One of the main focal points of a room, the way you dress your windows will always have impact. While functionality may sway the decision from curtains to blinds, especially in hardworking rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms, choosing window treatments is very much about ‘creating a look’ rather than implementing a wholly practical solution, so follow your heart here. The current trend is for a degree of simplicity that lets the fabric sing. ‘Perhaps it’s because we live in less ostentatious times and our style statements follow that, but there is a move away from fussy pelmets, swags and tails and towards much simpler, less formal looks,’ says David Adeane, director of The Natural Curtain Company. But simple doesn’t mean plain. ‘A greater choice of fabrics in every weight, pattern and colour means that curtains are as an effective as part of the decorating scheme as ever,’ adds David.
There are two ways to buy curtains: you can opt for ready-made designs – although your choice will be limited – or have your curtains made to order. The latter is the preferred option for the vast choice of fabrics, sizes and heading styles on offer. Start your search at the fabric showrooms, local interior design shops and department stores such as John Lewis & Partners, Heal’s and Liberty, most of which also offer curtain-making services too. In London, a visit to the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, dcch.co.uk, offers probably the greatest choice of fabrics anywhere in the country, with more than 30 showrooms in the one place.
Ready-made curtains are ideal if you need something in a hurry and they are an affordable choice if your windows are standard sizes, or if you are looking for something simple like voile panels or curtains for a small window. Here, tactile fabrics and graphite accents add depth to this scheme where the clean lines of crafted wood furniture take centre stage. The vertical lines on the tongue-and-groove panelling contrast beautifully with the horizontal lines on the curtain.
Get the look: Curtains in Broadstripe in Oatmeal, wool, 260cm wide, £115m, Melin Tregwynt.
Although some lighter weight fabrics are suited to a relaxed look, most curtain fabrics benefit from lining to boost the quality of their drape, as well as protecting the face fabric from sunlight. Lining also boosts heat retention, and you can buy thermal lining which is helpful if you have large expanses of glass. Here, smart asymmetrical banding has a strong modern look.
Get the look: Left-hand curtain in Dieze in Denim (top); Dieze in Indigo (bottom), both viscose mix, 140cm wide, £72m, Designers Guild. Right-hand curtain in Cristo Indigo (top), Cristo Grey (bottom), both viscose mix, 140cm wide, £49m, Jane Churchill at Colefax and Fowler. Trimmed in Cambridge Strie Braid in Glacier Blue and Navy, £15m, Samuel & Sons Passementerie.
Curtains are a visually pleasing way to work in trends and themes. Inky dyed textiles with soft blurry edges and ombre, watercolour washes create a painterly effect. The ombre effect in the curtains is subtly echoed in the cushions and rug.
Get the look: Curtains in Bandana in Coral viscose mix, 220cm wide, £145.20 per panel, Boeme Designs.
Consider how to complete your look. You might choose to fit a pelmet across the top of the window to conceal the track. You can also use a pelmet as a decorative feature or to create the illusion of height. Usually made of plywood or MDF, they can be painted or covered in fabric.
Get the look: Curtains in Baytown in Red Earth, £66m, Robert Allen, robertallendesign.co.uk.
For a crisp, modern look, blinds are very effective, and can be just as eye-catching as curtains. Bought ready made or made to order in the same way as curtains, they use minimal fabric, they tend to be cost effective, and can be used alone or layered under curtains. The Roman blind, which draws up into horizontal pleats when raised, has a soft and dressy look, tying beautifully with the window seat below.
Get the look: Blinds in Brinley in Anthracite 7722/01, cotton, 150cm wide, £49.50m, Romo. Stripe on blinds in Hacienda 1, polyester mix, 148cm wide, £29.50m, Blendworth.
One of the best ways of achieving an elegantly simple and light look is to layer your curtains and blinds, using different weights or colours and perhaps incorporating a sheer curtain or panel. This will provide a variety of screening solutions for different times of day and night, as well as adding depth to your room scheme. A delicate, sheer curtain is a clever way to dress your windows and still let light and air flow into the room.
Get the look: Outer curtain in Saturnia in Gardenia 178207, linen, 140cm wide, £126m, C&C Milano. Sheer curtain panels in Cromatico in Violet 7638/02, linen, 140cm, £65m, Black Edition.
Plain roller blinds in a stunning colour can bring a room together and draw the eye towards the elegance of period windows. Roller blinds are widely available, including online, as ready-made, complete with fixings, or made to order.
Get the look: New House Textiles, 01989 740380, newhousetextiles.co.uk, offers a good range of plain blind fabrics in a host of colours, including Swedish Cotton Plain, £19.20m.
A white sheer provides privacy while still allowing soft light to filter through its fabric. Here, delicate embroidery has been used to add a pretty detail, creating a subtle statement on a simple design.
Get the look: Calista Floral Voile, £197m, Victoria Bain, 020 7263 7518, victoriabain.co.uk.