Window treatments have come of age. No longer the last item to consider when you are redecorating, they have become an integral element of an interior design.
And just like paint colours, furniture and flooring, window treatments are subject to changing trends.
White shutters have become a popular option for villas and older bungalows, largely because they provide a crisp, unfussy look. Lucy Wilkie, senior interior designer for Frobisher Interiors in Christchurch, says shutters are especially in demand for bathrooms and bedrooms, where they provide a "very practical, yet elegant solution".
For a similar reason, white timber Venetian blinds are finding favour. "Both shutters and the timber blinds also offer flexibility with their operable tilt," says Wilkie. "The light can be directed where you want it at different times of the day. They can also help with ventilation."
But for many homeowners, it has to be curtains, which brings up the question of textiles. Wilkie says 10 years ago the favoured colour palette was very neutral and limited. "Curtains are now trending towards metallic fabrics, geometrics, micro patterns, Mid-century revival and botanical motifs."
Wilkie recently specified unlined curtains with a border for a master suite. "The curtains add a romantic, yet sophisticated look to the bedroom," she says. "The contrasting border colour was selected to tie in with the soft furnishings on the bed and the other furniture in the room. The border and the sheer height of the curtains ensure they make a strong but subtle statement, and frame the bed beautifully."
Kate Rogan of Rogan Nash Architects in Auckland says when deciding whether curtains should be neutral or a statement piece it pays to stick to the general rule that there should be no more than three things going on in a room at once.
"Using this guideline, if there are already three signature items in a room, curtains should be a neutral colour." However Rogan does note this is merely a general rule and some spaces are able to take myriad statement pieces without looking overdone.
To give the impression the room is larger, the architect recommends taking the curtains all the way up to the ceiling, or above the height of the window frame. "This technique lessens the visual choppiness of the decor."
Then there's the question of where they should sit on the floor. Atelier Textiles managing director Rebecca Bowering Fitzpatrick says she likes to allow an extra 3-5cm of fabric, so that the curtains 'stand'. "Those extra few centimetres will help block out any lingering light, especially in the summer months."
Bowering Fitzpatrick also says it's important to think about sunlight when choosing fabric for curtains. "Silk and other natural fibres can rot, and move up and down. If there is a great deal of sun then a man-made fibre may be the best option. If you are using silk it is often a good idea to allow a little more fullness so if the edges deteriorate a curtain maker can easily cut them down to extend their life."
Blinds are another popular alternative, especially if you have privacy concerns. "Sunscreen roller blinds are a versatile option because they block out heat, protect furniture and offer privacy," Wilkie says. "The weaves differ in density so you can select the level of translucency you require which changes the amount of light the blind allows in, and the level of privacy."
Venetian blinds are a perennial favourite, with the slimline versions being the most popular.
Other alternatives for privacy include using frosted film on windows, which is cheaper than frosted glass. Film makes it easy to screen the lower part of a window, while allowing the sunlight to enter at the top.
Many architects are now introducing exterior patterned steel screens, including filigree versions, to provide privacy, especially in apartment buildings. These screens let in the light, creating interesting shadow patterns, but still provide privacy.
And are there any window treatments not in favour? Wilkie says vertical blinds are not so popular at present, "probably because there are so many other options available today".
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