With summer in full force, Sam Wylie-Harris reveals simple ways to take the 'pane' out of dressing the most vital feature in the room...
Whether you're blessed with good, natural daylight pouring into rooms, or lumbered with a dark space that needs brightening up, window treatments should never be overlooked.
Not only will they enhance what's often billed as the most important feature in the room, but with the onset of August's sunshine and heatwave (let's hope), curtains, blinds and shutters can provide an ideal balance of light and privacy.
In need of a new outlook? Follow our guide for creating rooms with great views from the inside out.
"It's important your curtains reflect the summer through your home interior and this can be easily achieved with simple ideas," says Martin Aveyard, design director at Moon. "Keeping your curtains in fresh, tonal hues, for instance, will instantly brighten your room, creating a more spacious feel, even when closed."
Lightweight fabrics will allow for a softer, more gentle movement. Surprisingly, wool, with its natural crimp and spring, retains its shape well, creating a sleek look when hung.
"Although wool is often considered to be a winter fabric, its insulating properties mean it ventilates the home equally as well, allowing a breeze to travel through - just what we all need in the summer heat," says Aveyard.
For summer, Emma Mawston, head of design for Liberty Art Fabrics Interiors, suggests anything green, pastoral and inspiring: "It's the perfect time to bring nature inside, keeping the mood uplifted even on the dullest of days. Soft printed floral linen voiles in pretty multi-colours are perfect for floating from bathroom windows, for a calm and relaxing atmosphere."
Alternatively, combining curtains and blinds will filter the light and allow the curtain to remain open and look more dressed.
"There is a definite trend for dual dressing," says Lorna McAleer, brand manager at Style Studio. "Applying two co-ordinating fabrics at windows, with Roman blinds within the recess and curtains as an additional feature. It creates a very opulent look, whether this is in a modern home or period property, and is a design feature in itself."
We're Drawn To: Moorland Kincraig in Heather, £41.95 per metre (moons.co.uk)
- Liberty Art Fabrics feature the Rose May Linen Union in Jade, £75 per metre (liberty.co.uk)
- Merton Rose Curtains, from £235 for 1600mm x 1000mm; Raspberry Roman Blind, from £166 for 600mm x 600mm (stylestudio.co.uk)
- Summer Palace Royal Blue Floral Linen Mix Curtain Fabric, currently reduced to £23.04 from £36 per metre (lauraashley.com)
"Unusual shaped windows fitted with made-to-measure plantation shutters can create fantastic features in living spaces that enjoy the sunshine flooding in," says Mike Stephen, director at Apollo Blinds. "Shutters are practical too, ensuring sun rooms don't overheat."
They're ideal for minimalist sun rooms, loft conversions or converted garages too, delivering a clean, modern and almost European holiday home look.
Murray Clark, director at The Shutter Store, agrees: "Shutters are a stylish alternative to curtains in bedrooms and living rooms, especially during the summer months. They are easy to fit, flexible and can help to transform a room, letting in as much or as little light as you like."
Coloured shutters can really help add a pop of vibrancy to rooms, especially if the general decor is neutral. They also work well with traditional or contemporary design styles, and if you're fitting shutters in your bathroom and require privacy without losing light, tier on tier shutters offer the perfect solution.
"With separately adjustable top and bottom panels, you can open either section or adjust the slats to create the perfect configuration for your room," says Chrissie Harper, operations manager at California Shutters. "If your windows don't suit a tier on tier solution, cafe-style shutters make a great alternative, as they cover the lower section of your window, providing a balance between light and privacy."
We're Drawn To: Apollo Blinds' Plantation Shutters start, from £234 per square metre for MDF/hardwood hybrid styles (apollo-blinds.co.uk)
- The Shutter Store offers a Tier on Tier Shutter, from £165 per square metre (shutters.co.uk)
- Blue Classic Poplar Cafe Style Shutters, from £177 per square metre (californiashutters.co.uk)
"Blinds make a very effective and eye-catching alternative to curtains, as well as being practical, durable and cost-effective," says Kerry Nicholls, home decorating buyer at John Lewis. "They maximise the light that comes in through the day, and blackout blinds can help block out the early morning sunrise."
Perfect for each season, blinds will help brighten rooms through summer, while keeping in warmth during winter. A Roman blind is a great fuss-free option for any window style, particularly if you have a bay window with a seat that makes curtains a little tricky to hang.
"For a cohesive interior scheme, don't be afraid to match fabrics in the same area of your home; a repeated fabric pattern on window seat cushions will add extra charm, giving your space a pleasing dose of personality," says Ian Dykes, director at Voyage Decoration. "If you're a fan of country style, be sure to bring the outside in with farm animal prints, teaming with a complementary trim, tassels or decorative stitching, for a smart finish that's easy on the eye."
It's also good to think about your chosen fabric for the back of your blinds too, making sure your window is just as good-looking from the outside as it is from within, for added kerb appeal.
We're Drawn To: The Country 3 collection at Voyage includes the charming Come By Repeat Fabric, £40 per metre (voyagedecoration.com)
- Summer Roller Blind in Duck Egg, made-to-measure, from £65 for a 610mm x 610mm blind (apollo-blinds.co.uk)
"There's nothing better than entertaining friends and family in the summer, but a house full of guests on a hot day, coupled with the heat generated from cooking, can quickly make temperatures in the kitchen unbearable," says Kirsty Hunt from Duette. "Our blinds reflect up to 78% of the sun's heat and help to keep homes beautifully cool, making them the perfect choice for kitchen windows."
Likewise, specialist solar control window film can help maintain a moderate and comfortable temperature. Glass can magnify heat generated by the sun, but solar control film will reflect away a percentage of the sun's energy and prevent the steady build up of heat. Alternatively, as well as the aesthetic benefits, frosted film can also provide privacy.
"Ideally, we all want to relax and unwind in our homes, and crave an element of privacy - which often means preventing nosy neighbours from peering in, as well as blocking out unsightly views," says Micky Calcott, managing director at The Window Film Company. "The perfect compromise can be found with frosted film, which obscures the view both ways without blocking out the light."
We're Drawn To: Duette's Energy Saving Blinds range includes a Semi Sheer Pleated Blind, from £150 for 600 x 400mm (duette.co.uk)
- The Window Film Company's Frosted Film collection features the circled Frostbite design, price dependant on window dimensions (a 50 x 60cm panel from £25.20) (windowfilm.co.uk)
The Final Flourish
"Choosing plain over patterned fabric gives scope to play with easily changeable hardware, as tastes or decor changes," says Sue Jones, founding director at Oka. "There's been a revival of the use of finials to give the finishing touch to a window dressing. More than just practical, finials add decorative flair, and the wide variety available means there's the perfect match for any style."
Tiebacks are also easy updates, and keeping these in the same pattern and colourway as your curtains will create a seamless look.
We're Drawn To: Chrome Finials, £89 (okadirect.com)
- Pom Pom Rope Tieback, £15 (johnlewis.com)
- Lola Tieback, £25 (johnlewis.com)