Soft furnishings and window treatments are often left as an afterthought in the budget, but good window dressings can really make or break a room and add much-needed softness to windows.
The options for window dressings can seem endless and overwhelming but this post details various pleat styles, decorative headings, fabric options and more.
When looking at window treatments factors such as light, curtain length, window shape, fabric preference and budget should all be taken into account. Different styles or fabrics can heavily influence each of the factors mentioned so knowing all the information helps you choose the right window dressing that will tick all the right boxes.
The type of fabric needs to suitable for curtains as well as fitting in with the overall style and colour scheme of the room. For example, if you need to wash your curtains, choose a washable fabric made with and unlined style. It’s always a great idea to obtain and compare a few samples of different fabrics to check you like the ‘feel’ and to see if they pair well with other parts of the room like furniture or wall colours.
WINDOW DRESSING STYLES:
Blinds are a great choice for a contemporary look that is often more cost effective than curtains. They’re brilliant solutions when full-length curtains aren’t an option; such as if a radiator or sink obstructs a full curtain from hanging, as well as for narrow areas that have very minimal stack back. They can be used in conjunction with thin/decorative dress curtains to block extra light and to add additional privacy.
Inside or Outside the Recess:
Whether the blinds sit within our outside of a window recess usually depends entirely on the window shape itself. If a blind sits outside of a window recess it may block light better but generally the designs of blinds leave a gap and it is difficult to create a blackout effect with blinds alone.
When drawn up, Roman Blinds stack into neat rectangular sections behind one-another. This style is contemporary, stylish and extremely popular. When fully draw, the stacked panels will hang at the top window section and block an amount of light at all times. When the blind is down there will be horizontal folds visible.
The most cost effective blind that when fully rolled up, lets in the most amount of light.
CAFE BLINDS: A low-cost solution that works well in kitchens, bay windows or any setting where softening and a little bit of privacy is required.
VENETIAN BLINDS: These blinds are made with metal or wooden slats that stack up neatly when fully pulled up. A good solution for windows were a little privacy is required, and the option to let in more or less light. Window shutters offer a similar solution and can also be made to fit just the bottom panes of the window (cafe shutters).
LONDON BLINDS: A decorative take on roman blinds that looks most effective when half-drawn, to show off the gathers and bunching.
CURTAINS: We would (almost) always recommend curtains are made full length with a bit of gather on the floor - we call this 'trouser length' (the same principle as tailored trousers, which should gently gather over shoes when worn).
If space permits; curtains can be hung that when drawn, stack back either side of window space letting in as much light as possible. In many situations where the curtain pole/track cannot extend far beyond the window edge, the space only allows for the curtains to draw over each side of the window opening which in turn lets in less amounts of light in.
Different pleat and heading style allow for more/less stacking back. For example; eyelet headings fold back more tightly than triple pleat headings and let more light in.
Valances and pelmets will block light from the window top, but Tab Headings and curtains hung from poles will let light through a gap.
"Windows are your view to the outside world. Whatever the scene is outside, you've probably not realised how often you gaze out, so don't leave window treatments as an afterthought. Whatever your budget, there is something to suit. Roller blinds need little room and are cost effective, but if you can and want to invest long term into your window furnishings, hand made bespoke curtains should last 10-15 years. Don't go to big stores who outsource and essentially factory-make. Find a local maker who cares about the quality and knows that good work is key to their business."
- Angela (Cocoon Home)
There are different types of curtain headings, each with their unique look.
WAVE TRACKS: Wave tracks offer an elegant and discreet alternative to curtain poles and can be surface mounted or recessed into the ceiling. They allow the curtains to glide smoothly and the heading makes a shape like a 'wave'. The wave heading is only possible to achieve using a wave track.
TIE TOPS: Tie curtains use fabric strips that are tied in a decorate knot/bow to attach to a pole, the same fabric can be used or a contrasting one. Informal and delicate, they make a great match for bedrooms. The curtain pole needs to be thin enough to fit through the loops; opening and closing this curtain can be harder where there is fabric resistance and friction. Suitable for use with a curtain pole.
TAB TOPS: Tab curtains use fabric loops to attach to a pole, the same fabric can be used or a contrasting one. Informal and stylish, they make a great match for bedrooms. As with tie tops, the curtain pole needs to be thin enough to fit through the loops and opening and closing this curtain can be harder where there is fabric resistance and friction. Suitable for use with a curtain pole.
EYELET HEADING: Easy to install, easy to operate, involves little or no dressing as eyelet curtains form lovely large columns of fabric which fall into soft pronounced folds. Needs less fullness than gathered headings which can be more cost effective. When drawn back, this style folds tightly and doesn’t cover window opening as much as other styles. Suitable for use with a curtain pole.
SLOT HEADING: An informal gathered look with extra height as the top which can creates an illusion of a taller ceiling height. This style is difficult to open and close, making it best suited as a dress curtain. Can be designed in an standard open position but also looks fantastic held back using Italian stringing or tiebacks. Suitable for use with a curtain pole.
GATHERED HEADING: The term ‘gather’ refers to the extent to which the fabric is bunched together (with a flat curtain having effectively zero gather). A ‘gathered’ heading tends to be loosely bunched which create an unstructured and casual look, ideal for cosy bedrooms and living areas. This heading style is extremely versatile, working well with printed or and plain fabrics in both sheer and unlined curtains. Suitable for use with a curtain pole.
PENCIL PLEAT: Pencil pleats are a neat and elegant type of curtain heading. The name comes from the tightly packed folds at the top of the curtain that resemble a row of pencils. Suitable for use with a curtain track or pole.
BOX PLEAT: A smart and refined style that features structured, wide pleats.
This style is difficult to open and close, making it best suited as a dress curtain. Can be designed in a standard open position but also looks fantastic held back using Italian stringing or tiebacks. Suitable for use with a curtain track or pole.
PINCH PLEATS: Pinch pleat is a decorative heading for curtains, suitable for all fabrics. Pinch pleats use more fabric and are fuller than pencil pleats. The pleats are hand-sewn in and permanently fixed for more luxurious, tailored look. Suitable for use with a curtain track or pole.
DOUBLE PINCH PLEAT:
TRIPLE PINCH PLEAT:
TOP PINCHED PLEAT: A tailored, elegant take on the Double and Triple Pinch Pleats. The tapered top gives the curtain a more refined look while maintaining beautiful draping folds. This style stacks back more tightly than Double and Triple Pinch Pleats, allowing more light in through the window opening. Suitable for use with a curtain track or pole.
GOBLET PLEAT: This decorative heading, which features a line of wineglass-shaped details, is ideal for more traditional and formal interiors. It works particularly well with thick fabrics or silks and it can be used with either poles or tracks. Goblets can be formal/stiff or soft depending on the style and can have bows, knots or other small trims at the base of each goblet and/or rope joining the goblet.
This style will take up more space and when drawn, will have a wider stack back than other headings which could let less light through the window opening. Suitable for use with a curtain track or pole.
CARTRIDGE PLEAT: The Cartridge pleats are a hand formed style that resemble a more relaxed Goblet. The Narrow Cartridge Pleat has thinner tubes of fabric which appear similar to a Wave Heading. Suitable for use with a curtain track or pole.
NARROW CARTRIDGE PLEAT:
And there you have it - our guide to window treatment styles and curtain headings to help you decide on the right style for you.