It could be argued that windows are more important to the landscape of our homes than the walls and floors. That's because the way that we dress them needs to be more than just decorative – it must be well matched to our practical needs.
In hot climates like in the Gulf region, the draught excluding and insulating properties of window treatments are not of prime importance. Instead, our choice is shaped by the demand for privacy and the need to regulate levels of light, noise and temperature in particular rooms.
Tasked with delivering the right balance of light and coolness, window treatments have a real effect on our comfort at home. Once this is addressed, we can get down to the creative business of selecting styles that bring out the best in our home's architecture and décor.
Good light, bad light
While it's lovely to have a home that's flooded with natural sunlight, there are times when it's a welcome relief to filter, or completely block, the sun's rays. In a bedroom, for example, blackout lining for curtains or blinds is useful to prevent early morning sunlight interfering with precious sleep.
And, in a study or living room, it may be necessary to tone down the sun's glare to stop it from reflecting off computer and TV screens. Curtains with interlining are a good option, as they cut out more light than simple lined curtains, but don't completely block it, as with blackout lining.
There are other more creative ideas, as Rebecca Day, co-founder of curtain making experts, Merrick & Day, explains: "Layered window treatments – perhaps comprising a sheer blind or curtains, a pair of sheer inner curtains and a pair of light outer curtains – are not only attractive, but they offer flexibility to control the light and temperature in a room."
A room with a view
Keeping our family and possessions away from prying eyes is another major consideration when selecting curtains and blinds. The best arrangements achieve privacy, while still allowing us to enjoy the view outside.
Again, layered window treatments are a good option and other clever solutions include: Bottom-up blinds, which pull up from the bottom of the window, so you can leave the sky visible at the top; 50:50 blinds, in which the top half is made of white mesh; or blinds made from high-tech fabrics that stop people looking in but don't obscure the view.
Enhancing the home
Practicalities tackled, the fun of fine-tuning the style of a window treatment can begin. When selecting a design, fabric and trims, beware: The right look can do much to enhance your interior, but getting it wrong can seriously undermine its style credentials.
Rebecca Day says: "This is your chance to make an impact on the architectural design of a room, as well as making it feel more homely. The aim can either be to create a focal point of the décor or something that simply blends in with the walls, allowing other elements to be the main focus."
If you have a traditionally styled interior, your choice of window treatments will be steered towards fuller curtains with details like swags, pelmets, borders and tiebacks. Fringes, braids, ribbons and beads may also come into play, softening the edges of curtains and enhancing the sumptuous feel. Blinds can be trimmed too, or given a shaped hem, for a more individual finish.
In a contemporary scheme, the look will be much neater. Venetian blinds or vertical louvre blinds with stiffened fabric, aluminium or wooden slats offer a distinctive touch. Roman blinds in crisp fabrics are the definition of tailored elegance. And hand-pleated curtains hung from simple curtain poles are also a great way of getting a smart, orderly look.
In this country, where properties tend to be very light, often with marble floors, contemporary window treatments that create an airy feel are a good match.
Fabrics such as voiles and linens are a staple for this fresh look and lightweight curtains made from unlined faux silk are brilliant to give the look and feel of silk without the problem of fading in the strong light.
So you've decided your windows deserve a makeover? Find out more about the drapes and blinds you could treat them to. An excellent resource is the Merrick & Day website www.merrick-day.com, where you can find lots of inspirational ideas. Dubai-based PDSI Group offers a bespoke service to clients, which includes design, construction and maintenance. Visit www.pdsigroup.com
Curtains versus blinds
- Made-to-measure curtains are generally cheaper than blinds
- Curtains are more convenient as a dressing for patio doors
- Curtains are more sumptuous – perfect for opulent rooms
- Hand-pleated curtains emphasise the height of a room
- Blinds occupy less space than curtains – great in small rooms
- Splash-proof blinds are best for kitchens and bathrooms
- Blinds are less fussy – ideal for contemporary style rooms
- Venetian and vertical blinds are useful for directing away sunlight
Tips and advice
EXPERT TIP FOR A STICKY PROBLEM
Andrew McManus, Marketing Manager at Luxaflex, says: "If you have a room that gets humid – perhaps a kitchen or a bathroom – avoid natural materials such as linen, silk and wood, which can rot, twist or fade in balmy conditions. Instead, opt for aluminium Venetian blinds, which don't rust, or curtains or blinds made from manmade fabrics like polyester."
- With layered arrangements, choose washable inner curtains or blinds
- Dry clean lined curtains to ensure they look their best
- Vacuum curtains regularly using an attachment recommended for drapes
- To combat fading, use transparent window film or blackout lining
- Opt for cotton and linen fabrics, which are less prone to fading than silk and satin
- Ensure all curtains and blinds are hung correctly