The average American spends less per year on curtains and draperies than they would on a fast-food burger meal for two. The average spend is just over 12 dollars per year. A pitifully small amount considering how much difference great curtains can make to your home's comfort and aesthetic.
The curtains are usually one of the most noticeable decor items in any room. Learn how to choose the best curtains and impress all your guests!
Choosing curtains is not something to do in isolation. Curtains represent one element of a harmoniously designed room. The best curtains in one context would be completely wrong in another.
As with all aspects of interior design, there's a balance to be found between three ingredients. As with any recipe, getting one of the ingredients wrong can ruin the whole thing.
The first ingredient is the aesthetic attractiveness of the curtains. To some extent, this is a matter of personal taste but there are some principles that you may find helpful. There are also some mistakes you should avoid.
The second ingredient is "comfort". Curtains add a great deal to the warmth of a room. Curtains originated as a way of insulating homes from the cold that permeated old houses through their windows and window frames. They can now help keep homes warmer as well as creating a feeling of coziness and comfort.
The third ingredient is livability. If you choose curtains that you wish to draw, you don't want this to be a difficult task. They should open and close smoothly and efficiently. Also, the practicalities of cleaning and maintaining beautiful looking curtains is an important factor.
Strike a balance between these three ingredients and harmonize with the other decor decisions and you'll have the best curtains for your room.
The curtain fabric is exciting. It can be heavy or light, rich or simple. A decision about fabric makes a huge difference in how curtains will look and feel, function and fall.
Heavy material will reduce the curtain's ability to fold when drawn. The folds won't be crisp because the fabric is less pliable. Sometimes that's just the effect you want.
If the fabric is light, it can be difficult to work with. It may fail to fall well.
Whatever the fabric, try taking a large piece and hold it up and examine it. Don't do this with a small piece of fabric. The weight won't be sufficient to demonstrate how it will drape when made into curtains.
Try pleating it and see how it behaves. If you are hoping for a tight pleat and the fabric flares when you pleat it the curtains are unlikely to hang well when hung at your window.
Choose fabrics that are most likely to perform well as curtains. Velvet, silk, and linen are tried and tested options. Faux silk is also a reliable choice with the added advantage of durability.
If you want curtains to help keep in the warmth of the room, velvet is effective. Also, traditional tweed or tapestry works well because of their weight.
Decisions about color have to be made in accordance with the whole room. A design board with fabric, wallpaper, and paint samples can help assess how colors will complement, contrast or clash.
A particular consideration for curtains is the effect of light on colorfastness. Strong light on fabric can cause colors to fade over time. This is something to consider if the curtains will be at a window that receives a lot of bright sunlight.
Brighter colors tend to fade more quickly and to worse effect than lighter ones. Fabric fades at different rates depending on how much light is falling on them. This can mean that your curtains develop a striped appearance with faded and less faded areas following the line of the pleats.
Use lighter or neutral colors to reduce the effect of fading. Alternatively, you can use lining material to protect the curtains. Better still, change your curtains regularly to refresh your room's appearance.
The options for curtain tops are many and varied but should complement the fabric.
Heavy or thicker fabrics work well with eyelet curtains. The curtains are pierced with eyelets and a curtain pole slides through the holes in the curtain. They will make wide, soft folds that are evenly spaced along the width of the curtain.
This approach is neat and effective. The curtains slide easily along the pole making opening and closing simple. The curtains also drape well if you use the right fabric weight.
More pleats make heavier fabrics fan out. They won't hang as smoothly. When opening and closing the effect isn't neat. Use a lighter fabric and pencil pleats or even ruched effects can be created.
The curtains can then attach to a pole or track using curtain hooks. With the right weight fabric, the curtains will open and close well with the minimum of rearranging.
Your curtains may be simply window dressing and not intended to keep out light and prying eyes. If this is the case then you may not need to consider lining. They may filter light but won't darken the room.
A lined curtain may hang differently than an unlined curtain. The folds will be softer and looser. The curtain weight will be heavier.
Decisions about the length and width of curtains are about much more than the size of your windows.
Adding height above the window frame can create a dramatic effect. It tends to make the room seem taller than it is.
If the curtains don't drape or puddle on the floor they can look smart and modern. If you let them form pools of fabric on the floor they can look traditional and less severe.
Allowing extra curtain width around the window frame helps keep light from penetrating when the curtains are closed. It also allows the curtains to open more fully so that they don't obscure the light.
Of course, your intention may be to limit the light coming into the window. If the light is very strong, allowing the curtain to drape over the glass to soften intense sunlight.
Your choice of curtain poles, track, rings, and hooks can make a big difference. Don't treat these decisions as an afterthought. They should be integrated with other decisions.
Choose holdbacks, swags, finials and pull cords carefully. Poor decisions with accessories can ruin the impact of good curtains.
A good carpenter measures many times before cutting. Making good interior design choices is similar. Test fabrics, accessories, and approaches before you commit and you'll discover the best curtains for your home.
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