By Rhoda Parry
Window treatment ideas are myriad. Both functional and decorative, curtains and blinds are the barrier between inside and outside. They shield us from harsh light during the day and are drawn tight at night. What's more, window dressings create privacy from prying eyes.
Equally, like a stand-out painting, window treatment ideas can bring character and verve to an interiors scheme or be a quiet counterfoil to a flamboyant scheme. These ideas will help get you started...
See: Decorating ideas – the ultimate guide to getting it right
What window treatments are in style for 2021?
Our edit of the best window treatments ideas below are in style for 2021: they include both decorative Roman and roller blinds that add layering and comfort to a room to more pared back blinds that provide solar shading; for curtains, luxurious layered looks are popular amongst interior designers; shutters are perennially popular and are even finding their way on to porches; for rental properties, Venetian blinds provide streamlined, smart looks – but on a more affordable budget than shutters.
1. Hang a Roman blind to soften a bathroom
A pretty roman blind is a sure winner when it comes to window treatment ideas. It will add softness and character to a contemporary bathroom space. Here, a simple motif on the blind is reminiscent of Indian woodblocks, and chimes well with other elements of moody Eastern influence.
For blinds or curtains to work well in a bathroom, make sure your room is well-ventilated to prevent any mildew developing. Avoid full-length designs if you can – or at least ones that hang on the floor – and opt for a lightweight fabric that will not only maintain privacy while letting in sunlight, but will also dry quicker in case they do get damp.
Shown here is a Roman blind in Tasha’s Trip in Charcoal, linen by Kit Kemp at Christopher Farr Cloth and edged in Newport Galon braid from Houlès. The bath is Drummonds.
2. Choose a decorative Roman blind to add color and pattern
Be creative with bespoke Roman blinds for window treatment ideas. You can bring a decorative aspect to windows by choosing fabrics that reflect and echo your soft furnishings.
It’s also important to determine whether a style of the blind is appropriate for the window and that the scale of the design complements the other fabrics in the room.
‘I often use a sheer Roman blind within the reveal and a more decorative design on the outer,’ says Janie Money, associate director at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler. ‘If you use a plain material, define with a contrasting trim.’
Shown is Carsina fabric in red/sage with Corin Braid trim in tomato/teal both Colefax & Fowler.
3. Pick a slubby linen for a relaxed, country appeal
Whereas a bedroom benefits from black-out blinds, a kitchen is a place to welcome in the natural morning light.
Roman blinds, which fold up rather than roll, which aren’t too heavy work well in this breakfast area by interior designer Sophie Ashby at Studio Ashby, as they allow you to control how much light comes through.
4. Pick solar shades for bright rooms
A bright room that you spend lots of time in during the day is wonderful, of course, but if you have noticed that your furnishings are suffering from fading, you might like to consider solar shades, which allow light in – unlike black-out blinds – but are made from a material whose weave blocks some of the light.
‘Solar shades now come in stylish and beautiful options, and are great investment pieces for larger spaces such as a living room,’ explains interior designer Mary Patton. ‘Preserving energy and protecting your furniture from the sun is a major plus.’
Remember that fabrics with tighter weaves will allow less light in – this means you can specify the weave to suit the amount of light control you need. And, if you can't reach the shades' mechanisms, motorized solar shades are available.
Mary’s favorite place to shop solar shades? Stoneside, who will allow you to select from a wide range.
5. Pick a roller blind that's picture perfect
Find window treatment ideas that looks just as good as the real view behind it. This blind by Surface View features Dedham Vale by John Constable is from the V&A collection.
‘Artwork can bring drama, beauty and a little fun to windows with roller blinds that are unlike anything you will have seen before,’ says Michael Ayerst, managing director of Surface View.
This kind of window treatment ideas help to create an inspiring office space no matter what time of day.
6. Create a luxe look by going door to door
The requirements of window treatment ideas will vary room to room, but they are all designed to provide levels of privacy, shade, soundproofing and warmth.
In this three-bedroom London maisonette design by Gunter & Co., the bedroom has double doors which lead out onto a patio. Wall-to-wall curtains were added in front, not only to help block out light and sound when the room is occupied, but by using heavy fabric floor-to-ceiling, the curtains will also help keep out any unwanted drafts.
‘We worked with a palette of rich colors to make the most of the daylight on offer in the property, from lighter colors in light-filled spaces to warm and rich shades in darker spaces,’ says Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co.
As well as these practical elements, the rich textures and deep folds of the Christopher Farr Cloth fabric in the curtains help to create a cozy atmosphere in the bedroom when drawn.
7. Go for gold
A pelmet, also known as a cornice board, is a box frame used to conceal the top of curtains, and is commonly found in classic-style interiors.
Pelmets can be made by using foam core or plywood to create a structure which can either be painted a similar tone to your walls, or upholstered in fabric to match the curtains hung beneath.
Though largely a decorative feature giving prominence to windows, they are also designed to help conceal and also offer additional insulation around your windows, which is why they are so popular in older buildings such as this Kensington townhouse.
Here, interior designer Christiana Syrris, then at Studio Indigo, used a bold mustard hue both on the walls and the window dressing. This technique provides a modern twist while also adding depth and interesting within a singular color palette.
8. Choose a bold layered look with curtains and wallpaper
Looking for bold and beautiful window treatment ideas? These Osborne Red curtains from Blithfield, make a strong statement alongside the Iznik wallpaper in Madder Pink from Rapture & Wright at The Fabric Collective.
The secret here is to keep the density of color the same. Taking center stage is the side table that breaks the intensity of pattern.
