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Before the invention of glass, houses (or huts!) had a hole in the wall to let in daylight. This was known as a ‘wind hole’ which in time became what we know of today as ‘window’. Windows have always made a fashion statement, from a simple piece of cloth hung on a pole to the amazingly embellished Edwardian and Victorian curtains and swags.

So, where to start?

The first consideration is to look at the window, does it open inwards or outwards, what shape is it, which room is it in and is it floor to ceiling or a normal blocked up at the bottom window?
Another consideration is whether it has secondary glazing; many older houses still do not have double glazing which can lose a lot of heat in the winter. In this instance heavy curtains and a blind is probably the best option, but care must be taken to buy a strong pole suitable for heavy fabric.

If the window does not have a good aspect but you still need to allow light in, then a roll up blind could be the answer. This will block the unsightly view, allow privacy and still allow light in at the top.

Getting the shape right

What shape is the window? Arched, round, square, tall and narrow, wide and shallow – these are all shapes which articles on window treatments seem to avoid – too difficult? The trend at the moment is to keep it simple, the frills of festoon blinds are long since been relegated to the history books.

I had a big problem in my own living room, having 2, 2.00×0.40m windows, a large sliding patio door 3.00m wide and a 4 paned window. Now, the general rule is no more then 2 window treatments per room. The most troublesome windows were
the 2.00mx0.40m ones. I looked in every book written on curtains, none addressed the problem! I tried Roman Blinds, they did not work, but they needed some kind of dressing otherwise they looked like what you would find in a public convenience! Eventually, I settled on black-out faux suede vertical blinds on all the windows and patio door. The 4 paned window I also hung short
curtains on a pole. It looks good and is also cosy in the winter.

I have listed below some unusual shaped windows with suggestions for

Arched window

Whenever possible this should remain an architectural feature. One option could be to insert a fixed heading within the curve of the arch and then hang a Roman or plain roller blind behind. Another suggestion would be to insert a flexible curtain rail just inside the window reveal and tie the curtains back either half way or higher up. Lambrequins can look stunning following the shape of the arch and bringing the sides to half way down the window. I know tie backs are not very fashionable at the moment, but I do think they finish off a window both from the inside and outside looking in.

Wide Shallow window

Failing blocking the window up completely, which is what I wanted to do, some people have hung curtains on these windows, which reminds me of a Punch and Judy show – not good! I would suggest a blind of some sort hung within the reveal. (See above) Another thought if you want to hide it and don’t need the light to hang a tapestry or oriental rug to hide it.

Patio door and large window

At the end of the article is a photo of how they addressed the window treatment in our an hotel room in Bali. The two sliding shutters which closed in the middle opened onto the outside, but this idea could be adapted to slide either side of the doors inside if you have the room. Curtains if dark in colour can be a bit over facing, much better in a lighter shade. Roller blinds divided into the same number of door panes can look attractive from the outside at different heights. If direct sunlight is a problem as I have then vertical black out blinds are one of the best options.

Small window

Small windows can be taken as they are and treated with the minimum amount of fuss with a Roman blind, roller blind or if you want to bring a softer edge a single scoop Austrian blind. Another option if you want the window to look bigger is to mount a lambrequin on the outside of the window this will give the illusion that the window behind is larger.

Tall and narrow window

These are probably my favourite window. They can be made to look wider by extending the full length curtain at the sides and using hold backs. If using a pelmet do not make it too deep otherwise it will look top heavy. If it contains an inward opening door, care must be taken not to let any fabric get in the way of the door opening. This type of window can be made to look sumptuous or dressed down.

Shuttered window

This type of window can be used as a barrier against the cold and noise and also as a form of security. Shutters can be used without the distraction of fabric, but consideration must be given to the acoustics within the room. This can be solved by having a rug on the floor and lots of soft furnishings (cushions, settees) to absorb the noise. If you do decide to use curtains, positioning the curtain rail or pole in such a way that the action of the shutters will not be obstructed requires care. The track will need to be extended from the architrave to allow movement of the shutters.

This is just a snapshot of various ideas for windows which are different from the norm. As this subject is quite vast and includes of soft furnishings I shall post the second part next time.


Anne Stuart


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