Article by Barbara Chandler
What tops a house-hunter’s wish list? Estate agents say that good mood-boosting natural light comes up again and again and is notably in short supply in period properties. But it’s what you get in abundance when you move into your new Weston Home, designed-in to its affordable price, with huge floor to ceiling windows in most living rooms and even many bedrooms.
All agree these windows are a boon. They are double or even triple glazed, made off-site in Weston Homes’ own workshops to exacting specifications, where they are fitted tightly into their surrounding wall, to be delivered on site all of a piece. So, unlike windows in old houses, they don’t need heavy curtains to add insulation and block out draughts. Nevertheless there are times when you will want to cover your glass, perhaps to block out light or to ensure privacy (though it’s usually difficult to see into a room during the day as the light is so much brighter outside). Or you may simply want to soften the look of your room, or add a personal touch.
“Yes, typically Weston Home living rooms have balcony/terrace doors with large amounts of full-height glazing,” confirms ace interior decorator Chloe Rosamund of Voyage Interiors, who’s designed stunning show homes for numerous Weston developments over many years. “Dressing these with sheers is great for light control and privacy, crucially using ceiling-mounted track. Bedrooms also tend to have full height glazing, which is wonderful for that flood of morning natural light. But light sleepers might like heavier curtains here, maybe with a blackout lining.”
This taps into the current trend for voiles (aka sheers, but please don’t call them nets) which literally “veil” a window, to add style, deaden sound, filter any harsh sunlight and provide privacy.. There’s a huge choice at all prices, from elegant plains in a gamut of shades, to pretty prints and even metallics. Textures range from the finest floaty films to heavier natural linens. No wonder everyone loves them. Look out for double-widths, where the width becomes the curtain “drop” (length), so that you don’t have to do joins. A double track can layer voiles with heavier curtains. This will add depth and full night-time privacy. Voile blinds are an alternative.
Weston show home designer Felicity Stevens of Haus Interiors also loves the huge windows, but says some people are a little daunted. “Don’t be! Take your time to research headings and tracks, and how they will fit in with your scheme. There are so many choices, and one of my favourites is simple undulating wave-headed curtains. Fixed to the ceiling, they create an illusion of height, and seeing the fabric flowing to the floor is a statement in itself. These ‘stack back’ neatly to the sides, leaving plenty of daytime light.”
“Motorised” roller blinds can fit out of sight into a neat metal cassette, to whiz up and down as needed at the touch of a button on a remote control, wall switch or phone app. A specialist can make one up to a whopping 300cm wide which is super-handy for large windows. Many other window treatments can be similarly automated.
Venetian blinds, with horizontal slats, were introduced by Luxaflex in 1951 (www.luxaflex.com) and modernists still love their adjustable narrow metal slats. But now there are softer wooden versions, or tilting vertical louvres. Add art to a bathroom with a printed roller blind; try Surface View; www. surface view.co.uk. Or soften obscured glass with wooden roller blinds – choose ladder tapes that hide the strings; www.sunwood-blinds.co.uk. Stylish modern shutters make privacy very flexible. Café styles cover just a window’s bottom, or go for a “tier on tier” arrangement, or a full-height shutter.
For a bit of foliage camouflage , call in the plants. A large expanse of glass deserves a bit of drama. Think big sentry palms or handsome cheese plants. Or hang planters from the ceiling – go full-retro with macramé, baskets and trailers such as devil’s ivy or spider plants which are also easy to care for. Or you could group big pots outside. Consider romantic olive trees or feathery bamboo for high-level screening.
“Pooling” or “puddling” is decor speak for literally a swathe of curtain on the floor. Fabric stopping just short of the floor is neat, modern and practical. But some more flamboyant decorators allow from 5cm to 12cm extra fabric to sit on the floor. People with old houses love the way it conceals their often ugly uneven boards. Your new Weston Home does not have an uneven floor! Enough said…
Who can help?
* Use a professional. Window “treatments” are a confusing hybrid of curtains, blinds, shutters, and screens, along with tracks, poles, headings and more. Not to mention colours, fabrics, patterns, linings, trimmings and so on. Ideally shop with an expert that will come to your home with samples to advise, measure-up and install. An interior designer could expand your style, suggest fresh options, access trade prices, and avoid costly mistakes. Voyage Interiors now has “curtain packages.”
* Key in your area to search local professionals on houzz.co.uk, with illuminating notes from previous clients. Find interior designers, fabric suppliers, and makers /fitters,
* John Lewis is a stalwart curtain stand-by, tried and tested by generations. Specialists can advise free of charge, in store, by videol or in your own home; and supply samples. They can make-to-measure all types of curtains, blinds, tracks, and shutters. They have their own factory workshops, with an express service: curtains in one-to-two weeks if pushed. Alternatively, Designed For You has a plethora of options and takes from four to six weeks. Browse www.johnlewis.com for excellent handy tips and a measuring guide;.
* Hillary’s, founded in Nottingham in 1971 by Tony Hilary, are made-to-measure window specialists (www.hillarys.co.uk), with an army of advisers and fitters who’ll visit, design, make virtually everything in their own workshops, and fit.
* Pret A Vivre, doing made-to-measure drapes since 1995, has three London showrooms (www.pretavivre.com) Showroom/video advice is free; measure-visits cost from £75, refunded against an order of over £750
Pro tips from our Weston stylists
These girls really know their stuff…*
“Make sure tracks are good quality and glide well; try and test them out in advance; because once they’re up they’re a pain to swap!” Felicity.
“Newbuilds need special fixing for plasterboard – such as toggle, butterfly or umbrella.” Chloe
“Got a radiator on one side of the window? Have one large curtain to stack on the other side – you could seam a pair of ready-mades together.” Chloe.
“Bespoke treatments are an investment, and it’s worth spending a little extra on black-out lining for the best sleep possible.” Felicity.
“Typically, you won’t get a ready-made longer than 228cm. Weston Homes’ floor-to-ceiling glazing height is 250cm. Add a border in a contrast colour. Job done.” Chloe
“Blind fittings can block inward-opening bedroom balcony doors, so go for a curtain.” Chloe
* Chloe Rosamund, Voyage Interiors; www.voyageinteriors.com; @voyageinteriors
* Felicity Stevens, Haus Interiors, www.interiorsbyhaus.co.uk; @hausinteriorsltd
What a snip!
* Interiors expert Jules Haines is rescuing top-brand fabric “overstocks” from landfill or incineration to sell cut-price on www.hainescollection.co.uk . She adds: “According to WRAP (the UK Waste & Resources Action Programme), the textile industry generates around 900,000 tonnes of waste every year, with nearly half from homewares.” .
* A clutch of posh brands (Colefax and Fowler, Jane Churchill, French Manuel Canovas and American Larsen) hold occasional – and eagerly awaited – joint one-day fabric sales, typically in the Royal Horticultural Halls in Victoria, SW1; sign up for their newsletter at www.colefax.com
* The huge (and recently enlarged/revamped) Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road, SW10, with over 120 up-market interior design showrooms, has occasional sales with big reductions on luxury brands; email firstname.lastname@example.org
* The Designer Fabric Outlet sells discontinued designs, seconds and exclusive roll ends at discounted prices sold in one, two and three metre lengths; www.designerfabricoutlet.co.uk
* The Curtain Fabric Outlet has discounts on quality brands and ready-mades, plus a full curtain-making service; showroom is at 281 Ballards Lane, North Finchley, N12 8NR; www.curtainfactoryoutlet.co.uk