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Curtain Buying Guide

Curtain Buying Guide

Curtains serve not only a practical function to keep the house warm and cosy, but they also serve a design purpose too, being the focal point of the room. They are central to great interior design and so much more than simply adding the finishing touches to a room. Whether you want ready-made or something a little more bespoke with made to measure, there are many choices when it comes to curtain design, fabrics and style. This guide will introduce you to everything you need to know about buying curtains that not only look great but complement your existing décor and furnishings.

Ready Made or Made to Measure

There are two types of curtain that you can buy. Ready-made or made to measure.

Ready Made Curtains

Curtains that fall into the ready-made category are those which are sold in a specific design in various lengths that you can choose from. Usually they are fully lined or backed. Available in many sizes so you can choose one that’s the right fit for your windows.

Made to Measure Curtains

If you come across made to measure curtains, these are slightly different to ready-made. This type of curtain can be made to meet your exact specifications and you have much more freedom and flexibility to choose the dimensions, fabric, heading and lining fabric.

Curtain Headings and Styles

Once you have decided whether to go for ready-made or made to measure curtains choosing the heading and style is the next step. There are lots of different headings and styles that you can choose from including:

Curtain Fullness

The fullness of the curtain is a term used to describe the amount of fabric that is used on a curtain track or pole. The amount of fabric used in the curtain and styles can be created through the use of different fullness ratios. When you are shopping for curtains, it’s still important to make sure that you take into account the fullness level that you require and measure accordingly. You will need some excess depending on how full you want the curtain to be.

Curtain Styles

There are two main styles when it comes to curtains. The most common is a pair. When you buy a curtain in a pair it will include a double panel curtain which allows you to control how much light you want to flood into the room. A single panel on the other hand is great if the window is small enough to be covered with a single piece of fabric or if your window needs to be covered with a series of panels rather than just a pair.

Curtain Lining

Most curtains are lined usually with a standard material. Linings are usually made from a cotton mix which will vary in quality and is typically white or ivory. Lining curtains will make them more durable and thicker, so they keep out more light and have a higher level of insulation.

Blackout Linings

These linings are added to completely block out any sunlight. They are often used in bedrooms to prevent you from being disturbed by the natural light. The blackout lining is much thicker than standard curtain linings which also makes it great from an insulation and noise reduction point of view too.

Bonded Interlining

This type of lining will combine a standard curtain lining along with a cotton and polyester fleece material. Linings such as these will create a much thicker curtain which will help during the winter months to keep the cold out and the heat in.

Thermal Lining

If you want to go a step further from the bonded interlining, you may wish to choose a thermally lined curtain. These are an excellent choice if you want to save money on your energy bills and keep the heating inside where it should be. They work really well to retain the warmth inside your home particularly during the colder months.

Curtain Fabric

Curtains are available in a variety of different fabrics including:

Cotton

Cotton curtains are one of the most lightweight types that you can buy, and they add a certain softness to the room. Natural and great at keeping the home cool from the sun, they still let the gentle breeze keep your home at a more comfortable temperature. Cotton curtains work better to keep the heat out when compared with manmade fibres. They are also easy to iron, super easy to clean and are easy to maintain.

Polyester

Polyester curtains are great for keeping their colour which is important especially when they are up at the window and exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight. This type of material is durable and strong too as well as being more affordable. Easy to clean they hold their shape, and they don’t crease as easily as other types of material such as cotton.

Linen

Linen curtains are perfect if you want to go for a more natural look in your home. With excellent insulating properties, they are practical and look great too. They are perfect for windows that are often open during the warmer months.

Viscose

A silky appearance and feel, viscose is a synthetic fibre which offers a certain degree of luxury and softness to your room. Sometimes viscose curtains will be mixed with linen, cotton or polyester which make them even more hard wearing and long lasting and better able to cope with changes in moisture and heat in the air. It’s also resistant to creasing too.

Velvet

This is one of the softest fabrics that you can find in curtain material and is usually made from a variety of fibres such as cotton, rayon, viscose, silk and polyester. The blend will often depend on the brand that you choose and where you buy your curtains from. Velvet is one of the most traditional feel and is often characterised with rich colours and give a luxurious feel to your room. They are great at insulating because they are often quite thick.

