Window Shopping


It is a truth, universally acknowledged by your Granny, that you should never buy velvet curtains as they will never wear out and you will never have an excuse to buy new ones. I know this as I had to move house to get rid of my chocolate brown velvet curtains. Twice –  they followed me the first time.

But in these times of thrift, the idea of spending a little bit more on something that will really last perhaps isn’t such a bad idea. After all what could be more eco-friendly and sustainable than something that lasts for years and years?

The trick with this, as with everything you spend your money on at the moment, is that in order to justify the expense, you must be sure you will love it for years and years.

Window dressings, for it is no longer just a simple matter of hanging curtains, can really make a room. You need to consider, not just the colour, but how they will look pulled back in the day time, or drawn in the evening reflecting back a soft pool of light from the table lamp. Do you want blinds for privacy but curtains to soften the look? Assuming you don’t want net curtains, perhaps some window stickers would be the way to keep prying eyes out. Or you might want some good heavy curtains to keep the warmth in on those dark winter evenings. And if velvet and suede are too heavy for the summer, you can always change them when spring comes and create a fresher look for your room. Summer curtains can be light muslin in soft colours that needn’t cost the earth and can totally revamp a room with minimal effort.

Jo Cassabois, of Pret a Vivre (whose curtains are pictured above and below), says: “It is about updating rather than redesigning. Grey is a great neutral springboard for other, stronger colours, and silk is always popular even in money-saving times.”

Shutters are great for privacy and create a cool modern look. The New England Shutter Company has a range of leather or fabric-covered shutters which, while not cheap, could make a great statement as well as giving maximum privacy and still allow the natural light in.

Nick Stanier, director of New House Textiles, which was founded in 1921 and is a leading blind manufacturer , says: “One trend is away from small fussy prints towards bold, strong colours and clear graphic designs, which will move towards stronger colours including black, charcoal and inky blue. Translucent whites are also very popular incorporating textured weaves and white on white patterns.”


The New England Shutter Company

020 8675 1099


Prices start at £375 per sq metre for a painted panel but you can also have fabric, leather and suede. It’s different way to co-ordinate with the rest of the room and softens the somewhat hard look of the usual wooden shutters.


New House Textiles

01989 740684



Blinds work well with contemporary décor and this company has a range that is large enough for French doors and picture windows. There are masses to choose from, and this company was one of the first in the UK to introduce an environmental policy sourcing all its cotton from US producers who minimise the use of chemicals, recycle where possible and use wood from accredited sources.


The Natural Curtain Company

0845 5000 400

As the thought of Spring begins to float at the back of our minds, it might be time to think about taking down the heavy winter curtains and replacing them with sheer panels which maintain privacy without cutting light. Made from 100 per cent linen, this panels give a fresh airy look to the room. Expect to pay around £200.


Pret a Vivre

0845 130 5161


Around 20 per cent of the heat is lost through the windows, so a black-out blind will not only insulate but also keep the light out in the early morning – and they come in any colour. The company has a range of reef blinds, which pull up with a nautical-style rope and are made from two contrasting fabrics so the street-side looks good as well. Expect to pay around £144 for a standard window.


01364 73694


We’re all familiar with the concept of wall stickers now, but they can also be used on windows if you live on a busy street and want to keep prying eyes out. They’re easily removable and come in a range of colours so you could co-ordinate with some sheer panels for extra décor or even heavier curtains. From around £30.

First published in The Independent

Tags : blindscurtainsstickerswindows
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.