Curtain Call

In this April issue, Cornwall Life seeks some advice on what curtains and fittings to buy for your living room

Curtain Call

Stuck for ideas on what curtains to buy for your living room? Jane Wheeler from Pink Kite Interiors advises

There are no hard-and-fast rules about the dressing of a window: in fact, almost anything goes! In terms of dressing your living room (as well as all other rooms in your house), there is a vast array of fabric choices on offer for both curtains and accessories. These range from strong vibrant colours, plains, patterns both floral and abstract, stripes and checks - and that's before you consider cotton, silk, faux suede and voile, amongst other fabrics. The choice is seemingly endless, with prices to suit every purse.

Fashion trends, as well as our own personal tastes, affect our choice of window treatment. Modern fabrics look fantastic in very old houses, as well as more traditional fabric designs, so the choice is really your style and personal preference - after all, it is your home. Look at what inspires you and influences your taste in colour and texture and choose colours and textures that make you feel good.

The way we treat the dressing of a window will affect the light and our privacy; this is particularly so in the living room because it's generally more on show than other rooms such as the bedrooms. The size and shape of the window, as well as its position within the room, needs to be taken into consideration. If you have a rather unattractive window or a less than attractive view from the living room, then a sympathetic and simple style will give an understated look without drawing attention to it. A plain wall colour, whether it's one of the many lovely neutral shades or a very strong colour, will work well with simple curtains of the same shade, either in voile or a more substantial fabric. A simple heading to curtains like an eyelet or a clip fastening to metal curtain rings provides style without fussiness.

Curtains and blinds can create very different effects at the same window, depending on the kind of fabric used. A simple ticking or linen looks great unlined for an unstructured modern look and can be used in both old and new houses. Adding lining to these fabrics means a more tailored, perhaps even a formal look, with pinch pleat headings and perhaps a button detail.

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Although curtains give the impression of being more dressy than blinds, they don't have to be elaborate. Pale colours tend to be used to create a very simple look, but if you have a strong colour on the walls, perhaps a deep red or deep blue, a cream or white curtain with a contrast border edging or trimming can look gorgeous.

There are some beautiful trimmings available on the market - for example, simple tie-top headings look great on lined or unlined curtains. There is so much scope to express your own style by using different curtain headings and trimmings of either the same colour or contrasting colours in the same base fabric or a different texture. You can even use different coloured ribbons.

Windows that are unevenly spaced on a wall often lend themselves to a blind rather than curtains. An unlined Roman blind will admit light but provide screening and still give a softness to the room. In a minimalist-styled room a roller blind, perhaps in a semi-opaque fabric, provides privacy as well as style.

If you have garden or patio doors in your living room, why not hang curtains that echo the wonderful colours outside, either by using textured fabric of a single colour or a combination of colours taken from the colours in your garden? As with many things, less is more, so keeping the style of your curtains simple will draw the eye from the window into the garden or the view beyond.

Voiles are now available in a wide variety of designs, from simple plain cotton to stripes in natural shades and colours, spots and even geometric designs. This option can often be the answer to gentle window dressing where you are not overlooked and you merely want a window covered. Small or difficult windows often work well with a voile simply draped at the top or as a single curtain dressed to one side of the window. A simple panel hung without gathers from a caf�-style rod fitted halfway down the window gives simplicity of style as well as privacy without having to go the extent of a full voile.

A striking patterned voile or sheer looks effective stretched between a panel system - wonderful for floor-length windows for an ultra-modern look.

Look at the windows in your living room and consider where in the room they are positioned: for example, their proximity to each other, whether they have radiators beneath them, where they are placed in relation to the adjoining walls, what space there is between the top of the window and the ceiling, and the height of the room.

Look at the view outside the various windows: is it a wonderful or not-so-wonderful sight and are you overlooked? Consider the room at different times of the day - during daylight and in the evening. Rooms take on a different feel with the changing light during the day and you need to consider what kind of atmosphere you want the room to have and also, of course, how you want to feel when you're in it.

Finally, consider the style of your furniture and the look you want to achieve. Perhaps you would prefer your living room to have a structured and formal feel, or something a little more relaxed and unstructured. However you decide to dress your windows, rest assured that there is plenty of choice to achieve whatever look you prefer.

Pink Kite Interiors, 4 Fore Street, Fowey PL23 1AQ (01726 833784,

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