THE BEAUTIFUL ROOM WINDOWS
The Beautiful Room Windows
As dining rooms have little in the way of furniture, you may want to play up the importance of the windows by giving them a fairly lavish treatment. This could be well worth the effort if you do lots of evening entertaining, when for much of the year the curtains will drawn and receiving maximum attention.
As a general rule, curtains should either sweep the floor or stop at the still, because anything else tends to look indecisive. Floor-length curtains always look more opulent-the fashion at the moment is to have them over length so they actually lie in folds on the floor. But even with a window large enough for this treatment if a radiator is sited beneath it. you are faced with the problem that once floor-length curtains are drawn over a radiator, they stop the heat from reaching the room. One simple solution is to hang full-length curtains, but drape them to the sides with permanent tie-backs. Then add a still-height blind to pull down at night. (Of course, if you are leaving the radiator on view, you will need to paint it the same colour as your walls, so it blends imperceptibly into it's background.)
If you are lucky enough to have architecturally beautiful windows, and a view that is equally beautiful too, it's a pity to detract from them in any way. If your dining room is not overlooked, and you have preferred a simple look throughout, you may be prepared to leave them quite bare. Otherwise you could give them a simple treatment, choosing plain curtains in the same tone as the walls, the can be pulled right back off the window frame, so the window's proportions are not interfered with. Carry the simplicity through by choosing an inconspicuous modern curtain track, and make the curtains up with a crisp, unfussy heading-pencil pleats always look sharp and neat. This treatment is especially useful if other walls in the room are highly decorated.
Accommodating window shapes
It's impossible to play up awkwardly-shaped or mis-matched windows successfully. The best you can hope for is to play them down by making them an integral part of the room. The easiest way of doing this is to cover the walls in a patterned wallpaper, and make up the curtains from a matching fabric. If ll that is awkward about the windows is a differing level of sills, you can soften the outline of the sills by using floor-length nets or sheers that stay drawn all the time. By day they will diffuse the incoming light softly, and at night you can draw the floor-length main curtains over them. An alternative for an informal dining room would be to fake equal levels of sill by hanging two rows of cafe-curtaining, keeping the bottom row permanently closed. This could be a good idea anyway in any town house be a good idea anyway in any town house or cottage directly overlooking a pavement.
A narrow window can easily be made to seem wider, because you can extend the curtain track or pole well beyond the window frame. This way provided you always keep the curtains sufficiently drawn to cover the sides of the window frame, no one will guess they are only covering wall, and will think there is an expanse of glass behind. This confidence trick works well if you have got two windows of different widths along the same wall. Just give them the same size track or decorative poles and draw the curtains to the sides identically- something that will be determined by the width of the wider window.
In a period bay window complete with operational shutters, you will probably want to leave the shutters in simple isolation. But if you feel the room needs a softening touch, you could fix a long curtain pole to the walls on either side of the bay, so the pole goes across the bay in mid-air. Then you could loop a generous length of light weight fabric or cotton lace (perhaps as much as 14 meter or yards) up and over the pole to create a loosely swaged pelmet; then up and over the pole again in much deeper waist- height loops at both sides. This would create the effect of swigging. The ends would hang a down straight to floor-length behind the swagged sides. It's a marvelous way of making curtains without having to use scissors or sew a stitch and as all it does is frame the bay window it doesn't interfere with the working of the shutters.
Curtains can work wonders for most kinds of windows and help a room feel warm and friendly, but they have one major disadvantage. They need an enormous amount of fabric. How much will depend on the kind of heading you use, and whether there's a pattern that has to be matched. Remember that when a pattern has a large repeat matching can entail significant wastage. See picture details of how to make your own curtains.
Unfortunately nothing looks worse than mean and skimped curtains. If you can't afford enough of an expensive fabric it's better to buy masses of light weight cotton, and use it so lavishly it looks rich and luxurious. If you have bought a good quality fabric, however, it will last longer and look better if it's lined and interlined.
In chilly rooms perhaps use one of the new thermal linings for extra insulation.
The cheapest way to cover a window with fabric is to make blind. You may prefer to ant way. If you find curtains fussy. But remember blinds are no good for disguising poorly-shaped windows.
The simplest blind to make is a roller blind. Wooden roller kits are fairly inexpensive, but you will need to use a closely-woven cotton or sailcloth because anything heavier or finer might bunch on the rollers. You can give the fabric a wipe able and dirt-resistant finish by spraying it with a fabric stiffener. If you are trying to fill a big picture window, make two or three blinds rather than one large one, because any seams will look unsightly and will affect the hang. One advantage of making your own blinds is that you can use a fabric that relates to your room. Alternatively there are firms who will make the blinds up for you if you supply a suitable material.
Although you can add scalloped castellated or lace trims to roller blinds, you may want a softer-looking blind at the window. Roman blinds concertina upwards in deep, loose folds and look very good in a formal setting. Rushed festoon blinds are altogether more frivolous but can look splendidly over-the-top and sumptuous. There are special tapes for making up both these are special tapes for making up both these types of blinds, so they are no longer only for the ambitious to tackle.
If you want a crisper and less conventional look, you could buy roller blinds with highly graphic screen-printed designs, rather than the usual plains and floras or you could paint or stencil on your own designs, using a special fabric paint. Alternatively, you could use one of the small, specialist firms who screen-print, air-brush or hand-paint one-off blinds to order.
Venetian blinds always look neat and architectural, and give you complete control over the amount of light you let in. If you like the idea but find them cold and clinical it's possible to buy Venetian blinds with cedar wood slats. These are extremely handsome, but inevitably, rather more expensive.
Louver blind have much wider, vertical slats and are not worth considering unless your windows are large. This isn't just a matter of visual scale. They are extremely expensive in small sizes, but become proportionately cheaper the larger they get. As the slats can be pushed aside and walked through, they are good for any floor-to-ceiling sliding windows.
Natural woven reed blinds roll up via a cord and pulley, and filter light in a way that suggests tropical sunshine outside. They could work in a dining room with a conservatory-mood, but do tend to evoke images of Somerset Maugham. Cane or split bamboo slatted blinds are cheaper and just as evocative.
If you are working on a very tight budget, pleated paper blinds can be very inexpensive. The cheapest come in a standard 2 meter (6 ft 6 in) drop, so you have to leave the bottom of the blind pleated if your window is shallower. Once paper blinds come treated with a writable finish, they get more expensive, but still remain relatively cheap overall.
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