Use fabric curtain designs to transform your room

2016-07-09 | jlbworks


Fabric drapery creates design flexibility in small, architecturally challenged rooms. Some rooms, like this one, have bay windows, which makes arranging furniture tricky. However, if you install a standard traversing rod, you can create the appearance of a straight continuation of the wall. In addition, a bold fabric pattern, like the one shown here, can make the window itself a focal point in an otherwise asymmetrical room. Or, you can utilize fabric drapery to center off the furniture in a room, similar to how you would center off furniture near a fireplace or a picture window.

Fabric has not always been used to cover windows. Some people prefer other window furnishings to sometimes dust-catching drapery. Today, we have many options for window furnishings, from wood blinds to cellular shades to vertical blinds. Historically, though, wooden shutters were used to keep cold air out of the house and darken a room for sleeping. Wood is still one of the best insulating materials to this day. Eventually, when access to woven cloth became common, people often hung an iron rod on a windowpane, and hung a solid piece of fabric from iron rings looped over the rod. The cloth would be pulled in front of the window, or to one side or the other, to provide blockage. Curtains were also sometimes used to close off doorways. A hanging curtain placed over a door or a doorless entryway of a room is a “portiere.” Beyond that, fabric was also hung around a bed as a canopy to keep warm inside the bed or close off the bed into a sleeping alcove.

American designers generally don’t favor bold textile patterns quite as much as European designers do. Scandinavian textile designs are some of the most highly praised designs in the world — crisp, colorful and whimsical. Josef Frank, one of my favorite designers, had an enormous impact on the history of Swedish design and is considered one of Sweden’s most important designers of all time. Frank was 50 years old when he fled Nazi Germany for Sweden. Germany, Italy and France also produce gorgeous patterned fabrics. Google “Italian Textile Designs” and you will be dazzled, inspired and awakened to how artful a fabric can be. A fabric is far more than just a piece of cloth.

The British are generally known for their love of patterns. Many use patterns on top of patterns and mix them all together with an Oriental rug!  Some still love chintz fabric. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the English, Portuguese and Italians brought chintz fabric from India to Europe. Chintz designs were originally stained or painted with patterns.

Architecture, furniture and fashion were directly imported from Britain and France to the U.S. during colonial times. For good reason, the East Coast and Southern states still favor more traditional architectural and design styles. Additionally, the method of constructing draperies is different in New England compared to the warmer Southwestern states and the West Coast. Often, draperies are not made with an inner lining as one moves westward, as it is popular in many places to have no window treatments.

Now, one final way to use a drapery panel in a space-starved room, specifically a bedroom, is as a headboard. The folds of the pleated fabric will only extend 3 or 4 inches from the wall, which may be less visually weighty than a bulky wood bed frame. You might also create a top and bottom pocket and simply use shirred fabric on a rod.

Play around with fabric curtain designs to transform the look of a room in your home.

  • Christine Brun is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of “Small Space Living.” Send questions and comments to her by email at

© 2016, Creators Syndicate