Prized for warmth and statement style, curtains are making a comeback. Choose the right fabric, get the perfect hang and your windows will be the star of the show.
Since the turn of the millennium, we’ve been taking down our curtains in favour of putting up Scandi-style blinds and an array of shutters. But this year, they’re set to make a comeback.
Curtains have always introduced a sense of cosiness. Versatile and sumptuous, they set the tone of a room, adding colour, interest and warmth.
Kiss the floor: Cabbages & Roses Paris Rose curtains, £50, www.terrysfabrics.co.uk. Curtains can set the tone of a room, adding colour, interest and warmth
Keen to invest? Rather than buying the most expensive fabric, pay attention to texture, fullness and finish.
The cosseting nature of curtains is perhaps part of their appeal.
‘Right now, they create a sense of familiarity and calm,’ says interior designer Lisa Bradburn. ‘There is something comforting about drawing the curtains at night and shutting out the world.
‘The pandemic has made us crave a return to nature, too. I’m finding that clients are drawn to linens, soft wools and cottons, which all induce a sense of wellbeing.’
Choosing the right curtain depends on the purpose; are they to filter the light, provide privacy, or to add warmth or softness?
‘Assessing these priorities will help guide fabric choices as there are so many options from natural plains to embroidered prints and luxurious weaves,’ says Thomas Sanderson’s Laura O’Connell.
Bear in mind that curtains can add drama to a room or act as a subtle, but unifying decorative note. Bold patterns can work brilliantly but large drapes will become a substantial feature when drawn. So choose a print that you can live with.
‘If you have a lot of colour and pattern in a room already, then picking a complementary yet muted design with a decorative border or trim will help balance the space out,’ says Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding.
‘Conversely, a neutral scheme benefits from bolder drapes, whose colour or pattern can be picked up in cushions and accessories.’
Drawn and altered
Made-to-measure or ready-made? There are some quality, affordable choices among ready-to-hang, but don’t assume that bespoke will be out of your price range.
‘You can use an inexpensive linen with which to have curtains and blinds made, without breaking the bank,’ says curtain specialist Stephanie Douthwaite.
‘And there are also some online warehouses selling designer fabrics at a fraction of the cost.’
Whether you go for off-the-peg or bespoke, consider length, too. Full-length curtains, even at small windows, look more modern than half-height curtains.
‘In a busy kitchen with garden doors, you may prefer to keep the curtains just skimming the floor, but in cosier spaces such as living rooms and bedrooms, options that ‘kiss’ the floor, using an extra 2cm to 5cm in length, work well,’ says Alice Mackenzie-Charrington.
Lined curtains can help create a fuller look and block out much of the light. Interlined curtains, which have an additional layer, provide extra insulation and light reduction.
‘Some fabrics, such as silk or velvet, are more affected by sunlight than others, which can cause them to fade or deteriorate,’ warns interior designer Louise Robinson (louiserobinsoninteriors.com). ‘At a west or south-facing window, a lining is advisable to act as a protective barrier.’
All the trimmings
Don’t neglect trimmings and fittings. ‘Trimmings can turn everyday curtains into something extraordinary,’ says Samuel & Sons’ Marisa Gutmacher (samuelandsons.com). ‘A large-scale high contrast geometric border creates a bold statement, while a waterfall of cascading tassels or pom-pom fringing introduces a playful note.’
How your drapes hang is also determined by their heading. Traditional pleats — pinch, double, triple and cartridge — produce a curtain that hangs uniformly from top to bottom. More contemporary wave styles, which stack back neatly, work well with large windows.
If you are hanging curtains from a pole, think about size and scale. Use narrow rods with sheers and weightier rods for substantive fabrics.
‘Try adding a pelmet to the top of the curtains instead of a pole if you would like to have blinds too as this offers added depth for fitting or helps to project curtains over shutters, for example,’ advises Nicole Salvesen (salvesengraham.com).
Measuring is often best left to the experts. John Lewis & Partners (johnlewis.com) offers a complimentary service which is available virtually, too. And Hillarys (hillarys.co.uk) has advisers who offer home visits.
Choose curtains with these tips in mind and you’ll have a result that adds up to more than just window dressing.
What your home really needs is a… storage basket
The £40 Idaho black basket, pictured, from Habitat is at Argos (argos.co.uk)
Basket weaving, the world’s oldest craft, rose to popularity because the materials (grasses and reeds) were freely available, but also because these containers were handy for carrying and storing stuff.
Not much has changed, although back in 27,000 BC when baskets were first made, nobody envisaged their use as the place to stash ugly working-from-home kit in the 21st century.
But this is one of the reasons that your home needs some large baskets now.
In an ideal world, we would all be tidying up and ridding ourselves of unwanted impedimenta. But, in practice, we don’t have the inclination, and baskets give the impression of order.
The Cotswold Company (cotswoldco.com) has a £225 hall bench with three large baskets.
And Not On The High Street (notonthehigh street.com) has square handwoven baskets for £45. Ikea’s £12 Branas basket comes in natural, grey or white rattan (ikea.com).
The £40 Idaho black basket from Habitat is at Argos (argos.co.uk). A small price to pay to hide laptops, cables and other unlovely items.