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How to choose curtains

As any decorator will tell you, curtains make a room, but only when chosen correctly. When it comes to window treatments, it’s a matter of colour and fabric, length and lining, and custom-made, versus off-the-shelf.

“With so many decisions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed”, explains Elaine Skinner, Design Director of Hops and Camellias.  She offers this advice on narrowing down the options and choosing the perfect curtains for your home.

Fabric is an essential part of choosing curtains, since the material will dictate how well your curtains function and hold up over time. 

  • “If they’re too heavy, they may not fold crisply when drawn; too light and they may not fall well,” says Elaine. ”Pleat it like an accordion at the top and let it drape,” she says. “If it starts to flare like a piece of crinoline, then it’s not going to fall nicely on the window.”
  • When it comes to material, linen, silk, faux silk and velvet are the best choices to use for window treatments since they tend to hang the best.
  • Some fabrics can help keep out the cold. Many hotels use suede, velvet, tapestry or tweed when choosing curtains, since their weight helps block light and keep heat in. That said, nearly any fabric can be interlined with bump, a thick, insulating felt material. And interlining, a piece of fabric slipped between the lining and the face fabric — can also help prolong the life of the curtains.
  • Also, remember that sunlight will fade fabrics over time. With our Cornish sunshine, it’s likely that the room in question will get a lot of light, so you might want to avoid bright colours when choosing curtains, since they tend to fade faster.

Before you take out the tape measure, decide how high above the window you’d like the curtains to begin.

  • At Hops and Camellias we often hang curtains about six inches above the window frame to give a sense of height and drama to the room.
  • Hops and Camellias have an ‘easy to use’ measuring guide that they can email out to get this crucial stage right. Measure from the top of the window (plus the added inches of height where the curtains will hang from) down to the floor. “For a more traditional look, with the curtain slightly puddled on the floor, you’ll want to add another two or three inches to your length,” explains Elaine. For a contemporary, crisp look, have the panel fall flush with the floor.
  • When measuring the width of your window, be sure to add four to eight inches on both sides and double the total number to ensure fullness. “Then you won’t block the view when the curtains are open, plus they won’t get in the way,” says Elaine. Those extra inches around the perimeter of your window frame will also help block out any creeping light.

Whilst off-the-shelf curtains are cheaper, choices are invariably more limited. Custom made window treatments offer many benefits and the team at Hops and Camellias can inspire you and take away the stress from choosing curtains with their bespoke curtain & blind making service. With their help you can get expert advice on fabric and design options, measuring and customising the dimensions for unusually shaped windows to create a tailored look – like a perfectly fitted suit!