Choosing the right window treatment ideas requires an eye for choosing the right style and size of curtain or blind, to selecting the perfect colour and pattern.
‘Full-length curtain ideas give you the opportunity to have a large, bold print and make a statement, but if your window is small, go for window blind ideas with small prints, as it won’t take up unnecessary space,’ advises fabric designer Penny Morrison. Here we look at some of the different options available.
Not only does the design need to be attractive but 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
When it comes to window dressing ideas for bedrooms, blackout curtains are a popular option as they are lined to prevent extra light from pouring into the room and spoiling your sleep. Similarly, roller blinds with 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.
1. Increase insulation with floor length curtains
For single-glazed windows or those that are prone to draughts, full-length curtains in a thick fabric will help to increase the insulation – ideal for keeping your house warm in winter – especially as part of bedroom or living room ideas.
‘To help keep the cold out make sure you know how to measure for curtains. Ensure the curtain pole is approximately six inches wider on each side, and a few inches above the window recess, so the curtains hang and cover any gaps to exclude draughts,’ says Marie Goodwin, head designer at Prestigious Textiles.
2. Opt for durable kitchen blinds
With the moist and humid atmosphere of the kitchen, you might think that fabric blinds are unsuitable for a kitchen.
However, in a well-ventilated space, fabric blinds are a possible option. Blinds2Go X Morris’ beautiful Blackthorn print blind is made from 80 per cent polyester and 20 per cent linen meaning that it can be easily spot cleaned with warm water. Plus, the fabric is attached to the bar with Velcro to aid removal for cleaning.
When fitting window treatment ideas, it is important that you know how to measure for blinds to ensure the perfect fit the first time.
3. Don't overlook the trimmings
It is the little details that can make your curtains really stand out. ‘By adding a trim to both the side of the curtain and to the heading the eye is drawn upwards giving the illusion of height to a space,’ advises fabric designer Julia Brendel. ‘Choose a colour that coordinates with the curtain design and also works with the colours in the room. It makes the whole scheme more cohesive.’
Curtains made from Julia Brendel’s Mei in white on jade, paired with a fan edge trimming in cream.
4. Create a cocooning bedroom with velvet
Whenever you are bringing a new fabric into a scheme, it is important to consider the texture of the material in addition to its looks. Velvet has been loved for centuries and will instantly imbue a room with a luxurious finish.
Doubling up with velvet blinds and curtains will add a cocooning feel – which is one of the top bedroom design tips for better sleep.
Featuring gradient stitching, the velvet embroidery used for these curtains is a contemporary reinvention of William Morris’ 1876 Bluebell fabric from Morris & Co.
No matter how beautiful the fabrics are, it is vital that you know how to hang curtains beautifully to show them off to their best effect.
5. Choose cafe-style curtains for the best of both
Café-style shutter ideas are praised for their flexibility and privacy credentials, but café-style curtains often get forgotten. Offering the same benefits, they are perfect for softening a space where natural light is welcome but you want to retain privacy. Opt for a pretty pattern, such as Linwood's Small Prints Croquet in Rose for an element of colour and character.
6. Blackout blinds are a must for the bedroom
When it comes to bedroom curtain ideas, blackout blinds are a must for light sleepers, whether you want to block out a poorly placed street lamp or don’t want to be woken at sunrise.
‘Restricting light isn’t the only benefit to blackout blinds: some designs also act as an extra insulating layer, helping keep noise outside, where it belongs, and regulate the temperature of your room for a better night’s sleep,’ says Lisa Cooper, head of product at Thomas Sanderson.
7. Opt for blinds for a conservatory
When it comes to conservatory blinds, vertical blinds are a practical solution but can look a little dated and roller blinds are often chosen for a contemporary look.
‘Conservatory window treatments add personality to the space as well as texture, colour and cosiness, but they are also a practical choice. In summer, the ability to lower the blinds will protect you from the sun’s glare and create privacy, while in autumn and winter, they can prevent draughts and offer insulation,’ explains Adam Knight director at Nefarious Design, who designed this space.
8. Choose bamboo for sustainability
Highly sustainable, bamboo blinds move through the seasons, ensuring an airy feel in spring while still creating a cosiness in winter. ‘We had bamboo blinds in our childhood home in Denmark, and we loved the warm atmosphere they created: cold winter days with the blinds rolled all the way down and candles on the window sill, and the sun casting light through the slits,’ says Sofie Flach Melson, director of Color & Co.
9. Create your own Swedish blinds
Often overlooked, Swedish blinds are perfect for small windows that would benefit from a soft yet compact treatment. ‘These blinds are the easiest to handmake as
there is no mechanism; you simply roll and tie into place with ribbons,’ says Frances Barber from Welland & Wye. ‘A nice touch is to use two different fabrics to show off both designs as the blind rolls.’
