Rita notes: Curtains

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.

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