Window treatment ideas – 31 ways to dress with curtains, blinds and shutters

Whether you have a bay or straight window, discover the best window dressing idea to suit your style
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  • 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. Take away all the inspiration you need with our window treatment ideas.

    Window treatment ideas for all rooms

    When it comes to window dressing ideas for 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.

    1. Clash colour and pattern

    Colour clash window treatments by Sophie Robinson for Hillarys

    Image credit: Hillarys

    DIY SOS designer and official ‘Friend of Ideal Home’ Sophie Robinson has blown our socks off with this genius combo of floral patterned blinds and geometric print curtains. It’s a pairing that you might question on paper, but which looks AMAZING in the flesh.

    Sophie describes herself as a ‘self-confessed colour lover, cushion hugger and pattern clasher’ and explains that ‘this room ticks all three boxes, giving a high-energy appeal that’s the antithesis of polite beige.’

    Stylist’s tip: Short curtains only really work in cute country cottages – go floor-length wherever possible

    2. Make a statement with bold Roman blinds

    living room with bold blinds

    Image credit: ILIV, Blinds in Botaniska in Teal, from £22 per m

    For an unfussy alternative to curtains, we always recommend looking to window blind ideas – and Roman blinds are possibly the smartest. Fabric panels are softly pleated for a tailored look with blinds positioned inside a window recess or on the outside. Try lining and trimming blinds in a contrast colour fabric for a chic look.

    ‘You need way less fabric for a blind than you do for curtains,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd, ‘so you can splash out on a more luxurious fabric to really make a statement.’

    3. Highlight a statement window design

    french doors with floral blinds

    Image credit: Villa Nova, Curtains made in Broderie fabric in Spring, £37 per m

    Don’t cover up gorgeous French doors or a lovely view outside. Fix up a curtain pole that extends beyond the windows on both sides so that curtains can be pulled back out of the way.

    ‘Consider if the window is worth celebrating or disguising,’ says interior designer Helen Harry, ‘some are way too beautiful to be completely covered over by window dressings. I also look at the natural light, the view and the amount of privacy needed.’

    4. Use pale blind with black walls for glamour

    Black living room with pink blinds by Hillarys

    Image credit: Hillarys

    We know we shouldn’t have favourites. But this is ours.

    Mad About The House blogger Kate Watson-Smyth has won us over with this combination of soft pink blinds and dramatic dark grey walls. She’s had a bit of fun, too – hello and nice to meet you, pineapple floor lamp!

    Kate says of her handiwork: ‘This trend is all about making and breaking the rules, contrasting hard and soft, mixing vintage and modern and refined sophistication with a rough and ready edge.’

    Stylist’s tip: Millennial pink is a great neutral that isn’t just for the girls.

    5. Frame practical shutters with coloured curtains

    curtain ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Davide Lovatti

    In rooms where you choose a window treatment based on practicality, such as shutters on the lower half of a living room window to offer privacy, it’s best to choose a timeless white design.

    To add the colour and decoration you can frame the window with curtains that are there more to add decoration – you might not ever need to draw them, but they become essential to soften the look and add pattern or colour to your decorating scheme.

    6. Find a neat solution for roof windows

    grey roof blinds in a loft room

    Image credit: Swift Blinds

    Skylight windows are a brilliant way of opening up and allowing more light into a loft space. But to ensure a good night’s sleep and to make sure that roof spaces don’t get excessively hot, some kind of window covering is essential.

    These blackout roof blinds fit snuggly to the window to provide darkness day or night and come in a range of fabrics and frame colours.

    Buy now: Luna blackout roof blinds in shadow black with silver frame, from £19, Swift Direct Blinds

    7. Use a cafe-style 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 tip: 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.

    8. Layer materials in the same tone for minimal luxe

    Cream curtains in living room with green sofa

    Image credit: Hillarys

    This look was conceived by Daniela Tasca-York, winner of 2017’s Great Interior Design Challenge. If you watched the show, you might recall her penchant for curtains. Even the lack of actual windows didn’t hold her back.

