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How to choose the right window furnishings

Selecting window furnishings can be very confusing.  As window furnishings are usually included as fixtures in the sale of a house, unless you’ve undertaken an extensive renovation or you’ve built a new house, you may never have had to select window furnishings before.

Window furnishings can really change the feel of a space and I think they’re one of the most important elements of any room.  They can also be a costly item to purchase, so you want to get them right.  Read on to find out which window furnishings are best to use and where.

Dramatic linen curtains

Photo by Eve Wilson, Styling by Jacqui Moore. Interior Design by One Girl Interiors. Curtains in linen fabric from No Chintz, manufactured by BQ Design

1. Curtains

Okay, so we are all familiar with curtains.  Curtains were involved in some major style crimes in the 1980s and 1990s, involving heavy damasks and florals.  But in natural, tactile fabrics they’re now firmly back in style.

Pros: Curtains soften a room in a way that other window furnishings do not.  They are perfect for spaces where you want a warm/cosy/romantic feel such as a Master Bedroom. When lined, they are also very effective for blocking out light.

For spaces where you want softness and privacy, sheer curtains can be combined with another window furnishing as roller blinds.

Cons: Curtains tend to be a relatively expensive option and this is because of the amount of fabric required which is far more than for alternatives such as Roman Blinds.  Curtains are also always seen, even when open.  This may be fine, but for spaces where you don’t want to notice the window furnishings, curtains may not be the best option.

My final word on curtains is that they must be elegant and long. Starting above the window architrave and hitting the floor.  Short curtains are a style no-no.

Because curtains look best when they’re long, they’re not a great option to use in a space where you need to access something directly under the window (for example, a desk as you can see in the image below)

Shutters

Photo by Brooke Holm. Styling by Marsha Golemac. Interior Design by One Girl Interiors

2. Timber shutters

Pros: Shutters give a clean, streamlined look and work beautifully in a traditional or character home.  They can be adjusted for privacy, allowing you to see out but making it difficult for others to see in.  They have a character of their own but are understated in their look.

Cons:  Because they cover the whole window, even when the shutter blades are open, the view out of the window will always be partly obscured.  For this reason I wouldn’t suggest using them in spaces where you’re looking out onto an amazing garden view for example.

Shutters are fairly effective at blocking out light.  Not as effective as full block-out curtains though.

3.  Roman Blinds

Pros: Roman blinds are a great option for certain spaces within a home.  In my opinion they are particularly well suited to small or medium sized windows.  They tend to look heavy and bulky when used on very large windows.  Roman blinds can be amazing using a beautiful fabric or with bespoke detailing.  But this adds cost.

Roman Blinds

Image from Pinterest

Cons: When used on very large windows, when the blind is drawn, the blind can appear like one big slab of fabric.  They tend to look more attractive when they’re up, compared to when they’re down.  This issue can be overcome by selecting Roman Blinds for small and medium size windows and choosing fabrics that have interest but are not so bold that they give you a headache or make your eyes go funny when they’re down 😉

4.  Roller blinds

Pros: Roller blinds are inexpensive, streamlined and completely understated.  You basically don’t notice them at all when they’re up.  For this reason they’re perfect for large windows and for windows where you’re looking out at a beautiful view.  During the day, you can have them up and you don’t even notice they’re there.

You can purchase roller blinds in three general types of fabrics: 1) Sheer (for privacy) 2) Screen (to partly block out light) and 3) Blockout (to fully block out light).

Roller blinds

Image from BQ Design

Cons:  Because they’re one large piece of fabric, they don’t look particularly attractive when they’re down.  You won’t have the texture, softness or movement that you would have with curtains for example.

Other thoughts

Throughout a house I think it is perfectly fine and often appropriate to use more than one type of window furnishing.

To select the right window furnishings you need to consider the following questions for each room:

  1. What are the window furnishings primarily for?  i.e. to block out light so that I can sleep?  or to provide some privacy?  or to add texture, softness and visual interest?
  2. Do I want to notice the window furnishings?  i.e. are the window furnishings a hero piece in the room or more of a
    background singer?
  3. What is my budget?

Window furnishings are such an important part of any room in terms of both aesthetics and functionality.  They are also a significant investment in your home and something you want to be happy with long term.

xx

Be an interiors voyeur

So, there’s this new accommodation concept catching on.  It’s called the un-hotel.

