The How-To Guide For Curtains And Blinds

A key to success in interior design is to consider every detail of the ending in the beginning. To design a successful electrical scheme for example, you need to know where furniture will ultimately be positioned. Each room should have a specific purpose which helps to determine its colour scheme, furniture, design detail and window dressing. Consideration of the natural light in a room, the need for privacy, warmth in winter and style all has an impact on the window treatment selected for each room.

Even experienced interior designers struggle to comprehend the intricacies of designing curtains and blinds for windows: how to measure windows, what type of window treatment works best for the room, which headings and linings are appropriate, the choice of fabrics, how to dress unusual windows; there are many options for consideration.

We turn to Joanne Cassabois, founder and director of Pret a Vivre, a one stop shop for British made curtains, blinds and woven fabrics, for our how-to guide for curtains and blinds.

Pret a Vivre Blinds

How do you decide whether curtains or blinds are best for a room?

Decide what is most important to achieve. For example, for a dark room-blackout curtains. Privacy-sheer curtains or rollers blinds. Compact dressings–roller blinds to avoid taking up too much space. Assess the room: are there any limitations that will detract from window dressings? For example, covings that prevent ceiling fixed tracks; window seats or very deep sills that are incompatible with long curtains, in which case, blinds are normally a preferable option.

If it is a bedroom, what decisions do you need to make when deciding on window treatments?

A key priority for bedrooms is blackout and we always recommend to blackout line your chosen window dressing. Floor to ceiling curtains work best, particularly if they’re hung on a lath and fascia board or from a pelmet . If you require privacy as well, you can layer window dressings to fulfil all your needs.

Pret a Vivre Blackout Curtains

What types of headings are there for curtains?

There are many different options. These are the most popular standard headings: pinch pleat, which can be a single, twin or triple pleat; inverted pleat, euro pleat or wave. Wave can be formed in two different sizes. Click here to view examples of curtain heading styles.

Pret a Vivre Pinch Pleat Curtains

What styles of blinds are available?

We provide roller blinds and roman blinds. These can be:

  • Sheer: allows light in but provides your privacy during the day.
  • Dim-out: provides privacy, but not total blackout.
  • Blackout: blocks any light from penetrating through the fabric.
  • All blinds can be manual or motorised.

Pret a Vivre Roman Blinds

Which fabrics are best suited to curtains or blinds?

We have specific fabrics for our roller blinds. Most of our fabrics are suitable for both roman blinds and curtains. Velvets, however, are not advised for roman blinds as the fabric can crush or mark in the folds. I think it is best to consider the overall style you wish to achieve.  For example, linen will always have a more relaxed look when made up, either as curtains or roman blinds, whereas a crisp cotton can have a neater, more formal appearance. 

Pret a Vivre Fabrics

How do you measure windows?

We offer a professional measuring service with one of our in-house fitters . We always advise our customers to take advantage of this service, as there is no such thing as a standard window. Even if the size of the window appears standard there can be detailing in the frame which effects how and where the product is fitted.

Pret a Vivre Double Height Curtains

How do you choose between curtain poles or tracks?

Aesthetics plays a big part. In many contemporary settings we opt for a fixed ceiling track as it’s a very discreet look.  A pole can offer a more traditional look and have more decorative options. There are multiple finishes for both hanging mechanisms. Tracked poles combine the aesthetics of curtains with the functionality of tracks. 

Pret a Vivre guide to curtains and blinds

Is there any advice for window treatments for bay windows?

All our products are suitable for bay windows and for most bays it’s possible to layer products too . The key is in the measuring and templating of the angles of the bay window correctly to ensure a perfect fit.

Pret a Vivre Bedroom Curtains

Are pelmets and trimmings currently in fashion?

Pelmets are frequently requested to cover motorised tracks and the tops of roller blinds. Clients currently tend to request a smaller drop for the front of the pelmet to offer a more contemporary look.  Borders and piping are popular choices as trimmings.

Pret a Vivre  Curtains

What types of linings are there to choose from for curtains and blinds?

Cotton or blackout lining; these are available in white or off white as standard, but multiple colours are available. Interlinings are an additional option. This is a middle layer which helps with drafts and sound and can also help to stabilise fabrics. Many clients select interlining to create a fuller look for curtains or roman blinds. Read more about interlining here

Pret a Vivre Blackout Curtains

How do you decide on the best length for curtains?

The aesthetic choice for most clients is full length curtains. The finish of curtains depends on several factors. Many houses have an uneven floor to ceiling height; we therefore recommend having your curtains ‘break’ – made a couple of centimetres longer than the floor to ceiling drop to disguise any disparity. ‘Breaking’ is suitable for linen fabrics as well, as the nature of linen is to lengthen over time. Curtains resting on the floor are a good option for blackout as it prevents any light from filtering from beneath the curtains. We do, however, recommend interlining if you want curtains to rest on the floor, as the fibres in natural materials can stretch over time and interlining curtains helps to maintain their length. Some opt for curtains to finish ‘off the floor’ by a couple of centimetres, especially if curtains are by a door or if there’s a concern about the bottom becoming dirty. Again, we advise to interline curtains to maintain shape.

Pret a Vivre Drapes

Window dressings provide the finishing touch to any room; curtains and blinds enhance the architectural detail, comfort and character of the interior. Styles have changed from elaborate swags and tails to more tailored window treatments. Single, twin or triple pinch pleated headings on corded tracks or poles are currently popular as each of these works well with both classic and modern interiors. For a more contemporary look, consider ceiling tracks, euro pleat or wave headings. Interlining can provide an additional layer of warmth and body for curtains. It’s best to have an experienced professional measure your windows and advise on treatments. An experienced curtain maker’s advice is worth its weight in gold.

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