How to choose and fit decorative window finishes

Curtain poles and window tracks

Not only functional, they can also enhance the appearance of a room and window. They allow you a wide choice of curtain headings, such as tab top, eyelet and wave for a contemporary look, or pencil pleat if you prefer something more traditional.

Consider which pole or track finish is most in keeping with the style and colour of your room, furniture and fixings. Oak and white are a popular choice as a match to wood furniture, or a steel or brushed nickel finish for metal. For heavy drapes, try a pole in stainless steel. These be can wall-hung, or from the ceiling if the window is a high one.

Curtain tie-backs

Available in a variety of styles and colours, this season’s coastal look highlights key motifs, such as knotted tiebacks. For a touch of glamour, try pretty beading.

Window treatment colours and themes

Ask yourself if you’re looking for a single or multi layered look. A layered window treatment can add warmth and texture to your room, as well as allowing for various light and privacy preferences. For a minimal look, white or off-white blend into plain walls. If you want a more unique piece, try a made-to-measure or bespoke pole.

Fitting curtain poles and tracks

The majority of off-the-peg tracks and poles can be fitted yourself, but made-to-measure tracks and poles should really be installed by an experienced fitter. As a general rule, if in doubt, speak to a specialist.

Kerry Nicholls,
Interior decor buyer at John Lewis

Straight up style

Timeless in design, striped prints work in every room of your homedue to the simplicity of the pattern.It also means adding a decorative edge is easy. This smart fabric blind has been trimmed with a pretty row of pom-poms, and because it uses the width of the fabric as the drop, there are no seams on show.  

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Roman blind in Cambridge Stripe double-width thickweave cotton fabric in Sea, H95xW115cm, £39 per m; trimmed with cotton pom-poms in Plain Ivory, £15 per m, both by Susie Watson Designs


Contemporary look

Try turning a curtain into a purely decorative statement. This bright panel breaks up a plain
wall, and adds another layer of pattern to the room. It has a tab top for an informal look, so there’s no need for rings – simply thread on a pole and swap with the seasons or décor.

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Curtain in Anthos Red/Indigo jacquard fabric, H230xW190cm, £75 per m; top trim and tab top in Canvas Natural linen-mix fabric, £49 per m, Sanderson

How to choose curtains

  • Choosing the right style of curtain will depend on various factors, including window size, room size, and the look you’re creating.
  • A small window with only a narrow space either side may benefit from a triple-pleat heading as a dress curtain, complemented with a Roman blind.
  • Bigger windows that require more fullness in the curtains would look good with a single-pleat heading, allowing larger quantities of fabric to stack back easily, creating a more modern feel.
  • Using a triple-pleat heading creates a traditional look, while a gathered heading will have more of a casual feel. Curtains appear better if they are lined and interlined, and will last longer.
  • In a busy room, a plain fabric that matches the existing colour scheme
    will help the curtains blend; in a simpler room,  a co-ordinating colour and pattern might help to liven up the space.
Janet Dixon
Chief designer at Barker & Barker

Curve appeal

Choosing a practical blind for a kitchen doesn’t mean forgoing an attractive finish. Take your inspiration from curtains by selecting a versatile monochrome print and adding a scalloped or shaped hem with delicate beading. By using living room-style details, it helps tie a kitchen area into the rest of an open-plan space.

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Tabitha Dazzle filigree roller blind, H200xW150cm, £282, Apollo Blinds


 In the frame

Borders are a smart way to customise your curtains, either just on the leading edge or all the way around, outlining each panel. Choose a contrasting colour – such as a warm red – to create a show-stopping look, then combine with an unfussy pole and pared-back pencil pleat to ensure the attention remains on the fabric and trim.

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Linen Holmewood curtains in Blue, £69 per m, with edging in Ava cotton fabric in Tomato,
£32 per m, Jane Churchill at Colefax & Fowler


Gathered glamour

You may wonder if you need tie-backs but they are just as functional as they are fabulous. Use them to pull back heavy curtains to reveal a view, or to add character that is easily changeable. Matching tie-backs can feel dated so try ropes, cords, or grosgrain ribbon.

14-Romo-Tivoli-Tiebacks-PurpleHonor cotton-satin drape in Orchid, £45 per m; Rialto Mulberry tie-back in cotton-mix fabric, £100, Romo


Interesting embellishment

Liven up a straight-hemmed roller blind with eyelets along the bottom edge, giving it a modern feel. Round eyelets are a classic choice, but you can also find square designs.
As it is such a simple detail, eyelets on a blind work well in a compact space, such as guest bedrooms or bathrooms, or where anything that is too busy could risk overwhelming the room.

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Roller blind in Ravenna Aqua, H140xW70cm, £135, plus £6 surcharge for eyelets, Hillarys


Design details

Highlight your curtain pole by opting for one with a shot of glossy colour. Make sure that your curtains co-ordinate perfectly and don’t hide its decorative finish. Accentuate the shade by using pleating rings that have coloured rivets. The rod should extend by 10-20cm beyond the window on either side.

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High-gloss lacquered curtain pole in Teal with hand-blown glass Lunar finials, pleating rings, rivets and brushed-steel hardware, £1,034.60 for the set, Walcot House; lined and interlined curtains in Aurora Blue linen, £1,088.20, Rapture & Wright


Luxurious layers

A period home can take more intricate styling, particularly if the windows are large. For a cosy feel, layer blinds and curtains to keep out draughts, and use complementary fabrics – try the same shade but a slightly different pattern. Finish with a frill at the top, or a different material on the reverse of a Swedish-style blind.

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Botany Roman Leaf cotton curtains, H180xW110cm, £193.89 per pair; two Roman blinds in Botany Acacia cotton fabric, H180xW210cm, £241.05 each, all from the Nature Trail collection at Clover & Thorne


Adding a twist

A beautiful curtain pole and statement finial can enhance the look of a room. Try your chosen fabric against several poles in both wood and metal finishes to help you select the right one for your scheme. This ball finial features thin indented lines, which help to add depth and detail.

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Curzon finial in Antique Brass from the Elements collection, Dia.28mm, from £89.99 for a 150cm pole, Swish

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