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The wonderful world of curtains (part 1)!

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

Celebrating the wonderful world of curtains

Today I’m writing about the wonderful world of curtains because I’m a massive fan. I think they're an wonderful opportunity to bring in color and personality to a space and also to elevate it. I think curtains bring an element of lux that shutters and blinds don't but, having said that, I do agree that curtains don't work for every window, and sometimes blinds and shutters and other things are suitable.

There's actually a lot to curtains so I’m going to do this in two separate blog posts. The first is going to be sort of like the who, what, when, where, why of curtains… a bit of a description, look at when you would use them, who could do them for you etc and the second one is really going to be the anatomy of curtains so what goes into curtains from the fabrics to the tracks to the installation and sort of like that practical side of it. So, let’s get started!

So, what are curtains?

Well, they come under the more general term of ‘window treatments’ which also include things like shutters, awnings and blinds. Curtains are basically just fabric on tracks that you pull across when you need privacy, darkness or to help keep the heat in.

When do you use curtains as compared to shutters or blinds? Sometimes it's best to use blinds if it's a small window and a skinny curtain would look silly, or in stairwells or where curtains may impede an area of higher foot traffic. In terms of blinds, the options are roller blinds or Roman blinds and again a bit more of a breakdown with roller blinds is you can have block out or the light filtering type. The good news about block out blinds is that you can still use gorgeous fabrics such as plains, stipes, florals etc as well as some sheer options too. Shutters suit Hampton styled homes or if the homeowner wants to minimize dust collecting in fabrics (if for eg, they’re really allergy to dust mites).

I think curtains are best in bedrooms, certainly formal areas and often in informal dining and living rooms as well.

Why do we need window treatments?

Well, it's usually one or more of these four points:

1) Privacy: sheers are especially effective for privacy in both the day and night. I live in Sydney in a very densely populated area and so sheers in my humble opinion an absolute must in the daytime then the thought of people looking in and seeing what we're up to. I have kids so I do think sheers are a great thing to have just for privacy alone. The other bonus about sheers is that they do filter light just beautifully whether it's direct sunlight or if it's a cloudy day it just it lets the light in but just in a soft way.

2) Block out and darkness: and this is why they're so suitable for bedrooms because if you need darkness to sleep well then a proper heavy curtain with a great lining and probably some sort of pelmet is going to be the way to go for you. I find them better for bedrooms because I often find that blinds and shutters aren’t as effective because of the way they are fitted or the way they sit on the window. either just because of the way they're made and fitted. In at least 99% of the time I recommend curtains for bedrooms to achieve the greatest block out.

3) Thermal control: another reason that people don't often think about is that good quality curtains with a great lining can help retain thermal qualities in your home. It can in winter help keep the heat in and in summer it really does help keep the heat out. I think the lining is key to achieving the most effective thermal retention especially if your windows don’t have e-glass or are double glazed.

4) They're just bloody beautiful! I just love curtains. I think they bring so much to a space. You have an opportunity to bring in some color and some pattern and reflect your personality and windows are a big piece of real estate. So, even if you have everything else quite simple in a space, you can bring in something really elegant or sweet or fun or something quite striking - just through the fabric alone!

Who can do curtains for you?

Moving on to who could do curtains for you because I think people find this a little bit confusing. So, there are lots of different options including:

1) You can obviously DIY. You can go to Bunning's or Spotlight and buy your tracks buy the ready-made curtains you know get a drill, drill them in and you're done. That's the budget way of doing it and they're okay. They're not fabulous the tracks usually are not the best quality and you're limited in the ready-made curtains that you can get. But you know if you're on a really tight budget and you just need something up then that might be a way to go.

2) The next option are companies like Spotlight that also have a service where they will make curtains for you from their fabric range and using their tracks. So, it's not so much the custom-made curtains proper but you but they do the work for you: fit, measure, quote (ie are NOT a DIY option). This would be the next step up in terms of budget than the DIY option

3) Then there are the premium curtain companies and these range from mid-price to super expensive and what it comes down to are a few different things. A range of fabrics that they either promote or have access to, their tracking and their expertise. So, my personal opinion is that they're the companies you want to go for when it comes to curtains because great curtains are a fairly big investment. The limitations of going with a curtain company are that they often just do curtains only and because they're often only just offering curtains as a service, they won't have a massive range of fabric options available. So, if you want a beautiful bedhead and some lovely cushions and some bedding and maybe an upholstered chair and some curtains then getting the curtain person in may not be the right path for you.

4) The other people that can do curtains are designers and decorators (like moi!). We start from the other end where we look at the whole space, we work out what would work beautifully in that room in terms of color and pattern, textiles, furniture, lighting and floor treatments and part of that process is choosing the perfect window treatments for that space so you get the biggest bang for your buck and just that wow factor. So, if you want a holistic solution for a space that just happens to include window treatments then I would suggest you find a decorator or a designer that you love the look of their portfolio, you've got good vibes from them, they've got experience and good reviews, and get them to do a concept for that room for you.

So, that is breakdown of what curtains are, who can do them, why you do them and I hope that's helped you understand why you would use curtains - as I said before they're just such a great opportunity to bring so much to a space. They look and feel luxurious, they're practical, and they have a great opportunity to reflect your personality.

To hear the related podcast episode about The Wonderful World of Curtains (all the elements that go into them), click here!

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