    This light and luxe look combines curtains of different fabric weights and similar cool creamy tones. With the glam factor upped by metallic furniture. Marble-effect wallpaper and a deep-pile rug, this scheme wouldn’t look out of place in an LA condo.

    Stylist’s tip: With this tailored look, it’s important to get the length of the curtains just right. Avoid mistakes by buying made to measure.

    9. Draw attention to a shapely bay window

    bay window with yellow blinds and curtains

    Image credit: Curtains2go

    Make a feature of a classic bay window with a combination of blinds, to accentuate the shape of the bay, and elegant drapes to highlight the height of the room. 

    ‘Pattern adds interest, but it doesn’t have to be garish or loud. It can be subtle and calming, yet interesting and textured,’ says interior designer Helen Harry on how to dress a bay window.

    Buy now: Clarissa Hulse curtains in Dill Ochre, from £46.64, Curtains2go

    10. Double-up with a ‘day and night’ design

    sheer and black out combi blinds

    Image credit: Blinds2go

    Picture windows and bi-fold doors look stunning, but glare from the sun can be a problem on very hot days. This clever design features a sunscreen to the rear to reduce glare and give daytime privacy, plus a blackout roller blind to the front for night time shading, all installed on one set of easy brackets.

    Buy now: Double roller Ore roller blind in grey, from £16.90, Blinds2go

    11. Seek privacy with classic shutters

    grey bathroom with shutters

    Image credit: California Shutters, Cafe-style shutters in white from £168 per sq m

    For a window treatment that won’t date, try classic wooden shutters. Ideal for period properties, shutters look stylish indoors and when viewed from the exterior of the property.

    ‘Café style shutters are a good option, giving privacy, plus letting natural light in too,’ says interior designer Helen Harry. ‘Shutters can be pricey, so I’d always go for white for longevity.’

    12. Make windows look bigger with clever curtain trick

    neutral pleated curtains

    Image credit: Terrys

    Try this trick if you want to make a narrow set of doors feel wider or a small window appear bigger. Choose a pole wider than the window, so that curtains can be stacked back on each side – having most of the window frame on show creates the illusion of width. Likewise, fixing the pole slightly above the frame will make windows appear taller too.

    Buy now: Buckland lined curtains in natural, from £86.99, Terrys

    13. Create a smart country look with plains and stripes

    Rustic living room with wood panelled wall and sage curtains

    Image credit: Hillarys

    Here’s one for all the countryphiles out there.

    Stylist Emily Henson has put together a look that she describes as ‘soothing and relaxing, cosy and nurturing’. The elegant double pinch-pleat curtains frame blinds in smart stripes to classy and classic effect, and the layering continues with a generous pile of cushions and throws on the sofa.

    Who wouldn’t want to snuggle down in that room?

    Stylist’s tip: Linen curtains are a classic choice that won’t date. If you’re planning to splash out on curtains, they’re a good way to go.

    14. Choose practical blinds for a kitchen

    kitchen with floral blinds

    Image credit: Hillarys, Evelyn Nectarine roller blind, from £55

    Fancy curtains and fussy blinds aren’t the best choice of window covering for a busy kitchen. Aside from the fire risk, heavy materials retain cooking smells and can be damaged by steamy conditions.

    These blinds have a moisture-resistant easy-clean finish and come in a range of patterned fabrics including this pretty watercolour design. The range includes matching roller blinds and skylight blinds for a chic co-ordinated look.

    15. Use tie top curtains

    Image credit: Future PLC

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

    16. Set the scene 

    dining room with pictoral blind

    Image credit: Blinds2go

    If space either side of a window is tight, opt for a neat roller blind fixed to the frame or inside a recess. Create wow by choosing a bold colour, lively pattern or a striking pictorial scene.

    ‘Keep it simple and don’t drown the window in layers of fussy blinds or curtains,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd.  ‘A simple roller blind fixed above or on the window (or even right up against the ceiling) won’t block out too much light.’

