3 Fundamental Considerations For Simple And Timeless Curtain Designs
by ABBY LU
Ways to stretch your dollar by choosing the right fabric, design, and style for your new curtains
We live in unprecedented times: An ongoing pandemic has turned some ordinary tasks into potentially hazardous activities. Going to the dry cleaners, for instance. Grocery shopping, going to the gym, and having lunch with friends — these are all of the things that we can’t do without necessary precautions or, in some cases, without breaking the law.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to simplify our lives right now. Learning how to do more with less is the mantra of the time. Still, as more people are spending a lot more time at home these days, giving your living spaces a facelift may be a decision that serves both practical and aesthetic needs.
However, not all home improvement tasks are made equal. Some, such as renovation works involving fixtures, flooring, tile works, and so on, are huge endeavours that involve a fair bit of money, time, and exposure to contractors at home. So, it may not be an entirely good idea to undertake such projects at this time.
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If you’re looking to upgrade the look of your home, it may be best to start small. Painting your walls with a fresh coat of paint is an idea. It is relatively quick, cheap, and you can do it on your own. But if you would like to create a bigger difference in your rooms at home, curtains are the way to go.
It has the potential to change the entire atmosphere of a space and it is another option that is relatively easy on the wallet. Additionally, there are also certain considerations of the stay-at-home lifestyle that curtains can address. It helps with privacy, for one. Apart from that, it can also assist with the moderation of insulation and lighting.
And if you are set on changing your curtains but want to keep it simple, here are some tips on how you can stay on trend, mind the budget, and ensure that maintenance is as simple as ABC.
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One of the first things to consider is ease of laundering. For this reason, you may want to stay away from delicate fabrics that can only be dry-cleaned. These include any kind of fabric with embellishments such as beading or lining. Other fabrics that cannot be cleaned at home include heavier fabrics such as tapestry or velvet or delicate synthetics such as taffeta, satin, and rayon.
One of the easiest fabrics to care for is polyester and offer great number of advantages. Firstly, it is durable and affordable. There are also many options in terms of style, prints, colours, and sizes as a lot of ready-made curtains are made of polyester. Most can be machine washed, which saves you a trip to the cleaners. However, it is best to avoid using polyester curtains in the kitchen as it can absorb odours and limit air circulation. It is more suited for living rooms or bedrooms.
Cotton is another good choice for its versatility and ease of care. With this fabric, it is possible to modulate the amount of light you prefer in a particular space. If you would like less sunlight, for instance, choose a cotton fabric with a tight weave. Conversely, pick sheer cotton fabrics if you prefer a room to be well lit. Additionally, cotton curtains drape well and offer a crisp, clean feel that will not be out of place in most interior schemes. Unless it is lined, cotton curtains can also be cleaned in the washing machine. However, since cotton is an organic material, it is susceptible to mildew and can wear out quicker with constant exposure to the sun.
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Linen is another relatively low-maintenance curtain fabric that drapes nicely, offering a billowy look that is perfect for bedrooms or contemporary living rooms. Its sheer quality allows natural light to filter into the room and, for this reason, it is well suited for home offices and dining areas. Linen is also a durable fabric and it has the added benefit of being hypoallergenic, breathable, and moisture resistant. However, as it is made of flax fibers, be wary of getting stains on your linen curtains as bleaching is not recommended. Hence, it may be not be suited for use in the kitchen. And price wise, linen fabrics are typically more expensive than cotton.
Although it is generally safe to wash these fabrics at home, it is always important to check the washing instructions for each fabric. Not all cotton, linen, or polyester fabrics share the same laundering requirements. Some may require gentle cycles with cold water and some can only be hand washed. Plus, the use of an appropriate detergent may also be necessary.
Choosing the right headers for simple yet gorgeous curtains
This is the part that may get a little confusing. To simplify things, let’s start with the fact that all curtains drape. This is, in essence, how a material falls when it is hung up at an elevation. Whether a curtain falls nicely or folds crisply depends on several things. The selection of fabric is an important factor and so are the choice of curtain headers.
Pleats are a kind of curtain header, and it is located at the very top of the curtain where it is sewn together to form tightly-held folds. There are several pleats that are popular for simple curtain styles.
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First is the single pleat, which is inspired by minimalist design principals found Scandinavian and Japanese interiors. Using this pleat, your curtain will appear to be almost flat. Because of its simplicity, single-pleated curtains will match almost any interior scheme, hence, making it a great option if you are thinking of replacing your curtains. It also requires slightly less fabric, making it an economical choice. For this to work, however, you will have to choose a lighter and thinner fabric.
