Whether it’s a glamorous pooling of fabric or a classic louvered shutter, dressing a window is crucial to the success of an interior scheme.
Choosing the right curtains can feel a bit daunting with so many things to consider, but once you’ve got it right, they’ll totally transform your room making it feel warm and welcoming. There’re lots of important points to consider before splashing out. Think about the size and shape of the window, room height, and how the room is used. There are many different types of fabrics too, linings, headings, curtain poles and finials, made-to-measure versus off-the-shelf.
THE INSIDER’S SOURCEBOOK: WINDOW TREATMENTS
The right window dressing has a lasting impact on a room.
JOHN LEWIS – BEST FOR READY-MADE
This stalwart offers a wide selection of made-to-measure and ready-made blinds in its vast collection of fabrics, plus there is a free measuring service if required, johnlewis.com.
PICKWICK PAPERS – BEST FOR CLASSIC DESIGN
A family-run firm that has been making made-to-measure curtains and blinds since 1975. It can supply poles and tracks, as well as a fitting service, pickwickpapers.co.uk.
HILLARYS – BEST FOR EXPERT FITTING
Specialist makers of blinds, curtains, shutters and awnings, all of which are manufactured in Britain. Also offers conservatory blinds, hillarys.co.uk.
DESIGN CENTRE, CHELSEA HARBOUR – BEST FOR DESIGNER
Find an extensive range of fabrics for blinds and curtains, with showrooms from some of the biggest names in design all under one roof, dcch.co.uk.
Why choose curtains?
They have an important role to play – beyond just that of decorative – as they keep the warmth in and absorb sound. ‘This is important in all rooms of the house but becomes critical in the kitchen,’ says interior designer Henriette von Stockhausen. ‘Large kitchens can have very bad acoustics due to all the hard surfaces, so aim to introduce as many soft features as possible to absorb the echoing.’ In terms of design, curtains can bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary – it all pivots on factors such as the fabric chosen, the type of pleat, the way they are lined (or not) and how they hang. Curtains are an investment but worth the expense when planning for the long term, according to interior designer Susie Watson: ‘Beautiful handmade curtains, heavily interlined, will look wonderful for many years to come.’
Why choose blinds?
Useful for rooms that suffer from a lack of light or in situations where curtains would block out too much light even when drawn back, blinds are also the best option if there is furniture or a radiator below the window. When choosing fabric for blinds, the key thing to consider is that it drapes well and doesn’t crease too easily. It’s also a good idea to use blackout lining, even if the room doesn’t require total darkness at night. ‘This ensures the fabric doesn’t look overly yellow, which can happen when the light shines through,’ says interior designer Irene Gunter.
Why choose shutters?
Styles vary from solid wood, tier on tier, café style or tracked, and the right choice will hinge on whether they’re purely decorative, required to reduce external noise, increase heat insulation (research from Glasgow Caledonian University suggests solid shutters reduce heat loss by up to 62 per cent) or provide additional privacy. A café-style half-height shutter offers privacy while still letting plenty of light in. Traditional solid shutters are great for noise and heat insulation, but be aware that they lack the flexibility of louvred or tier-on-tier designs.
Why choose window trimmings?
This is the way to achieve a highly personal scheme. Historically, the traditional French style of window dressing often incorporated tassel fringing on the leading curtain edge, combined with a border and elaborate tassel tiebacks. Today, this approach is being utilised in both period and contemporary spaces. ‘We are seeing a real trend towards the use of fringing,’ says Michael Cohen of the passementerie firm Samuel & Sons. Adding a trimming or border to a leading edge is also a good way to economise. ‘If you are on a tight budget, we recommend using a border on curtains in something special with the curtains made up in an inexpensive fabric,’ says interior designer Pippa Paton. ￼