THE BEST-DRESSED WINDOWS ARE SEEING THE LIGHT: POPULARITY OF SHEERS IS BLOOMING

Fashion runways are invading the home furnishings world. A popular look in clothing and now the hottest look in window treatments is the sheer. Hunter Douglas believes its time has come - again - as a liberating alternative to the layers and heaviness of those mannered window treatments of the 80’s with their elaborate valences, swags, jabots, fringes, tassels and so on. Loose, free and translucent sheers speak to the modern needs for both light and light control. And modern technology has created the fabrics, hardware and performance that has transformed them into an important decorative, yet functional, part of the home.

"Today we are especially aware of light and air," commented New York designer Katherine Stephens. "Sheers give you a semblance of privacy without shutting the world out. And they give a finish, a softness and an elegance that can work in any room." Stephens appreciates how synthetic fabrics have actually improved the beauty of the old sheers with their durability, and modern technology has improved their versatility.

Stephens has used Silhouette® window shadings in a number of client homes, including the Manhattan apartment of TV personalities Joy and Regis Philbin, who wanted to preserve the dramatic views from their high-rise apartment overlooking Central Park. Silhouette provides the light control of a blind, the operation of a shade and the soft, airy look of a sheer with its soft adjustable fabric vanes suspended between sheer front and back facings. It also offers total privacy when closed, unlike sheers.

"Hunter Douglas took two ideas that have been around since the 18th century - horizontal blinds and sheers - and put them together in a manner that has never been seen or done before," said Stephens. "With Silhouette, you not only have the view, but privacy, too."

San Francisco-based interior designer Gary Hutton agrees that Silhouette performs far better than the old-fashioned sheer. "Silhouette is very stable, and that’s important when you’re covering a very large, tall window. Typical sheers react to humidity, so your hems can shift as much as four or five inches as the fabric shrinks or stretches. They either pile up on the floor or look like high-water pants. Silhouette doesn’t do that." Beyond good looks, Silhouette brings a softness and a sense of the ethereal - "there, but in another sense, not there at all." Hutton used the product in a client’s home that showcased a collection of early American furniture - simple and Shaker-like. "But we treated it as a contemporary space and used Silhouette shadings at the window for a clean look that did not interfere with the lines of the furniture and also provided light."

Luminette® privacy sheers also provide a modern solution for the classic sheer look. This next-generation window treatment offers the look of traditional soft fabric sheers without compromising light control and privacy. A sheer face fabric beautifully filters light; neutral white fabric vanes attached to the sheer rear face fabric rotate for varying degrees of light control and, when closed, complete privacy.

Stephens loves the modern approach that Luminette takes to two classic looks: the vertical blind of the 60’s coupled with the 18th century sheer look for the 90’s. Hutton likes Luminette for traditional rooms where its elegant vertical lines when closed and graceful folds open can best enhance the decor. Both agree that Luminette, with its vertical vanes, and Silhouette, with its horizontal ones, are quite compatible, even in the same room.

To these designers, less is more - and simple elegance stands alone. Hunter Douglas provides the solution: privacy, light and the look that people want today.