Windows come in all shapes and sizes. There is no limit to what can be done to make windows an interesting and functional focal point in any room.
The windows are incredibly important in any room because they are important focal points and also allow light and air in the house, while providing the opportunity to look at the outside world and to look outside. Yet wherever your windows are large or functional, require to be dressed or played, to display an incredible view or to expose yourself to passers-by, they constitute an excellent excuse for decorating.
The most popular window dressings are curtains. These provide privacy, keep the sadness of the long winter evenings and the light of the summer mornings too bright and, if quite heavy, provide very effective thermal and sound insulation .
They can be made of fabrics, patterns and colors that harmonize with the rest of the room, or they can be designed to contrast, providing a touch of drama.
Proportion and scale are just as important as style. Very formal and sumptuous curtains will not seem in their place to a simple cottage window, dominating the room and blocking the light. In the same way, short curtains of cunning rustic cotton coffee would look bad on the Georgian floor-to-ceiling windows, which is detrimental to their robust elegance.
Curtains can be made from almost any type of material, so be imaginative. Indian silk sari come in a myriad of dazzling colors and look spectacularly hung like curtains. Similarly, the thin layers of floating muslin seem fresh, but are also practical, both to ensure privacy and insulation – the air trapped between the layers prevents heat loss in the winter and will keep a warm room in summer.
While the most immediate impression comes from the fabric and pattern of the curtains, other details such as the style of the headers, fringes and tiebacks contribute enormously to the effect global.
To decide on the style of the curtains, decide if you want to hang them on a track or a pole. The poles are available in many styles and materials, from gilded wood or brass with carved florets, to dark wrought iron or refined copper. If you choose tracks, you can hide them with garlands of fabric, a bandeau or a valance.
There are many circumstances in which curtains are either unsuitable or false. In these cases, blinds can be the answer. These come in many styles and are made from many different materials. The fabric blinds range from simple roller blinds – essentially a flat, stiff fabric wrapped around a hanging roller – to more contemporary Roman shades and to traditional Austrian blinds and scallops. The blinds can also be made from pleated paper, cane and Pinoleum. These are cheap and cheerful, so look better in kitchens and bathrooms than in more formal rooms.
Venetian blinds are made from horizontally suspended slats and, like their cousins, with vertical slats, are made of wood, plastic or metal. Particularly suited to a contemporary environment, they can be extremely chic and have the bonus that they can be adjusted while being lowered to allow varying the amount of light.
Many old homes have beautiful interior shutters that fold up perfectly during the day. These have the advantage not only of covering the window, thus keeping prying eyes and warmth, but of excellent security.
Shutters can also be external, and in many hot countries they are standard fittings. These can be closed during the hottest part of the day while the window is left open, leaving the room shaded, while allowing air to circulate.