Stylists and interior designers will often tell you that good curtain ideas can really make a room, but only if selected with care. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to make your choice – with heading type, fabric weights, length, pattern, colour and practical considerations all needing careful thought.
So we asked three pros – an interior designer, a stylist and a curtain expert – to offer professional advice for their winning curtain ideas.
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In addition to choosing pretty, you need to think about practicality too. Consider if your chosen curtains require a pole or track.
‘This depends on the type of window, as well as the type of header you prefer,’ says Victoria Walker at Hillarys. ‘For example, a wave header needs to be fitted into a wave track, while an eyelet header just needs a pole. The most popular types of header are: wave, eyelet, double- and triple-pinch pleat, pencil and deep-pencil pleat.’
Curtain ideas for any room
1. Hang lined curtains in a bedroom
When choosing what fabric to use Victoria Walker at Hillarys, suggests thinking about the function, which room and which window it will be going in. ‘Voiles are sheer and translucent and a great way of letting the light in while still offering privacy, but black-out, lined curtains are a better choice for bedroom curtain ideas.
‘I’d always line curtains though – unless they are voiles – as lining makes your curtains look fuller,’ Victoria adds. ‘This helps reduce light leakages and provides extra privacy. Coloured lining is also available – think about grey or black facing out instead of white or ecru.’
2. Choose a pattern to compliment the view
If you’re looking to inject pattern into a neutral room, curtains are the ideal place to do so. A popular living room curtain idea is to frame the window or patio doors in a floral print that feels transitional to the outdoor space. ‘Choose a fabric that enhances your view – life a leaf pattern,’ suggests Interior Designer Yvonne Jones.
3. Take a minimal approach with a single curtain
You don’t always have to use a pair of curtains, if you have a small window or a door that requires dressing, simply buy one curtain for the job. Using a single curtain is a great small hallway idea, since it adds colour and pattern without making the space feel narrow or dark – like in this green and grey hallway idea that also uses a large mirror to maximise the space.
4. Look to linen curtains for a relaxed look
For a less formal approach to curtains opt for laid-back linen fabrics. A medium-weight linen or a linen mix is thicker than a voile but light enough to feel less strict than full lined curtain, offering a more relaxed look.
5. Add drama with velvet or bold print
Velvet is a sure fire way to add a sense of drama to any decorating scheme. Especially an ‘of the moment’ dark tonal pallet, as demonstrated in this charcoal grey living room. There are some great velvets around in fabulous colours, as well as lots of botanical and tropical designs at the moment.’
6. Choose a pattern that will standard the test of time
Good quality curtains are an investment, so don’t sacrifice the style and finish you want because you feel guilty about the budget. But whatever you choose, make sure it’s a design you’ll love for a long time, particularly in a room you use often, like a living room.
‘Good curtains last for years so you need to really love the pattern,’ advises Yvonne.
7. Hang curtains to the floor for ease
‘I love curtains that are fitted to the ground’ says Victoria. Yvonne agrees, ‘I like them to just touch the floor. If they puddle, then the fabric can crease or kind and not drape properly, as well as making opening and closing a nightmare.’
8. Allow curtains to puddle in front of a tall window
Curtain length is all about personal preference, but stylist Sarita Sharma loves the look of a puddle curtain against a tall window, which can also fit in well with relaxed shabby chic decorating ideas.
‘Although you do have to be careful with your choice of fabric, and if your room tends to get dusty or you have pets, then it’s not as easy to clean under them,’ she warns.
9. Tie curtains back with leather or tasselled ties
Think of tie backs as you would the belt to a dress, and dip into the latest trends for accessorising. It may surprise you to hear that certain designs are out, according to our experts.
‘Avoid fabric-shaped tie-backs, which are old-fashioned, and choose woven leather, beaded or even tasselled ones instead,’ advises Yvonne.
10. Make a small window feel bigger
Make a small window feel bigger by fitting a pole to extend further than normal. Drawing the curtains completely either side will help to open up the view, allowing the window to hold more presence within the room.
11. Create a boutique feel with a wave header
What is a wave header? Quite simply it’s the style of how the curtain is gathered at the top. A weave header is ‘where the fabric is gathered into softly rippling folds. It’s a less formal look than some of the other curtain header styles, perfect for creating a relaxed and informal feel within the home’ explain the experts at Hillary’s
12. Pair heavier curtains with a sheer voile
Soften the look of a heavier curtain but pairing with a lightweight voile. This is an ideal bedroom curtain idea because the voile provides an element of privacy while the curtains are drawn back. ‘I love well-made, hand-finished curtains hanging almost ceiling to floor, with a sheer voile,’ says Victoria.
13. Choose a pole that makes an impact
What you hang your curtains on can make just as big an impact as the window dressing itself. Pick a pole that co-ordinates with your fabric and suits your furniture style.
14. Add a blind in a matching pattern
Choose a small-scale version of your curtain pattern for the blind to unify them as a set, to dress the window cohesively.
While we are fans of blinds, they aren’t a good fit for all windows, and don’t do the same job as curtains. Yvonne Jones advises that curtains are a better choice for both warmth and sound insulation. ‘They also create a different aesthetic, giving a bigger visual effect,’ she says.
15. Add a boxy pelmet
Forget the notion of a frilly pelmet, you can finish the look with a structure more contemporary solution. ‘A flat, boxy, straight pelmet adds neatness to a window,’ says Yvonne. ‘When choosing a pattern. Make sure you take the whole room into consideration.’
16. Team plain curtains with a patterned blind
‘If you’re not confident about using pattern, team plain curtains with a. patterned blind, ‘ says Victoria.
‘If dressing a really wide window, blinds can look awkward and out of scale,’ warns Sarita. ‘Likewise, on a really tall window, blinds can become cumbersome, especially Roman ones as you have to pull the full weight of the fabric up each time.’
What curtains are best for bay windows?
If you are wondering how to dress a bay window, Yvonne has some advice: ‘I’d always use a double- or triple-pleat heading on a bay window and hang the curtain under the track, not against it. This will allow the curtains to stack up better.’
What curtains are best for bifold and French doors?
‘I’d suggest curtains with a wave header on a wave track,’ says Victoria. ‘These would draw back to a minimal stack when open, so wouldn’t cove up too much of your view.’ Keep the curtain pole as wide as possible so you can draw the curtains completely out of the way to get maximum light when open,’ adds Sarita.
How do you clean curtains?
‘The bottom edges of your curtains are the first to really show the dirt,’ says Victoria. ‘It’s because they sit on the floor or windowsill. Dusting and vacuuming sills and flooring will help. Curtains will benefit from a regular clean, too – use the brush attachment on your vacuum, working top to bottom, front and reverse of your curtains when closed. You can also take them to the dry cleaners.’