Window treatments and styles
With the window being the focal point of any room, you’ll want to take pride in yours being perfectly presentable. Here’s what you should consider when giving your home the window treatment.
Raise the curtain
Think of a beautifully dressed window and it will almost always incorporate a stunning pair of curtains. The perfect framing accessory, they’re about far more than just privacy. Before you get started, be sure to read our blog on how to measure for curtains.
Floor length curtains are dramatic, have high visual impact and carry an air of luxury (though be wary if they fall in front of a radiator as they’ll trap heat) whereas mid length curtains are considered classic and aren’t as high maintenance. Adding a pretty valance at the top of a window will increase visual interest, or you could try draping voiles over a curtain pole – the sheer, airy material results in a relaxed, bohemian feel. Coordinate patterns with a sofa, armchair or cushions, or choose a colour which will link up with the décor of the whole space. Alternatively, make your curtains the star of the show in a plain room - we think the iLiv meadow pencil pleat curtain would add a country cottage feel to a home in even the most urban location.
Blinds tend to be more practical than curtains, and enable you to easily control the light in a room, handy for those days when the sun’s rays are hard at work but you don’t want to sit in complete darkness. Don’t let the word practical put you off though, it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice style. There’s a myriad of styles to choose from – roller blinds are easy to maintain and keep clean (without slats for dust to gather in) and are available in a wide range of colours and prints, while roman blinds are made from a softer fabric and offer a more sophisticated, elegant look. Venetian blinds are particularly popular for controlling light because you can raise, lower and tilt the slats.
Drapes decided, it’s time to add some finishing touches to complete the look. Place cosy cushions on a window seat to create the perfect comfortable spot to sit and watch the world go by or curl up with your favourite book. As for the window sill, a vase filled with fresh flowers and a framed treasured photograph make for perfect companions. A classic table lamp allows a super cosy feel at the flick of a switch, once the sun has set. The humble curtain pole doesn’t always need to take a back seat, while tie backs can add a touch of personality – think satin sashes, wooden hearts or rope and tassels.
The style of curtains to be used will be governed by the style of the room e.g. traditional or contemporary, the shape of the window, the height of the curtains and the fabric itself.
The curtain heading used should be chosen to show off the fabric to the fullest, ensuring that any pleating falls in such a way that the pattern of the fabric is highlighted.
This is where using the services of a professional Interior Designer or Curtain Maker is to be recommended.
Consider adding borders down the leading edges of the curtains, or panels in a contrasting fabric at the top of bottom of the fabric to add further interest and create a more contemporary look. Consider the depth of any pelmet or valance heading - classic proportions suggest that these should generally be around one fifth to one sixth of the overall finished drop of the curtains.
Think about the functionality of your curtains - do they need to protect furniture from the sun during the daytime? Do you want blackout curtains in your bedroom? If you have a lot of window area to dress, consider a less expensive fabric, but then dress it up with gorgeous trimmings or a border and maybe a stunning pole too.
Wherever possible, use interlining in your curtains - an absolute must with silk or finer fabrics, as this really adds body to your curtains and helps them to hang much better. Always use the best quality lining, as this will help protect your fabric from the effects of the sun.
Traditional window treatments
Traditional window treatments such as swags and tails look wonderful in a period home, but can be out of place and too fussy for a modern home, where a simpler design can be far more effective.
Fabrics to consider in a traditional scheme include damasks, silks and embroidered floral silks and velvets.
The colours are also important - rich reds or deep blues and purples will give a very opulent period feel to a room.
Poles can be very decorative and elaborate - heavy wooden poles with beautifully carved finials and holdbacks. Headings to choose from would include goblets, swags and tails and curtains with attached valances - either goblets or pleats.
Pelmets can be more detailed - shaped pelmets as elaborate as you wish to be!
Trimmings can be very much a part of a traditional window treatment - fringes and braids can be used to edge both the curtains and any pelmet, and tassels can also be incorporated - smaller tassels within a pelmet design and larger tiebacks to sweep the curtains back. An attached valance can look very effective with a bullion fringing along the bottom.
Classic window treatments
Classic curtains tend to be simple and unfussy, and in fabrics that will not date.
Consider textured fabrics such as silks, linens and velvets, damasks. Plain fabrics or those with simple two tone / two coloured patterns. Headings should be kept simple too - pencil pleats, box pleats or double / triple pinch pleats work well, hung from a simple pole with a wood stain finish. Also consider a simple rectangular pelmet in the same fabric, or a contrasting plain - this plain contrast could also be introduced as a border on the leading edges of the curtains.
Keep any trimmings unfussy and simple too, or leave these off completely.
Contemporary window treatments
The adage 'less is more' holds true here.
Often Roman Blinds are considered as an alternative in a contemporary setting, but curtains certainly have their place too - well made, lined and interlined curtains will always be more effective in insulating a room against cold in the winter and heat in the summer, and they absorb sound more effectively too.
Keep the window treatment very simple - eyelets are a popular choice, but also consider a cartridge heading hung from a sleek pole - maybe chrome / steel or a light wood stain - beech for example. A plain rectangular pelmet also works well, and in contemporary interiors, a shallow rather than a deep pelmet can look very smart.
Fabrics to consider would include plains, textured plains or a mix of different plains together with bands or borders in contrasting colours.
Colour has made its way back big time, in defiance to the years of neutrals and creams. Do bear in mind that strong colours with dominant patterns can take a while to get used to, and you may tire of these more quickly. The bolder the colour and pattern, the more you must simply adore the fabric and be sure you can live with it!
Country/rustic window treatments
Again, keep it simple. Curtains with an attached floppy valance work well (the valance can be in a contrasting fabric), as do pencil and pinch pleats.
Fabrics to consider are fresh floral printed cottons and chintzes, checks and stripes - ginghams for example - don't be afraid to mix these. Poles can be oak or pine with simple finials. Keep away from fussy trimmings - consider simple braids or button braids. Keep tiebacks in the same fabric as the curtains.
When choosing your pole, think carefully about your choice of material, taking note of the other furnishings in your room as well as the fabric itself. If the room is very contemporary, you may wish to consider a metal pole or a beech one with very contemporary finials.
Consider what metals there are already in the room - are the door and window fittings brass or chrome? It may look more coordinated to have your pole in the same finish. Likewise, if you have a wooden floor, or natural wood doors rather than painted ones, you may wish to use a similar wood finish for your poles.
Crucially, always consider the colour of the pole against the colour of your fabric - one must compliment the other. In a bedroom, consider the bed, which is most probably the focal point in the room. A pole can echo the wood or metal from the bed frame.
Alternatively, consider a padded pelmet to give a soft frame to the window.