Blind spot: How to choose the right window treatments

Sort it: As well as providing shade and privacy, curtains or blinds finish off a room

Curtains and blinds are often a last-minute decision when planning a renovation or redecoration project. But aside from the practicalities of providing privacy and sun shading, curtains or blinds really do finish off a room. Whether you’re looking to bring a little luxury to your bedroom or provide sun shading in your living room, there are many options available. But how do you know what is suitable for your space? Here is an overview of the different options available to help you choose the perfect solution for every room in your home.

Roller blinds

Window-dressing can be a significant expense. The cost of curtains and blinds will depend on the fabric you choose and the size of your windows. The good news is that they can be fitted at any time, so you can invest room by room if your budget won’t stretch to dressing all of your windows in one go.

As a starting point, I’d advise going for roller blinds throughout the house. Roller blinds will provide privacy straight away and are the most cost-effective form of window dressing. Then, depending on the budget, you can decide which other rooms to tackle.

Roman blinds

Roman blinds are an excellent option for dressing your windows and are less expensive than curtains because they require less fabric. They are particularly successful where you do not have a lot of space on either side of the window, or if there is a radiator underneath your window that you don’t want to cover with curtains.


A great tip is to hang the blind from the ceiling, covering the wall area above the window and hanging outside the opening. This will create the illusion of a much larger window and will not block as much light as hanging the blind inside the opening or just above it. Linens are ideal for Roman blinds, particularly in bold fabrics.

Floor-to-ceiling curtains

Nothing makes a room feel more poky than short curtains. Floor-to-ceiling curtains will accentuate the ceiling height and make your room feel more spacious. Full-length curtains also work with most window styles and shapes.

Silks work best for voluptuous ballgown-style curtains, which are stunning in bedrooms or the more formal areas such as the living room. But bear in mind that strong sunlight can damage silk, so it’s a good idea to have your curtains interlined. Interlining will also help reduce heat loss. Forty per cent of heat escapes through our windows, so reducing this heat loss can translate to significant savings.

Venetian blinds

Venetian blinds come in a wide variety of sizes, colours, styles and finishes. They can be used on just about any style of window and in any room of the house.

Blackout curtains and blinds

Blackout blinds are always a smart choice for a bedroom. This is especially true in children’s rooms, as they can buy you a life-saving extra half-hour’s sleep in the morning. An excellent tip for total blackout is to go with a blackout roller blind inside your window reveal. Then either blackout-lined curtains or a blackout-lined roller blind outside the reveal.

Wave curtain system

A wave curtain uses a track system with a very simple heading, giving the curtains a more contemporary look. Consider running the curtains from wall to wall and floor to ceiling with this kind of system. This provides a much more luxurious and finished look to the room and is particularly effective where the windows are narrow, as it creates the illusion of larger windows.

Sheers and wools are perfect for the wave system style of curtains, as the fabrics hang so beautifully. Wave-system curtains will require less material than more traditional French pleat or other curtain styles, making them a less expensive option.

Ready-made blinds and curtains

You don’t have to spend money on custom-made curtains to get a high-end look. Ready-made curtains are a great alternative. They’re easy to install and more affordable than made-to-measure versions. Ready-made window dressings typically come in a range of standard sizes. When shopping for ready-made curtains and blinds, always pick the size closest to your measurements. But err on the side of a few millimetres longer if you can’t find an exact match.

Motorised blinds

Electrically operated blinds are often ruled out because of cost, but in some instances, they are a fantastic solution and well worth the additional spend.

They are not something you need throughout your home, but there are two areas where the benefits are worth the additional cost. The first is where you have large floor-to-ceiling glazing, for example, on to a garden from a kitchen, dining or living space. The reason is that you will avoid the need for chains or cords hanging at intervals and disrupting the view.

The second area where it’s worth considering installing them is for Velux-style roof windows that are hard to reach. The cost will depend on the size of the blinds, and it’s not something you can easily retrofit, so it’s worth planning this into your design at an early stage. There are battery-operated versions that are less expensive and can be retrofitted at any time.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant @optimisedesign