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Being one of the most essential decorating tools in a room, we show you what options are available and how to choose the perfect window furnishings
Window furnishings may be one of those décor decisions that you don’t give much thought to, but they play a very important role in the home. The correct window furnishings matter not just to afford us privacy but it also helps in controlling the amount of light that comes into your room, depending on the kind of furnishings you choose – curtains, drapery or blinds – as well as the material they are made of – fabric, wood, bamboo or metal.
Window furnishings shape the look of your room. Rich colours and fabrics, heavy pleats, scalloped valances are great when you want the room to look opulent. Roller shades, available in a myriad of hues and patterns add a contemporary feel to a room while sheer eyelet or grommet curtains add softness and romance. Another advantage is adding colour; if your room has neutral colour walls and light furniture, window furnishings are a great way to add a splash of colour.
With so many options available, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before selecting the right kind of furnishings.
With your checklist ready, it’s time to look at the options available in the Indian market.
Even though the terms are used interchangeably, technically there is a difference between the two. Curtains are made of lighter fabric and do not have a lining or pleats or offer much control over light. Drapes are heavy, lined, pleated and usually floor-length. They offer excellent light-control and are better suited for more formal settings. Pleated drapes come in box pleats which are perfect for a formal setting. Goblet pleats are where the top has a stiff lining and each pleat is stitched to resemble a wine glass; three-finger pinched or French pleat is made from three pleats stitched together to form one, and a pencil pleat is one which has tightly gathered folds at the top. If you don’t want to go in for pleats, the ripple-fold or wave fold version adds that soft, vintage touch while still being contemporary and functional. Eyelet or grommet curtains give a similar ripple-fold look but the fabric has holes in the top fitted with metallic rings. These are the easiest to use as they glide across the curtain rod easily. Tab top curtains have tabs or flaps of fabric at the top that fit through the rod. These are not easy to pull and hence best suited for sheer, light-weight fabrics.
Blinds are made from horizontal or vertical slats using hard materials. These individual slats are attached together to form a complete blind and are usually controlled by a manual pull cord. Sometimes a sheer fabric is used to overlap the slats to add privacy. Venetian blinds have the added advantage of slight adjustment of the slats while closed to let the light in or block it out. Blinds are the more expensive option as materials like aluminium or wood are used but you can get bamboo versions as well which cut the cost a little. Blinds are great for a classically clean look and feel. While horizontal blinds are more common, vertical blinds are more useful for larger spaces and tall windows.
Shades are made from soft fabrics offering a smoother look. The more affordable option, shades are a great way to add colour, texture, patterns and style to a smaller space. When open, they stack neatly in a roll or horizontal folds at the top of the window. While you cannot adjust light-control while they are closed, the choice of fabric opacity helps. The most common options are roller shades which are the standard roll up and down shades, cellular or honeycomb shades which like a beehive have little pockets that trap hot and cold air providing insulation, and the most popular Roman shades which form elegant horizontal folds as they are pulled up. Choose the kind of Roman shades you want based on how it folds. Basic Roman has smooth and firm horizontal folds, Cascading Roman has soft overlapping loops, Balloon Roman has generous folds of fabric that have a scalloped look, and Relaxed Roman is like the basic but softer fall of the folds.
Functionally both valances and pelmets serve the same purpose – fitted at the top of the windows to cover the fitting and rods. It is aesthetically where the two differ. Pelmets are hard, U-shaped structures usually made of ply-wood and permanently attached to the wall. It is also referred to as a box valance or cornice board and usually not more than six-inches in height. This style has a clean, modern look and better suited for a space that is less formal. For a more formal style, go in for a valance which is fabric hung at the top running the entire length of the window. Also known as swag or skirt, the choice of fabric depends on what style you are going in for – sheer for a romantic, soft feel or heavy texture for a formal, regal look. The rim or edge that hangs can be scalloped, which is the most popular style, zig-zag, straight, or triangular.
Remember, you don’t need to limit yourself to one kind of furnishing, especially if budget isn’t an issue. Layer soft, sheer curtains with heavy drapes or Roman shades, add valances to cover fixtures while using drapery for the windows, or mix and match hues, textures and patterns to achieve your perfect room. Tie-backs also add that little touch of elegance when the curtains are full parted. They are available in a wide range of options from simple satins to heavy tassels.
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