    Buy now: Wilderness blackout roller blind in topaz linen, from £35.45, Blinds 2go

    17. Create a rosy glow with soft sheers

    dining room with pink sheer blind and curtain

    Image credit: Hillarys, Serenity Powder voile curtains and Roman blinds, from £125

    Replace weighty winter curtains and blinds with lightweight voiles and floaty sheers over the warmer summer months. An easy way of brightening up a room, sheer fabrics will let natural light in while still providing plenty of privacy.

    Stylist’s tip: Choose a simple wave curtain heading that will make curtains fall in soft, floaty waves, teamed with a softly pleated blind for a relaxed, laidback look.

    18. Go big with a bold botanical

    office with botanical blind

    Image credit: SurfaceView

    Ditch drab neutrals that blend into the background and make a statement with a bold, standout design. Surface View’s bespoke roller blinds are custom made from a range of unique imagery that includes fine art prints and striking photography.

    Stylist’s tip: Choose a ‘wow’ fabric and it’s like hanging a piece of art at the window,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd.

    Buy now: Roller blind in Timonius Timon by James Miller, from £190, the Natural History Collection, Surface View

    19. Try tailored stripes for a chic look

    neutral office with curtain

    Image credit: Loom and Last

    Unsure about pattern? A subtle stripe or plain textured weave will always look classic and can easily be incorporated into a new colour scheme. Weaves also have the advantage of being slightly thicker than standard fabrics so are more insulating.

    ‘Bold patterns might draw your eye and make more of a feature of a window, but they will date more quickly, says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd, ‘and you might tire of them sooner – fine if you like to redecorate every few years, but not ideal if you’re thinking “this is it” for the next 15 years.’

    Buy now: Blackout lined eyelet curtain in Aurea Red, £27.50 per m, Loom & Last

    20. Frame a gorgeous view

    window seat with blind

    Image credit: Next

    Build a bench seat into a window recess so you can make the most of a glorious view outdoors. Keep the window treatment neat and tailored by opting for an unfussy pleated blind that can be pulled up out of the way without obscuring too much of the glass.

    Buy now: Cotton blackout Roman blind in dark natural, from £40, Next

    21. Use roll up and Roman blinds

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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 how to make a Roman blind tutorial.

    Stylist’s tip: 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.

    22. Add an accent colour with 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 tip: Paint your shutters in a bold shade for a statement window dressing that coordinates with your unique room scheme.

    23. Create an airy vibe with 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 tip: Use a voile fabric with a subtle embroidered detail for a frosted effect – perfect for windows at the front of the house or bathrooms.

    24. Use a wave heading

    Floral curtains

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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 tip: A cut-velvet pattern adds a luxurious edge to this otherwise pared-down window treatment.

    25. Hang a double pole

    grey bedroom with curtains and voiles and padded headboard

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    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 tip: Team a bold, modern, floral curtain fabric with a floral patterned voile for a modern take on a curtain and sheer.

    26. Use a pelmet

    Neutral bedroom with silk curtains and pelmet

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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 tip: Install a venetian blind behind the pelmet for extra privacy and to keep light out of the bedroom when required.

    27. Style with single curtains

    grey bedroom curtains

    Image credit: Future PLC

    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 tip: 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.

    28. Combine curtains and blinds

    BLUE LIVING ROOM

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    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 tip: 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.

    29. 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 tip: A satin-finish fabric for the leading edge gives it even more attention-grabbing shimmer.

    30. Enhance decor with decorative panels

    Grey curtains with floral panels in living room

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    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.

    31. Layer patterned panels

    Window dressed with blind and layered patterned curtain panels

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    Add layers to dress windows to the max. Voile fabric panels featuring bold floral prints in coordinating colours have been layered to create beautiful sheer curtains that still let the light through. To further the eclectic feel, hang using a narrow iron pole and small curtain rings to match and a tieback for the perfect finishing touch.

    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.

    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!

    Additional words: Amy Cutmore

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