Considerations on Choosing Window Coverings
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Published by TOP4 Team
Window treatments are chosen primarily to suit their surrounding design landscape, but their power and influence extends well beyond aesthetics. The most basic function of curtains or blinds is to afford privacy by protecting both rooms and their inhabitants from general scrutiny. Ensuring privacy, of course, also strengthens security because thieves are more likely to break in if they spot saleable goods.
Strong sunlight fades colours and weakens fibres, and so another important function of well-chosen window treatments is to shade the surfaces and objects inside. In a perfect world, all windows would frame an uplifting view of the outside world, but when reality lets us down and a little camouflage is called for; an artfully arranged drape or panel will usually do the trick.
Window coverings fall into three broad categories - curtains, blinds and shutters. However, these can be interpreted, as well as combined, in endless imaginative ways. You may decide to choose a different window treatment and material for each of your rooms, or to establish a strong decorative theme by dressing all your windows (except those in the bathroom and kitchen) identically. Alternatively, you could perhaps suggest a more subtle link by using exactly the same fabric throughout your home, but the style could be varied from room to room: long curtains in the living room, say, perhaps soft blinds in the bedroom and hinged fabric panels for small windows in the hall. Keep in mind, though, that within the small room, all the windows should match.
Making your choice
When weighing up the options, take the following points as factors:
Curtains - there’s no doubt that panels of softly draped fabric have a softening effect on both windows and rooms, and they can help to create an atmosphere of warmth and cosiness. In some schemes (those with a formal, period look, for example), they are an important element. Curtains, especially long, thick ones, are excellent for keeping out cold, draughts and noise, and they offer enormous scope for camouflaging ill-proportioned or ugly windows. Gathered fabric tends to harbour dust, however and this may rule it out for allergy sufferers. Although costs can vary wildly with all window treatments depending on the materials used and the size and complexity of their design, curtains tend to be the most expensive choice.
Blinds - most varieties of blind have spare, graphic lines which make them particularly suitable for modern rooms. Easy to clean, they take up less space than curtains, and many of the most popular types (roller and London, for example) are cheaper too. This is partly because less fabric is required for blinds, but also because they are simpler to make and hang. Again, though, the more exotic and sophisticated designs will always cost more than plain, basic curtains. Blinds provide little heat or sound insulation, and their capacity to alter the visual perception of a window’s shape or size is limited, although it varies from one type of blind to another.
Shutters - Usually made of wood, shutters have a solid, pared-down look that suits many decorating styles. They can be used to block out the sun completely, and those fitted with bars and/or locks provide invaluable extra security. Hinged screens and flat panels in a variety of different materials have a similar feel to shutters.
Whatever window treatment (or treatments) you prefer, keep your choices simple. Elaborate swags, pelmets, ruffles, borders and painted motifs belong to an earlier much fussier age. Instead, concentrate on interesting fabrics, good design and subtle detailing.