I just love curtains – great swags of silk and sumptuous velvet… the hush of drawn thick warm curtains on a winter’s night. Billowing white muslin in a tropical villa. Light filtering through summer sprigged linen. Curtains and window treatments have the power to transform a room. Or to wreck it. Here are some hints to get you on the right track.
Firstly, assess your window. If you have soaring sash windows and high ceilings, then you have no need of any advice. You have the Kate Moss of windows. You could dress them in a garbage bag (bin liner) and they’d still look great.
If, like the rest of us mere mortals, you have low ceilings, windows that aren’t tall and graceful – then read on. Just as careful dressing can make most of us look quite good, so can some skilful curtaining hide a multitude of sins.
Aim for height above all else. The eye responds to high ceilings and tall windows, so go for everything that will maximise height. This means:
1, ALWAYS hang your curtains from the top of the wall (or the ceiling). Never hang them just above the window. Hanging them just about the window will make any window look squat, and most ceilings look low.
2. (Almost) ALWAYS hang them to the floor (if you have a little cottage that is hundreds of years old with tiny crooked windows – they will be swamped by this – so you will need small curtains). But for most of us – hanging them to the floor is best.
If you follow this advice, when your curtains are closed, they will form a panel from floor to ceiling, which also looks better than a fabric square in the middle of the wall.
If you are thinking of blinds rather than curtains – you can do the same. Here you can see I have attached the blinds to the ceiling. I have them hanging to cover the top of the (low and ugly) window – making you believe that I have tall windows that stretch to the ceiling. (tall windows, long legs… I wish).
Wonderful window-sills might make you want to hang you blind inside the window frame, so that it is framed like a picture. Older buildings usually have high enough ceilings and interesting enough architraves for this to be a good option.
When choosing between curtains and blinds – firstly consider how much room you have – curtains take up more space. When open, they need room to spill onto the floor.
Then think about the look you’re going for. Curtains can be more opulent, more cosy, more atmospheric. Blinds are sparer, simple, often modern, clean lined. Blinds are great in kitchens and bathrooms, where they are practical. Curtains and drapes a lovely for bedrooms and livings rooms where you want to feel cocooned.
Finally a word on pelmets…
These are designed to hide the track. I have to say I hate them! They look so dated. They are heavy above the window and usually create a strong oppressive horizontal line just where you want vertical lifting lines giving height.
Today’s tracks are either invisible, or beautiful in their own right (with lovely finials to complete them) so there is no reason to hide them.
Pop back in a couple of days and we can talk about which fabrics are best (and which actually rot in sunlight – and how to overcome that), and the colours that will work in your room before moving on to actually making the things yourself (surprisingly easy!)