Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section 14th August 2014

Window treatments can make or break your interior scheme – no matter what room you are decorating. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall guides you through making the right choices for design success.

No matter the month, how you dress your windows has not only visual, but also practical impact on your room. Each season offers its own challenges – from the fading properties of sunlight to bitter winter chills. So choosing the right solutions can be a minefield.

On the one hand you want something attractive, but on the other they must be practical.  A single solution may not suit your needs, but a combination of curtain, blinds and voiles probably will.

Voiles add privacy without blocking light

Voiles add privacy without blocking light

No matter how tempting it is to rush in and make a sumptuous fabric choice, your first consideration must be what your window dressings need to do.

Start by thinking who will use them? Are we talking considerate adults or boisterous children? The former lends itself to richer fabrics and more elaborate designs. The latter means more hardwearing practicality with easy ways to close (blinds are ideal, but take into account new installation safety regulations).

A big consideration in summer is whether your window treatment needs to stop light. Some find summer light seepage leads to poor sleep! If this is the case, consider thicker fabrics or a blackout lining. Roman and roller blinds can suffer from light spill around the edges, so curtains are often the best option where space allows.

In winter considerations change to whether you need dressings to help keep warmth in. Up to 20% of home heat can be lost through windows and doors, but the inclusion of interlining can really help reduce this. Interlining has the added benefit of adding body to your drape – so you get fuel economy and fancier looks in one solution.

The other major consideration is the need for privacy. If this is not an issue, you could opt for dress curtains that frame the window without the ability to close (a great solution to reduce the amount of fabric, allowing you to opt for a more indulgent choice).

Eyelets stack back most effectively

Eyelets stack back most effectively

If you need to keep things to yourself during the day you do not want to lose light, so voiles or strings are options you should review in conjunction with your main window covering.

These considerations will lead you to a natural route for dressing style.

Blinds present a practical and stylish solution; particularly useful where you are limited for space around the window (e.g. in a bathroom). Popular blind types are Roller, Roman and Venetian.

Roller blinds are the simplest construction and can be a solo window dressing or used in conjunction with dress curtains for a simple to use and cost effective solution.

Roman blinds are more akin to curtains, providing a similar effect to a roller blind when closed, but a softer look when drawn.

Roman Blinds have a softer look than Roller Blinds when drawn

Roman Blinds have a softer look than Roller Blinds when drawn

Venetian blinds have had a renaissance in popularity, particularly when using tape rather than cord. Finishes range from metal and plain wood, to contemporary silvers and spray painted woods. They allow light & views to be directed into a room, but are less light fast than most options.

If you have the space for curtains always opt for full length if possible as these frame a window better and add height to a room.   The style should be chosen carefully taking into account the look and size of your room.

Swags and tails add opulence to fabric, but can be over-powering in rooms with low ceilings. A shaped pelmet with pinch-pleat top curtains creates a more pleasing solution if ceiling height is a challenge.

Swags and tails can be overpowering in room with low ceilings

Swags and tails can be overpowering in room with low ceilings

Exposed poles are a traditional way to hang curtains, but ensure your headings are rigid or curtains can look sloppy and unfinished. To add structure, consider stylish exposed tracks with draw strings that help ease opening.

Headings are a very personal choice, but always consider how much you want a curtain to draw back from the window and how much space it will need. Pencil pleat curtains are more voluminous, whilst eyelets stack back most effectively.

Only after these decisions should you be looking at pattern books, but you know your money will be spent wisely on the best solution.


In the last 3 years over 14 toddlers and children have died as a result of becoming entangled with blind cords or chains. New standards introduced earlier this year ensure all new blind installations have to be child safe by law (even where children are not present).

A new window blind with an operating cord/chain that could form a loop must be kept out of the reach of babies and young children. The standards introduced limitations on cord and chain lengths, cord/chain safety devices and specific legal installation requirements.

Visit www.makeitsafe.org.uk for full guideline requirements and further advice.

Jamie Hempsall Ltd is a multi-award winning interior designer.


Article as it appears in the Yorkshire Post 13th August 2014

Jamie Hempsall, SBID, BIID

Jamie Hempsall, SBID, BIID