When it comes to curtains, we only know that they protect our house from too much light or from the indiscrete eyes of the strangers. When we choose them, we hardly think of too many details, they should be practical and nice looking, because they inevitably attract the eyes of our guests. But maybe that is why we should pay more attention when it comes to picking them and placing them, as they represent one of the highlights of our home and they should be chosen properly.
Here are the main suggestions regarding the steps you take when you pick your curtain and what to take into consideration when you do it.
Set aside style considerations for a moment; function comes first and will limit your curtain choices, in a good way. If you want treatments that provide privacy or total darkness, you need lined curtains. If you’re OK with light filtering through or if your curtains are simply decorative, unlined will work. Lining is more expensive but has other advantages: It can shield fabric from sun damage, making curtains last longer. A lining also adds heft, which protects against drafts and helps fabric fall more luxuriously. For maximum durability, light blockage, body, and insulation, you can get curtains with an interlining, too—a layer of flannel-like fabric sewn between the lining and the “face” fabric. This is a common option for custom-made curtains but not widely available in less expensive ready-made panels.
Consider the mood of the room. For a formal space, there’s heavy silk or velvet (a great insulator); both are dry-clean only. More practical (often washable) options include silky rayon blends and cotton sateen. For a casual feel, there are billowy linen (generally dry-clean only) and crinkly crushed velvet. Cotton and cotton blends work with any type of decor and bring a crisp, neat feel, as does seasonless wool or wool blends.
You’ll need to decide if you want the curtains to blend with the decor or to pop. For blending, pick curtains that are the same tone as the wall but a few shades darker, or choose a non-dominant subtle color in the room (a soft shade from the rug, say). A bold color will work like an exclamation point (if you’re looking to add some wow). Also keep in mind that in a space where the sun shines through unlined curtains, the color will infuse the room. Blue can be eerie; pink, cheery.
Prints and Patterns
A rule of thumb: If you have patterned furniture or bedding (or a very elaborate rug), stick with solid curtains. If you have solid-color furniture or bedding, consider patterned curtains. For a subtle hit of style and energy, go for a small, neutral print, like dots or paisley, which reads like texture from afar. A large, graphic print in a color that relates to the existing decor is daring but can be spectacular.
How Long Should Curtains Be?
Floor-length is the way to go, unless there’s a radiator or a deep sill in the way. Ready-made panels are available in lengths from 63 to 144 inches. Measure from the floor to where you’ll hang the rod, then round up. You can always have the dry cleaner hem them a bit if needed. You’ll get the most current look if the fabric makes contact with the floor (or sill or radiator). Too-short curtains can seem nerdy and off, like high-waters. Here are two surefire approaches.
Where Should They Be Mounted In Relation to the Window?
Generally, hanging curtain brackets on the wall above and outside the window molding looks best; it allows fabric to fall gracefully. If you have detailed window frames you don’t want to cover, an inside mount (hanging curtains within the frame, as you would with a tension rod) can work. Below are two hanging tricks that decorators love for maximizing windows—you can opt for just one technique or use both on the same window.
What About the Top?
The top hem of a curtain, known as the heading, can help define the overall look—casual or formal, feminine or sleek—and also play a part in functionality (allowing the panel to slide easily or not). Here’s a quick rundown of common options.
1: Basic Heading, With Hooks
A traditional flat heading that attaches to the rod via rings stitched into its top hem or, sometimes, drapery hooks (the rings attach to the hooks). With either setup, the curtains move easily.
2: Rod-Pocket Heading
A channel along the top holds the rod and creates a casual, gathered effect. A nice choice for curtains that will stay put, because shimmying the fabric back and forth can be difficult.
3: Pleated Heading
There are many styles, from narrow pencil pleats to wide, flat box pleats. Because they’re structured, these panels read more formal than do other types. Pleated curtains generally operate with drapery hooks and rings.
4: Tab-Top Heading
Flat loops of fabric hang on the rod. This can look relaxed with sheers or buttoned-up with stiffer fabrics. A variation on this theme is tie-tops, with bows instead of flat loops—still casual but more feminine and romantic.
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