Window Styles

By now you should have a good idea of what material and header style of curtain that you would like. The next step is to make sure that the curtain is suitable for the window. Window styles will depend on the type of curtain that you choose. Dressing the window with the right curtain style can really make all the difference. Windows serve as a valuable light source and they can also be used as the focal point of a room or decorative element. They are important features in a room and various things should be taken into consideration such as how to dress them properly for maximum effect. There are lots of different window styles including:

  • Twin windows on the same wall – When dressing twin windows, they should be treated the same way as a single window, so matching curtain styles. You may decide to choose two pairs of curtains or two single panelled curtains depending on the width of each window.
  • Different windows on the same wall – Sometimes you may have two different windows on the same wall. They could be different widths, lengths or dimensions. Consider the decorative element that curtains can offer to offer greater consistency in the room.
  • Three or more different windows – Where you have two, three or even more windows in the room, you may decide to choose different arrangements to achieve a different look but if you do, try to use similar fabrics to offer greater consistency. Link the windows together using the same tiebacks or style of curtain pole.

The majority of windows will be either portrait, landscape or square. Portrait windows are higher than they are wide. Landscape windows are wider than they are high. Portrait windows are the most common and they are the most flexible in terms of dressing them. They are often set high in the wall and can extend to the floor, very much like a French window. Portrait windows can often accommodate any types of curtains and even single panel curtains which are tied back at either side.

Colour, Print or Pattern

Curtains are available in so many colours, patterns and textures. Decide whether you want to opt for a design that will blend in with the existing décor or one that will serve as a focal point to the room. If you want the curtains to blend, choose a more tonal appearance with the same or a similar tone as your walls, perhaps a few shades darker. To stand out, choose a bold colour that contrasts with the surroundings.

As a general rule when shopping for curtains, assess the pattern that you already have in the room and then make your decisions from there. You don’t want the curtains to clash with other things such as a patterned sofa or cushions. Where you have heavy patterned carpets, bedding or furniture, you may be better going for a more neutral tone and a curtain style without a pattern. In contrast, if you have quite a plain décor scheme, you might want to add a little interest by choosing a subtle texture, pattern or print on the curtain to add a little life to the room. You can also inject a stronger colour into the room this way too.

Top Tips

Choose the fabric wisely. If curtains are too heavy, they may not fold crisply when they are closed. If they are too light, they won’t fall properly.

If you can request colour swatches of your curtains because they may look different in your home than they do online

Avoid bright colours if the room has lots of sunlight because they will fade much quicker

You can buy curtains which are 20cm longer or shorter than the curtain track or pole

If you are looking for materials to keep out the cold, choose fabrics such as velvet, tapestry, suede or tweed. Not only do these materials have excellent thermal properties, they also block out the light too.

Prolong the life of your curtains by adding an interlining. This is a piece of fabric that sits between the lining and the front fabric of the curtain.

Decide whether you will need to buy curtains that are dry clean only or washing machine friendly

Don’t forget that colour is the first thing that you notice when you walk into a room so make sure that you choose the right colour. Base your decision on the amount of natural light in your room. Warmer colours will always work better in a room that is north facing. Cooler colours would work best in rooms which are south facing.

Curtains are available in so many colours, patterns and textures. Decide whether you want to opt for a design that will blend in with the existing décor or one that will serve as a focal point to the room. If you want the curtains to blend, choose a more tonal appearance with the same or a similar tone as your walls, perhaps a few shades darker. To stand out, choose a bold colour that contrasts with the surroundings.

As a general rule when shopping for curtains, assess the pattern that you already have in the room and then make your decisions from there. You don’t want the curtains to clash with other things such as a patterned sofa or cushions. Where you have heavy patterned carpets, bedding or furniture, you may be better going for a more neutral tone and a curtain style without a pattern. In contrast, if you have quite a plain décor scheme, you might want to add a little interest by choosing a subtle texture, pattern or print on the curtain to add a little life to the room. You can also inject a stronger colour into the room this way too.

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