Tria Giovan

Window coverings in the nursery not only help modulate the light (important for those early afternoon naps) but add a decorative element, too. Balancing the two jobs is easy, given the abundance of choices and their mix- and match-ability. As always, safety is a top concern, especially when it comes to the cords and pulls associated with many window coverings. Also think about ease of cleaning, as you will have less time but more messes on your hands once you become a parent.

When you head to the store, be sure to bring detailed measurements of your nursery windows; photos will help when it comes to describing exactly where the coverings will be installed, and which measurements apply to what areas. If climate control is an issue where you live, ask about the window covering's R-value, which indicates a product's resistance to heat loss (the higher the R-value, the more complete the insulation).

Blinds

Wooden-slat blinds are more traditional and give better insulation, while metal and plastic look crisp and contemporary and are less expensive. All types are relatively easy to keep clean. One caution: Replace any imported vinyl miniblinds made before the summer of 1996, as these have been found to contain lead.

If you have standard-size windows, you may find off-the-shelf blinds to fit; otherwise, you'll have to special-order them (delivery rarely takes more than a week or two). While blinds come in a wide range of colors, the most sensible choice is to match the window trim. You can hide the hardware for the blinds and add color and pattern with a cloth valance or boxlike, fabric-covered cornice.

Remember, blinds' cords present a choking hazard: wrap excess cord tightly around a cord cleat fixed as high on the window frame as the shortest adult can reach.

Shades

Choices here range from a simple roller shade to custom-made Roman or balloon shades to the newer cellular shades. Roller shades are the least expensive, and can be dressed up with iron-on fabric, wallpaper, or even painted designs (use fabric paints). Kids may be tempted to toy with the auto-release mechanism on some shades; choosing a pulley system will make this less attractive. On a pulley system, though, be sure to have the continuous-loop chain cut short enough so it can't be reached by children.

Blackout shades have an inner layer that keeps light from penetrating, giving a nightlike feel to a room for daytime sleeping. Be sure these shades are cut generously enough so rays don't sneak in from the sides or bottom of the shade.

Curtains

While curtains and draperies can really dress up a window, they are the least practical option in a nursery. They tend to be harder to clean than blinds or shades; and because they gather more dust, they can be especially aggravating for allergy- or asthma-prone children. They are also tempting for little ones to play with and hang on.

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