Window dressings – how posh it sounds – are a good way to add some colour or style to a room, but it isn’t always a cheap option for an otherwise bare exposed space - they can soften a bleak outlook if you are looking out at other people’s windows, or they can enhance a view, perhaps even draw the eye to your garden, or frame a view in the distance. For those people living in high-rise blocks, I suppose curtains aren’t so important, unless your local peeping tom is someone like Spiderman, and I have this ridiculous image in mind of someone clinging on to a high windowsill by the fingernails of one hand with a pair of binoculars in the other.
Curtains can be cheap or expensive - rich, thick brocade curtains with valances and tie-backs look sumptuous framing a large window in the right setting, but downright ‘over the top’ if the window is too small – it can make it look crowded and fussy. So striking the right balance is important.
A plain pull-down roller or roman blind is probably a cheap solution for privacy, but for a modern, funky look you could go for something wild - say zebra stripes or a leopard-skin pattern, with cushions perhaps reflecting the same colours or pattern. You could even paint something on them yourself if you feel adventurous, using fabric or acrylic paint.
Just ensure the blind is clean and use a plastic primer if the blind is vinyl. Use chalk to outline your design or maybe tape it out. This is a great idea for a child’s window, and if using a black blind, you could use glow-in-the-dark paint for a stars and moons theme, or add purchased stickers instead.
Another option I see a lot in Portugal is the half-curtain, usually lacey, on a dowel or taut wire across the lower half of a window – usually the kitchen – a charming way of giving privacy in a traditional style kitchen.
If you have a curtain pole already in place (or are handy enough to put one up), there are lots of options available, and the finials (the bits on the ends of the poles) can add a nice finishing touch if you select curtains. Just remember if the curtains are heavy, the poles and the fittings on the wall should be strong enough to take the weight without sagging or breaking. I have even seen plumbing pipes used instead of a rail or pole – good to befriend your local plumber to help you on this one! Gauzy curtains look amazing blowing in the breeze in the summer, and are easy to keep clean too. Another option is to add heavier curtain panels after the gauzy ones for the winter, it won’t matter if the heavier ones don’t meet in the middle because the lightweight ones will fill the gap, but they should ideally all be the same length.
Wood shutters on the inside of windows can give character to an old house - these could be solid wood in two sections on with a hinged centre, or jalousie wood blinds (my favourites) - these are usually fixed to be opened or closed like shutters also on the inside, but the louvres can be moved manually to increase or decrease the shade or sunlight when closed.
Anything can be used as curtains – tablecloths can be hung on your poles if you fancy it, even a large sheet can be artfully draped over the pole, just ensure the centre of the sheet is lined up with the centre of the window, so the hanging bits are the same length. If you have tie-back hooks in place, plain curtains can look so elegant hooked back over these, and a dramatic addition would be to add a collection of similarly coloured silk flowers to the tie-back.
If any of you are an ‘arty-crafty’ person, you could try your hand at stringing beads instead of curtains or overlaying beads over a similarly contrasted curtain (such as purple beads against lilac curtains) for a novel look. Let your creativity lead you!