The dos and don’ts of curtains & blinds

Having the right window treatments can make your home a more beautiful, personal & comfortable place to live. But it’s not just down to the right choice of style and fabric. From measuring and colour matching to fitting and cleaning, here are my top do’s and don’ts of curtains & blinds!

Curtain maker Edinburgh bespoke curtains pooling on floor

1. Pole position

One of the most important things to keep in mind when fitting your curtains is where to position the pole or track above the window.

Unless you have full-height bi-fold doors or tracks recessed into your ceiling, you will always have visible wall space above your window. So make sure you take the proportions into account when placing your pole or track. 

For example, if the pole or track for your curtains is too high, you will have a lot of bare wall above the curtains when they’re open.

If they’re too low, you will have a lot of blank space above the window and light leakage between the pole or track and window frame. This is because the top of the curtains will be positioned over the glass of your window, not the wall.

Also, be mindful if you live in a period property with original or elderly plasterwork, such as Edinburgh’s many Victorian and Georgian properties. The plaster is very likely to be fragile, so there’s a good chance that it might crumble when you drill into it.

In these cases, it’s highly recommended to install your curtain pole or track on the wooden architrave surrounding the window. Alternatively, you can fit a wooden batten above the window, painted in the same colour as your wall, to provide a firm installation surface.

Find out how you can turn your curtain poles & tracks into a powerful design feature.

2. Measuring & sizes

Curtains have to be long (and wide) enough to look their best. So, always measure carefully when getting new curtains or blinds. Especially when buying curtains from the high street, make sure their standard sized curtains and blinds actually fit your windows. 

For example, in a modern house you want the curtains to be long enough to skim the floor. This means the curtains should hover about 1cm above the carpet.

If you have a period property with uneven floors and/or ceilings, you may want to choose overlong curtains. By adding a couple of centimetres in length, your curtains will relax onto the floor and hide any floors or ceilings that aren’t level. 

Also, always get your carpet laid before taking the final measurement for your curtains, especially if you want your curtains to skim the carpet.

Another thing to keep in mind when buying retail curtains is the pattern. Always choose two curtains with aligned patterns to create a visual flow and avoid mismatched pattern when having your curtains closed. 

3. With a little help

Got high ceilings or chosen a heavy fabric with interlining? Whether you’re dressing a bay window or have your eyes on a velvet curtain, never underestimate the weight of your curtains. The bigger the window and heavier the curtains, the harder it will be to open and close them.

The solution can be a simple draw rod to help move your curtains back and forward easily. If there is a lot of friction between the curtain pole and the curtains rings, treat your pole to a little bit of silicon spray every 6 months or so. 

You also have the option of a corded curtain pole to help you draw the curtains. Or you can choose a motorised track for even more comfort and ease.  

4. Radiant

When it comes to do’s and don’ts of curtains & blinds, this is a big one – what to do when you have radiators below your windows?

If that’s you, you’re faced with two choices. You either go for floor-length curtains and resign yourself to losing heat when they are drawn in the evening. Or you opt for sill-length curtains that stop above the radiator. 

A good compromise, and my preferred option, is to go for Roman blinds and then frame the window by adding non-working curtains. 

5. Fabric first

Are you decorating your home? Looking for new curtains and blinds? Then my best tip for you is to pick your fabric before choosing your paint or wallpaper.

It’s much easier to match fabric colours or background colours in the fabric to paint than the other way around. 

Why? Because fabric colours are more unique than paint colours. Just think about the paint section at your local DIY store and how many variations of white and grey there are. 

6. Dark rooms

Looking for window treatments for a darker room? Adding curtains and blinds may take a little bit of light in any room. So my best piece of advice is to go all-in and turn your curtains or blinds into a feature. 

For example, when choosing a fabric you can go for colour and/or patterns. Or you can choose a heavy velvet fabric to give the room a snug and cosy feel.

This works especially well if it’s a smaller room. Other options are light fabrics that shimmer a little (e.g. silk) or adding a mirror to the room.

7. Spring clean

When it comes to cleaning your curtains and blinds, the worst thing you can do is to put them in the washing machine or go to the dry-cleaner. 

Why? Because fabrics used for curtains and blinds have a shrink tolerance of anything between 3% and 5%. Depending on how big your windows are, your curtains could end up 10cm shorter than before.

Exceptions to this rule are fabrics that are being used in environments like nursing homes and hospitals as they have to be washable. Also, some upholstery fabrics come with dirt and stain repellent treatment woven into it. 

But other than that, the best way to take care of your window treatments is to hoover them regularly or use a lint roller on your Roman blinds. This helps you to remove dust, pet hairs and airborne dirt from your curtains and blinds while being gentle on the fabric.

If you want to find out more about how to clean your window treatments and soft furnishings, check out my care instructions.

8. Humidity

I get often asked if it’s problematic to have curtains or blinds in rooms with high humidity like your kitchen or bathroom. The answer is in your choice of fabric. 

Linen, for example, absorbs humidity too easily and will shrink in environments like that. And silk is unsuitable because of the unsightly moisture stains it will develop. Instead, you want something more robust like cotton. 

When it comes to cooking smells, however, there’s not a lot you can do to protect your curtains and blinds, apart from getting a high-powered extraction fan.

If you do a lot of cooking and frying, the best option is probably to get blinds that are cheaper to replace, e.g. Roman blinds. 

Do you have a question that isn’t answered here or a question about my top do’s and don’ts of curtains & blinds? Check out my FAQ, have a look at my process and fees or get in touch!