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What to consider when choosing curtains

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When choosing curtains, you are making a statement decision in your décor plans.  The colour of your curtains will also influence furniture; you may need a matching wingback chair, for instance.  It will also reflect in your choice of wallpaper and flooring.  In short, knowing how to choose curtains is vital for the final design look of your home.  There may be some practical considerations too – which makes selecting curtains even more complicated.  Here we guide you through the process of choosing curtains for your home.

Colour and fabric

Fabric is a vital factor in your selection of curtains.  The material used to make the curtain will dictate how well the curtain works for you and how well it will stand the test of time.  There are small considerations, such as heavier curtains do not fold well when they are drawn back.  They may bulge out into the room rather than falling neatly into pleats.  However, if the material is too light, then it may not fall well to the floor, making the curtain look messy.

When you are in the shop, try to pleat the curtain and see how easily this happens.  Hold the pleats at the top of the curtain and then hold it up to see how it drapes. If it flares away from the pleat at the top, then it will likely look poor when hanging at your window.  It should fall neatly down towards the floor in the pleats.

When choosing your fabric, also remember that sunlight will cause fade.  Brighter colours will fade faster – especially if put on a window that gets a lot of light throughout the day.  Certain luxury-feel fabrics also fade more quickly than others.  Linen, silk and velvet are the best choices of material for the hang and the level of deterioration you will experience.  Fake silk will last longer than real silk.  Beware though, if silk is left unlined not only will it rot but it will also let in the cold and a lot of the light.

Length and lining

If you put your curtain rail or hanging panel higher above the window, it will give the room a sense of height.  Therefore, when you measure your curtains, you do not measure the window.  You measure from the place the curtain will fall and to where you want it to hang.  About six inches above the window frame is recommended by some designers, especially if you are looking for a dramatic look.

You need to decide if you want the curtain to hand to the floor, for a more traditional look, or two or three inches below the window.  More modern looks have the curtain fall flush to the floor, so there is no bunching of the curtain, but neither is there any room between curtain and carpet.

Width-wise, you should consider a few inches either side to help block out the sun.  If the room is going to be bathed in low light in the winter, it could be a good idea to plan your curtains in a way that helps you block out any creeping light.

Custom-made or off the shelf?

There are a lot of benefits in having curtains made for your home.  You can make sure the curtains fil the dimensions of your home perfectly.  Equally, custom curtains are not limited to fabric choice, colour or design.  The options available to you are endless – however, you will pay the price for this luxury.  The difference in price between custom-made and off the shelf is significant.  You may only want to have curtains made for feature rooms where you are seeking to impress guests.

If you buy custom-made, you should also budget for dry cleaning bills too.  You can ruin high-quality curtains in the washing machine, and no matter how much you iron them, they will never hang the same again.  Even some off the shelf curtains need dry cleaning.  Consequently, if you want to machine wash, you will need to read the packaging to make sure they are washer friendly.

If you go for custom-made, you have the choice of the online or in-home consultation.  If you communicate with your curtain maker online, then they are relying on you for all the information.  They will work from your measurements and your understanding of the space.  They may ask intelligent questions, but still, the consultation will only be as good as the details available.  In-home consultation companies can walk in and blend your curtains perfectly to your home design.  They will confidently choose colours, textures and finishes that will make for the most luxurious curtains you have ever owned.  If you have the budget, give it a go!

Anna Sharples

Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.

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