Selecting a window treatment is something that can paralyze even the most experienced home decorator. With all the styles, fabrics and hardware from which to choose, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Well, the place to begin is to determine your needs. What needs am I referring to? Privacy and light blocking are two examples.

Most of us need some privacy. The question then becomes how much is enough. There is also a tradeoff — of course. If you want a treatment that affords you complete privacy, it is also going to block off your view and reduce the light. So, how much privacy do you need? Is it OK for people to see into your home and see figures and shadows or should the view from outside be completely blocked?

If you need complete privacy, then the following treatments will work well for you: opaque drapery panels, fabric or roller shades, any kind of nonsheer cellular shades, wood blinds or shutters. Sheers are a good option if you just want some privacy, but they do become transparent at night.

The same thing goes for light blocking. Do you need the room to be completely dark for sleeping or are you trying to cut down on a glare on your television? If you get direct sunlight, then you really need to cut down on the UV rays that reach your carpet and upholstery fabrics, as eventually they will fade. Drapery treatments that are opaque and lined with a substantial lining can help. Blinds, cellular shades, fabric shades and shutters can help as well. However, with direct light you should really consider purchasing a UV blocking film that can be applied directly to the window.

If you just want to cut down on light to reduce glare, then any of the above options will work as will sheers. For complete room darkening, consider treatments with light blocking linings.

Now that you have determined your needs, you must decide how the window treatment will fit into your lifestyle. Is the treatment for a slider door that will need to be opened quite a bit? Then consider a treatment on rings that can just be pulled aside. For shades and blinds, consider the placement of the cords — will they be easily accessible to small children? Does the treatment even need to open and close? Many treatments now are purely decorative and do not function. If you want privacy but also like a lot of light, you can opt for shades and blinds that open from the top down. Also, consider the length. Will a longer treatment get in the way of pets and kids?

The last element is style. Do you like big dramatic draperies? Then consider stiff fabrics and a top treatment. For more simple tastes, roman shades or a sheer panel can be great. Don’t be afraid to layer your treatments. You can have sheers or opaque panels over blinds and shades. Consider using a valance or a cornice over panels, sheers or fabric shades. Look online, in catalogs, and in magazines to get ideas and inspiration.

Julie Chrissis is a professional home stager and interior decorator based in Nashua and Malden, Mass. She can reached at