Window Treatments 101: Hang ’em High!

I was recently asked the following question by a client of Design Monarchy:

Do you think I should take the curtains right up to the ceiling or will this make it look too formal?

And this was my short and simple reply back to her (we know each other well enough to keep it simple):

Yes – I always like to allow the curtains to drop from under the cornice. The pole or rail is generally installed about 1 cm under the cornice, with the curtains falling from below the pole. Not too formal at all.  It is not the height of the pole that makes it too formal, but rather the fabric and yours is lightweight and informal.

Decor Diva - Window Treatments 101 - Hang Them High (1)
Image via http://yummyscrumptious.blogspot.com/2010/10/good-drapes.html

Hanging your curtains from just below the ceiling or cornice and – if space allows – a good deal wider than the window frame will create the illusion of a loftier, airier space.

Naturally I am aware of the ceiling height of that particular house. I mention this since the ceiling height is naturally a factor to take into consideration.  The average ceiling height can range between 2.3 m to 2.5 m. I was replying with this in mind and even if the ceiling is higher than the average, I still advocate having the curtains drop from just below the cornice.  If you are going to the trouble of buying and installing curtains as your window treatment, then why not make it one of the room décor features, instead of merely functional pieces of fabric that can be dragged open & closed as you need it.

Coming out of my many years of working with window treatments, I have come to appreciate the fact that window treatments are one of the critical décor features in a room.  With the right criteria applied to your curtains, you will be able to create a décor feature that is unique to your room setting/home.

Decor Diva - Window Treatments 101 - Hang Them High (2)
Image via http://www.livecreatingyourself.com/2011/02/mo-pink-please.html

So, if you are ever in doubt just remember – hang them high, hang them wide!

Over the next few weeks, we will take a brief peek into some of these window treatment criteria, since window treatments are attainable to each and every one of us.

Ciao until the next time.

Window Treatments 101: Roman Blinds

We recently kicked off the series “Window Treatments“, painting a bit of a historical background picture, just to set the scene for the future articles.

For those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere spring is making way for those hot summer days. Our interior lifestyle begins to swing with it, as we go about the business of creating cool spaces to rattle around in.

Speaking for myself, I find that the seasons definitely impact on my window treatments. In winter all I want to do is hibernate indoors, pull shut the heavy draped curtains to block out all consciousness of the bleak cold and wet weather. The “bear-effect“.

Sheer Voile Curtains
Sheer curtains are a must for summer!

In summer just as we strip away the layers of clothing, so I feel like I want to strip away the layers on the windows in order to create more of that feeling of “openness”. Light-weight sheer fabrics for curtains – unlined naturally – that hang from a silver metal pole, so that when the breeze comes up, it gently lifts the curtain and plays with it.

The other ‘”less is more” option in terms of dressing a window are blinds that are either fitted into the window recess or externally if on installed on a door opening.

Roman Blinds
Some pretty plain-fabric Roman Blinds - perfect in bathroom setup. Image via: Urbaneblinds.co.uk

The varieties of blinds available today are just amazing. Today I will open up one of the old favourites:

ROMAN BLINDS:   These are normally made using a fabric and they are lined with a plain white or cream fabric as a rule. However, that does not mean that you are restricted to plain fabric linings.  The only reason that a plain sateen fabric is used for lining is due to the fact that this is the fabric that will be visible from outside the house.  The rule of thumb is to have all the curtains lined with the same fabric to retain a coherent exterior view when the curtains or blinds are drawn. It does begin to look a bit like a patchwork quilt if there are a variety of fabrics seen from the outside.

The other purpose of a lining is that it protects the main fabric from dust and dirt that penetrates through open windows. It also serves to protect the front fabric from the fading that happens with exposure to ultra-violet light.

Roman Blinds
You will find a lot of easy DIY Roman Blind tutorials on the net. Like this one from the Adventures in Dressmaking blog.

I cannot possibly go into the details of how these blinds are put together in the workshop, as that is just not my thing. If that is where your interest lies, I would suggest that a good google session will help you out there.

Suffice to say that these blinds are drawn up and down by means of a group of string cords thread through plastic eyelets.

The Roman Blind can itself be treated in a decorative way – such a having different shapes at the bottom, which can also be finished (or trimmed as we call it in the trade) with a piping cord. This piping cord can be covered either using the same fabric, or a contrasting colour.

Rebated Curtain Rail
A rebated curtain rod / pole. The curtain rail or blind baton is then fixed into the recess. This is a neat and elegant way of dealing with those unsightly curtain rails.

For a good many years now, the top of the roman blind (which is attached to a wooden or metal baton) can have the added feature of a covered wooden pole (either in same or contrast fabric). Or it can be painted to work in with the main body of colour in the fabric. This wooden pole has a small rebate cut out in it, into which the top of the blind fits. Very neat.

I like this finish as it completes the picture somewhat, making the blind look as if it is falling from under the pole.

Roman Blinds
Choose a nice funky and simplistic fabric design for a contemporary Roman Blind. Avoid a busy or "cluttered" pattern. These pretty blinds are via JohnLewis.com

In the 1980’s and first half of the 1990’s when the Laura Ashley country style was very popular we saw the resurgence of this blind as a window treatment. Here in South Africa Biggie Best adopted the same décor style and roman blinds were everywhere to be found.

As the “less is more” style moved in, the younger generation were less inclined to adopt their mom’s country style. Today although roman blinds are still to be found, the popularity has dwindled – like most trends.

The advantage of the Roman Blind is that you can have the fabric of your choice made up to fit the window in a less fussy manner to that of a curtain. Certain windows like those in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, staircases, smaller and narrower windows are more suitable to blinds and this is where the roman blind can work well.

Sheer Roman Blinds
These stunning sheer Roman Blinds allows for privacy without loosing too much light. Image via Blinds by Bayliss

The disadvantage of Roman Blinds is that fabrics need to be washed.  That can be quite a little exercise when you have to take the blind down and then re-install. Invariably you will need the assistance of a professional curtain installer. Other disadvantages – when the eyelets perish and break – the cording system is affected.  You will find you have a wobbly and lopsided blind when drawn up.

Naturally as a decorator you work with the likes and dislikes of your client, but I have to admit that I have moved away from the Roman Blind window treatment. My preference now – “less fuss is best”.

Next time we will look at the rest of the wide variety of blinds as window treatments…

Images via:
Sheer Curtains: left  &  right
Bathroom Blinds: here
DIY Roman Blind: here
Curtain Pole: left  &  right
Funky Roman Blinds: here
Sheer Roman Blinds: here
  

Décor Dictionary: Window Treatment

Window Treatment:   To “dress” or “cover” a window opening.  It is interchangeable with the term “Window Coverings”  (only difference is that it sounds posh and professional). Window coverings can be custom designed to specific measurements and styles.  It can be either functional or decorative, or both. Window coverings / treatments includes blinds, curtains, shutters, drapes, fabrics, hardware and tiebacks applied to the window opening and adjoining wall space.

Image via Anthropologie