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The curtain call: It’s no surprise drapes are making a big comeback

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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

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.

Curtain up

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)

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.

ANNE ASHWORTH

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Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

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Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

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An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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Over 40 complaints made about ‘unsuitable’ books on English curriculum

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Some books being studied by Junior Cert and Leaving Cert English students feature “disturbing and sick content” and material that is “clearly unsuitable for minors”, complainants have told the Department of Education.

The department has received more than 40 complaints on the issue in recent months, with one email to Minister Norma Foley describing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as “nothing but sadistic, upsetting and of no moral learning or value to students”.

The acclaimed dystopian novel is based in a patriarchal totalitarian state where women, or handmaids, are forced to produce children for commanders.

One “concerned parent” said they were “perturbed” that their teenager was studying the novel Room by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

‘Questionable’

They said many of the topics in the book were “questionable” and that greater consideration should have been given before the book was “forced upon sensitive people in this day and age”. The Booker-shortlisted story is told from the perspective of a young boy held captive in a small room with his mother.

The emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, were from parents, one of whom said they were “appealing to and begging” the department to change the curriculum.

One parent expressed “shock and concern” about the prescribed reading lists, citing a perceived “lack of vigilance regarding the age appropriateness” of some books. “The material is offensive, abhorrent and clearly unsuitable for minors,” they said.

The curriculum could “only be described as the sexualisation and desensitising of our children… there needs to be an investigation into this whole sordid affair”, another complaint said.

‘Enslaving’

One person said the book list was “enslaving” students to “abominable ungodly content”, while another sarcastically suggested there was “nothing to stop” Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestselling explicit erotic romance novel, being added.

Some emails were directed towards Ms Foley personally, and called for her to be fired and “held directly responsible”. The department’s response stated that the curriculum at all levels was considered to be for all learners “regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender or orientation”.

It said it was important that each book was viewed “in its entirety rather than being reduced to particular sections which may be especially controversial”, and that the texts had “strong literary pedigrees” and featured on curricula internationally.

There were also several emails sent to the department in defence of the curriculum, predominantly from students.

The text-list working groups for each subject, convened by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, are comprised of teachers, third-level lecturers, staff from relevant support agencies and experts in children’s and young adult literature. The curriculum did not change this year though the Minister said it would be reviewed in the coming months.


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