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Tips for choosing curtains

With a wide variety of window coverings such as roller and Venetian blinds available, traditional hangings have been overlooked in recent years. But often the most practical, aesthetically pleasing and good-value choice is still the old-fashioned pair of curtains. A resurgence in the popularity of curtains has meant that new fashions have emerged and new fabrics, prints and styles are available to suit almost any taste or room.

Styles That Work

Finding a style that works for your home is the best place to start. High-street shops sell curtains for a range of different looks from contemporary to traditional, but look at your existing decor to get the best idea of how to proceed. Many homes are now designed around a neutral theme, meaning you have a little more flexibility in terms of furnishings and the possibility of injecting some colour or using a bold motif as a theme.

If your style is more country-cottage, lace separates and pleats will work well but be careful with fussy detailing in a more minimal room, especially if it's a functional one such as the bathroom or kitchen. Current trends for materials are focusing on romantic themes, using decadent silks and soft silhouettes. At the other end of the scale, there are modern finishes with a metallic sheen for gender-neutral options and textile designers have also been getting creative with fabric textures and tucking to give multi-layered effects.

There are a couple of initial decisions to make regarding your budget before you head to the stores. Ready-made curtains are most people's idea of the best value, particularly now there are extensive ranges in most retailers and some styles can be paired with alternative materials or colours on request. They are also readily available and returnable if you're not happy with the style or fit, which is not the case with designer curtains. You can opt for made-to-measure, which means your requirements will be fully met and if you have awkwardly shaped windows this is probably the obvious choice. They can be expensive, however and take weeks to be completed.

Practical Decisions

Practical considerations are key when buying new curtains. Downstairs curtains can be a little more decorative in spaces such as the living room and hall, where you may want to leave them half-drawn or pinned back for a choice of lighting. Upstairs you may want to think about thicker materials to keep in the heat in winter, as well as linings for privacy and keeping the light to a minimum. Kitchen and bathroom curtains will need to be easy to remove and clean and may even benefit from a wipe-clean material for accidental splashes or cookery stains.

How your curtains attach at the top is also something to consider. Wood rings and large eyelets are very fashionable and lend a clean, contemporary look to a window when used with a pole. This may not suit all homes, though and it's worth flicking through catalogues and websites to choose which headers you prefer. You may want to go for a hidden rail and pinch-pleats if yours is a retro-style room. Modern curtains often use the back-pleat, which gives a smooth front and has an understated appeal.

Curtain measurements may seem obvious but it's a good idea to remember to give a little extra width for curtains to overlap and, similarly, allow extra length for them to fall past the window ledge at the hem. Even ready-mades can be bought at different lengths to suit you, such as draping down to the floor if you're after a more luxurious effect. There are also extra fittings such as tie-backs and decorative curtain pole-ends which may merit a look if you have money to spare.

However you order, accessorise or hang them, new curtains can have more of an effect on an interior than you may think. Partnered with some matching cushion covers, a rug or wall hangings, a good selection can really revamp old rooms. These kind of effects are useful if you're trying to sell a property or even just creating a new atmosphere that's entirely your own.

Author: Argos