Windows are an essential part of the home for admitting natural light and providing ventilation as well as a view to the outside world, but there’s no reason that your windows should be drab and boring. There’s a huge range of window dressings available to ensure that your windows are not only functional but beautiful.
From traditional curtains and shutters, to beautiful stylish blinds, there is something to complement every kind of living space.
More adaptable than curtains and more versatile than voiles, the newest blinds come in a whole host of modern materials and super-chic colours, that not only make a feature of your windows, but provide flexible sun protection too. The latest fabrics also offer solar protection, so no more faded fabrics or floors. They also block out heat, so rooms stay comfortably cool. With moisture-resistant, anti-fungal and dust-repellent options too, it’s easy to keep window treatments in top condition.
If you need to reduce glare, choose one of the many sheer fabrics that provide an effective and modern alternative to nets. A mid-tone grey will take out glare but still provide good visibility. White reacts with the light and is harder to see through, whereas black gives the best visibility but will become totally transparent at night – fine if you’re not overlooked, but otherwise you’ll need a secondary window treatment to provide privacy. These mesh blinds gently filter out the sun’s rays without completely blocking out light, making them ideal if you work from home – no more struggling to see your computer screen if you’re sat near a window.
Make sure that you consider more than just the look of the blinds when purchasing though: you may need blackout blinds in one room but not another and, if you have large windows, you may need either custom-made blinds, or two or three smaller blinds that can be opened independently.
Ensure that you have measured your windows carefully before going shopping and remember that all ready-made blinds will have metric measurements on the packet, but not all will tell you the imperial equivalent. If in doubt ask the assistant, or go to an established company who will install as well as supply your new blinds.
Roller blinds provide excellent protection against heat and light and give the room a neat, uncluttered look. Choose sheer to soften sunlight, patterned fabrics to introduce colour and texture or blackout blinds to block light completely.
Vertical blinds have shaken off their dowdy office image with companies now offering sheers, patterns, even metallics to their ranges. Ideal for high windows and doors, tilt them to let in a lot or a little light, or pull back entirely.
For an easy way to control light levels in a room, Venetian blinds are the perfect option. More affordable than sought-after shutters, they have sleek fuss-free design and are available in a range of finishes to match your decor. Often period homes have irregular sized windows, so in this case, opting for bespoke blinds is a great option.
Still a firm favourite in homes, Roman blinds provide a softer look than wood or metal Venetian blinds and look better when combined with dress curtains, a trend which is growing. When pulled up, they make a neat stack at the top of the frame that is still visible, so they remain a feature in any decorative scheme.
Designing a country kitchen? Opt for a lightweight, pretty floral blind to create a welcoming environment. Roman blinds are perfect if you like the softness of a fabric window treatment but don’t have space for curtains in your kitchen.
Shutters are an authentic option for period homes from many different eras, and offered a practical solution before glazed windows were even in use. If you have original shutters they will need to be preserved and maintained, although fitting new shutters will add a beautiful feature. Sales of shutters have grown massively in the last few years. Taking their name from the sprawling 19th-century mansions in America’s deep south, the most versatile are plantation-style shutters. These feature louvres that open and close to minimise heat and provide ventilation and privacy when needed.
Café-style shutters are hung only on the bottom half of the window and are more cost-effective. Ideal if you live at street level and need privacy, but still want to allow light in. Tier-on-tier shutters are more versatile, with two sets hung one above the other, working independently giving greater flexibility.
Full-height shutters are the best option for taller windows. There is usually a dividing rail halfway up which makes them sturdier and enables the louvres in the top and bottom half to move independently.
Quality window shutters are very durable and long lasting. Once you have them, you don’t need to replace or repair them due to wear and tear, unlike other window treatments. They come with long warranties and do not require the same amount of cleaning that other blinds and curtains require. As they are typically left inside the house when sold, they can also increase the selling value of a property.
Tier-on-tier shutters have two sets of panels sitting top and bottom, giving you the flexibility to operate them separately, and greater control over the levels of light and privacy. Furnishing a period room? Pick smaller slats for a more traditional appeal; wider slats for a more contemporary one.
Shutters are big news in the interior design world, thanks to a European influence and trends such as the ‘Scandi’ look, which have been flooding the nation for the past few seasons. Not only do shutters look great, they are also a durable, high-quality window treatment which, whilst a little pricier in the first instance, represent an excellent longterm investment. They’re considerably easier to keep clean than fabric window dressings and they’re very adaptable, coming in a variety of materials, colours and designs.
With styles including café, plantation and solid, you can get shutters to suit any house or room, but it’s a good idea to avoid readymade varieties and instead have them professionally made and fitted, as they’re less forgiving than curtains when it comes to unusual sizes or shapes.
Of course that shouldn’t stop you from getting them. A reputable fitter will be able to create a custom product that will suit any size or shape of window and will make a beautiful and practical addition to your décor.
Whilst blinds may be a popular modern option, a more traditional approach with curtains is increasingly coming back into fashion, with a new range of rods and hanging systems giving you the chance to make an old idea transferable to a modern setting.
Curtains can be extremely useful when it comes to conserving energy and lowering heating costs and add a strong statement of colour to a more minimally decorated room. Opting for loose draping materials with plenty of embellishments is a great option if you are looking to create a luxurious style in your home.
We know pelmets may be associated with the chintzier end of traditional country house design, but when they are done right they can lend style and elegance to a window.
From cracks under doors to poorly glazed windows, period homes are no stranger to draughts. Changing the doors and windows may not be an option, but a heavy-lined curtain can offer a quick and affordable draughtproofing solution while also adding a welcoming wash of colour to rooms, plus if you pick a patterned print it’s a really quick and easy way to add some interest to a space.
Velvet’s a huge trend for sofa upholstery and is just as appealing used for curtains. While roller blinds and shutters both work well in traditional space, nothing beats the luxurious look of velvet curtains with deep swags, lush fabrics and ornate pelmets.
People regard soft furnishings as integral to the overall look of the room and are prepared to pay for high quality. There has recently been a return to traditional decorative dressings with lots of trimmings, pelmets, swags and tails. It seems we are no longer afraid to be bold with interior design in the 21st century and the window has become a fantastic place to add a block of vibrant pattern or colour to a room and complement more neutral furniture and decoration.