10. Ensure privacy with sheer voiles
Voile curtain ideas are a popular choice in rooms where daytime privacy is required but you don’t want to compromise the natural light that enters the room. A world away from the net voiles of the past, loose weave linen offers a relaxed and airy feel that works
well in any style of room. Featuring tab top hangings, these floaty white linen curtains for a pair from Piglet in Bed, can be used in isolation or layered with heavier curtains or blinds.
11. Dress a small window with short curtains
Cottages are renowned for having small windows which will quickly feel dwarfed by full-length curtains. Instead, quaint sill-length designs not only provide a perfect frame for the more petite window but also add to the cottage aesthetic. Shorter curtains are also a good option if you plan to have furniture or a radiator directly under your window which would hamper access and functionality. Featured is Susie Watson Design’s handpainted Shalini linen in red.
12. Elevate your look with a pelmet
In recent years, pelmets have been finding their way back into modern interiors. ‘Curtain pelmets are perfect when you want to block out light – better than a curtain pole, where light can bleed above. They are decorative, allowing you to get creative with shapes to complement the room, and can also serve to conceal sheer roller blinds that can be fitted to the pelmet board,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch, founder of Sims Hilditch, who designed this space.
13. Make a feature of a bay window
Whether large or small nooks, knowing how to dress a bay window can be challenging.
‘When faced with the dormer windows of this very old house, we wanted the opportunity to put a piece of furniture in the recess, so made a bent brass pole to hang the curtains around it, rather than running the curtain across the front of the opening. It is lovely to sometimes be able to use curtains to enhance smaller windows, as it adds character,’ explains interior designer Sarah Vanrenen, who designed this space.
14. Clash colour and pattern
DIY SOS designer and 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.'
Short curtains only really work in cute country cottages – go floor-length wherever possible.
15. Make a statement with bold Roman blinds
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.’
16. Highlight a statement window design
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.’
17. Use pale blinds with black walls for glamour
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!
'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,' explains Kate.
18. Frame practical shutters with coloured curtains
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.
19. Find a neat solution for roof windows
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, from £19.35 at Swift Direct Blinds fit snuggly to the window to provide darkness day or night and come in a range of fabrics and frame colours.
20. 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.
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.
21. Layer materials in the same tone for minimal luxe
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.
With this tailored look, it's important to get the length of the curtains just right. Avoid mistakes by buying made to measure.
22. Double-up with a ‘day and night’ design
Picture windows and bi-fold doors look stunning, but glare from the sun can be a problem on very hot days. The clever double roller design, from £22.18, Blinds2Go, 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.
23. Seek privacy with classic shutters
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, from £272, California Shutters are a good option, giving privacy, plus letting natural light in too. 'Shutters can be pricey, so I’d always go for white for longevity,' advises interior designer Helen Harry.
24. Make windows look bigger with clever curtain trick
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.
25. Create a smart country look with plains and stripes
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.
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.
26. Choose practical blinds for a kitchen
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 Evelyn Nectarine from Hillarys.
27. 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.
Select a pole in a coordinating colour to the windows and walls so it doesn't detract from the soft nature of the curtains.
28. Set the scene
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.’
29. Create a rosy glow with soft sheers
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.
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.
30. Go big with a bold botanical
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.
'Choose a ‘wow’ fabric and it’s like hanging a piece of art at the window,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd.
31. Try tailored stripes for a chic look
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.'
Whether you're prone to changing your mind or not, using home furnishing discount codes will help cut the upfront cost of your window treatment ideas. This way you'll be able to stay on budget and if your tastes change it's less of an issue to replace.
32. Frame a gorgeous view
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.
33. Add an accent colour with 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, whereas hardwood is the classic choice.
Paint your shutters in a bold shade for a statement window dressing that coordinates with your unique room scheme.
34. Use a wave heading
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.
A cut-velvet pattern adds a luxurious edge to this otherwise pared-down window treatment.
35. Hang a double pole
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.
Team a bold, modern, floral curtain fabric with a floral patterned voile for a modern take on a curtain and sheer.
36. Style with 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.
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.
37. Use a 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.
A satin-finish fabric for the leading edge gives it even more attention-grabbing shimmer.
38. Enhance decor with decorative panels
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.
Choose a plain fabric in a paler contrasting colour and trim the join to make the print stand out.
39. Layer patterned panels
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!
What type of curtains are best on French doors?
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.
How to colour match your curtains to your interior?
The easiest way to colour-match your curtains to your interior is to consult the colour wheel. 'Looking at the colour wheel helps you understand what colours are cohesive with each other and that’s why I always recommend that it features a lot of dark blue with burnt orange curtains,' says Amy Wilson, interior designer at 247 Curtains. 'Patterns are a great way to add personality and character to a neutral home. But if you are scared of going down a maximalist route and want to keep it clean, choose patterns that include muted colours such as baby pinks and florals.'
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Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.
- Holly ReaneyContent Editor