Creating a unique home style with curtains

Windows are openings into the very heart of your home. That's why you can never go wrong using curtains to your advantage for maximizing the style factor of your living space. Here’s how.

Creating a unique home style with curtains

Although many windows are covered by Venetian blinds or roll-up panels of paper or reeds, the traditional curtain and rod still hold their place in homes across Canada. Of course, hanging curtains isn't quite as simple as hanging blinds. However when done right, curtains bring a comfortable, old-world allure and decorative flair to any room that other forms of window treatments simply can't provide.

Here are some pointers for doing it right the first time and every time.

Short or floor-length?

Put up a curtain rod then just toss on a curtain, right? Wrong. There are several things to consider, especially where curtain length is concerned.

  • Short curtains look rustic and are well-suited for short and square, or wide and low windows. They should stop just short of the windowsill or a little below it.
  • Arched sheer curtains are a good choice for windows with flowerpots or window boxes. The reason? They put the fruits of your green thumb in full view for everyone to admire!
  • Floor-length curtains enhance the high, narrow windows often found in many older apartments and houses. The secret is they should reach to about five centimetres (two inches) above the floor so that you can easily vacuum underneath.

Using curtain rods

Making sure the curtain rod is well secured to the wall should be your first step. They'll do no good if they keep falling to the floor. However, remember that where you attach it will also make a difference.

  • Display window treatments to their best advantage by installing curtain rods no less than 15 centimetres (six inches) above the window frame, and at least the same distance beyond the sides of the window.
  • If a windowsill sticks out a lot further than the wall, it's a good idea to first install wood molding on the wall around the window. Then, mount the brackets for the curtain rod on the molding itself.
  • If you want the ceilings to appear higher, install the rod so that it almost touches the ceiling.

Curtains for every style

There are several different kinds of window dressings, each with certain advantages over the others. For example, sheer curtains should limit your view outside as little as possible. At the same time, they should assure at least a modicum of privacy.

What are some of the other options?

  • Drapes can keep out blinding light and act as a privacy screen.
  • Blinds often take the place of sheers in contemporary-style homes.
  • For a classic contemporary look, use distinct shapes, geometrical patterns and bright colours.
  • To create a luxurious effect, combine light sheer curtains with drapes of silk, cotton or damask.
  • Damask panels are perfect for giving rooms an early 19th-century flair.
  • Heavy valences of tufted cord, brocade or velvet look sumptuous. They can be combined with curtains of tulle and gauze. But this striking combination can look stifling in the wrong room; it requires a room with high ceilings.
  • Pleated pull-up sheers or drapes made from light fabrics with flowery patterns set a romantic, playful mood.

Achieve the right effect

Sometimes the smallest differences can have the biggest visual impact in a room. The same applies to the curtains you choose.

  • Choose floor-length curtains to make a room's windows look longer and the ceiling look higher.
  • Install the curtain rod a little higher than the frame to make the window look taller.
  • Use wide curtains to make a narrow, high window look broader.
  • Create uniformity between windows of differing heights by hanging all curtains at the same height.

Add a touch of creativity

Window shades, blinds and curtains aren't the only way to dress up a window. With a little creativity and thought, you can use all sorts of items to bring visual interest to your windows

  • Install stained glass windows to give a room a unique appearance and shield you from prying eyes, too.
  • Use the windowsill as a ready-made shelf for blooming or green plants. Or add accessories, such as pretty stones, elegant vases, knickknacks or artistic flower arrangements.
  • Install a shelf across the centre of the window for plants. This is especially good for bringing a touch of green to the kitchen or areas that don't require too much privacy.
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