Continuing her series offering interior-decoration advice, rita konig explores her new-found love of curtains having apparently married a vampire who can’t abide even the slightest chink of light, i find that curtains are playing an increasingly important role in my life, whereas previously i’d rubbed along pretty happily without them. Aside from the cost, i have always found them rather galumphing, padded things at the windows.
The turning point was a couple of years ago, when i was on a photo shoot for a house for the new york times and i noticed the most beautiful, ethereal curtains in the main bedroom. They were made from a double layer of cream cashmere joined only at the top, hanging open at the sides and bottom. They hung like a dream, and since that lightbulb moment i’ve not looked back.
Sadly, i haven’t been using cashmere, but i have been using felt hung from curtain rings, and i love the effect. Wool hangs beautifully and a double layer of felt gives superb insulation and totally blocks out light. Try using two different colours and allowing 10mm of the lining felt to show at the top and/or the leading edge. As felt doesn’t require a hem, ask your curtain maker to cut the edges with pinking shears.
‘My current taste is for fabrics that are much more like bedding than curtains.’
I’ve used this process with hemmed linen in front and felt as the lining fabric, which is perfect when you want a lighter looking curtain; white linen backed with pale grey felt looks terrific.
There is something about the looseness of having stitching only at the top that allows these textiles some freedom. What’s always troubled me is that, by the time the curtain maker has had their way with lining and interlining, you can lose that wonderful drape.
My current taste is for fabrics that are much more like bedding than curtains, strange as it sounds; Think along the lines of old quilts, blankets and linens. Last week i was in a pub in wales that had unlined welsh blankets hanging at the windows, which looked wonderful against the rough, whitewashed cottage walls.
Robert kime has used anatolian blankets at windows to great effect for years, and while staying at the kasbah bab ourika outside marrakesh, i saw flatweave rugs hanging over the entrance, which looked fantastic.
The cloth shop on portobello road in west london, is a very good supplier of these sorts of fabrics.
I find it’s a good rule of thumb to combine heavy cloths with something delicate. I tend to have sheer roller blinds behind the curtains so that one can have privacy without having to grope around in the dark to get dressed in the morning.
George spencer represents the italian textile designer idarica gazzoni, who produces digitally printed linen voiles that are perfect for this. Slightly heavier, but very effective, is nicky haslam’s ‘shutter stripe’ linen – inspired by john fowler’s fabric of the same name – which looks like a venetian blind.
It is wonderfully surreal when used as blinds.