Curtain tricks – 5 ways this interior designer creates drama with drapes

Using these curtain tricks can make your drapes the focus of your decor. Charlotte Rey of interiors agency Campbell Rey explains how she approaches this impactful element

Curtains hung in three rooms
(Image credit: Osborne & Little / Christiana Syrris / John Day Photography)

'Curtain tricks' may not be something that springs to mind when you are picking out drapes. Of course, you will focus on the colors in the fabric, the pattern, the heft of the textile, the lining and how they hang. But did you know you can create drama with drapes? 

Recently, we interviewed Charlotte Rey, one half of interior design agency Campbell Rey, and she told us how she makes the most of curtain ideas in her schemes.

'Curtains are one of the first things I think about in a room; they are such an amazing canvas to play with in so many ways, from the drapery to a pelmet shape, the fabric body, perhaps in a rich velvet or heavy linen, to the lining, which can be a gorgeous silk or a lighter cotton, to tassels, ties and tie backs,' says Charlotte.

Here, we showcase Charlotte's favorite curtain tricks.

Homes & Gardens Design Awards 2019 winners
Charlotte Rey

Charlotte Rey is originally from southern Sweden but studied Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins. She began her career at Swedish fashion label Acne Studios’ cult publication Acne Paper where she met Duncan Campbell (shown, with Charlotte) in 2007. In 2014 the pair launched Campbell-Rey, an award-winning design studio working out of London. Their playful, elegant aesthetic has garnered acclaim from some of the world’s leading publications including Homes & Gardens which recognized them as Newcomer to Watch at the Homes & Gardens Design Awards in 2019.

Creating drama with curtains

'Custom-made curtains are a great investment, and if you’re having them created for a specific space,' says Charlotte Rey. Here, she tells us how she approaches curtain design, from living room curtain ideas to bathroom curtain ideas, to create drapes with dramatic impact.

1. Think: pelmets with purpose

Large window curtain ideas with beige patterned curtains with a valance, in a blue living room with red armchairs and sofa

(Image credit: Jon Day Photography)

'I think a pelmet in an interesting shape is a beautiful and fun way to make something special,' says Charlotte. 'The house or room itself can inform the shape you choose – whether that’s referencing a historical detail like a scroll or following the architectural proportions you might find a Georgian house.'

2. Pick heavy drapes for cozy luxury

Teal living room with sofa in trebah vevlet from Osborne and Little Velvet

(Image credit: Osborne and Little )

'In colder climates, like Sweden, where I’m from, we are used to having heavier curtains and they bring a certain richness to a room. When you draw them in the evening, the room becomes cozier and more intimate as the curtain fabric unveils itself.'

3. Add trimmings and tassels for detailed interest

Country curtain ideas tieback

(Image credit: Future)

'It’s also very effective to add details to a pair of curtains to bring a room together – I love to add trim or a tape along the bottom hem or leading edge that works with a piece of furniture, texture, or color elsewhere in the room.

'I love tassels; I know some people think they can be old fashioned, but the right ones can be sensual and a bit sexy in a space. They add a level of finish to a room that feels very special. I would pair a matte fabric with a silkier tassel and often veer towards a long tassel over a short.'

4. Put curtains in unexpected places

hallway with elegant daybed and blue and white stripe curtain

(Image credit: Future / Damian Russell / Emma Thomas)

'Curtains don’t need to be practical just for windows, they can also be decorative and transform a corridor with a hard exit into a space that feels softer and more embracing.'

5. Hang them high to exaggerate window size

Classic living area with dark wooden table and chairs, mustard painted walls and matching curtains with pelmet on large window area, large vase with flowers on table

(Image credit: Christiana Syrris, Ti Archive)

'We suggest hanging curtains as high up towards the ceiling as possible to give the impression of height in a room, and consider making them long enough to pool on the floor,' says Charlotte.

How do you hang curtains like a professional?

To hang curtains like a professional, do as interior designer Charlotte Rey suggests and hang them as high as possible but allow the fabric to just pool on the floor. Doing so will make your ceilings seem higher and your room grander and more luxurious. Hang them too so that they can be pulled right back past the frame. This will help to exaggerate the proportions of the window, and allow as much light as possible into the room. Ensure there is enough fabric width in your curtains to make them look full even when closed – you need at least one and a half times the total width of the pole or track length.