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Modern Window Treatments

What Makes a Window Treatment Modern?

The term “modern design” is not new. Dating back more than a century, the term encompasses a world of design that includes minimalism, industrial, and Scandinavian design. The most well-known style of modern design is mid-century modern—seen now most often in the revived version of that style which is so prevalent today.

For many, the term “modern interior design” evokes high-end fixtures, furniture, and structures. However, the idea of modern was born out of the belief that good design should be available to all people, not just the wealthy. Heavy, expensive, and elaborate décor in cluttered Victorian rooms was replaced by modern design’s utilitarian furniture and open floor plans. Modern design became a style available to everyone.

Modern or Contemporary?

People often think that “modern” and “contemporary” are the same thing. Contemporary means “of the time,” as in what’s prevalent in art and design traditions at this very moment. Truly “modern” design has more staying power. After a century of development, the modern design ideas have found traction in the present day—so much so that for many people, modern is now just considered the right way to design. When someone looks at your window treatments and says they look modern, you automatically understand that as a compliment.

Principles of Modern Design for Window Treatments and Decorating

For our purposes, we’re going to look at modern design as something that fits within a set of characteristics. These include clean lines, some level of minimalism, patterns, and the use of natural light. In addition, we’ll include some newer modern design ideas, such as the use of environmentally friendly materials and a limited use of bold patterns or textures. But first, we’ll look at one of the most important principles—a principle that directly affects how we select our window treatments: a neutral, relatively monochromatic color palette.

The Modern Color Palette

In modern design, minimalism is a key feature. When minimalism is translated into color, this often means a neutral, monochromatic palette. While modern homes aren’t always limited to one color, they often do have self-imposed limits on how many different colors are utilized. This creates the simplicity and balance highly sought after in modern design.


There are loud colors that pop. And then there are colors that speak in an inside voice. That’s a neutral color. Neutral colors are important to modern design because darker neutrals are an excellent way to emphasize patterns. Patterns are an important aspect of minimalism. Repeating dark-colored lines and shapes against a light background allows the viewer to see the pattern.

Earth Tones

Darker than neutrals, earth tones can combine with similarly hued neutrals to create monochromatic design plans. And, contrasted against white or fields of very light color, earth tones can display clean lines and shapes for that sense of simplicity and pattern.

Bright Whites


To give the neutral and earth-tone colors their power, you need white. Bright whites make the shapes and patterns of the neutral and earth-tone elements stand out.

Timeless Colors

A combination of neutrals, earth tones, and bright whites can create window treatments that provide a modern look to your home. These colors are timeless. And a truly modern look is part of a century-old tradition. Your décor won’t soon become dated. Plus, the cleanness and simplicity of the modern look allow you to change with the times by making subtle adjustments—as opposed to overhauling your décor.

Cohesive Styling

Once you’ve mastered the modern look, it’s easy to add and subtract elements. The modern look is versatile, and once the look is established, it tends to draw the elements together. When you have a sense of what “modern” should look like, you’ll quickly identify when something is out of place.

That said, the modern look is a commitment. If you insist on keeping your antique dining room table with hand-carved legs and your China cabinet filled with Victorian porcelain, you’re probably not going to achieve a sense of modern—and that’s okay, because there are other styles of design, including traditional, Asian, and French country, to name just a few, and your Graber Design Expert can guide you to the right window treatments for those styles.

But if modern is something you’re going for, it is achievable—even easy.

Modern Window Treatment Options: Many Ways to a Modern Look

One way to jumpstart your modern look is through choosing the proper window treatments. Below we’ll talk about how to apply colors to window treatments to create a modern look.


We start with shutters because many people don’t expect these age-old window treatments to fit in a modern interior. But if we examine some of the core principles of modernism—in particular, monochromatic color palette and minimalism—the shutter can be an ideal expression of the modern design ethic. And a set or multiple sets of shutters can do more than just present monochromatic color. Their rectangular shape—something that many designers look for in a modern interior—creates a pattern that can be repeated in other elements of the room.

Wood Shutters

Graber wood shutters can be painted any color you choose. A wood shutter painted in a dark color and set against white walls is a bold, minimalist look. Select a color that matches—or is of a similar hue to— other elements in the room that you want to accentuate.

Composite Wood Shutters

While these shutters cannot be painted, they are available in a range of colors. Select a dark color for boldest effect. With their cleanness and simplicity of shape, a dark shutter shouts “modern.”


Cellular Shades

Minimalism means letting a few elements stand out while the rest stay in the background. Cellular shades are often used as part of that background. Their light colors, consistent light filtering, and even pattern make them ideal as a backdrop for contrasting elements. Cellular shades are also available in bolder colors if you choose to elevate them from supporting roles to lead performers. And in terms of sustainability, cellular shades are the most energy-efficient window covering available.

Solar Shades

The available colors for Graber solar shades includes neutrals and earth tones. On the window, they present a flat field of color that changes as the light filters through. Solar shades can be used as the bold part of the minimalist color scheme of the room or, in more subdued tones, set into the background.

Natural Shades

The neutral coloring and sustainability of natural shades puts them high on the list of modern window coverings. Made from bamboo, wood, grasses, jute, and rattan, natural shades provide an excellent backdrop for the bolder elements of a minimalist style. And some of the darker colored natural shade materials contrast well against a bright white background. All Graber natural shades are made from renewable materials and hand harvested.

Sheer Shades

Sheer shades are one of the simplest, most sophisticated window-design solutions. They look modern, they provide beautifully filtered light, and they can blend into the background of a minimalist design. These all-fabric blinds can be made with different colored louvers making it easy to find the right balance for your modern design project.

Roman shades

When looking to add a bold color or pattern to a room, a Roman shade does the job very well. The long list of Roman shade fabrics available makes it easy to create a Roman shade that’s a central feature of the room. And the simple design of Roman shades fits the modern aesthetic perfectly.


When most people think of modern design, they don’t think of drapery. But used properly, drapery can have a very modern feel. In fact, a properly hung tall drapery in an earth tone set against a clean, white wall is a decisively modern design. A bold patterned drapery set against a plain background can also exude modern style—if it isn’t competing with other boldly patterned design elements. As in all the options listed here, it is the way the window treatments are used that produces the modern feel.


Layering Window Treatments

One of the best ways to maximize privacy and light control is by layering window treatments. When doing this in a modern style, it is important to do two things. The first is thinking like a minimalist: is this simple and clean? The next thing is to think monochromatically: what is my main color? So, when it comes to layering window treatments, that means a modern designer would choose a white cellular shade under a simple earth-tone blue drapery in a white room. A modern designer would not select a dark-green patterned Roman shade to go under a maroon patterned drapery in a blue wallpapered room. Instead, that modern designer might use just that dark-green pattern in a more minimalistic setting—say as a drapery in a white room—to get the right modern feel.

Mix and Match Treatments

Matching the colors and style of different window treatments creates a throughline in your design plan that is very modern. Much of this “modernness” stems from the monochromatic nature of the plan as well as the simplicity. A room filled with differently sized windows could utilize dark-colored shutters, drapery, and roman shades, to create a pleasing combination of shapes and patterns. Or, for the opposite effect, these same windows could be adorned with light-colored window treatments to allow other elements of the décor to shine.

Remember, modern design is about how materials are used more than which materials are used. That means most window treatments can be modern—if they’re used in the spirit of modern design. Getting the modern spirit right isn’t always easy. Fortunately, Graber has the knowledge and experience you need to achieve a truly modern design.

Find a Graber Design Expert in your area and let them help you create your modern masterpiece.