The basic role of curtains has shifted over the years. They are still used in part for their original purposes, privacy, insulation, soundproofing and light control. However, with the advances made in glazing technology, these functions are no longer so important and all window coverings have taken on a more decorative role.
Although the words are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between curtains and drapes. Drapes tend to be more formal, floor length affairs, with a heavy lining, that can be opened and closed with a pull cord. Curtains are their less formal relatives, often made from a lighter fabric, with or without lining. They are generally suspended by hooks, rings or even tab tops from a pole, and are opened and closed by hand. While drapes are usually stand alone, curtains can be used with blinds or shades, and in this case are sometimes tied back permanently to the window edge and never closed at all.
If you are choosing curtains as part of your home design project, you should consider three basic types. Panels are the simplest and most often used, being basic panels of material, hemmed top and bottom, gathered at the top to produce soft folds, and hung by hooks or rings from a pole.
Caf curtains are an alternative style, hung from the centre of the window on a wire or cord, leaving the upper part of the window exposed. As well as decoration, this style provides privacy for people sitting near the window, whilst letting in light at the same time. These can generally be found in kitchens and breakfast rooms.
Tiered curtains are the third option. These are hung in such a way that a base panel covers the bottom half of a window, and a top panel, protruding further from the wall, covers the top half and overlaps the base panel. This is a decorative feature, rather than having a practical use, although you could tie back the upper panels to let in light, while maintaining some privacy.
You should consider the most appropriate length for your curtains. Some can sit just above the window sill, giving the impression of fitting neatly into the window space. These are ideal when you have a radiator under the window, so you don't lose all the heat up through the window behind the curtain. If you want your curtains to rest just below the window ledge, be sure your curtain pole is mounted far enough from the wall to ensure that curtain can hang freely and does not touch the window sill. Floor length curtains should finish just before the floor so they don't drag. If they touch the floor they will become dirty very quickly and may be stood on and ripped.
Finally you should determine if you need your curtains lined or not. Lining can add considerable expense you your curtains, but it is worthwhile if you need the extra privacy, insulation or soundproofing that lined curtains can provide. You can also buy interlined curtains, with a third panel of insulation fabric between the curtain itself and the main lining. Lining can also make your curtains hang better if they are made from a lightweight material.
About the Author:
Focusing on latest developments in window coverings, the reviewer is writing mainly for http://www.curtains-drapes-coverings.com . You can see his work on curtains at www.curtains-drapes-coverings.com .
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