A mix of aesthetics and practicality with window treatments

Eileen Reckinger, who has worked at Chesterfield Designs in Palos Heights for 36 years and has owned the interior design business since 1990, focuses on creating interiors that clients love to have around them at home.

“Everyone is working so hard to make a living, we want them to get home and say ‘I’m home and this is where I want to be,’” Reckinger said.

Interior design is also about making that feeling last.

One customer recently contacted Reckinger to redesign after 30 years. While that isn’t ideal for profits, it is rewarding knowing customers are satisfied and keep coming back.

Keep it lean and clean

When it comes to window treatments, design elements should be timeless.

“We generally advise for clients to purchase something they like,” Reckinger said. “If it is fashion forward, and hip, they need to consider whether or not it is going to be dated.”

Not too long ago, people were opting for big valances and swags over windows. That’s not the preferred look anymore.

“The trend now is for a leaner, cleaner look,” she said.

Traditional roller shades are preferred to pleated. They can darken rooms, but still allow light.

“They’re easy to operate and easy to take care of,” Reckinger said. “They can be room finishing all by themselves or they can have a valance — keep it simple.”

The window treatment business and interior design doesn’t change as much as people think it does, Reckinger said. “It’s too expensive to change all the time.”

Changes that do happen are often for convenience — to serve new spatial uses, and to some extent for trends.

The popularity of urban living environments, such as factory spaces being converted into apartments, created the need for different types of window treatments.

High-tech treatment

To accommodate that sort of environment, Hunter Douglas has skyline panels and luminette privacy sheers.

For hard window treatments, Chesterfield Designs works exclusively with Hunter Douglas.

Every year Hunter Douglas upgrades window treatments, whether easing operation or advancing child safety.

Some are power operated, allowing the user to adjust light with just the click of a remote or even smartphone.

“Technology is always improving,” Reckinger said. “A lot of people do that now. Sometimes it’s hard to reach, or maybe you’re traveling and you want to open or close your window treatments.”

She praised Hunter Douglas’ quality and care.

Reckinger is also fond of “smart undertreatments,” like pleated shades or woven woods.

“Thirty years from now, woven woods and panels are going to hold up,”Reckinger said. “That’s my favorite combination.”

Also beloved and popular is the use of stationary panels to frame windows.

Panels join an array of soft window treatments, or fabrics, which allow for more personalization and trends.

Ten years ago, shoppers were leaning toward good silks and embroideries.

Practical to a point

Recently, though, silk has gotten very expensive and the luxury market in fabric has scaled back.

“Now, linen is a popular look,” she said. “People are buying things that are a little more practical.”

Sheer-weight materials are also quite popular.

“As a designer, I like things that make sense and are not heavy maintenance,” she said.

Things that need to be taken out for cleaning, such as silks or items with linings, mean added expenses.

Creating reasonable, timeless environments is a priority for most good designers.

Color trends do change, allowing for a little more variety. Right now, for example, yellows, teals, dark blues and spring shades like cherry pink are all popping up. Florals are even making a comeback.

Reckinger warned against buying a yellow, teal, and cherry pink floral sofa, however. She said most people follow their instincts and find what makes a good fit.

“The biggest factor is always aesthetics,” Reckinger said. “Clients could be interested in ‘green’ materials or certain fabrics, and they could say that, but then they see something they love. The look still drives everything in interior design. That’s what makes it fun.”

More information about Chesterfield Designs, 12614 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Heights, is at www.chesterfielddesigns.com or at (708) 448-7373.