how to choose the right curtains and blinds

Interiors

How do you choose the best window treatments for your home? Whether you’ve got huge swathes of glass in a barn conversion or quirky-shaped single glazing in an old cottage, Holloways curtains and blinds specialist Pippa Burns is an expert in her field.

Having worked on major interior design projects for London hotel clients, Pippa has overcome her fair share of challenges when it comes to designing curtains and blinds for difficult spaces.

From helping clients choose fabrics they love to suggesting different heading styles, explaining linings and interlinings and selecting poles and fastenings, she’s been delighting Holloways clients with her made-to-measure designs for the past four years.

“The first thing is, it’s an enjoyable process,” says Pippa. “Curtains and blinds can be the focal point of a room and pull a whole scheme together. It’s always a joy to hang them in a customer’s home and see a room totally transformed.”

Curtains and blinds

Pippa takes a relaxed, can-do approach to designing bespoke window treatments – it often comes down to personal preference and what her customers have traditionally been used to. She’ll work with you to understand your style, then come out to your home to measure your space before coming up with designs, finalising headings and linings, and commissioning the making of your handmade curtains or blinds.

“Often, customers have a good idea of what they want when I meet them,” she adds. “While practical considerations do have to be taken into account, I love to help our customers create the perfect curtains or blinds for their particular windows in their particular room.

It’s important to understand the different benefits of curtains and blinds, says Pippa.

Roman blinds and curtains

Made-to-measure curtains

Unlike ready-made curtains, which come in standard sizes and fabrics, Pippa will measure and design bespoke curtains to perfectly fit your windows, ensuring a professional, flawless finish. Each pair is made to Pippa’s exacting measurements by expert seamstresses, who have plenty of experience spanning many years.

So whether you’re looking for specialist blackout curtains for a child’s bedroom, voile curtains to hang at your French doors, a statement pair for a dramatic dining room, or even curtains to divide a room, the attention to detail and craftsmanship shows in every stitch.

“Choosing made-to-measure curtains will make your home look dressed, elegant and luxurious,” says Pippa. “We have fabric books from all the major design houses in our Interior Design Studio, from Jane Churchill to Sanderson, Romo to Clarke & Clarke, and we’ll help you choose the perfect fabric to suit you and your home. We’ll also help you select heading styles, different types of linings for your needs and even curtain poles. Made-to-measure is always worth investing in. They make a home look finished.”

Made to measure blinds

Made-to-measure Roman blinds

Sometimes, in awkward spaces or rooms like bathrooms or attic rooms, Roman blinds are a practical – though still beautiful – consideration. Simple and versatile, they don’t take up much space, sit neatly in a window frame or on the outside of a recess and offer a combination of privacy, functionality and personality.They can be lined with blackout material for particularly bright rooms, or interlined for maximum thermal efficiency. And because they’re fully height- adjustable, you can introduce the perfect balance of light, privacy and insulation. Roman blinds are a practical choice in a kitchen or bathroom – they sit closer to the window and are less likely to be splashed by cooking liquids or water.

Curtains and blinds

FAQs

1. Does size matter?

In the case of made-to-measure curtains and blinds, yes. And Pippa is exacting in her measurements.

“There’s one chance to get it right,” she says. “And so we measure, and measure again.”

In small rooms, Roman blinds – particularly in fabrics that tone with the wall colour – can increase the feeling of space. Or choose a bold fabric which doubles as a piece of wall art in more cottagey spaces. In awkward-shaped rooms, or rooms with quirky windows, curtains are often a more practical choice as poles can be hung from walls or ceilings.

Curtains and blinds

“For bay windows, we’ll quite often suggest both curtains and blinds so the whole space looks dressed, whatever time of day,” adds Pippa.

If you’re hung up on curtains for smaller rooms and windows, make sure there’s space either side of the window for them to pull back when they’re open so you maximise the light in the room. In terms of length, curtains can sit neatly on windowsills, fall to the floor, or puddle for an opulent look.

