Choosing Curtains – Expert advice from Yorkshire Fabric Shop

yorkshire fabric shop

By Jay Mark, Managing Director, Yorkshire Fabric Shop

Curtains play a big part in the overall look and feel of a room. They have the ability to be a focal design feature or to sit quietly in the background. They are easy furnishings to underestimate until you experience the joy that comes from having a perfect pair or the horror of a nightmare mismatch.

When choosing the right fabric or design for your home, it all comes back to the aesthetic you’re aiming for and the leading characteristics of the room in question. Do you need more light or less? Is your style bold or understated? Does the room feel cold or stifling?

Sheer fabrics like linens invite more light from the outside creating a relaxing and more casual impression. Linens are a classic curtain choice for good reason. Created from plant fibres, this material is very tactile, durable, lightweight and easy to maintain. In the summer, the cool breeze can travel through the weave, and in winter the hollow fibre acts as a natural insulator. Its ability to react to the seasons makes linen a safe option. When made up in natural colourways, such as beige, browns, blues or greens, linen curtains are timeless. 

Choosing your fabric

yorkshire fabric shop
Pat Floral Pattern Red Blue Colour Printed Velvet Upholstery Curtain Fabrics, £19.99 per metre

Cotton is similar to linen, however, if you’re opting for cotton curtains and wishing to control the light, you should always have them lined. This will also reduce the risk of fading over time and ensure the fabric keeps its colour. It’s also common to choose a polyester and cotton mix fabric. Polyester is durable and maintains its shape well, just keep in mind that it’s also a great absorbent of scents, so try not to use it in areas such as kitchens – even if window curtains that smell like freshly baked cookies might sound appealing! 

Textured fabrics can really affect the mood of a room. If you want a formal atmosphere then heavy silk or velvet can give a feel of luxury. Velvets are ideal for blocking out light so are a great choice for master bedrooms and guest rooms. Silk provides a more delicate finish to a space. If you love silk but worry about the durability, some velvet fabrics come with a silk finish combining the best of both.

You have a lot of decisions when it comes to buying curtain fabrics. Picking the right weight, surface, light-blocking or uncovering characteristics, and the fabric’s strength is just the start. 

Selecting a style

yorkshire fabric shop
Freedom Printed Velvet Fabric Tiger Cheetah Animal Jungle Wildlife Pattern, £17.99 per metre

Deciding on the look of your curtains can be challenging. To avoid disrupting your scheme, try blending your curtains with the colour of the walls or the paint, or go one shade darker for a balanced look. Romantics should err towards pastel or neutral tones, minimalists might try monochrome or ombres.

Alternatively, play with patterns and bright colours for a pop of texture and interest. Embroidered, tasselled, large floral or tribal print curtain fabrics complement a boho-chic style, patchwork and botanicals are a natural choice for the farmhouse feel, tropical designs and animal prints for those looking to pack a punch.

Whilst they are a permanent feature, curtains can be easily updated with the seasons. It may be that you switch your colour tones and curtain textures depending on the time of year. Interchanging your cushion covers and small accessories at the same time is a simple way to give your room an all over upgrade.

Give a layered look to your curtains by doubling up on your window decors. Put up a roman blind along with full-length curtains on the side of the windows, and add a pelmet on the top for a neat finish. Pelmets are often misunderstood and deemed to be just an unnecessary accessory, but not only do they act as a barrier to prevent unwanted airflow, they also give an added elegance to your window dressings.

If tie-back curtains aren’t your style but you want to add dramatic volume, extra-long fabrics are a good choice as they bunch up at the bottom, and when fixed right, the outcome looks beautiful.

Avoiding mistakes

yorkshire fabric shop
Tribal Aztec Design Fabric In Grey Beige Woven Soft Chenille, £37.99 per metre

Curtain length is a goldilocks conundrum. Too long and your look goes from gathered to ghastly, too short and it looks like a bad haircut. Generally, curtains should hang around six inches above the window frame, this gives the illusion of higher ceilings. In terms of width, curtains should be at least two times the width of the window. If you want a fuller effect, add four to eight inches to the width of both sides of your window, then double that figure.

Lining is imperative to the longevity of your curtains, not just the function. It helps battle any mildew and reduce the risk of rot. Unless deciding on sheers it’s always advisable not to skip this step.

Get advice. Talking to an expert never hurts, especially if you’re investing in made to measure curtains. Even with off-the-shelf options, you don’t want to be hemming long into the night or spending on top to correct an ill-fitting mistake. Plus, there’s lots of advice online and tutorials you can follow.

Choosing curtains for your home should be fun as well as functional. Take your time, look around and talk to those in the know. Dedicate a little time and TLC to your search and you’ll be sure to find the right match. Then all that’s left to do is enjoy your home and take a bow.

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