Saturday, October 8, 2011

Is your drapery fabric outdated?

I remember falling in love with this classical floral when I saw it in the fabric store.  It was on a soft green background and had classical motifs or urns and scrolls and plenty of pink roses.  It would be the perfect fabric for my bungalow living room curtains.  A green onion ball fringe would trim the valance and I would use the color of the scrolls and urns in a check for the lining.  These window treatments were the inspiration for the room.  The year was 2005.  In only 6 years I have grown tired of this fabric, even though I still consider it pretty.  So why was I tired of it?  The answer is that the trend in home design on windows was less pattern and fuss at the windows.  Pattern was being used in smaller doses, and so the overall larger and bolder floral patterned curtains were wearing out their welcome.  Plainly, people were getting sick of them!  
Take a look at this display of custom treatments at Zimmans.  Zimmans is a local venue outside of Boston,  that sells fabrics, trims and custom draperies as well as decorator style furnishings.  Why do you think all of the treatments are made up in solids on their display?  For one reason, you can better determine the shape and the construction because there is no pattern to distract you.  The other reason is because you will less likely have a negative opinion of the treatment since it is done in a solid fabric.  These treatments will outlast any treatment done in a pattern.  Solids are going to be less tiresome over the long run.  Florals will be the most tiresome over the long haul~and in between are the geometrics.  Geometric patterns include stripes and checks and plaids.  The less bold the colors and contrast, the longer they will hold their appeal.  
This dining room has London shades done in a bold buffalo check of white, grey and black. I installed this over 5 years ago, and it still feels fresh. What makes this room keep current is the fabulous chandelier that is a little steampunk mixed with vintage details.  The dining room chairs should be changed out, but the window treatments are still great!
A reader sent me this image of a Traditional Home book featuring the bold yellow buffalo check draperies.  She has the opportunity to get these draperies and is worried that they might be dated.  So I got to pondering this interesting question from the view point of the consumer~the one who is going to shell out the money for custom made draperies and doesn't want it to be a bad investment.  The answer is that the room has to be current as well as the draperies.  Above, a frenchy chair done in a citrus yellow upholstery fabric elevates the room into "today" instead of "yesterday".  Some simple things to consider when it comes to custom draperies, is that in general terms there are things that are outdated:

  1. Large garden florals
  2. Draperies with tassels and fringes
  3. Elaborate top treatments, particularly swags and jabots
  4. Draperies that are puddled. Extra length is fine, but severe puddling is yesterday
Tips for keeping your draperies at the windows for the longest time:
  1. Natural fabrics like silk and linen
  2. Solids are best, or patterns with only 2 colors
  3. Classic style, such as stripes, checks, damask, toile or paisley patterns
  4. Lined and interlined is best for longevity
  5. Colors in the neutral zone, grey, beige, taupe, creme, ivory, and white
  6. Drapery style~floor length panels or roman shades.  
  7. Simpler trims like banding or cording. Heavy tassels are appropriate for certain styles.
It is easier to paint a wall and a lot cheaper, than to change out your draperies.  That is why you will see a lot of custom draperies done in neutral colors. Most of the work I do these days are classic panels or roman shades that fit the criteria above.  
This is a recent treatment I did with a classic motif done in two colors.  I did use a trim, but it was an updated style that had a lot  of personality.  I like using trims on roman shades because they are such a flat treatment.
This elaborate treatment broke almost of the guidelines above.  However there are exceptions to every rule. In this case, the client was quite determined to have draperies that were over the top and trimmed in an extravagant way.  We used yards and yards of peach and copper silk, gilded poles and crystal trims and organza beaded banding.  She was head over heels for her new curtains as they fulfilled her vision of  what she wanted for her home.
When I get sick of my overly patterned and colorful draperies I put them in my Etsy shop for someone else to enjoy.  These yellow chinoiserie Londons didn't last very long in my house.  They still sell this fabric at Calico Corners, and it might be right for someone. These were the result of an impulse buy~and now they are for sale.  This is the example of what you don't want to have happen when you do your own draperies. 
Personally I know I am going to make some floral chintz draperies for some room in my house. I also know that there is the chance I could probably retire them in less than 5 years. (I actually think chintz is going to come back, and in a big way!)  Do you have tired outdated draperies, or are you not quite sure?  You can send me a pic and ask for my opinion, and I will give it to you straight up!  So to my reader who asked what makes a curtain outdated, and should she go with the yellow check?  I say YES~ just make sure the other elements in the room feel current, and I think you will love the look!
To see some of my other custom window treatments, click here.


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