Victoria Hill, based in Hampton, designs beautiful soft furnishings for your home. You can meet Victoria at The DecorCafe Festival on Friday 11th March. In the meantime she shares her experience here:

1. Dressing Windows for Privacy
With the the rate of conversion of houses into flats, extensions and loft conversions galore, many of us are living cheek by jowl with our neighbours. The need to create elegant privacy, whilst  not blocking out the light, is something clients frequently ask for, particularly as more people combine office and living space.

Most people’s initial thoughts are to install shutters, but this is a major investment. Shutters do have their place, but on their own, they create a rather stark look and block out light, even when open. For a more flexible and stylish alternative, we often fit voile roller blinds behind Roman blinds. I recently undertook this for 10 windows in a stunning apartment in Richmond. Here we selected an elegant voile roller blind and sat these behind linen Roman blinds.

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If you would like a softer look, or you want to put a sheer blind behind curtains, meaning the roller blind headrail will be seen, you can replace the roller blind with a sheer Roman  blind. Here we made sheer linen Roman blinds to sit behind luxurious velvet curtains, for a home office/reception room in Fulham. The combination of the 2 delivered stunningly elegant windows for the room at night, whilst ensuring privacy during the day for when my client used the room for work.

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Another way is to combine voile curtains with blinds. The curtains can be drawn during the day to provide privacy, whilst maintaining the light. These windows were dressed for a client in Hampton, who wanted a dreamy look for her bedroom and privacy from the buses travelling past her house.

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2. Dressing Windows for Relaxed Elegance
Many customers are looking for an elegant, but un-tailored look; for something which looks ‘just placed there’. Rather like ‘nude’ make-up, this actually requires more thought.  We suggest slightly over-long curtains, with either a ‘ring-hook’ or a ‘gathered-heading’, using linen, or semi-sheer fabrics.

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The ‘ring-hook’ heading requires the rings to be actually sewn into the curtain itself. This is only suitable for lightweight fabrics and ideal for semi-sheers, or sheers, as shown here.

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We created  2 sets of curtains in this way for a lady living in one of the cottages in the Alberts in Richmond, using a semi-sheer linen mix embroidered fabric by Vanilla Fabrics from Pavilion. I think this look looks best using a slim metal pole, like this one by Cameron Fuller. On the front window, we also created a lovely soft and romantic, ‘relaxed’ roman blind out of a sheer linen by Kobe Interior Fabrics.

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A ‘relaxed’ roman blind is the most romantic way to dress a window, no rods are used within it, so it simply drapes. The one shown here, was actually made overlong, so that the blind hung in folds, even when it was down. This is another really effective way to create privacy, whilst embellishing your window.

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A ‘gathered-heading’ uses a narrow header tape which is set down by about 4 to 8 cms from the top of the curtain. It works particularly well with voile,  linen or cotton fabrics  to create a soft and unstructured look. The fabulous designer Kate Forman, uses this style heavily, and it looks lovely on both full length and cottage-length curtains.

Making curtains 5 cms ‘overlong’, creates a more relaxed but still elegant look, as well as concealing uneven floorboards.

3. Dressing bi-folds, patio doors or mews-style doors.
One scarcely goes into a renovated  house today without finding a bi-fold door. Many people opt to leave these undressed, but for those wanting a softer look, or privacy, a large curtain is absolutely the best way to dress this. The same practical considerations apply to patio or mews style doors.

Nearly always, these windows are put in with little room above the window to fit a curtain and little room either side of the glass to stack back the curtain. What this means is that you need to select a slimline curtain track or pole, or ceiling fit it, and create a curtain which folds back very economically. Since the windows are usually very wide, you also need a solution which will allow the curtains to pass freely along the track, without brackets getting in the way.  Here we dressed a mews-style door for a studio in Kew, using Designers Guild fabric and  a specialist combined track and pole, by Evans Textiles, which meant that the curtain could pass freely  all the way along the pole.

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Many people opt for a wave heading to dress these doors, and these are extremely stylish and compact, but they require a special wave system. If you want to use an existing pole or track, or don’t want to use this specialist system, you can use a ‘pin-hook’ style heading, where two pin-hooks are fitted into each ring or glider. This looks slightly sharper than a wave, stacks back very neatly and is also very economical on fabric.

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If you are looking for fabulous sheers, I strongly recommend Kobe’s collections. These include many stunning sheer and semi-sheer, plain or patterned styles.

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4. Dressing a small window for impact
There are some windows where a curtain would simply be out of place, or where there is a radiator beneath, but you don’t feel that a roman blind will create enough impact. Adding a mini-pelmet is a great way to style up small windows, whilst also concealing the plastic sides of the headrail. Here we worked with an opulent embroidered fabric from Olivia Bard, for 2 windows in a hallway and landing in Hampton,  and added a band of satin piping for a really tailored look.

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The beauty of these mini-pelmets is that you can have them at different depths and widths, depending on the scale of the window, and the look you want to achieve. These pelmets were made quite deep for a dramatic look, but the sample striped pelmet below in fabric by Warwick Fabrics,  is much narrower, as we wanted a more contemporary look.

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Another clever way in which these pelmets can be used, is when there are multiple windows in the same room of different lengths, or sitting at different heights, and a pelmet can disguise these differences. For an extremely luxurious look, you can source decorative wooden  pelmets by Byron & Byron or Price and Co.

Contact Victoria:

Telephone: 07764 835 785
Email: info@victoriahillbespokesoftfurnishings.co.uk
Website: www.victoriahillbespokesoftfurnishings.co.uk