Learning more about the different types of window treatments available can be helpful when you wish to update or redesign a room. This guide is a quick reference for window treatments that fall under the categories of hard, soft and layered styles. Blinds, shutters and shades are hard treatments. Curtains, drapes, swags and valances are soft treatments. Layered treatments combine hard and soft elements.

Austrian Shades

Old world elegance best describes this style of shades. Austrian shades have a dramatic look consisting of scalloped layers of fabric, which are connected in rows of three. Looser layers allow some light to peek through while heavy layers provide a high level of light blockage. They are often used to create glamorous window treatments.

Café Curtains

These charming curtains are a favorite style for kitchen, dining and bathroom spaces due to their shorter lengths. A café curtain can be a single panel of straight fabric hung from a café rod or a set of two panels, one for the top and one for the lower section. Larger sizes may cover up to two-thirds of the window. And since full coverage isn't their purpose, expect to enjoy a partial view of the outdoors after you hang these.

Cellular Shades

Cellular shades are a popular choice for the energy-efficient home because they do such a good job of trapping air within their unique honeycomb cells. Unlike standard window blinds, there are no open spaces between cells. Instead, fabric cells are connected, which contributes to light filtering. You can choose standard cellular or blackout cellular shade options, and they come in a variety of lovely colors that coordinate with a room's interior.

Curtains and Drapes

Curtains are commonly the first thing that crosses our mind when we think of window treatments. That's because they are easy to find, and they come in a huge array of colors, fabrics, sizes and styles. The basic curtain features two panels made of fabric such as cotton or polyester. Some people do refer to curtains as drapes, but drapes are also associated with curtains made of luxurious fabrics such as silk, muslin, damask and velvet. You can also choose different curtain panel top styles such as rod pocket, tab top, eyelet, pinch pleat and goblet pleat. Light blockage for curtains is typically medium to heavy.

Panel Tracks

Homes that feature large, vertical windows that lead to a backyard, patio, balcony or porch require a specific type of panel track window treatment. Also referred to as sliding doors, each panel is sized to fit an open doorway, and one doorway may have two to four panels that fit inside of a frame installed with top and bottom tracks. A simple sliding motion opens and closes the door.

Roller Shades

These are shades made of durable fabrics or other material, which are designed to be pulled up and down at will. Attached to a roller mechanism, they may have the classic pull cord, or they may be cordless for improved safety. Some designs use light-filtering fabric and there are blackout styles for complete light blocking. Neutral colors are popular, and some feature contemporary prints.

Roman Shades

Made of quality fabric, bamboo or wood, this classic shade style features visible layers of pleats when the shade is raised, and layers become a flat panel when the shade is lowered. Traditional styles come with a cord, but you can find contemporary cordless styles with a handle that allows for easy pulling and pushing.

Sheer Curtains

Sheers are similar to standard curtains, except they are made from material that is much lighter in weight. You can easily see through the panel when you hold it up to the light, and this sheerness is what makes them so desirable. They can look gauzy or barely offer any light blockage, which gives you some nice options when designing treatments for the bedroom, living room and dining room. They are commonly made of material such as rayon, nylon, gossamer or silk. While sheers can be used as main curtains, they are most often used for layering.

Shutters

Shutters add decorative warmth and charm to any room. Desired for their classic slatted look, sets usually include at least two matching panels. Trendy indoor shutters make a great alternative to blinds, and you can find styles made of wood or durable vinyl plastic. White is the most popular color followed by light, medium or dark wood hues. For those who want color alternatives, shutters can be painted any color using do-it-yourself painting techniques.

Venetian Blinds

For decades, Venetian blinds were the standard alternative to regular curtains. Aluminum metal blinds can still be found in numerous homes, and some blinds are made of plastic or wood. Regardless of material, they all function the same. The slats are secured with cloth strips or sturdy string and slats are opened and closed using a rod and pulled up and down using cords.

Woven Wood Shades

Crafted of materials such as bamboo, reeds and other sturdy grasses, these shades offer the look of natural wood with the flexibility of a fabric shade. In addition to privacy, these shades give rooms a burst of natural beauty. Shade colors range from dark to light, and it's common to find shades with multiple natural hues woven into the design. Choose these if you prefer earthy or adventurous window treatments.