But is there such a thing as the ‘right’ curtain for any given space? ‘There are lots of factors that will contribute to your final decision’, explains Interior Designer Fabrice Bana, ‘the style, architecture and size of the room as well as the shape of the windows and the intended use of the room’ will all be key factors.
‘And then it’s the finishing details that make all the difference’ adds Tiffany Duggan, ‘trims, fringing, piping all add interest to window treatments.’ The possibilities are somewhat endless. With a huge choice of curtain styles, colours and fabrics available and decisions to be made regarding linings, length, trim and tiebacks, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.
So whether it’s tie backs or tab tops, pelmets or pencil pleats, this is your complete guide to curtain ideas and the different styles and how to get it right for your space…
A pelmet is a decorative, often upholstered board fixed above a widow to cover up the curtain rod or fixtures. Turner Pocock, the design duo known for turning traditional treatments on their head, are big fans of using them in their designs. ‘When using pelmets we still try to keep an air of modernity about them, we use simple shapes with light-hearted interesting trims’, explains Emma Pocock.
This is a very small 5cm deep pelmet that hides the curtain track and blocks the light gap between the track and the wall. ‘Combined with a double pinch pleat curtain, this treatment gives the best blackout coverage possible’, explains Interior Designer Karena Clayton. ‘Perfect for nurseries, light sleepers and south facing bedrooms’, it projects between 5 and 10cm from the wall and is usually covered in the same fabric as the curtains.
A valance is similar to a pelmet, but is made entirely of fabric, ideal if you are after softer curtain ideas. Traditionally used in a country bedroom, Emma Pocock is also great advocate of using this technique in children's rooms. ‘We often use pleated valances to make these rooms feel cosy in contemporary houses. In some way a sense of tradition seems to comfort parents. A touch of nostalgia perhaps.’
A lambrequin is a type of pelmet but with longer sides, which works well where you want shape, movement and an added touch of drama. Top Interior Designer Beata Heuman is a master when it comes to employing this technique in her designs and is much admired by her contemporaries. ‘We love Beata’s playful take on traditional shapes - by exaggerating traditional lines the end result is fresh and light-hearted’, explains Tiffany Duggan.
A wave curtain hangs directly below a ceiling mounted track in a neat and uniform style. Wave tracks can also be bent for bay windows. If you are looking for contemporary curtain ideas, this would suit. The result is a tailored look which can be a more economical solution for large windows as the fabric is often lighter and left unlined, and less is needed as the folds are larger and fewer than other window treatments.
Italian strung curtains are fixed in position at the top and then drawn up and down using cords hidden behind the drapery. This allows for it to be pulled back without the need for tiebacks or holdbacks. The look is quite traditional and very pretty. Ideal for a nursery or little girl’s room.
This consists of vertical rows of horizontally gathered fabric that are drawn up to form a series of ruches. The resulting billows create a flamboyant, theatrical effect.
Pencil pleats are the most traditional curtain heading and will work with all types of track and pole. Pinch pleated curtains essentially gather the pencil pleats into groups of two or more for a more decorative heading. This will work with most types of fabric, but bear in mind that the more pleats, the more fabric is needed and so increases the cost of the finished curtains.
Tab tops refer to the exposed loops of fabric that you see drawn over a curtain rod or pole. Tie Top curtains have a very similar look but attach to the pole by tying bows or knots at the top to form the loops. The look is very informal and relaxed but done well can be a very stylish solution that’s easy on the bank balance.
Eyelet curtains are a modern alternative to traditional pleats and offer a practical solution to hanging your own curtains. They feature metal rings in place of the standard heading tape, which are threaded directly on to a curtain pole resulting in large, soft pleats.
Goblet pleats are a detailed heading style where the fabric is tucked and folded to leave an opening at the top with a ‘goblet’ or ‘wineglass’ look. To keep the goblet pleats looking full and rounded they need to be shaped with interlining. They can be hung from a track or pole.
This decorative accessory holds the curtain in place to the side of the window. Traditionally these are crescent shaped and made by covering stiff cotton cloth called ‘buckram’ with a light wadding and furnishing fabric. Metal or wood versions which fix directly to the wall are also available or you can simply use a decorative cord. ‘Typically, I relate the tie-back style to more classic properties that have a regal look’ Alice Milnes from Vesta Interior Design explains.
This is a relaxed, informal curtain style which uses small metal rings to ‘clip’ onto the curtain fabric and thread onto a narrow pole. To hide the clip, simply pinch the back of the curtains and clip the rings an inch or so down from the top before hanging.
Whether the pattern will complement the rest of the interior scheme is essential. If you’re going maximalist with bold colours and patterns, or minimalist with warmer, neutral tones, getting the balance throughout the space is a must. Consider the height of the windows too, a larger or taller window can hold a bold statement curtain, whereas the patten may get lost on a much smaller one. 'Split your choice into curtains that you want to stand out and those you want to blend in. Luxe or textured fabric will definitely make a statement, and so will bright colours or busy patterns’, explain made to measure specialists Couture Living. In this instance think statement living spaces or bedrooms. ‘Neutral tones and lighter fabrics tend to act in a more complimentary way, allowing other elements of the room or view to shine.’ These are better suited to kitchens or home offices.
Room use is a big factor. Fabrice Bana is very clear here, ‘black-out interlining for bedrooms, fully lined and interlined curtains with a velvet fabric for optimal insulation, sheer curtains for privacy.’ Pinch pleat blackout curtains combined with a covered lathe are a great solution for bedrooms and nurseries. For living rooms, think more along the decorative lines - a pelmet, valance or lambrequin. For kitchens and multi-use spaces, a light voile wave curtain might be just the ticket, letting the air in and acting as a bridge rather than a stop.
‘I am seeing a big demand for sheer curtains, particularly in modern spaces with lots of glass. They serve to soften the space and give privacy during the day without detracting from the architectural features,’ explains Karena Clayton. With more of us working from home, discreet sheer roller blinds are also on the up, combating screen glare whilst sitting neatly with any existing window treatments. Nicola Brumfitt, Marketing Director at Prestigious Textiles has found that ‘retro geometric patterns are very much an on-trend choice as living spaces embrace a feeing of nostalgia.’ And Surrey based bespoke curtain maker Clare Young has seen a big upturn in the demand for velvet with ‘people getting much braver with colour and prints.’
In 2021 stylish curtain ideas will be all about tracks according to experts at Couture Living. Top designers have been increasingly using new technology by companies such as Silent Gliss to create statement window treatments. ‘They also make hanging two sets of curtains possible, so you can add a lighter voile behind for privacy without having to close thicker statement curtains.’