Started in London, helped by a downturn in the economy, the idea is simple.  People who have lovely homes but travel a lot for work (or sometimes leisure!) offer their homes as accommodation rather than have them sit empty. You get to live in a fabulous home or apartment, full of character rather than a cookie-cutter hotel.  While you stay there, the hosts even leave you their own recommendations so that you can live like a local while you’re there.

Homes are available in London, New York, Los Angeles and Paris.

But first, a word of warning.  This site is highly addictive!  You can spend literally hours looking through hundreds of properties.  And with so many choices on offer, you’re sure to find something that perfectly suits your style and your needs.  For example, if you’re travelling with young children, you can find a property owned by a family that’s complete with children’s toys.  Now that’s a lot more fun than a hotel!

Even if you’re not planning a jaunt overseas, this site has huge voyeuristic appeal and is bursting with inspiration for your own home.

Here are just a few of my favourite properties from onefinestay.com:

King Henry’s Road IV, London

So, I do like colour.  But I also love the industrial and masculine-chic feel of this pared back apartment.  Given how much I love cooking, the kitchen is calling out to me.  And last but by no means least, being in Primrose Hill there is always a chance of bumping into Jools Oliver or Jude Law while picking up my morning coffee

A seriously dreamy kitchen in well-heeled Primrose Hill.
Image from onefinestay.

Bethune Street, New York

Owned by an interior designer, this is a tiny, eclectic treasure box of an apartment that Carrie Bradshaw would certainly approve of.  Oh, and it’s in her neighbourhood too

A jewel box of treasures in the West Village. Image from onefinestay.

A jewel box of treasures in the West Village.
Image from onefinestay.

Union Square, New York

A quintessential New York loft space.  With high ceilings and tonnes of natural light, this property oozes style.  And being a studio, it’s a great example of how to zone an open plan area.  Love!

The ultimate New York loft with eclectic, feminine style. Image from onefinestay.

The ultimate New York loft with eclectic, feminine style.
Image from onefinestay.

Ladbroke Grove V, London

I would feel right at home here.  A  relaxed but stylish home with pops of colour and fun.

A quirky but very stylish family home in London. Image from onefinestay.

A quirky but very stylish family home in London.
Image from onefinestay.


Happy hunting!

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June 28, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Semi - I love these white chairs in front of the fireplace…

I heart Farrow and Ball

It is no secret that I love all things British.  And paint manufacturer Farrow and Ball is right up there near the top of my list.   Their book Living with colour is one of my favourite sources of inspiration.  My copy is dog-eared with the number of pages I’ve liked and promised myself I’d come back to later.

Certainly a major part of their appeal is because their paints are made in Dorset in the traditional way with traditional ingredients.  The finish is flawless and there is no smell (seriously!).

But I particularly love the way despite all this tradition, some of their paints have seriously quirky names.  I think the vibrant yet strangely cheerful Arsenic would have to be my favourite, followed closely by the hugely popular Elephant’s Breath.  Then there’s the urban-chic Down Pipe and the ever-so-sweet Nancy’s Blushes.

Farrow & Ball director Sarah Cole said in an interview: “When choosing names for our paint colours it’s really important to us that they are emotive; they are as much a part of the colour as the colours themselves!”

I know that the names of paint colours do have an influence on me.  This was obvious when I decided to re-paint my dining room and, inspired by Farrow and Ball, I was set on selecting one of their colours.

I had narrowed down the field to three options but encountered a problem when the frontrunner was named Pigeon.  You see, I have quite a phobia of birds thanks to seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ at a young age!

So in the end I settled on the slightly different but equally lovely shade of Lamp Room Gray and I am thrilled with the result.

And so continues my love of Farrow and Ball…

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A traditional bathroom with a twist, courtesy of walls painted in Arsenic (Image from Livingetc magazine UK)

A traditional bathroom with a twist, courtesy of walls painted in Arsenic
(Image from Livingetc magazine UK

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Walls are moody and dramatic courtesy of Farrow and Ball’s Down Pipe
(Image from Farrow and Ball)

The ever-so-elegant shade of Elephant’s Breath (Image from Farrow and Ball)

The ever-so-elegant shade of Elephant’s Breath
(Image from Farrow and Ball)