13 beautiful window dressing ideas

Whether you have a bay or straight window, discover the best way to dress it up. From curtains and drapes to Roman blinds, we've picked the best window dressing ideas to inspire your next project

Looking for window dressing ideas? We can see why! Since the first humans moved out of their caves into manmade accommodation, windows have been essential for letting daylight in and allowing inhabitants to see out, if only to spy on what the neighbours are up to! It may be a cliche, but windows really are the eyes of your home and the way you dress them can make or break your room scheme. Not only does the design you choose need to be attractive, it will ultimately dictate the light that’s cast into the space, so a versatile window dressing is your best option.

First things first, begin by cleaning your windows before you start dressing them. Get rid of those cobwebs and sticky finger prints with a thorough wipe down so that they sparkle on the inside and out.

When it comes to bedrooms, blackout curtains are a popular option as they are lined to prevent extra light pouring into the room and spoiling your sleep. Similarly, roller blinds with a blackout lining are another great choice for bedroom windows.

Venetian blinds are a smart idea for kitchens and bathrooms, with varieties including metal, plastic and wood. These can be tilted to let more or less light in and for extra privacy, plus, they are easy to wipe clean. For conservatories, vertical blinds are a practical solution, but can look a little dated and roller blinds are often chosen in favour for a contemporary look.

For French doors or patio doors, thermal curtains are a good idea to keep your room cosy and warm. A stiffer curtain fabric will create an elegant drape, however, lighter voile curtains are ideal for teaming with blinds at windows that require a little extra privacy.

Alternatively, shutter blinds are a stylish selection with a continental feel. They’re available in many contemporary shades and materials to suit your scheme and similarly to blinds and curtains, can be made to measure to fit your windows.

Use roll up and Roman blinds

Roman blinds and roll-up varieties are a simple yet stylish solution for conservatory windows. They can be hung over each panel of glass and can be tied at different heights depending where the sun hits to create shade and prevent the room from getting too hot. Lighter colours will maintain a feeling of space and reflect heat, or why not choose a blind fabric to coordinate with other textiles in the room, such as upholstered furniture and accessories? This style offers such simplicity, you could even make one yourself with this simple Roman blind tutorial.

Stylist’s tips
For a luxe feel in a bedroom, try a real or faux silk or for a traditional look, opt for a crisp linen in stone or cream.

Where to buy
For similar fabric, try Sanderson Sojourn Peas & Pods in Leaf Green & Ivory, £47.37 per metre, Jane Clayton & Company.

Use printed panels

French door blinds and curtains can be difficult to select, however these sheer panel curtains are a pretty pick for a vintage-inspired interior. Voile fabric panels featuring bold floral prints in coordinating colours have been joined to create beautiful sheer curtains that still let the light through. To further the country feel, hang using a narrow iron pole and small curtain rings to match.

Stylist’s tips
Team with a neutral blackout blind in a bedroom for added privacy during the daytime.

Where to buy
For a selection of printed and plain voile curtain panels, visit Terrys Fabrics.

Use a cafe curtain

A dainty cafe curtain or half curtain is the perfect solution for a kitchen window. A voile fabric in a pretty print to coordinate with your kitchen scheme like this feather print fabric is ideal. This style of window dressing still lets in plenty of light but provides a little privacy if your kitchen window is at the front of the house where passers by may be able to look in. Cafe rods that fit easily into the window recess can be picked up for just a few pounds.

Stylist’s tips
Make your own cafe blind by cutting a long strip of voile fabric the length of your window, then hem the bottom edge and create a channel the width of your rod at the top.

Where to buy
White cafe rod, from £2.50, Dunelm.

Use shutters

California Shutters

The traditional shutter is an inspired and effortlessly stylish choice of window dressing and has become increasingly accessible. There are many different styles on offer, including full window shutters, the half cafe design and full solid shutters to completely block out light – ideal for bedrooms. For kitchens and bathrooms, opt for waterproof vinyl shutters to ensure water and humidity doesn’t damage your purchase over time. If you’re looking for value for money, crafted shutters are the way to go as these are made from medium density fibreboard, where as hardwood is the classic choice.

Stylist’s tips
Paint your shutters in a bold shade for a statement window dressing that coordinates with your unique room scheme.

Where to buy
Classic Poplar Wood Shutters in Little Greene pink slip Custom Colour Paint, from £177m2, California Shutters.

Use sheer curtains

A modern take on traditional lace curtains, sheer curtains made from voile or chiffon fabric are an excellent option for dressing windows in rooms that you want to allow light into, but don’t want passers by to be able to see in like glazed outside doors or cloakrooms. Use a narrow rod that fits the frame so it’s virtually invisible and hem curtains just below the glass. Fit the curtains a pane or two from the top to let in light above where people can see in.

Stylist’s tips
Use a voile fabric with a subtle embroidered detail for a frosted effect – perfect for windows at the front of the house or bathrooms.

Where to buy
For similar curtains, try Tangier slot top voile panel in white, from £25, John Lewis.

Use tie top curtains

Tab top curtains in a subtle print are a laid-back solution to dressing large bay windows. They’re easy to make yourself as you don’t need to attach curtain rings or hooks. They’re also easy to remove when you fancy a change as you just need to untie the tabs and swap to a new design. This style of window dressing works best with lightweight or sheer fabrics. Tab top curtains offer a similar look and are available readymade from many retailers.

Stylist’s tips
Select a pole in a coordinating colour to the windows and walls so it doesn’t detract from the soft nature of the curtains.

