A frequent dilemma I come across when designing rooms is how to dress windows over radiators. And, if I am involved in the design early enough, should the radiator go under the window at all?
Why is this a dilemma?
You can’t put full length curtains on windows over radiators, unless you don’t plan to close them when the heating is on. So you have to have a short window treatment. Short curtains are a no-no in my book, so we’re talking about blinds or shutters. These could look and feel a bit bare, depending on the look you’re after and the rest of the room.
Many new builds and extensions have underfloor heating, which eliminates the problem all together. But if you have to have radiators, there are two schools of thought when it comes to how to position them.
Theory 1: Under the window is the right place, because the colder air from the window pulls the warm air from the radiator up. Therefore, the warm air circulates around the room, maintaining a fairly even temperature throughout.
Theory 2: Site them away from the window, as lots of heat will be wasted both through the window and the external wall on which they are hung.
There is no definitive answer. So, if you can, I would site them away from the window and eliminate the window treatment issue.
Solutions for windows over radiators
If you are stuck with a window over a radiator, you will need to choose between blinds and shutters.
Shutters are contemporary, clean lined, and made to fit your window perfectly. On the other hand, they can feel cold, provide no acoustic cushioning and block out a lot of light, even when they are open.
Roller blinds are very utilitarian, so I would only suggest them as a main window treatment in a kitchen or bathroom, and even then with caution.
Roman blinds, in my view, are the perfect solution. These are fabric blinds that fold up when they are raised. If they are the main window treatment, in a modern house, I would position them outside the recess, as in the image above. For a period house, they should sit on the frames or be slightly recessed. They can look great on the windows, even if you have full length curtains elsewhere in the room, e.g. on external doors, but if you think it looks odd, don’t worry, you have options…
Layer up the window treatments
If it suits your style, a great solution would be to recess a Roman blind and hang some dress curtains (curtains that do not close) either side of the blind. This works particularly well in rooms with other windows or external doors. Then everything can have floor length curtains, all windows can have inset Roman blinds, and the Roman blind is the functional window treatment for the window above the radiator. This would also work with shutters if you prefer the look, although you’ll get better acoustics and insulation from the Roman blind. Everything looks consistent and classy, and you don’t have to choose between privacy and heat.
How to treat the radiator
To help your radiator blend in, I would either fit a radiator cover, as in the image above, or, for the more aesthetically pleasing radiators, paint it to match the wall.
Hope this helps you deal with your windows over radiators, let me know if you have any decorating dilemmas you’d like me to help answer.