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Photography courtesy of Thibaut

Choosing the Right Fabrics for your Home

Our expert Interior Designer Amanda Hanley guides us through the difficult task of choosing beautiful and practical fabrics for your home
GP & J Baker

"Dining rooms give the perfect opportunity to be dramatic and stylish with your window dressing; as they are often occasional rooms you don’t need to worry about the practicalities too much!"

In this feature we take a look at how to select fabrics specifically for curtains, upholstery and accessories and what you need to consider to ensure a result you will love, and that will last for years to come.

How to perfect your window treatment

When deciding on the style of your curtains or blinds, it’s important to remember that the treatment of the window can have a big impact on the proportion and balance of your room. It can also enhance its architectural features.

Consider the following:

• The size and shape of the window

• The architectural style of the room

• The mood you want to create

• The wall space and headroom

• The function of the space

• The view and light in the room

Photography courtesy of Thibaut


Often the style and shape of your window dictates the way that you dress it; Georgian windows, Bay, French, arched, shuttered windows etc all benefit from a sympathetic and complementary window treatment. When thinking about the mood of the room, consider if you want it to be relaxed and informal, or to have an impact/give a formal air. Dining rooms give the perfect opportunity to be dramatic and stylish with your window dressing; as they are often occasional rooms you don’t need to worry about the practicalities too much!

The amount of wall space available will obviously affect your choice of window treatments. Curtains, for example, will need space to stack back against the wall, otherwise they will block out a lot of light from the window. If no wall space is available, a blind could be a solution.

Functionality is of course important; halls and landings can be draughty and require careful dressing, and cooking and eating areas would potentially cause food smells/grease to cling to certain fabrics. You should also check that the fabric is suitable for its purpose, and its weight/material is appropriate for the window style.

You must always consider carefully how you suspend your curtains as it can make a huge difference to the scheme.

There is a massive range of headings available for curtains including euro pleat, pinch (single, double or treble), pencil, smock, giblet, cup, fixed slot heading, Italian stringing – these are stunning curtains that give a dramatic effect, they operate diagonally so that when pulled, they pull up to the side(s) like theatre curtains.

Consider contrast for your upholstery

When selecting furniture and fabric for a living room, consider using a variety of pieces of different scale and purpose. For example a large comfy armchair that can be moved around easily, plus one or two sofas with a matching chair – or perhaps an ottoman/footstool – would work really well together. Footstools are particularly versatile as they can double as a coffee table or extra seating.

All of these items can be covered in a mixture of matching plains/patterns/ contrasts all to add interest and fun to the setting. The key to a successful scheme is to use plenty of textural contrast.

Make the most of your accessories

Accessories are a relatively small part of the overall scheme, but are important in setting the style with clever use of texture, pattern and colour.

We find lampshades work very well as they come in a huge variety of shapes and materials. It is vital to get the proportion of the base to the shade right; as a general rule, the shade should never be more than half of the overall height of the lamp.

Amanda’s Top Tips

Generally we advise our clients to always use floor-length curtains where possible, and avoid small print fabrics on large windows.

Always use the best quality fabric you can afford for curtains; they have a huge amount of wear and tear and should be robust enough to look good for a long time.

Roman blinds are the most economical way of dressing a window; they look stylish and contemporary.

Lining is an integral part of curtains and will protect them and add extra weight and body. Linings can be used in a playful way by using contrasting fabric, even just as a trimming.

Don’t be tempted to skimp on the amount of fabric; dress curtains (curtains on either side of the window that do not draw) are a very good, more economical solution that looks brilliant with a simple roman blind (or roller) in a tonal or contrasting colour.

Pelmets can look stunning in a formal setting; add a contrasting fabric to the piping or edging to add definition, and they can also be made into a variety of shapes to suit the style of room.

- Amanda Hanley


Top Image – Photography courtesy of Thibaut

Below – GP & J Baker

Bottom – Photography courtesy of Thibaut


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