Read an Excerpt
Windows are the eyes of a house, and perhaps it is true that in them can be discerned its character and very soul. A grandly arched Palladian window, a small colonial saltbox window, a crystalline sweep of glass. The shape and proportion of each reflect the style of the house they adorn. From the inside, windows are vitally tied to the architecture, too.
High ceilings, for example, are an open invitation to create rich swags, fancy pelmets, or a lush cascade of richly striped fabric, as French designer Denis Colomb did in the room pictured on the opposite page. But done-up windows can suffocate a room that has small dimensions or low ceilings. "Sometimes the best thing to do with a window is nothing at all," suggested legendary designer Billy Baldwin, underscoring the appeal of the undressed window. Elsie de Wolfe, America's first decorator, had a different set of requirements: curtains for privacy at night, and, by day, uncluttered panels filled with sunshine and appealing views. The art of window decoration certainly has its practical side in controlling light and affording privacy, but a beautiful window, de Wolfe was fond of saying, should be "such a gay, animate thing." Excerpted from House Beautiful Windows. Copyright 1997 The Hearst Corporation.