Curtains and draperies have enjoyed their decades of excess and floundered over times of pared-down minimalism. Consider all of the wonderful uses for fabric at the window: an interlined silk pinch pleat panel hanging stately in a historical home; a simple sheer brushing lazily against a window frame; a dainty gingham checked café curtain decorating a kitchen. Fabric at the window softens edges, emphasizes architectural qualities and provides a needed barrier between the outside elements and the inner harmony of the home.

Today’s Curtains & Draperies

Today, as windows swoop to the ceiling — and even into the ceilings of many a home — fabric at the windows is an important statement. Indeed, most designers begin with the window treatment color palette before making decisions about anything else in a room. Decisions about draperies in the home fall into distinct categories: privacy; physical and visual touch; light control; sound control; and color. Put these categories in order of preference; it will make a difference. For example, if you wish for privacy at night but have your heart set on a sheer to only diffuse light during the day, you may need to add another treatment, such as a cellular shade, to take care of both needs. Do not discount the emotion that fabric can bring to a home: the mood of an interior can be affected by the colors chosen (sunny versus somber), how light or heavy a fabric is, how casual or elegant, how romantic or businesslike.

Helpful Information About Curtains & Draperies

Advantages: Can camouflage bad woodwork and other architectural flaws; sound absorbent; can insulate, such as masking cold air leaks in windows. Also effective in blocking the sun’s damaging rays; can be a room’s focal point; if lined well, can offer privacy; softens the look of hard window treatments when used in combination; mount a drapery rod at ceiling level to enhance the height of a room; colored and patterned fabric can provide visual interest.

Disadvantages: Can be affected by moisture; color can fade when exposed to direct sunlight; improper dying can cause color transfer; can harbor dust and other allergic airborne entities. In general, sun and air pollution will work against fabrics although some are more resistant than others. Drapery linings will offer good protection and lengthen the life of your drapery.

Cost: Inexpensive drapery panels can be acquired for as little $20 at a local discount store—but if your goal is something more unique and perfectly suited for your environment, you should consider that cost may increase quite a bit. Quality, design, fiber type, linings, interlinings, embellishments and more will all factor into the price. Curtains and draperies are works of art, hand, and machine sewn by talented workrooms.

Lifespan: Many variables will affect your draperies including sunlight, dust, humidity and smoke fumes to name a few. On average, however, unlined draperies will last about four years; lined about six.

Most Appropriate Locations: Bedrooms, living rooms, dens, although fabric at the window has been long accepted in any location.

Care & Cleaning: Cleaning drapery on one’s own can be tricky. Vacuuming with a soft brush is acceptable. Taking a drapery down to hang on an outside clothesline is fine (as long as you know how to rehang it properly) but depending upon whether your drapery is lined and/or whether it has decorative embellishments make cleaning drapery primarily a job for experts. Consult with your local dry cleaner, or employ an on-site drapery cleaner for best results.