Where to buy
For similar curtains, try the Scenario cotton voile panel with tie tops in White, from £17, La Redoute.

Use a wave heading

Window dressing

Window dressing

Soft waves of fabric create a smart but simple finish that’s easy on the eye. A wide Tempo heading pleat makes curtains fall in soft, regular waves, so they will always look just right. Team it with a sleek, modern suspension rail that the curtains glide below and let the curtains sit flush with the floor so they’ll look neat open or closed.

Stylist’s tips
A cut-velvet pattern adds a luxurious edge to this otherwise pared-down window treatment.

Where to buy
Curtains made in Bolivia 230 0321, £37 per metre, Camengo.

Use a double pole

Need to dress your window for privacy and prettiness? A double pole lets you do both

A clever double pole design means you can hang both a sheer and a curtain around the bay window, but draw them independently. Brackets normally get in the way of curtain rings being pulled around a bay, but this design uses passing rings that allow the curtains to be drawn all the way round. A standard heading tape left ungathered on both curtains creates a soft, informal effect. Keep the sheers sill-length for a neat finish and go for floor-length curtains to create real impact in a bay.

Stylist’s tips
Team a bold, modern, floral curtain fabric with a floral patterned voile for a modern take on a curtain and sheer.

Where to buy
Curtains made in Samara J515F-01, £37 per metre, Jane Churchill. Voile curtains made in Sophia 074, £48 per metre, Harlequin. Fusion double curtain rail, custom-made by the Bradley Collection.

Use a pelmet

For a contemporary take on a traditional curtain finish, use a flat pelmet layered over voile curtains sporting coordinating tie-backs. This style provides a neat finish to your windows as it hides curtain poles and other fixings. Recreate the look of a sophisticated hotel bedroom by selecting pillows to match your pelmet and tie-back fabric. Opt for a simple geometric print with a Moroccan vibe to echo the design of an ornately shaped pelmet, but keep colours fresh and neutral for a modern look.

Stylist’s tips
Install a venetian blind behind the pelmet for extra privacy and to keep light out of the bedroom when required.

Where to buy
The Mullion cushion cover by Nicky Haslam, £36, OKA. For similar blind fabric, try Marson Abba linen, £26.50 per metre, Textile Express

Use single curtains

If you have a sequence of large windows in a room, choose single curtains instead of pairs hung centrally to give a contemporary, laid-back look. Omit holdbacks for a further relaxed feel, instead opting for a lightweight fabric such as linen as it gathers and drapes beautifully. Allow plenty of length on the curtains so they pool on the floor to complete the look.

Stylist’s tips
Use a narrow chrome pole with small curtain rings so as not to overpower the overall effect. Small curtain rings will also allow you to gather the curtains more tightly to let in more light in the absence of tie-backs.

Where to buy
Dover linen fabric in light grey, £12.50 per metre, The Millshop Online

Use blinds and curtains

Printed Roman blinds layered with plain curtains are an elegant way to dress a bedroom window. Go for a bold pattern that coordinates with your room scheme and choose a complementary plain fabric for the curtains. Combine with pretty tie backs for added detail to your window dressing. If your blind isn’t made from black-out material, or you’re especially sensitive to the light on bright mornings, the curtains can be drawn in addition to the blind at night time. For a contemporary look, choose a sleek metal pole and curtains with coordinating eyelets.

Stylist’s tips
Hang your blind within the window recess and install the curtain pole on the outside leaving a good gap above the top of the blind to provide a soft framing effect.

Where to buyFor similar blind fabric, try Hydrangea Duck Egg floral linen, £19.44 per metre, Laura Ashley.

Use a leading edge

Create an eye-catching effect for a plain window with a vivid leading edge

A curtain with a leading edge is a real show stopper. A contrasting fabric from the back of the curtain is continued to the front, and simple holdbacks allow even more of it to be on show when the curtains are open. Use a simple pencil pleat and an unfussy pole to keep all the attention on the curtains themselves. You can enhance the effect of this stunning treatment by choosing a pole that’s slightly wider than the window, which tricks the eye into thinking that the window is bigger than it really is and allows you to hold the curtains back without blocking light.

Stylist’s tips
A satin-finish fabric for the leading edge gives it even more attention-grabbing shimmer.

Where to buy
Curtains made in Stanza Onyx 1041/04, £20.50 per metre; Leading edge,
backing and cushion made in Valetta Gerbera, £23.50 per metre; all Villa Nova.

Use panels

Mix panels of plain and pictorial fabric for a window that's a real work of art

A fabric with a pretty illustration is a great way to dress up a window with an uninspiring view. Use plain fabric for two-thirds of the length, with the panelled pattern on the lower third. Create visual separation between the two with a ribbon braid, finishing off with a trim below. An eyelet heading on a pole means the fabric won’t fold up, so the illustration can be seen clearly. Keep the curtains to sill height so they hang properly, draw easily and don’t block heat from the radiator.

Stylist’s tips
Choose a plain fabric in a paler contrasting colour and trim the join to make the print stand out.

Where to buy
Curtains made in Agean Blue, £8.99 per metre; Beaded trim, £5.99 per metre; both The Fabric Warehouse. Panels made in Petits Oiseaux in Framboise on White, £39.50 per metre, Brocante Fabrics.

There are many different varieties of curtains to choose from, it’s easy to get a little bamboozled. How will you be dressing your windows? Let us know your thoughts!

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