Home drapery guide - Part 1

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Trends in window treatments have changed considerably in recent years. The new model is "less is more." Gone are the ruffles of lace and the layers of rich gold cording, fringes and passimenterie. This is the first part of a three part series of a practical guide to home drapery.

Today we want simplicity without all the frills – window treatments that are easy on the eyes and draw you to the window, rather than the symphony of detail that surrounds it. Even the more traditionally styled rooms have window treatments designed with less excess – clean lines without the fuss and elegance without the mess.

Draping our windows with fabric blocks out the light and maintains privacy, but not all windows in the home need to have the full treatment. Function considerations include the amount of sunlight or privacy needed in the room. If the window is a beautiful big Gothic window, perhaps hiding it behind heavy drapery may not be the answer. Sheers do a wonderful job of diffusing light. They also add a certain amount of privacy without drawing attention away from the window itself. On the other hand, if the window is insignificant or isn't particularly pleasing, curtains or drapery can hide its flaws and add instant beauty to the window and the room.

Windows treatments are very often the last design element the designer will consider.  It is usually number four on the designers check-list, after the walls, floors and furniture decor is completed. Window treatments finish the room, closing it and adding warmth.

For the designer today, the choices in textiles, finished curtains, rods and other treatment elements are almost without limit. Curtain and drapery textiles are varied and what you choose depends only on your imagination and the style of the room. Choose a treatment the decor in the room dictates. Fully dressed windows are perfect for traditional decor, but would look out-of-place in a contemporary room.

Once you've settled on the style of the room, you need to consider the style of the window to help you decide what sort of window treatment it needs. Narrow windows can be made to look wider by adding a wider rod and running the drapery panels across the track well passed the edge of the window frame. If you want the the window to appear taller, mount the rod close to the ceiling. Designers learn to choose fabrics that blend with the wall, furthering the illusion that the widow is bigger than it really is.

Designers often encourage homeowners to have custom-made drapery. Ready-made drapes may not fit the window perfectly and they may not be lined well. The most luxurious curtains are double-sided not simply lined with a white backing. Black-lining sandwiched between the two layers offer more privacy and result in a richer looking room. In the day, the colour of the drape is stronger because it is less see-through. With black-lined drapery, the fabric takes less time to fade. It improves the actual drape of the material, or the way it falls, and has better insulation value. It looks better from the outside as well.

By having your drapes custom-made they can be designed with this in mind. With custom-made drapes and curtains you can have the fabric you really want and you can be less stingy with the amount of material you use. Rich, full drapes with a slight puddle are difficult to achieve in ready-made drapes. Custom-made drapes and curtains give the room individuality and richness.

In part two of this drapery guide, we will look at the process of dressing a window as well as the use of colours, textures, fabrics and pleats to create the perfect drapery for any home.

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Zaha Wright

Freelance home and garden blogger. Loves architecture, photography, travel and tea. When not writing, she can be found building a puzzle (or two) or listening to classical music.


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