The Guide To Picking The Right Curtain And Upholstery Fabric
by CALLIE TOH
When we moved to our new home recently, my husband and I spent a couple of weeks without curtains. Part of the delay is due to the Movement Control Order that has been enforced due to Covid-19 -- it was near impossible to shop for fabrics and invite a consultant to our place. In those days, however, we learned that curtains are one of the most essential elements in our home.
For one, it ensures your privacy. Those weeks spent without curtains made me feel so exposed and I do not recommend dashing from one spot to another while wrapped in a bath towel to avoid being seen by the neighbours.
And though we threw up some pieces of fabric to cover our bedroom window, the glare from the morning sun ensures that my husband and I are usually awake before our alarm goes off and we feel groggy and tired all the time. This is not a good thing.
Harmony / Collection
Apart from that, our bare windows also provided little sound insulation. As a result, we heard a lot of noises coming from the outside and from our neighbours’ homes. To put it plainly, all of these resulted in us feeling restless in our new home.
We discussed the options and how much it would cost and ultimately decided that we were willing to pay a bit more for custom-made curtains. It was not only the practical considerations (sound, insulation, and privacy) that drove us to make the decision.
In our free time, we also read plenty of interior design articles and did plenty of research. By the end of it, we were totally convinced that the right curtains can transform a space, adding the sophistication and elegance that our house desperately needs.
Instinct / Collection
Going for custom-made curtains also solves a problem with our furniture: Due to budgetary constraints, we had resorted to using an assortment of second hand furniture that were either from our old place, donated by family members, or bought online. My parents’ spare sofa featured a dated floral print that looks as though it belongs in the 80s. The upholstery on our dining chairs were worn and stained.
Therefore, the idea is to reupholster these furniture pieces with fabric that matches the curtains. Unfortunately, we both lack the skills to do this ourselves. Plus, we also considered how we might be wasting fabric (and money) should we fail in this do-it-yourself endeavour. Thankfully, my husband and I share similar tastes -- we like things to look streamlined, uniformed, and clean. We like neutral colours and we prefer contemporary designs that are inspired by Scandinavian styles. This (and the fact we needed to reupholster our furniture) led us to prioritise the search for the right fabric instead of the usual curtain suppliers.
Newmoon / Collection
Fabric-first policy -- and why
Have you ever bought something from a fast-fashion brand only to have it fall apart after a couple of washes? Well, I have. And as curtains are usually for long-term use, I do not want to deal with problems such as shrinkage, discolouration, and downright deterioration after it has been up for a year or less. High quality fabric that is well taken care of can potentially last a lifetime.
This translates to savings simply because they won’t have to be replaced every now and then. Apart from that, it is also a sustainability measure because it is hard to recycle curtains. It is not an essential item -- unlike clothing, for example -- that is bulky and hard to resell because most of them are custom-made to certain measurements.
Other than that, using the right fabric can make the simplest curtain design look as though it is worth a million bucks. Take sheer curtains, for instance. Most of them come in plain designs but some just do not look as good as others. Some are crinkly. Some look horribly synthetic. And some even look uneven -- hanging flat and even across some sections and wavy across other sections.
Opera / Collection
And this may come as a surprise, but certain luxury fabrics can be easier to care for. Low-quality polyester, for example, is very susceptible to snags and this leads to runs (when the knit becomes undone and runs up the length of the fabric in a line) and pulls (when it becomes out of shape due to protrusions). The latter can happen if you hang it the wrong way or if an object applies pressure on it for some time.
By comparison, cotton is usually more expensive than polyester but it can be a more durable material that is less susceptible to runs and pulls. In addition, most cotton-based items can also be machine or hand washed and, depending on its make, may be gently bleached or placed in the dryer as well. Not all cotton are the same, however: Do check the label or with the manufacturer or supplier before you decide to clean your curtains on your own.
Apart from all that, we also have a very specific requirement. My husband has low-grade asthma and is allergic to dust and dander. Some fabrics can harbour more mites, dust, and other allergens than others. And unless I have the time or effort to wash everything regularly, it would be better for us to go for hypoallergenic materials.
South Face / Collection
According to research, our best bet in this instance would be linen or cotton. But we have no idea what kind would make the best type of materials for curtains and upholstery. As an aside, silk is also apparently dust-mite resistant but we have no idea if it would be ideal for our purposes and if it might be too expensive.
