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Curtain Buying Guide

Curtains with red spiral pattern next to a table with a plant
Curtains with red spiral pattern next to a table with a plant

When considering the right style or design of curtains or blinds to suit the window it is important to take into consideration the shape, size and function of your window, and also understand the different parts, and make up of a curtain such as the ypes of curtain headings available.

It is also important to consider the fitting and methods of suspension of your curtains as it can make a real difference to the overall effect of your window treatment as if it is to be visually on display some consideration needs to be taken on the choice and method, because it becomes a visual element of the composition of which will go into more detail later.

Not only is your choice of suspension important but also your choice in fabric. There are many fabrics that are suitable for curtains but choosing the appropriate fabric for your curtains in terms of weight and type must be considered in relation to the style of window.

The right of choice of lining must also be thought about as it can create extra weight and body that can have an impact on how they drape and stack back.

Here are some common types of windows with suggestions on how to treat them.

French Doors Or French Windows
French doors with cream curtains

These have panes of glass for most or all of the surface, and areused as doors. They are usually in pairs and hinged on the outer edges. French windows are fairly straightforward to dress unless they are inward­ opening. If this is the case, and headroom and wall space allow, extend the pole or track well over the ends of the frame so that the doors can open unimpeded.

The pole has been extended well over the ends of the window frame to ensure that the curtains are kept clear of the doors so that they can open unimpeded.

A very traditional way of treating French  windows is to combine side curtains with panels of sheer fabric attached to the top and bottom of the frame by wire rods.

Simple roller or Roman blinds can be attached directly to the doorframe and are a good option when space is limited or when French windows are recessed

Arched Windows

Huge arched window

Arched windows, if space permits pole or track are used above an arch for pair of curtains or single curtain. A stiffened pelmet following the shape of the arch as the example above shows combined with simple paired curtains is an attractive solution. 

Nevertheless, arched window can speak for itself with no decorations at all. There are several types of arched windows, it includes the semicircular arch and the pointed arch, so called the gothic window.

Another type is the Palladian or Venetian window; it is semicircular with two narrower side sections.

Bay Windows

A bay window projects beyond the general wall line, with the wall below the window carried down to the ground. A bow window is a curved (usually semicircular) version of the bay window. These days there are special tracks available for bay windows. Where the window frames are light and the windows close together you could use just a pair of curtains - one at each side of the bay. With heavier frames, and more space between each window, an alternative solution is to use intermediate curtains. A boldly patterned or shaped stiffened pelmet combined with curtains can make a strong design statement when used on a bay window.

Bay windows with two chairs infront Bay windows

As you can see above where there is sufficient space, pairs of curtains can be hung between the bay windows. Where the bay windows are close together, one solution is to use a simple pair of curtains, one at each side of the bay.

Dormer Window

A dormer window projects from a sloping roof and has a vertical front and sides. The most usual way of dealing with dormers is to fix the track or pole within the side walls of the dormer, close against the window. 

Dormer window Dormer window

If space is too restricted, one solution is to slot curtains on one, or a pair, of hinged rods so they can be swivelled open to rest against the dormer wall during the day. If there is sufficient headroom and wall space, a pole or track could be used outside the frame, with lightweight curtains held back by a rod.

pink curtain Grey curtains

Small Windows

While other types could be tricky, small windows need not much required treatment. Curtains used here should not be heavy and plain or if you want to put prints, it should be subtle or in small scale. If privacy is not important in the room where the small window is, you can even paint or stencil the frame to make the window appear larger.

Tall Narrow Windows

The signature characteristic of Gregorian architecture, tall narrow windows are usually dressed with draped unlined fabrics, it is used to enhance its features and not over decorate it. Roller or roman blind could also be an option. Italian strung (draping around the window) curtains also complement the architectural design of the window as it makes the window appear larger by the amount of natural light that pass through the window.

pink curtains Corner window with cream curtains

Tall narrow windows often have narrow space from cornice (the space between the top of the window architrave to ceiling) and so you will need flat panels and should avoid heavy top pelmets. Also consider using floor length curtains, itu2019s the best option to beautify this type of window. If radiators are placed at a base of tall windows some heat might be covered, if curtains are drawn across them at night.

Skylights And Rooflights

A skylight may be a non-opening window set into a roof or ceiling. Opening roof windows (such as Velux) are set into a sloping roof and, when opened, rotate so that the top comes inward and the bottom goes outward. For a skylight, sheer fabric anchored on rods at the top and bottom of the sloping window will diffuse the light.

Skylight with thin curtains with rods either side Skylight in a bathroom \

If blackout is required, you could use a Venetian blind with a fixing at either end of the frame, or some sort of fabric blind (Roman or roller), held with strategically placed rods. You will find skylight manufacturers often produce their own range of blinds with the correct fittings.

Two skylights

There are also specially made louvred  shutters  suitable  for  skylights  and roof  lights.  Roof lights can be fitted with a blind trapped between the two layers of glass, making a neat, double-glazed unit. The blind is controlled from below.


Wide Windows

It is not easy to curtain wide windows successfully as they often end up seeming overdressed, rather like a stage set. If not double-glazed, they can also be a serious source of draughts. To combat this and cut out edges of cold air, extend the track or pole well beyond the sides of the frame wherever wall space allows.

Adjoining wide windows are given a tailored look with the curtains neatly tied back at sill level.

Multiple wide windows around a room with cream curtains One side of the room with wide windows

To improve the proportions, extend the window treatment well above the window if you can. Floor­ length curtains look better than sill-length, unless you are looking for a rustic, country cottage look. 

Shuttered Windows

Internal shutters are, in their own right, an excellent barrier against noise, cold and crime. Older properties may still have their original shutters, or shutters can be made by a good joiner carpenter. Alternatively, louvred shutters and plantation shutters can be bought from builders merchants and specialist suppliers.

Shuttered windows

If your windows have working shutters, you might decide to do without curtains altogether, and give the shutters an interesting paint treatment in keeping with the overall scheme. If you are going to use curtains then make sure the pole or track extends well beyond the window, to give the shutters complete freedom of movement. For fixed shutters, Roman or roller blinds look good within the recess of the window. If using curtains, the pole or track should be well extended, so that the shutters can still be seen during the day.

Shuttered windows

Difficult Windows

Door and Window Together

When a window is near a glazed door, you could put a pole or track straight across the top of both, then place a full-length curtain at each end of the pole and a third curtain in between the door and window.

Hanging the curtains from one continuous pole above this door and window gives a feeling of continuity.

Alternatively, use dress curtains at each end and combine these with Roman or roller blinds fixed to the glazing on the door and window.

Front door with side window to the right

Windows Set At Angles

You use a pair of curtains if window is set at right angles so when curtains open, the two adjacent windows will look as one. You can also accentuate this by using tiebacks.

Windows in a bay window

Windows in A Tight Corner

A blind or single curtain is used if window is close to a corner or little wall space on the side.

Living room

Two Windows Set Close Together

In the case wherein two windows are close together on one wall, you can put a pole across both windows with one curtain at each end or just put a pelmet or valance to unify them.

Two windows on a corner

Side-Swinging Door or Window

Mostly used in modern days, you can simply put a blind or curtain curtain fixed onto the frame for side swinging door or window to open.