As an interior decorator, I have quite a few tricks up my sleeve. Often my clients are stumped by architectural issues that detract, rather than enhance, the beauty of their space. Here in Nashville, there are many ranch-style neighborhoods that were developed in the 1960s and 1970s that feature small, high windows.
small window problem
Windows like this can present a challenge when decorating, and any furniture placed below it can feel disjointed like you can see in the image above. A recent client wanted to dress her small, high windows. She didn’t know if she should hang cafe curtains or even panels that were the same length as the windows. I felt that either would further emphasize the lack of stature of the undersized windows. Any ideas how you might solve this design dilemma? Here is my solution:
We mounted a mirror length-wise between the dresser and the window, then hung full-size window panels from above the window all the way to the floor. The mirror not only extends the existing window, but also reflects the light, making the space feel brighter and larger.Placing the lamp in the middle of the dresser camouflages the mirror further, helping integrate it with the window above.
Could this trick help extend the windows in your own home, or do you have similar design tricks up your sleeve?
That trick always works! Thank you so much for sharing and explaining.
But, what about when one has wide, squat windows (72″w x 24″h) high on the wall? I have a 1960’s ranch and am often torn as to how to treat the windows in the bedrooms. Flanking panels to either side only emphasizes the width and leaves an awkward space under the window (often the room is too small to allow a piece of furniture to park there). Also, most of the time, the bed must be in front of a window (like the one I mentioned ). I prefer drapes hung high and to the floor, but in a small room with those sorts of windows, they do take up valuable inches. However, hanging interior-mounted shades only is too minimalist for my traditional tastes. I struggle with this constantly. Perhaps a follow-up to this post with the situation I’ve presented? I can’t be the only one with such strange windows, but I would certainly appreciate it. Thank you, again!
I have this exact same problem in two of the bedrooms and your right the rooms are small. Looking forward to a response. Thank you.
I realize your post was a while back and hope you solved your problem. You can do the same thing as above and put art work under the windows. If you are putting a bed in front of the windows use a tall head board that ends right below the windows. I would then put up 2 spring rods at the top and bottom of window frame with sheer curtains shirred on. 🙂
Wow Kristie, I love the results! Thanks for sharing this trick, I learn a lot from reading your blog!
If you would mount the curtains high to the ceiling and put woven blinds above the window to fill the blank space, it would would give you even more of an illusion of a larger window.
Of course, great point Sharon!
Absolutely amazing! Could you please suggest a similar way to treat the tiny, ceiling level basement windows?
The same concept should work just as well with tiny, high windows in a basement. It definitely works best if you can put a piece of furniture beneath the window.
I knew the drapes trick, but wouldn’t have thought of the mirror!
Your ideas are simply amazing! I love that look!
One of my fave tricks! Also works if you have a small, off centered window behind an enormous king bed (like we do!)…amazing how window treatments can change the look of a room 🙂
The mirror is a great added touch! I love to think outside the box using mirrors- they are such a great accessory!
Kristie!! Wow! Thats what I call a trouble-shooting tip! Simple yet very effective. I love the BEFORE & AFTER Transformation here.
One question: Do you think the pattern and color of the curtains might effect the visual effect aswell? Heavy textured curtains will have a different effect as compared to the plain ones. Maybe?
Love it to bits
Since you asked….I have trick I’ve used often, with great results…after helping my daughter (years ago) on a school report on optical illusions: On either side of a window situation over a kitchen sink,
have a glass company come and apply a 1/4″ mirrored surface to the sides of the cabinets facing the window. This gives an illusion of a bay window..(watch what he reflection will be tho, be sure it’s not your garbage can area, for example!) Used it once for a window seat with no side windows. Gave a view of a lake all the way into my friend’s kitchen! Also in a bedroom with only one window way over in a corner. I placed the mirror, same dimensions as the window, on the adjacent wall. From the door it looked as though there were 2 windows and a hallway going into the next room! And…..at 90 degrees to a clerestory window to bounce more light onto the ceiling! BTW the cost of the kitchen cabinet installation was, at the time, $17. each side.
Awesome ideas and examples, Paula! I love how mirrors can really expand the sense of space and light – thanks for sharing 🙂
Would you also be able to hang a mirror above a window and then cover with your draperies to give the illusion of a larger, taller window. My windows are narrow about 30″ wide but I would like to hang drapes almost at the ceiling. My dining room is the darkest room in the house because of many very old large trees and I would hope this would be a solution. Your advice please Kristie.
Letters from the Shore
Yes, I believe you could – but it works better below because you can put something slightly in front of the mirror. You could still hang those curtains high above (and out to the sides of) the window, without even putting a mirror above it. I do that all the time, and it makes the window appear larger, regardless!
I absolutely LOVE your blog and this article speaks to several problem windows of mine. This is EXACTLY the solution I’ve been looking for!!
Several questions though:
1. The owners of the house before us put semi-elaborate crown molding all around their windows, even their small insignificant ones. If I attempt your strategy with the mirror below the window, the molding gets in the way on the bottom of the window; there’d be 5 inches of white molding between the window and the mirror. Would you remove the molding around the bottom of the mirror or replace the entire window frame? Or is there something else I haven’t thought of???
2. The mirror that you put below the window; would it be a a plain no-framed mirror, installed by a mirror company? It would seem like a frame would ruin the illusion.
3. Does it have to be a chest of drawers below the mirror or could it be a shallow console table that could hold a lamp et.? One of the windows is in a small room, and I don’t have much space to work with.
Thanks so much!! You’re an inspiration!!!!
Regarding the above post, the small window is also deep-set with at least 12 inches between window surface and wall surface; it has a very deep sill. Do you think the mirror treatment could still work with your method?
That is such a great idea! Unfortunately my small, centered window in an old ranch, needs something. More of an above the window issue. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Solve that small window issue by hanging curtains high – well above the tiny window, and all the way to the floor. Treat it like a larger window, and it will look more like one 🙂
Hi love the new look you created here. I have an issue in that I’m trying to put up curtains on three adjacent walls. One wall is my tv wall and is 20 ft. Has high windows so it’s easy bc I need long curtains coming from near the crown moldings. Issue is wall next to it. I just have French doors but same height of wall. I think it will look welrd to have curtains at different beight. Wondering if I put a big mirror above doors that it will look like a window too.
I would think that mounting a vertical mirror above the french door would probably reflect a bit of the windows/view from that of the adjacent wall, so that could work. The other option is not to do the same treatment on the french doors – maybe do white wood blinds, rattan blinds, or even a roman shade in the same fabric as the draperies. I hope that helps – good luck with your project!
What if the small windows are on the main wall of living room?