Meanwhile, the pencil pleat is a common, classic option for a curtain header. A heading tape is sewn to the back of the curtain to gather tight, small, pencil-sized pleats. It creates a more informal look compared to other pleats such as pinch or box pleats. Like the single pleat, pencil pleats are best used with materials that are light and thin.
Thirdly, a wave header — with no visible pleating or hooks — is another alternative for that clean, minimalist look. The curtains are gathered at the top in a continuous wave-like fold, which frame windows in an ultra-uniformed look. And as they are fitted to a slim, discreet curtain track, curtains made in this fashion can appear to simply float along your windows.
Grommet curtains, which are also known as eyelet curtains is another modern, contemporary choice. These curtains feature open rings (grommets) that are strung through a rod for support. There are no fancy mechanisms involved with this style of curtains. You can easily draw the curtains by hand. However, since the rod will be visible, it may be prudent to select nicer hardware,
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Alternatively, if you are aiming for an even more modern and streamlined appearance, you may want to consider using blinds. The least fussy of options in this category are roller blinds, which are made from solid sheets of stiff fabric that are raised or lowered with a side winder.
Although roller blinds are not technically considered curtains, it is a popular pick for window treatments: For one, roller blinds can either roll away completely to reveal the entire window or hang flat, providing homeowners with a great amount of control with regard to lighting and privacy. Secondly, roller blinds also harbour less dust, mites, or other allergens, making it an excellent choice if someone in the family suffers from allergies. And third, it is also extremely easy to clean. Again, while this is still entirely dependent on the kind of fabric that was used, most roller blinds can be vacuumed and wiped down regularly to keep it fresh. If it needs to be cleaned thoroughly, it can be hand washed.
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Prints and colours for that clean, seamless look
You can never go wrong with neutral colours if a simple, clean look is what you are aspiring toward. In colour theory, neutrals are shades that appear to be without colour — black, white, brown, and grey. However, in interior design, the list is more extensive and includes other colours such as beige, ivory, and taupe.
One of the advantages of choosing a neutral colour for curtains is the fact that it will never go out of style — it is a classic that will withstand the waves of trends that come and go. White, in particular, is a colour that is associated with purity, cleanliness, new beginnings, and simplicity. It is also subtle yet elegant. Sheer curtains — which are trending at the moment — come in a large variety of colours but white sheers are still the most popular by far.
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If your home is already decked in prints and bright colours, curtains in neutral shades will be a complementary choice. If the rest of the room are in neutrals as well, you may want to use hues of a similar colour. For instance, if the standout colour in the room is brown — e.g., your fixtures, soft furnishing, and walls are already in some shade of brown — choosing a different shade of brown for your curtains will give you a layered, monochromatic look that is visually cohesive.
Nevertheless, if you think that curtains in a single colour may be too plain for your liking, it is possible to use patterned fabrics or prints and maintain a simple appearance. A basketweave pattern or print, for example, is a good way to add texture to a room with a subdued, neutral interior scheme.
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Other than that, a classic stripe pattern is also timeless and simple. Stripes are a staple of country style, which is absolutely on trend right now with the Cottagecore movement. In most cases, horizontally aligned stripes will be easier to work with than vertical stripes. And think broad stripes, which are essentially large blocks of alternating colour. Using striped fabrics in the right colours will generate a visual interest without being too loud.
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There is certainly a lot going on in the world right now and with so many restrictions to adhere to, simplifying our lives is a practical and, at times, necessary move. And as our homes have become a place of refuge wherein we spend lots of time, it may be the place to begin this simplification process. As much as possible, choose the option that trims excesses from your life. If you are giving your home a makeover, go for things that are durable, timeless, and easy to care for. Some things may be more expensive initially but more cost-efficient over time. That way, pandemic or not, you will never face the trouble of having to replace things from time to time.
Timmons, D.H. (2021, January 6). How to create a monochromatic color scheme. The Spruce. Create a Monochromatic Color Scheme
Unknown. (2017, January 27). 10 important things to consider when you’re buying curtains. Elle Decor. How To Choose Curtain
Whitehouse, M. (2015, September 18). Choosing the right curtain headings for your home. Saga Magazine. Choosing The Right Curtain Heading For Your Home
Garis, M. G. (2020, May 26). How to clean curtains at home in 5 steps, because yours are dirtier than you think. Well + Good. Hot To Clean Curtains
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