and acquired from United Supply Co. Design by Julie Terrell Design. Fabric from Kravet. Photo by Jean Allsopp.

Diana Apgar, Owner/Principal Designer, Decorating Den Interiors, Middletown, OH

This photo and top photo by Scott Johnson

Performance Fabrics Really Perform

Because of the moisture in bathrooms, not every fabric will work for window treatments. Apgar often turns to performance fabrics, especially those from Valdese Weavers’ InsideOut brand. “They’re water resistant, mildew resistant, sun-fading resistant and easy to wash. They have a great range of colors and styles and patterns.”

The Right Type of Motorization

Motorized shades and screens are a plus in bathrooms, especially when they’re in hard-to-reach places. Because you don’t want clients to be crawling on top of a bathtub or sink on a regular basis (especially if the client is older and prone to falls), Apgar recommends hardwired motors over battery-operated ones. “I put window treatments over a tub once, and my client had to change the batteries at least once a year, and it became a major problem for her to reach the headrail of the shade. She ultimately had to pay my installer to come back and change them every year.”

Shower Curtains Provide Flexibility in Design, Function

One of the nice things about a custom shower curtain is that it provides clients with more options for meeting their goals, says Apgar. “You can go all the way to the ceiling if you want. A lot of new homes have these tall ceilings. You can’t get a ready-made shower curtain that’s going to look right. You can do a tieback. You can do one that traverses back and forth. You can do a top treatment and panel.”

To convince clients that custom shower curtains are a good idea, Apgar will often point out that coordinating the soft treatments with the wallpaper is becoming popular again. An off-the-rack shower curtain is never going to match, so a custom one becomes the best option.

Photo by Scott Johnson

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