Home drapery guide - Part 2

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Trends in window treatments have changed considerably in recent years. This is the second part in this three part series in which we look at how you can apply the same techniques and principles used by interior decorators to dress your home’s windows with modern and elegant drapery.

To dress a window, the designer always begins at the back.

In the living room, sheers behind the drapery soften the light. Sheers are exactly that – sheer or see-though. Gossamer sheers come in many textures and patterns. Some have other materials woven into the fabric or they may be embossed with floral or geometric patterns. Others may have tonal embroideries.  Coloured sheers are also popular and can be used to add uniformity to a room.

The designer can find exactly the style, colour and design of sheers needed to match any room – perhaps a rich red for an Asian-inspired room, or a two-tone beige and brown for an African-inspired room. Cocoa browns and smokey blacks are very trendy today and can immediate add drama to both a feminine and a masculine space. The most beautiful sheers today have subtle detail, exquisitely unexpected. Today's sheers are casual and luminescent – as important to the window treatment as the drapery itself.

The richly coloured velvets of the 1990's remain today as a classic drapery material. We love the way the fabric feels, the way it drapes and falls into a puddle on the floor, the way it catches light and shadow. During the renaissance , the old masters loved adding velvet drapes to their paintings for this very reason. It was a study in velvet. Silk offers  the same luxurious texture. Another popular trend for living room drapery is novelty fabrics, like zebra prints, but novelty fabrics for drapery are usually short-lived in the design world. The classics have been used in drapery since silk was brought from China to Europe. As classics they never go out of style.

Drapery textiles are expensive. To avoid errors, use a test piece of the fabric you choose and place it near the window. Note how the colour changes with the changing light throughout the day. This is a good way to determine how well it blends with your decor. Tone-on-tone natural colours and textures offer a streamlined tailored look to any room. It works in contemporary design and traditional design. In traditional design, you can still have the the braids and cording if they aren't a hodge-podge of rich colours.  Tone-on-tone, tones it down. It's sleeker and less busy.

Drapery pleats are now longer than they were ten years ago. The short pleats at the rod were prim, tight and too perfect for today's tastes. For a less "decorated" look, designers lean toward looser pleating, double pleats as opposed to triple. Pinch pleated curtains did loose some furvor with the changing trends, but they are a classic element in drapery. Pleated curtains have had some design modifications. You can now have inverted pleats, box pleats, Parisian pleats and pencil pleats to name a few. These modifications and choices update the traditional styles of the past.

Many designers prefer grommets to pleating, but the choice depends on the room's style. Traditional decorating warrants the less-formal pleating, while a more contemporary styled room would suit grommets. But when the grommetted curtains are opened and closed again, they need to be straightened and rearranged. Pinch-pleated drapes characteristically retain their shape, maintaining a consistant appearance opened or closed.

When longer drapery settles on the floor, it is known as puddling. The amount of  puddling isn't as severe as it once was. Today, a few inches is enough, rather than the extra-long length. This can be very opulant and luxurious when not overdone. Interesting and unusual drapery rods add pizazz and style to your window. Today you'll find curtain and drapery rods with matching tie-backs in metal, glass, wood and ceramic. These can be very decorative for those who miss all the cord and passimenterie of the 1990's, but this hardware can also be very streamlined.
In part three of ‘Elegant Drapery In Today's Home’ we will look at dressing windows in other rooms in your home so they too will look trendy yet elegant.

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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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