Bay window curtains

2. What about awkward-shaped windows, or to zone off areas of a room?

No space is too difficult to dress,” says Pippa. “Portholes can be fitted with an upholstered round board, so the whole thing can just be taken out in the day and replaced at night. Automatic blinds work really well in barn conversions with a lot of glazing. Shaped Roman blinds look stunning in arch-shaped windows. But if you’ve got a really unusual window, or a particularly fabulously-shaped one, think about leaving it undressed. Windows like this can be a piece of art in their own right.”

Odd shaped spaces for curtains

3. Which are warmer, curtains or blinds?

It depends on the room, which direction it faces and the heating source as to how crucial this question will be in your home. But broadly speaking, curtains work better for warmth and texture, blinds work better when space is tight.

“The weight of lining you choose can make a huge difference,” says Pippa. “Interlined curtains or blinds will not only feel weightier and hang beautifully, they’ll keep the heat in.”

Wool and hemp have fantastic thermal properties, linen will keep your room cooler in summer. Both curtains and blinds will add colour, warmth and texture to your home.

Roman blinds

4. Roller or Roman?

Roller blinds work well in rooms with low light, as they maximise glazing space when they’re up. They’re great in laundry rooms and cloakrooms, but can look rather smart in other areas of the home.

Roman blinds in beautiful fabrics, which pull up into soft pleats, are a dressier and more elegant solution for living spaces from kitchens to sitting rooms and home offices. They add softness to a room, absorbing noise, and help the room feel finished.

All blinds take into account child safety. 

“We use child safety tracks which are designed to ensure small people’s safety is paramount,” says Pippa.

Fabric for curtains

5. How do I choose my fabric?

Fabric choice can be the most exciting and most bewildering decision to have to make when it comes to choosing curtains or blinds. Holloways’ interior designers are always on hand to talk through your project with you, understanding your style and suggesting fabrics from the design houses which chime with your style and budget. Bold or subtle, textured or plain, there’s a fabric for you amongst our vast collection, whether your window treatments are coordinating with your scheme, or informing it.

“It’s important to choose the right weight of fabric, too, depending on the usage,” says Pippa. “Consider, too, the amount of light in a room. If there’s a lot of natural light, it may be better to choose a lighter fabric rather than one that will fade quickly.”

Heading styles for curtains

6. How do I choose my heading style?

From pencil pleats to eyelets, triple or double pleats to gathered (or cottage) pleats, tab tops to waves, there are a myriad header types to choose from.

“Period interiors traditionally call for triple pleats or goblets, contemporary rooms suit wave or eyelet curtains and extra-long puddled curtains work in more glamorous settings,” says Pippa. “But nothing is set in stone. It can be quite a daunting task, so we’ll always work with you to find the best style for your home.”

Contemporary and period curtains

7. Budget

Budget is always a key consideration, and curtains will generally be more expensive because they use more fabric than Roman or roller blinds, and the design options with curtains can be worth the extra money.

“We will always work to your budget,” says Pippa. “And there will always be a solution to create the look you want, whether it be to use a slightly more cost-effective fabric or a simpler heading.”

voile curtains for privacy

8. What about privacy?

If your home is overlooked, or you want a sheer solution for patio doors without compromising on light, sheer voile curtains or sheer Roman blinds could be the solution.

“They offer just enough privacy without blocking out the light,” says Pippa. “They’re particularly lovely in summer and work beautifully paired with regular fabric curtains.”

bedroom curtains

9. Can I have automatic curtains or blinds?

Yes – we can install motorised tracks. They're especially useful for big areas of curtaining or difficult-to-reach blinds.

Dramatic curtains

Contact us about curtains and blinds

Looking for new curtains or blinds for your home? Contact Pippa on 01886 884665, email pippa.burns@holloways.co.uk or call into our Worcestershire showrooms for help and advice, or to explore our collection of fabric books.

Click here for details about our curtains and blinds service, plus home shading for conservatories and garden rooms. Learn more about our FREE interior design service here.

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