How to choose curtains

Curtains can totally transform your rooms and draw the overall scheme together into something spectacular. They should not be simply seen as a window dressing, but key pieces that can alter the whole look and atmosphere of a space.  There can be an overwhelming choice of curtains to choose from; the fabrics, the styles, the patterns, the thickness, lengths and so on, so take your time and think about the bigger picture of your room and its uses before you purchase.

Because curtains are costly you need to think long term about your design and colour and preferably try samples in situ.  When looking at potential materials, consider the overall scheme and if you can, take on board the advice of a professional designer.

Patterns can be used to your advantage to make a room seem larger or smaller than it actually is. If you are covering large windows remember that too large a print will be overpowering, but too small will not look correct and could blend into the background too much.

Decide exactly how you want your curtains to hang as it can alter how they will look in the room.  Eyelets are great for contemporary rooms and will need some additional space at the end of the window when they are folded back, French or pinch pleats give a more tailored finish as the curtain falls into elegant folds for more formal looks so are great in living rooms and pencil pleats are narrow single pleats with neat, uniform folds which are more suited to bedrooms, offices and more casual looks.

Voiles or sheers are great for maximising natural light during the daytime whilst still offering privacy and give a soft look.  They are ideal in small spaces and are good for those with hay fever as they stop pollen coming into a space, and can be cleaned more easily in general so are great for those with allergies.

How about some layering?  Curtains paired with blinds are good for functionality and style and allow lighting to be altered easily.  This can also make your window look bigger or your ceiling higher with a few tweaks of the pole setting.  Bay windows work well with roller blinds or roman blinds, with bold patterns on blinds and plain curtains either side.

Ready-made curtains are great for instant changes and if you have budget limitations and little time.  The beauty is that they are ready to hang.  Ensure that you have taken the correct measurements before buying and get help if required.  They come in a range of sizes but these may not be a perfect fit for your window, and you may have to alter the pole or track that the curtains hang on in order to make them work.

You may prefer to get made-to-measure curtains, either because you already have a material to work with or because you want to be in control of all of the specifics.  These are great for period and traditional homes which have windows of different shapes and sizes and are fantastic in that they allow you to really create a bespoke look that no one else will have.  They will take longer to be made, and may cost a little more than ready-made versions, but by choosing wisely they will last a long time.  Find a curtain maker by recommendation where possible.

For practicality, think of blackout linings to block light if you have children or work shifts, and consider them and/or thermal linings to improve your energy efficiency within the home.

Take your time to consider all the possibilities for your window dressings, and try out apps that will bring up a mock look for you to compare.  Look at whole ranges of designs, materials and styles, as often something that you weren’t expecting to look great, will actually be the making of your room.