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How to choose fabric for curtains and think through the design: tips from the pros

Instructions for window design + real examples

When the main renovation is completed, it’s time to start thinking about the design of the textile window decoration. We learned from designer Yesenia Semipyadnaya which model and design are best to choose. We’ll tell you too.

Usually, when choosing curtains, it is advised to start from the purpose of the room. This usual approach only seems logical. Under one name, in each case, completely different rooms can be hidden. For example, the difference may be in area: a kitchen with an area of ​​6m2 or 15 m2. A small space requires more laconic solutions: floor-length curtains are inappropriate here, and, most likely, you will have to limit yourself to the option of curtains up to the window sill. And in a larger room, there is an opportunity to “walk around”. 

Stylistic restrictions may also arise a living room with a fireplace and second light in a country house or a living room in a compact Khrushchev-era building. Complex cut and intricate design solutions, which would look natural in an almost palace space, look strange in a small apartment with ceilings lower than 2.8 meters.

1. We formulate the problem and determine the number of textile layers

In order to choose the right model and fabric for curtains, I recommend thinking not in terms of the general purpose of the premises, but using a professional “textile layers” approach.

You need to clearly understand exactly what tasks you want to solve with textile decoration in a particular room. Each task will be solved by one textile layer. If there are several tasks or functions, then there will be several textile layers. Let’s look at the most popular queries in our country.

1. Closing ourselves from neighbors

During the day, it is important that the neighbors do not see you, but that light enters the room. 

Solution: transparent textile layer. 

In the evening, the light is on, you want to avoid the “aquarium” effect so that the neighbors don’t monitor your life. 

Solution: dense textile layer. 

Bottom line: you will need two textile layers.

2. Shielding yourself from the sun during the day

If direct sunlight bothers you during the day, then it is enough to diffuse this light, and the room will become pleasant to be in. 

Solution: any cotton fabric, patterned or plain, will do. 

Result: one textile layer.

3. Shielding ourselves from the sun in the morning

If the sun comes into the room in the morning, and you like to sleep longer, you need a fairly powerful darkening. 

Solution: very thick curtains will help you out. 

Result: one textile layer, possibly with a lining. If the fabric on the curtains is dark and dense (for example, velvet), then lining is not necessary. If the curtains are not dark or thick, then a lining of blackout fabric is required.

2. Choosing a curtain model

The textile layer that solves your problem can be implemented in any curtain model – this is an unexpected and pleasant moment in my approach for many. That is, the transparent layer can be realized as floor-length curtains (that’s what professionals call “tulle”), Roman blinds, and pleated curtains. The thick layer can be made in the form of any model: lined curtains, wooden blinds, thick Roman blinds, and pleated curtains.

Let’s explain with examples!

Designer’s comment: this is an apartment in a dense building in the center of Moscow. A translucent pleated layer is attached directly to the window sash – it saves you from the eyes of your neighbors. In the window opening, there are Roman blinds made of medium-density fabric – they protect from the bright daytime sun.

Designer’s comment:  This apartment is located on the 25th floor. There is no need for protection from the views of neighbors, so there is no transparent layer of curtains, which is usually called “tulle”.

To protect from the sun, a layer of plain beige-gray blackout is provided – with it, you can sleep longer in the morning.

Plus a layer of velvet with a classic pattern to maintain the style of the interior. The function of this textile layer is purely decorative.

Designer’s comment: This is a bedroom with a window facing east. There is only one textile layer here – a plain blackout, so that you can get a good night’s sleep in the morning, despite the bright sun.

Designer’s comment: this apartment is located in the center of Moscow. There are two textile layers in the design favored by Russians: curtains (“tulle”) to protect neighbors from looking at them during the day, and thick floor-length curtains to protect them from neighbors’ views in the evening.

If your apartment is on the ground floor, the most convenient solution is pleated curtains. The advantage is that you can close the bottom of the window rather than the top. Such curtains protect from the gaze of passersby while leaving the room well-lit. That is, the upper part of the light opening remains free during the day, and in the evening you can close the entire window.

Designer’s comment: the houses here are located far from each other. Therefore, a translucent roller blind is needed to protect from the sun during the day. And curtains with grommets are needed for sleeping since this is a bedroom.

When choosing a curtain model, remember whether you like your radiator. And be sure to evaluate the window sill area: if your window sill is also a work area or there are flowers and beautiful little things on it, it can and should be left in sight. A beautiful radiator, work or decorative window sill requires short curtains; any models with a lifting mechanism will do: Roman, Austrian, London, or pleated. 

3. Choosing fabric for curtains

Linen, cotton, and mixed fabrics can be made in any density – thanks to modern production technologies. Therefore, calmly choose the composition of the fabric to your taste. Don’t forget to clarify how to care for the selected material: is washing allowed or will the curtains need to be dry-cleaned? 

Pay attention to velvet, this is one of the best light-retaining fabrics due to its dense weaving. If the velvet is a rich color, then it will retain maximum light without a blackout lining. Same as printed fabrics. But fabric with jacquard weaving loses its pattern when exposed to light and looks like a plain gray rag on the window, so it definitely requires a thick or dark lining.

How to distinguish fabric with a printed pattern from jacquard fabric: on jacquard, the pattern is visible both from the front and from the back; it may differ in color and workmanship, but is always visible. On printed fabric, the reverse side is plain.

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