x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

House Doctor: On to the window treatments

Curtains are more than just decorative accessories. The scale, fabric and mounting all make a big difference to the look of a room.

Window treatments are complicated undertakings that require effort. The style and scale must be appropriate for the room, and the construction of the fabric determines how the drape will hang. These are not decorative items that can quickly be added at the end of a project.

I have two windows of concern in my apartment: a large, double sliding glass door in the lounge and a reasonably large window in my bedroom. Both face north-east, and although I get semi-direct sun in the morning, it disappears over my building long before lunch.

There are no neighbours across the way so I can leave the drapes that came with the apartment open most of the day. These heavy, pinch-pleated curtains have no place in my apartment, however. Aside from simply being unattractive, they turn any light that filters through my apartment into an unappealing shade of mustard yellow. It's time to work on their replacement.

I reconsult my photographs of casual, modernist interiors, and find a lot of surface-mounted, decorative curtain rods, with curtains suspended from the rods with rings or hooks. The fabric is simple, without any fussy, formal details. Another common treatment is layering, with sheers or blinds installed behind curtains.

I face an odd challenge: the tops of the sliding door and bedroom window are almost a metre from the ceiling, resulting in squat-looking openings that appear disproportionate to the wall surface. I can compensate for this by mounting the rod closer to the ceiling and extending it beyond each side of the door by approximately 50 centimetres.

I plan on having a natural, woven, flat-fold shade behind the curtain panels at the same height as the rod, which will give the illusion that the window is significantly taller. The woven-grass cloth panels will provide a lovely, filtered light, and the warm, wood-finish will provide a wonderful vertical detail on the end wall of the living area. Each panel will be suspended with drapery clips, making them easy to install.

Curtains must contain enough fabric to fully cover a window when they are closed. Since these will likely remain open most of the time, these panels will be designed with 150 per cent fullness.

The bedroom will have a casual, industrial-style venetian blind, in a colour related to the wall. I don't want it be a statement; I want it to blend in to the surroundings while giving the illusion that the window is larger than it is.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.