From luxurious layers of insulating velvet to pretty patterns or a fine veil of sheers, curtains are the key to a beautifully finished room, writes Sarah Pickette.
Curtains weave a special kind of magic in a room. They add warmth, texture and movement; they filter sunlight, provide privacy and a layer of insulation and should deliver years of service. Best of all, they exude elegance and grace.
“Even if they are never drawn, curtains help soften the hard lines of glass windows,” says Sydney interior designer Thomas Hamel. “I would usually suggest a sheer or slightly transparent fabric with a soft drape to the body.”
There are a few rules of thumb to follow when you’re considering curtain styles. Pinch pleats, where the curtains are grouped in triple pleats at intervals, stack neatly and confer a formal look – this makes them great for dining rooms. Eyelet and tab-top styles are best for sheer curtains and most suited to bedrooms. Pencil pleating – evenly spaced narrow pleats – are more casual, perfect for a living or family room. Whichever style you choose, aim to have your curtains skim the floor.
If you opt for custom-made curtains, look for “drape or softness, stability, and colourfastness” in the fabric that you choose, suggests Cameron Warwick, managing director of sales and marketing for Warwick Fabrics.
Stability, he says, is particularly important. “Fabric movement can create bagging or inconsistent hems. The most stable drapery fabric will have some polyester content in its composition. Polyester is totally stable and will ensure a consistent presentation.”
When it comes to trends, “luxurious fabrics and unique embellishments” are the order of the day, says Christine Maclean, manager of Laura Ashley’s custom-made division. “Our top-selling colours this season are sapphire, cranberry and duck-egg blue,” she says.
There’s been a noticeable shift towards fabrics in silvers and subtle metallics, says Matthew Van Dyken, national manager of custom-made curtains and blinds at Lincraft. “Pinch pleat is still the number-one style for a traditional look,” he says, “but reverse box pleats and wave-fold options are popular for those who want a contemporary style.”
Meanwhile, Freedom’s head of buying Andrew Moricz says that the company’s Pavilion tab-top curtain is a strong seller. “Our most popular curtains are neutrals that work with almost any look.”
Seeking out recycled options can be an alternative route to great-looking curtains. The Curtain Exchange in Hawthorn, Melbourne, stocks drapes in high-quality fabrics such as silk, lumiere and damask.
“Customers can see exactly what the curtains look like and they can also take them home to try before they buy,” says owner Romy Sanders Morris. Second-hand curtains are only sold if they’re in excellent condition and generally cost one quarter of the price of a new custom-made pair.
Best of both
If you love the look of curtains but favour the functionality of blinds take a look at Luxaflex’s Luminette Privacy Sheers. Made up of vertical fabric vanes, the Luminette range is available in a variety of soft whites and natural colours and can now be motorised, for whisper-quiet rotation and retraction. “The Luminette range is a good solution for someone who wants a soft yet striking look in their home,” says Jenny Brown, marketing manager of Luxaflex Window Fashions.
Eye on trends
Move over minimalism, elaborate curtains are making a comeback, says Lisa Follows, principal decorator at Bella Curtains in Sydney. “We are seeing more fabric used to create fuller designs and more detail in the fabrics chosen,” she says. Classic curtain styles such as the triple pinch-pleat and box-pleat remain among the most requested, but other styles are rocketing in popularity. “The S fold, also referred to as ripple fold, is particularly good for clients requiring a fluid drape line and reduced heaviness at the top of the curtain. This heading creates consistency, a lovely stack back and a wonderful opportunity to focus on the overall look of the fabric,” says Follows.
Motorisation is another key trend. Great for large expanses of glass, hard-to-reach or high-set areas and delicate fabrics, the cost of motorised tracking has dropped dramatically in recent years, making it more affordable.