Architect and TV presenter George Clarke knows a thing or two about the quirks of styling all kinds of period properties from Victorian and mid-century to cutting edge and contemporary. With this in mind, Hillarys, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of made-to-measure window dressings, challenged George to create amazing windows in three architecturally different, but quintessentially British homes, including his own.
1. Set some goals and stick to them
How to decide on the right style, fabric and colour of window treatments in your home is a tough decision and can make or break the look of a room.
Be clear about whether yours is a purely design-focused move, or about light control, privacy or heat insulation before you even start looking at options. Then stick to your objective. Otherwise, you’ll end up with something that might look good but doesn’t do the job you wanted it to do.
When you think about it, this is actually a great tip for pretty much everything you try to achieve in the home.
2. Consider your environment
“I live in a 1960s London town house which has been adapted from a number of small rooms on the ground floor to be fully open-plan living. One of my favourite things about these houses is the big, wide expanse of windows that give you fantastic views out. Like me, many of us live in built-up areas, where houses overlook each other and passers-by can see in. Wide windows only exacerbate the problem. Sheer roller blinds offer a solution, with the light fabric creating a veil-like effect. The beauty of these is that they still let in that lovely diffused light while giving the privacy that you might need at certain times of the day.
3. Get custom and cosy
Heat escapes through windows – even more so through wide ones. So it pays to add extra layers of insulation at wide windows to help keep the warmth inside. Having made-to-measure curtains will help to achieve this and also change the acoustics in a room, making it feel that little bit more intimate and cosy.
4. Layer up!
In my son’s bedroom I’ve done something quite unusual. Because it’s not a big space and the windows are full width, it was difficult to get curtains in here without blocking out too much of the light. So instead, we’ve doubled up on blinds. A white roller blind provides privacy, teamed with a blackout Roman blind that does the job of curtains but in a more space-efficient way. Layering up two different types of blinds works brilliantly in a space like this.
5. Cater to Crittall
The current trend for open-plan living and industrial looks has seen a surge of interest in Crittall windows. They’re often associated with the Art Deco period of the 1930s, but their history actually stretches back to the Victorian era. Their continued success only proves that great design never goes out of fashion. The delicate, thin lines of the steel frame have an industrial but very smart feel. The real appeal though is how Crittall windows allow a space to be zoned or divided and create a real sense of continuity between the living and outside areas. Some people worry that they look a bit too tough, too hard and a bit cold. Beautiful lined curtains add a splash of colour, privacy when needed, that extra bit of insulation to keep a room cosy over winter and soften the look of the frame while still showing it off. So the most important thing to think about when you’re dressing Crittals is to extend the track as far and as wide as it can go so the curtains can be pushed back to maintain the integrity of the Crittal frame. You don’t want to hide it.
6. If in doubt, shutter it out
While it’s a delight to have original period features, they can prove to be decorative challenges. Bay windows are big and beautiful and will open up a home far more than a normal window. There’s more glass on show and the shape projects across three planes. This lets in so much sought-after sunlight and offers excellent views up and down the street – it’s why bay windows are so popular. But it’s these benefits that are also the downsides of bay windows. Sometimes the sunlight coming in will be too much and sometimes privacy will be an issue because of people being able to look in from all angles.
My favourite way to dress a bay window is with shutters. For a start, choosing made-to-measure shutters means each panel is designed to fit each section of the window. The result is something tailored to your home that looks very special. With shutters, you can adjust each of the panels individually to let more or less light come into your home or for privacy reasons. Obviously, you can throw shutters wide open to really take advantage of a bay window’s perks or fully close them too.
For more information and to see George’s videos on how to style period windows visit: www.hillarys.co.uk/inspiration/life-styles/
Images Chris Snook Photography www.chrissnookphotography.co.uk