When we moved into this house nearly 10 years ago Scandinavian style was all the rage. Grey was in. Minimal was in. Window treatments were out. The Danes, I wrote for a piece in the Financial Times, didn’t bother with curtains or blinds. Firstly they wanted to allow as much natural light in as possible during their long dark winters and secondly their houses were well-built and insulated and they didn’t need curtains to cover up draughty corners. So we fixed up some privacy blinds half way up the sash and focused on the rest of the house.
As the years went by the fashions, of course, changed. I began to feel that with the rich, dark walls and velvet sofa there was something slightly stark about this room. Labelling it tension (something all the best designers strive for) I ignored it (and the draughts) and focused on something else.
But a nagging feeling grew into a pressing desire and I started looking at fabric. And this is where the trouble started. It’s a Victorian terrace so the geometric design of a mid-century with its clean colours didn’t feel right. The opulent colours and swirls of a William Morris pattern, which I love, felt a little too traditional. Then there were lots of gorgeous patterns in the wrong colours – blues and greens knock yourself out. Chocolate and pink? Not so much.
And then I found Tori Murphy. I have described my style in the past as a monochrome maximalist. I tend to stick to about three colours in a room – lots of shades of those three but that’s pretty much it. I find high contrast colours and designs stressful and prefer tonal shades albeit in dark and rich colourways.
When I saw Tori’s Rose Merino Wool in chestnut and ivory I knew I had found the one. A floral but a slightly geometric design. A rich shade of chocolate brown with only ivory for contrast. Paired with a matching chestnut stripe on the back facing the street, I had finally met my window match. Tori creates many stripes and checks and modern geometric patterns but she uses soft, slightly old -fashioned shades of pink, saffron, olive and radish to offset the lines. This is how you bring a traditional look right up to date. Although check out her scallop ticking – I’d like one in every colour.
Then Tori told me she was launching a new window treatment service as it was one of the questions she is most often asked. “I also found myself with a full house renovation underway and many, many windows to dress,” she said.
“I didn’t know where to find curtains that suited my style, or how to confidently measure or order. I wanted them made in England not off the shelf and I knew other people would be wanting the same thing.”
So she teamed up with a local factory to offer a bespoke service called Made For Me. If you want blinds, or curtains, in two weeks (and with current lead times on everything else that’s amazing) you can choose from an edited selection of fabrics although you can go for the full bespoke service. Then you can order online following the measuring guide or contact one of the in-house advisors who can talk you through the process on the telephone or even via video call – which is especially clever if you are worried you might be measuring the wrong bit.
It’s a clever idea and one that is sorely needed. You can buy pretty good ready-made curtains but they’re often not lined and while curtains are more forgiving on size it can be difficult to buy blinds off the shelf as window sizes vary wildly – particularly if you live in a period property where nothing is a standard size.
One other thing worth considering; we lived with draughty windows for years but if you close the curtains at dusk you can reduce heat loss by up to 15 per cent. If you upgrade to thermal linings that’s 25 per cent and with the cost of heating at the moment, those new curtains will pay for themselves pretty damn fast. And, of course, if you close them on those very hot days they will soak up the heat from outside and prevent it coming into the room keeping it cool.
So the question is – which fabric will you choose?
Tori provided these blinds for me in return for a post on her new service.