9. Opt for a feature length curtain
Floor-to-ceiling curtains can create a sense of height in a space, and a contemporary solution is to conceal the track in the ceiling cavity. These are the Vedra Amarilla curtains from the Livingetc collection for Hillarys.
10. Create another dimension with a layered feel
‘Floor length curtains create warmth and layers of texture in a sitting room or bedroom,’ says interior designer Natalia Miyar.
‘If the room has strong statement furniture, I choose a soft, textured fabric or multi-toned curtains to subtly add another dimension to the space.’
The curtain fabric used here is from Dominique Kieffer by Italian company, Rubelli.
11. Merge indoors and out with botanical prints
A curtain filled with dense foliage will echo the greenery outside. This is English Oak fabric in Teal by Linwood.
When thinking about window treatment ideas, draw the eye through the room with a piece of furniture. Here a pouffe is upholstered in a linking design – SN Schwarzwald Col 1 by Dedar.
See: Country curtain ideas – window dressings for rural rooms
12. Follow through on the rest of your scheme
Your guest bedroom is a perfect opportunity to get creative and design a scheme reminiscent of boutique hotel interiors. These curtains run the course of the walls, and were custom made by JAB Anstoetz to match the velvet-upholstered sofa bed nestled in between.
13. Create a cohesive feel with matched patterns
'Almost any fabric can become a blind and, as with curtains, we recommend the use of beautiful linings,’ says Emma Clarke, director of Warner House. ‘Blackout should be a consideration depending on the room and interlining material for an elegant finish.’
Shown on the windows here is Warner House’s Balmoral Olive.
Adding tape or bullion trims to the bottom edge creates interest bringing individuality to your scheme. Try layering both curtains and blinds for warmth and depth.
14. Use shutters for privacy, shade – and color
Shutters aren't just for indoors – they are making their way outdoors, too, to create cool shade on a south-facing porch or for providing privacy on a porch that is overlooked. They are a wonderful tool for extending your indoor space outdoors – and for providing a colorful backdrop. Of course, a pale green is wonderful for linking that transitional zone to the foliage outdoors.
It's vital that the shutters you choose for this purpose are made from materials – and have fixings – that are tough enough to stand up to temperature fluctuations and downpours.
15. Consider shutter color carefully
Louvered shutters like these look effortlessly elegant – and are wonderful for bedrooms because they can filter out noise, dirt and even the cold.
However, it's worth making a point or two about the light levels of a room and how they are affected by shutters. First – most shutters don't block out light as efficiently as other window dressings, although the darker the shutter color, the more effective they are at dulling early morning light. Secondly, the color of your shutters will alter the color of the light that filters into your room: white shutters will reflect white light in; yellow shutters will make a room feel sunnier, whereas grey shutters will make a bright room feel cool.
16. Choose Venetian blinds for a streamlined look
Venetian blinds are super smart, practical – and perfect if you are on a budget or furnishing a rental home. From outside, they give the impression of shutters – but at a much lower price. Like shutters, they do gather dust, so white or pale finishes are better for disguising this and creating bright rooms.
How do I measure up for window treatments?
Follow measuring instructions carefully for the specific blinds or curtains you wish to order and the situation you want to fit it into, such as a bay window or patio door or standard rectangular window. These are provided on most retailers’ websites. Use a metal measuring tape as fabric tapes can stretch or give inaccurate measurements. Also decide which side you want the controls on for convenience of use.
How do you decide whether to fit inside or outside the recess? Leah Brandwood, Head of Design, Blinds 2go, explains this will depend on whether your window has a recess or not and what obstructions there are to fitting the blind inside the recess, such as handles, window fittings and the direction the window opens.
‘If the space is clear then it comes down to personal preference, but most people prefer to fit their blinds inside the recess and curtains are fitted outside the recess,’ she says.
How do I choose a curtain header?
The main options are eyelet – usually where large, metal rings are set within the fabric at the top of the curtain and easily loop onto a curtain pole – or pleated – a more classic look where gathered folds run along the top of a curtain which can be attached to a track or a pole with hooks. There are then further variations between these looks, which all give slightly different appearances.
‘At Warner House we love the pinch pleat heading; triple pinch for a heritage look, double pinch for a sleeker finish,’ says Emma Clarke, director, Warner House. 'Be generous with your widths to avoid lacklustre, thin curtains. Hang curtains above the window frame for extra height and to showcase a fabulous sweeping design.'
Once you’ve decided, you can then start to have fun choosing a curtain pole, or take a look into pelmets to cover the top of the curtain entirely.
How do I pick a pattern for my window treatments?
‘There are a range of practical and aesthetic considerations when choosing curtain fabric,’ says Emily Mould, Design Director Romo and Black Edition. ‘Consider whether you want to make a statement with a strong color, pattern or contrasting texture or whether you want a subtler look with a plain, textural neutral or muted pastel shade.
See: Cottage curtain ideas – inspiration for a pretty, cozy home
'A bold, large-scale design can create a striking focal point and will work best when used for large windows where the full repeat can be fully appreciated. If you have smaller windows, opt for a small-scale pattern to create a more refined look.
'Consider the quality of the material; an elegant lightweight sheer can gently diffuse the sunlight whilst dressing your windows with more substantial fabrics such as luxurious wools or sumptuous velvets can help prevent drafts and retain heat.
'Color is also important; pale earthy blues and greens can provide a relaxing haven whilst rich shades of plum or scarlet create an intimate space and luxuriant tones of ochre or burnt orange can induce a feeling of warmth.'
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