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5 Alternative Uses for Curtains

Window curtains are a Renaissance invention. Prior to the 15th century, textiles had been used on beds and as wall hangings, to provide warmth and introduce softness to stark interiors. Windows had been small, narrow slits so privacy wasn’t an issue and they were invariably covered with oiled wax papers or shutters if covered at all. During the Renaissance period, textiles began to be imported to the UK and the Tudors and Stuarts in particular recognised the power of sumptuous silk, velvet and brocade window curtains as a means to display wealth and importance.

In the 500 years since, we’ve gradually lost sight of how effective curtains can be in different areas of the home other than the traditional rooms we use them in. So as a gentle reminder or inspiration for a new decorative scheme, here are our top 5 alternative uses for curtains…

1. To keep the cold out and the warm in...

As the weather takes on a distinctly autumnal feel, it’s a good time to be aware that heat loss from a home can rise to 30% when it’s windy and rainy outside. And this loss doesn’t just happen through inefficient glazing but through drafty doors as well. A door curtain in a beautiful fabric will not only add colour and texture to a space but will likely lower your heating bills too.

Wool and flax are particularly effective insulators, trapping tiny pockets of air between their fibres to create a thermal barrier. Our advice is always to opt for an interlined door curtain to create a luxurious look and maximise insulation. Interlined curtains also absorb more sound so are particularly effective if you want to block out external noise.

2. To reinvent an open plan space

Although many of us favour open plan living spaces, they do have their drawbacks. Not only are they less energy efficient but they’re also less cosy and private. Noise, smells and clutter can spread with wild abandon!

The answer is curtains that act as room dividers and effectively zone a space. You may wish to delineate a dining area within a larger space for example. Curtains will offer drama, intimacy and the practical advantage of being able to conceal the sight of a messy table at the end of a meal.

Curtains are also the perfect solution in a studio apartment to screen off a sleeping or cooking area, or simply create a private space to read, work or relax. If you’re concerned about the impact on natural light within a space, choose a sheer fabric that allows light to filter through whilst subtly distinguishing one area from another.

3. To add softness to a bathroom

A bit left field this one but curtains are set to be big news in bathrooms, not just at windows or around showers but on ceiling mounted rails around baths. Bathrooms by their nature are full of hard lines and surfaces with the result that they can often feel clinical and uninviting. Given that they’re the room where we begin and end each day, anything that softens and adds textural interest as well as colour has got to be a good thing.

Your choice of fabric is obviously important in a bathroom where humidity is likely to be high. Our hardwearing, eco-friendly Revive range is a great choice. Made from 100% recycled plastic bottles but amazingly soft and natural to the touch, it’s good for the environment and perfect for your bathroom.

4. As an alternative to cabinets

The kitchen is another room that can suffer from an abundance of hard surfaces. Here, curtains can be a great alternative or addition to cabinetry. And before visions of chintz curtains hiding a multitude of sins under Granny’s sink spring to the mind, stick to the following golden rules - choose a plain fabric, a wave or eyelet heading that avoids too much fullness and ensure no pooling on the floor.

This idea of incorporating curtains into cabinetry can be extended into the bedroom where wardrobe take on a distinctly French feel when door panels are replaced with gathered fabric, secured top and bottom.

5. To make a statement in a bedroom

Bed curtains bring luxury and theatre to our most private spaces. They can be hung from a coronet or frame attached to the ceiling, the wall behind the bed or from the structure of a four poster bed. Sheer fabrics will provide a contemporary, ethereal look while interlined bed curtains that pool on the floor will look opulent, indulgent and particularly striking when balanced with very simple window curtains or blinds.

Need more inspiration?