Curtains provide privacy of course, but they also add to the beauty and elegance of the house. They act as filters, absorbing a lot of sunlight and dust. To a certain extent they can mitigate the weather conditions. Depending on the type of house you live in, the funds available and your preferences, you can choose the desired curtains. There is a wide range of fabric to choose from. You could opt for thin lacy material or heavy velvets and brocades. Lined curtains drape beautifully, gather well and pleat well and save the fabric from fading out fast when exposed to direct sunlight. The width of the window decides the number of panels --the more the merrier!
However, there are people who believe that curtains provide an excellent breeding place for insects in general and mosquitoes, in particular. Wooden pelmets which were in vogue once have gone out of fashion, perhaps for the same reason as spiders and lizards establish settlements under the pelmets!
Now, there is a wide choice of rods and rails. Plush looking rods add glamour to the room. Brackets, rings, hooks come in all sizes and designs. Venetian blinds are still not preferred in our homes here in India as they are associated with offices and commercial establishments. But they are convenient to use as they can be vacuumed or brushed easily. Just remember that they require careful handling and gentle operating. In USA, apartments and town houses are provided with such blinds.
Conventional curtains are used in independent bungalows and luxury homes there also. The way windows are dressed, however, differs. In addition to the conventional way of hanging the drapes, there are various ways in which they are made to decorate the windows. Since their doors and windows are pre-fabricated and made in certain standardized sizes only, ready made window curtains are available. There are shops which specialize in such drapes. Even the hardware is sometimes supplied along with the drapes. There are catalogues with all the latest information on window dressing. Mail orders are also possible. If the customer is not happy with the size or style, the drapes can always be returned.
The size and structure of the window decides the style of drape. When the lower half of the window is made of wood, the drape is for the upper half and when the whole window is made of glass, the curtain can be divided in two halves. Throw swags are literally thrown on the brackets nailed above the window and the rest of the length of the curtain falls on both sides of the window frame. The centre piece is stitched separately like a festoon and the sides are gathered in the step-like fashion. The rod is passed through the gathers and then fixed on the brackets. As mentioned earlier, these drapes are for decoration, not for affording privacy and will come in handy in high rise apartments.
Valance is very popular in the US. It is a short piece which can cover the top portion of the window. It comes in various fabrics, pretty lace materials, printed fabrics with frilled edges or the bottom edge gathered in a festoon-like fashion. A matching fabric is used to cover the lower half of the window.
The valance can be gathered in different patterns, according to individual choice. With a thick lining the edges can be made wavy. A valance for the upper half and a cafe curtain for the lower half of the window seem to be popular in the US. Throw swags are also quite popular. So, the next time you want to dress up your windows, you can choose from these styles with a dash of your own imagination.