A Guide to Curtain Styles

Great curtains are an investment, not just dollar-wise, but also from a style perspective. So it’s important that you choose and hang them right the first time. A key piece of advice is to buy the best quality you can afford and if you can, consult an interiors expert to help you make the best choice to suit your needs.

There are so many beautiful fabrics to choose from and so many different styles to consider. If you use a patterned fabric for the curtains, for example, then keep the patterning in the rest of the room to a minimum. If, however, you prefer plains, add a complementary pattern to spice up the room. Read on for lots of tips, from different hanging systems to types of curtain pleating.


Why invest in curtains?

The great thing about curtains is that you’re not just investing in something beautiful for your home, you’re also adding practical insulation. Curtains reduce cold and heat but also help to dampen noise.

Good quality window treatments form a barrier between energy-sapping windows and the inside of your house, lowering energy consumption, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint. During the summer, simply closing curtains – particularly lined curtains – can reduce heat gain inside by up to 33 per cent.

Tip: Lined and interlined curtains will insulate even further and provide a total ‘blockout’ that can help to prevent textiles fading from the sun. Lined curtains also help the fabric drape and fall more evenly.


What styles to consider

The curtain style you choose should be in harmony with the style of your home. Each room is likely to be slightly different but should follow form. For example you may have two to three layers in a bedroom – something decorative to dress the window, something sheer for privacy and a blockout layer to control light.

If privacy is not a concern in your living room, it may only need a beautiful set of sheer curtains. A nursery, however, will need a blockout layer to go with some industrial strength sound proofing.

Tip: Think about how you would describe your home to a stranger. This will help you decide the style of curtain to choose.


Choosing fabrics

Fabric is one of the key considerations when choosing curtains. The fabric you choose will determine how well your curtains will function and bear up over time. Heavy fabrics may not fold and drape properly when they’re drawn, and if the fabric is too light, it may not fall well. Linen, silk and velvet are great fabric choices as they tend to hang and drape very well.

Take your time and collect swatches. Most fabric shops will provide swatches on the spot, others will have to order them in for you. Create a mood board with your swatches, or use your smartphone and take photos of the fabric and start an Ideabook on Houzz.

Tip: Hold the fabric up to the window to get a feel for how the light will play with it. Test the drape of the fabric by pleating or gathering a good length of fabric to see how it falls.


Length and width


Curtains should always be long – they should just touch the floor. Hanging curtains higher than the window will add height to the room. If you can, hang your curtains at least 15cm above the window frame. For a more dramatic look, hang them even higher, from the ceiling or just below the cornices. This will lift the eye and make a low ceiling appear higher.

Remember that curtains should frame a window, so make sure hardware is installed to reflect that. A rule of thumb is to allow an extra 10 per cent of rod on each side, but heavier fabrics will require a bit more.When curtains are open, the space that the gathered fabric takes up is called ‘the stack’. The stack should not cover too much of the window itself when the curtains are pulled.

Tip: To ensure that your curtains look draped when closed, curtain widths should be two to two-and-a-half times the width of the window.

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