Lastly, a lot of people do not realise that fabric stores usually do provide in-store consultancy for curtains or interior design. So, titles and names aside, a fabric outlet is also a curtain provider in most cases. Nonetheless, a fabric store may carry a larger number of options in terms of fabric varieties and types.
Cleopatra / Collection
Choosing our dream curtains
My husband and I went in blind; we have not had prior experience buying curtains and choosing upholstery fabric on our own. What we do know is that we want something that looks fairly classy but is easily maintained at the same time.
In another time, easy maintenance may not have been a priority but we are living through a pandemic right now. I do not want to make more trips outside other than what is necessary. That, and also the fact that cleaners are expensive.
We visited a lot of websites and saw a lot of videos but the one that made an impression on us was one featuring local interior decorator Karen Chan. What we saw was a wide array of beautiful and interesting fabrics, some of which were completely new to us.
Terranova / Collection
The Instinct collection, for instance, really caught our eye because of the natural-looking textures and prints. Featuring neutral colours, the collection looks simple and luxurious at the same time. Some of our favourites were the ones that were embossed with sparse geometric patterns. We think that this will jazz up the neutral tones and might be a good choice for our large sliding doors in the living area.
Another collection that caught our eye was Stonewall, which is a catalogue of fabric with a matte, weave-like surface. It may sound like a pretty basic fabric but it is not -- its 100% acrylic backing provides total blackout as well as sound insulation. This is perfect for our bedroom to ensure, as much as possible, that we get a good night’s rest. As it is a single piece of fabric, we also do not have to go through the additional process of sewing an additional blackout fabric to the back of our chosen material.
Our dining area also has the unfortunate orientation of facing west. You are probably aware that this is one of the worst locations for windows or sliding doors in Malaysia because the glass will allow the brutal afternoon and evening sun to filter in. Therefore, it is very likely that we will use a fabric from the Stonewall collection here as well. Blocking out the sun’s rays will allow us touse less air conditioning in this area, leading to long-term savings.
Tropico / Collection
The other room that we wanted to pay particular attention to is the study room. Due to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, my husband is working from home regularly. We have decided that this room should be filled with as much natural light as possible. Although we did not see any sheers in the video, we found many options on Acacia’s website. The Airstream collection -- made of synthetic material in various shades of white and gray -- looks really promising.
And remember what I said earlier about wanting things to look somewhat uniformed? What also piqued our interest is the fact that many of the fabrics that were being showcased such as Summit, for example, can be used as light upholstery fabric. Even though my husband and I only saw a partial selection of fabrics in the video, the breadth of colours, materials, and textures in that short clip convinced us that Acacia’s full offerings will be able to help us create the coordinated look that we want.
Summit / Collection
Getting it done
We decided to visit their gallery at Taman Keramat, Kuala Lumpur as soon as we were permitted to travel. That, in itself, was an eye-opening experience because we were simply wowed by the amount of options that were available to us. We asked (because we were curious) and they have a total of over 20,000 fabric types in stock to choose from!
It would have been slightly overwhelming if not for the fact that a consultant was on hand to guide us through the process. We still had a set budget, for instance, and not everything that we initially decided upon was an option. But for everything we could not afford, there were a dozen other similar options that were presented to us. I also learned that some very luxe looking fabrics are actually surprisingly affordable -- looks can be so deceiving!
And we did not have to visit them a second time because of how easy it was to discern what we need and want based on our initial picks from the video. We made all of our selection for both curtains and upholstery in just a couple of hours.
Turbine / Collection
That was 3 weeks ago. Right now, our house is a little bare because some of the furniture has been sent to be reupholstered and our curtains are still being made. But I have not felt so excited about seeing the end result since the day I went for the final fitting of my wedding dress! And I bet that once everything is in place, my home will look amazing despite the fact that we decorated on a limited budget.
And if we can do it, so can you! Check out Acacia’s video (15 Most Popular Curtain Fabrics)
or simply visit their website
Acacia Fabrics to see more options!
Article Suggestion :
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If you are searching for the perfect curtain to express your personality at home, find our nearest boutiques at acaciacurtain.co