Since windows have been dressed there have been many fabrics used and styles created for curtains to hang either side of them. Of the fabrics used, the following have proven popular for many people putting the finishing touches to the décor of their home; chenille, jacquard, damask, silk, taffeta, suede, corded, voile and organza. Chenille is a type of yarn usually made from cotton fabric though manmade fibres like rayon, acrylic or olefin may also be used. It is distinctive in that the yarn is manufactured by piles [short lengths] being wrapped around a tightly wound core and the arrangement of these piles at right angles to the core gives not only a soft, fluffy texture to the fabric but allows the light to play on it, often making it appear iridescent.
Chenille can frequently have a finish that resembles velvet both in appearance and touch and it is popular for use in embroidery and fringing. Jacquard isn’t strictly a fabric; rather it is a finish [named after its inventor] where an intricate, complex pattern is woven into a fabric that offers texture and light reflecting qualities to a fabric woven in this way. Damask, like jacquard, is a fabric finish with a woven pattern intrinsic to the material with perhaps the twill in weave and the contrasting design in satin. It is usually reversible, which makes it different to a brocade and may be produced in double or compound weaves that have more picks to the inch than single damask and in the case of a compound weave – one or two warps and two fillings make an extra rich decorated pattern.
Taffeta is crisp, smooth plain-woven material that may be produced from different fabrics, man made or natural, particularly noted for its sheen. Suede is the soft-napped surface of treated leather and many fabrics mimic this effect. Corded fabrics have a distinctive ribbed texture that may be fine or thick and can be made from natural or man made fibers. Voile is a light, semi-transparent fabric in a plain weave sheer finish. Organza is another sheer, plain weave fabric but it is normally stiff and can look like thin net.
Styles of curtains vary greatly according to personal taste, the size of the windows, the room in which the windows are positioned and the purpose they are meant to serve. For example, bathroom windows are seldom full length and often are sheer to permit light in the room though providing some privacy as bathroom windows quite often are frosted or have blinds to protect modesty when the bathroom is being used.
A living room window may be at the front of the house, near the footpath or thoroughfare with traffic that makes noise, dirt and at nighttime has headlights that could beam through a road-facing window. The curtains for this room would need to provide insulation from sound and light and be capable of laundering to remove dust and dirt that can gather in a busy room.
A bedroom window might require thermal or blackout linings for the curtains to fulfill their purpose and kitchen curtains may be purely decorative or serve a practical purpose too. Function greatly affects the style of curtains for a room and there are many different ones to choose from. Modern, traditional, with valances or without, loop tabbed tops, eyelet tabbed tops, luxury headings, pelmets, pencil pleats, tie-backs and other flourishes are all available to make the most of your windows when you dress them with curtains.