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Decorative Curtains Part 5

Types or Styles of Curtains – Features of Decorative and Specialized Curtains

In our last lesson we learned about the design features of traditional types of curtains, in today’s lesson we will learn about the design features of decorative and specialized curtains. I will create an overview of these ideas and then send you off to read more in your own time, see photographic examples and add more depth to each area.

In this lesson today we will focus on the Features of Decorative and Specialized Curtains.

Design Features of Decorative Curtains

This style of curtain design is closely coupled with traditional curtain design as these elements are often used to create the traditional look in curtains. They include window valances, pelmets, swags and tails, scarf drapery, rosettes, nets and sheers and call upon the high use of decorative trims, braids, lace and tassels. See photograph examples here.

A valance is a short curtain at the top of a window, which usually has a deep frill of fabric framing the window and hiding the curtain track or rod and usually has a gathered or pleated heading, it can be in the same fabric as the curtains or contrasting, it is often embellished by using trimmings, braid, ribbon and tassels. Curtain Valance Photos

A pelmet is a stiff paneled heading to cover curtains. It is a solid structure that is mounted above the windows and covers the curtain heading. It is often upholstered and can be decorated in numerous ways – from shaping the lower part of the pelmet to adding trimmings and tassels. Curtain Pelmet Photos

Swags are fabric that forms a decorative element over a window, hanging from two fixed points either side of the top of the window, draping down through the center. There are numerous variations of this form of decoration. Tails are the fabric that hangs down from the end of the swags.

Sheers and Nets are a form of curtain that is named after the fabric that is used. They are predominately used as privacy curtains often under the main curtains. Nets tend to be used in a more traditional situation as the net fabric designs are usually more ornate than the simple sheer. Sheers used to be a simple white or cream translucent fabric, now they are available in colors, with printed patterns, embroidery, woven with metal fibers, ribbons creating all sorts of amazing designs. Go and browse at your local curtain fabric store, you will be surprised at the available range.

Scarf Drapery is simply a panel of fabric which is draped over a decorative rod, it is less formal or tailored than swags and tails and can be made easily at home. It is often used as a valance over curtains or as a decorative feature for bathroom and kitchen windows. It is a simple decorative element, it can be enhanced by using a contrasting color on the other side for more effect, or a trim added for more decoration, or a cord and tassel draped through with the fabric for more drama.

Rosettes are a focal point for a curtain arrangement. They can be a finishing touch for curtain headings, tie backs, swags and tails. There are numerous styles and designs including, rose, choux, bow, knife pleated.

Decorating the leading edge. This is frequently used for traditional or formal curtain design arrangements. Trim is fixed to the edge of the curtain so when the curtain is open you can see the detail. The contemporary version of this is using a contrasting fabric called a binding or lipping. This is fixed to the edges of the curtain or tie backs.

Design Features of Specialized Curtains

Specialized curtains are curtains that are designed for a specific purpose, portieres, to cover the doorway, coronet drape to go over the bed, etc

These types of curtains are used less frequently than the other curtain styles we have learned about, but you will get opportunities to use these, so it is important that you have an understanding of their form and function.

Portieres – Heavy fabric portieres were originally used to stop the drafts between rooms. Basically they are a double sided curtain that covers a door opening. Today, portieres are used at doorways for purely decorative purposes, they add softness, color, and pattern to a room. The main thing to remember is to have a means of keeping the fabric away from the door opening when you do actually want to generate an accesway, using holdbacks, tie backs or Italian stringing.

Four Poster Beds – Originally these had four posts and a tester (the upper rectangular panel) from which the curtains hung to keep out the draughts at night from the bed. Now days we have such well insulated homes that the tester is no longer required and the four poster is purely for decorative purposes ranging from the traditional luxurious look and feel to the soft and flowing romantic look and feel of using sheer fabrics as curtains. There are many ways to decorate the four poster, make sure you take a look at the photograph examples to get some ideas.

Canopy Beds – similar to the four poster, but the tester is replaced with fabric, so it does have a “ceiling”. There are basically two styles of canopy beds today: traditional or contemporary.The traditional canopy beds tend to have a Victorian feel using either metal rod frames or intricately carved timber frames and posts. They used very elaborate draping,with pleats and ruffles, using heavy fabrics. Modern contemporary canopy beds a much simpler to design. They have cleaner lines, the posts are made of simple timber or metal rods and the drapery is usually simple and flowing.

Coronet Drapes – (also known as a bed corona) A coronet bed drape is a casement or rod pocket curtain and a valance which are draped from a curved board or circular rod above the bed head. The board or circular rod is fixed to the wall at a convenient height above the head of the bed. Lined curtains are hung to softly drape down either side of the bed and then held back with either tie backs or hold backs.

That is an overview of Features of Decorative and Specialized Curtains, there are a lot more factors involved in these styles, like the track selection, fabric selection, curtain length, color etc, and we will go over all these areas in the ecourse, so if you aren’t 100% clear about these styles yet, don’t worry because we will be frequently reviewing and adding more as we review the other areas of curtain design.

Now you have just finished reading part five. Congratulations, if you still have time, go and read your related articles, if not come back again and read them in your spare time. In three days time you will receive your next lesson Types and Styles of Curtains – Ready Made Curtains, so don’t forget to add this email address to your white list, and if you don’t receive it in three days, then look in your spam email box, and if you just can’t wait for three days then you can find part six here online.

Bye for now


Lee Brown

Curtain Design Ecourse Coordinator