Five steps to choosing the perfect curtain.
Step one …
The very first thing you should think about when chosing a window treatment is why you want curtains or a blind for your window.
You may think it obvious, but we all have different priorities and tastes and different windows and doors offer different possibilities. Some windows will not need curtains or blinds for privacy or warmth, but even a perfectly insulated house with beautiful windows, looking out over miles of uninhabited views will feel cosier with soft warm curtains to close in the winter.
Step two …
Think about is what the room is to be used for. Do you need privacy or to cut out as much light as possible in a bedroom? A sitting room with ill-fitting doors and windows would benefit from thick draught-excluding curtains. Do you want to reduce sound from outside or cut the echoes in a large airy space? Windows in a kitchen or scullery, which will be exposed to steam and smells from cooking, will need different treatment to windows in a study or drawing room. A child’s playroom will need short, washable curtains while a shift-worker’s bedroom calls for as much light-proofing as possible. Do you need to reduce the glare from south-facing windows?
- Reducing draughts
- Reducing the glare of the sun in a south-facing room
- Bringing out the shape of the window
- Hiding any unattractive features
- Blocking light completely
- Cutting noise
Step three …
Once you have decided on your priorities, you should look carefully at the window and its surround.
- Is there room above the window to fix a rod or pole?
- Is there room either side of the window to stack curtains back so that they don’t occlude the light during the day? You will need a pole or track approximately 30% longer than the glass width.
- Is there room to fix a blind within the window aperture or above?
Would a blind inside the alcove make the room too dark? When the blind is drawn up it will hang approximately 15 – 20 cm deep, depending on the depth of the folds.
Are there any radiators, sockets, fixings that might be covered or interfere with the hang of a curtain?
Step four …
Having established what might be possible, the next step is to decide on the style of treatment you would like. A newly built house with clean lines might call for eyelet hung curtains or roman blinds while an ancient country cottage with no two level surfaces may look better with softly pleated or gathered curtains.
The depth of your wallet comes into the equation at this point. Curtains take considerably more fabric than blinds although different styles of headings need different amounts. Tape headings generally need a width of approximately twice to 2 ½ times the length of the pole while hand-made pinch-pleat or goblet headings need approximately 2 ½ times the length of the pole if they are not to look skimped. Eyelet curtains only need 1 ½ times the length of pole while tab top curtains can use even less, lying almost flat when closed. For a roman or roller blind, the fabric requirement is simply the width plus a turning allowance, while an austrian blind will need approximately double the width.
Lining improves the hang of curtains and protects the face fabric from fading and interlining will help reduce draughts and noise but both will also increase the cost.
Step five …
Having decided on the style, you now need to choose your fabric. This is the fun part! You do not need to spend a fortune; with the clever use of trims and borders, you can create sophisticated and stylish curtains out of the cheapest fabrics, but you do need to take current furnishings into account. No matter how much you love a fabric, it may prove an expensive mistake if you then have to recover the sofa and change the carpet.