INTERIORS Deciding on window dressing

Curtain call – Deciding on window dressing

Interior design
Niamh Tuohy

This is one for the ladies out there. Do you ever take one aspect of an out-fit, say your ear-rings or a handbag, and build your look around that one particular piece? Not that I do. Just curious. Ahem, anyway, it sometimes helps to take a starting point and go from there. Before you know it, you’re mixing and matching like it’s going out of fashion (literally) and with half an ounce of luck, you’ll end up with an ensemble worthy of airing on a catwalk in Milan. You hope…
Designing your own home can sometimes be quite similar. It helps to choose an aspect that you either feel comfortable with or know will kick start the project for you. Personally, that aspect is curtains. It’s my spring board for any job. If you get the window dressing right, then you’re half way there.
First things first. Decide on what type of window cover you want. To do this, you need to think about what overall look you want to achieve. Contemporary? Traditional? Rustic? Period?
As mentioned in my previous articles, you need to take the style of house into consideration too. Putting swags and tails into a minimalist space is just wrong. Full stop. On the other hand, period houses don’t always require heavy drapes with extra fuss. Roman blinds (which fold up in pleats) can look great on a sash window and shows off the feature architrave around it rather than hiding it behind a lot of pomp and ceremony.
Choosing your colour scheme is also a major step in getting the effect you want right. You need to work out where it is you want to make your statement. In the sofa suite? The art work? The lighting? Or on your windows? Making too many statements will only end up with a room where everything is screaming for attention. Hardly a space you want to spend time in. If you use a strong and bold design in your curtains or blinds, then hold back in other areas. Keep colours neutral in the larger pieces of furniture and on walls, and pick up the bold theme again in small items such as lamp shades or cushions.
When choosing poles and rails, again, a number of factors come into play. If you’re going with curtains, but have very little room to play with either above the window or to either side you might have no choice but to use a rail. If, on the other hand, space isn’t an issue, a pole, either wooden or metal, would be appropriate. The width of the pole you use is very much dependent on the size of the window itself. The more commonly used dimensions range from 18mm, which would work on a smaller window, to 75mm, which would be quite a thick and substantial pole size and work best on large window openings.
Using accessories with your window dressing can be a great way to finish them off and paying attention to the finer details will give a quality product. Tie-backs come in every shape, style and shade you could possibly want. You can also dress up your curtains by adding an edging or beading, essentially a thin piece of fabric that is sewn along the inner or outer edges of the curtain and can finish them off to perfection. Try to play around with the material you choose too. If you’re using solid colours (no pattern) then you can create your own borders by introducing two different materials, but in complimentary shades.
And last, but not least, make sure your measurements are correct, as getting them wrong could be an expensive mistake. If in doubt, call in a professional. It might cost you more in the short term, but could save you a small fortune down the road.