Decorating Small Living Rooms
Curtains & Blinds
Country windows come in every kind of size and shape, from tiny trapezoid Elizabethan letter-box slits, to generous casements and glazed garden doors. A little thoughtful analysis can help you plan your window treatment. Some rooms are definitely about light and air – summery spaces that need only a fluttery wisp of sprigged muslin at their windows. Other rooms have a stolid and determined character of winter retreat and their windows can take any amount of layered and generously gathered fabric.
Some country windows may look best with no curtains at all. A window that frames a beautiful view can be best served by treating it as just that – a picture frame – with a painted architrave. Shutters can have a calming dignity when unsoftened by fabric. Their panels invite freehand experiment with paint.
Fabrics for blinds
Roller blinds are simple to make, let in all the sunshine possible, and are very cheap. They look good in rich stained-glass colours and can positively celebrate a strong fabric design. Crisp fabrics are ideal – from ticking and calico to chintz and upholstery cotton. Their strict lines can be softened by a scalloped hem, or – for people who like privacy – by curtains to draw across from the sides.
The horizontal pleats of Roman blinds and the loose folds of Austrian blinds can be made from a wider variety of fabrics. Neither is difficult to make and you can buy kits for the fittings from most furniture fabric stores. Festoon blinds, with their ruched finish, must be approached with caution – they take up a lot of space and light and on a small window can look as if a full-blown galleon is attempting illegal entry.
Full treatment Curtains made from humble calico look as rich and generous as these if gathered with theatrical panache. The success of this effect lies in the original dyeing and finishing of the fabric: the curtains were spread out to their full extent on the lawn, and splattered with Wedgwood blue and indigo dye. They were then lined and the tops quilted.
Blind passion The stained glass brilliance of this classic Liberty peacock print is richly intricate by night and glows by daylight. Just to emphasize the effect, there is a rectangle of real stained glass in kaleidoscopic colours.