Window treatment ideas – great ways to dress with curtains, blinds and shutters

Add colour, pattern and privacy with these beautiful window treatment ideas to suit every room in the house

Choosing the right window treatment ideas requires an eye for choosing the right style and size of curtain or blind, to selecting the perfect colour and pattern.

‘Full-length curtain ideas give you the opportunity to have a large, bold print and make a statement, but if your window is small, go for window blind ideas with small prints, as it won’t take up unnecessary space,’ advises fabric designer Penny Morrison. Here we look at some of the different options available.

Not only does the design need to be attractive but it will ultimately dictate the light that's cast into the space, so a versatile window dressing is your best option. Take away all the inspiration you need with our window treatment ideas.

(Morris & Co)
Create your own Swedish blinds

Often overlooked, Swedish blinds are perfect for small windows that would benefit from a soft yet compact treatment. ‘These blinds are the easiest to handmake as
there is no mechanism; you simply roll and tie into place with ribbons,’ says Frances Barber from Welland & Wye. ‘A nice touch is to use two different fabrics to show off both designs as the blind rolls.’

(Wyeland & Wye)
Ensure privacy with sheer voiles

Voile curtains are a popular choice in rooms where daytime privacy is required but you don’t want to compromise the natural light that enters the room. A world away from the net voiles of the past, loose weave linen offers a relaxed and airy feel that works well in any style of room. Featuring tab top hangings, these floaty white linen curtains for a pair from Piglet in Bed, can be used in isolation or layered with heavier curtains or blinds.

(Piglet In Bed)
Dress a small window with short curtains

Cottages are renowned for having small windows which will quickly feel dwarfed by full-length curtains. Instead, quaint sill-length designs not only provide a perfect frame for the more petite window but also add to the cottage aesthetic. Shorter curtains are also a good option if you plan to have furniture or a radiator directly under your window which would hamper access and functionality. Featured is Susie Watson Design’s handpainted Shalini linen in red.

(Susie Watson Designs)
Elevate your look with a pelmet

In recent years, pelmets have been finding their way back into modern interiors. ‘Curtain pelmets are perfect when you want to block out light – better than a curtain pole, where light can bleed above. They are decorative, allowing you to get creative with shapes to complement the room, and can also serve to conceal sheer roller blinds that can be fitted to the pelmet board,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch, founder of Sims Hilditch, who designed this space.

(Sims Hilditch)
Make a feature of a bay window

Whether large or small nooks, knowing how to dress a bay window can be challenging.

‘When faced with the dormer windows of this very old house, we wanted the opportunity to put a piece of furniture in the recess, so made a bent brass pole to hang the curtains around it, rather than running the curtain across the front of the opening. It is lovely to sometimes be able to use curtains to enhance smaller windows, as it adds character,’ explains interior designer Sarah Vanrenen, who designed this space.

(Sarah Vanrenen)
Clash colour and pattern

DIY SOS designer and Sophie Robinson has blown our socks off with this genius combo of floral patterned blinds and geometric print curtains. It's a pairing that you might question on paper, but which looks amazing in the flesh.

Sophie describes herself as a 'self-confessed colour lover, cushion hugger and pattern clasher' and explains that 'this room ticks all three boxes, giving a high-energy appeal that's the antithesis of polite beige.'

Short curtains only really work in cute country cottages – go floor-length wherever possible.

Make a statement with bold Roman blinds

For an unfussy alternative to curtains, we always recommend looking to window blinds – and Roman blinds are possibly the smartest. Fabric panels are softly pleated for a tailored look with blinds positioned inside a window recess or on the outside. Try lining and trimming blinds in a contrast colour fabric for a chic look.

‘You need way less fabric for a blind than you do for curtains,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd . ‘So you can splash out on a more luxurious fabric to really make a statement.’

Highlight a statement window design

Don’t cover up gorgeous French doors or a lovely view outside. Fix up a curtain pole that extends beyond the windows on both sides so that curtains can be pulled back out of the way.

‘Consider if the window is worth celebrating or disguising,’ says interior designer Helen Harry, ‘some are way too beautiful to be completely covered over by window dressings. I also look at the natural light, the view and the amount of privacy needed.’

(Villa Nova)
Use pale blinds with black walls for glamour

Mad About The House blogger Kate Watson-Smyth has won us over with this combination of soft pink blinds and dramatic dark grey walls. She's had a bit of fun, too – hello and nice to meet you, pineapple floor lamp!

'This trend is all about making and breaking the rules, contrasting hard and soft, mixing vintage and modern and refined sophistication with a rough and ready edge,' explains Kate.

Frame practical shutters with coloured curtains

In rooms where you choose a window treatment based on practicality, such as shutters on the lower half of a living room window to offer privacy, it's best to choose a timeless white design.

To add the colour and decoration you can frame the window with curtains that are there more to add decoration – you might not ever need to draw them, but they become essential to soften the look and add pattern or colour to your decorating scheme.

(Future PLC/ Davide Lovatti)
Find a neat solution for roof windows

Skylight windows are a brilliant way of opening up and allowing more light into a loft space. But to ensure a good night’s sleep and to make sure that roof spaces don’t get excessively hot, some kind of window covering is essential.

These blackout roof blinds at Swift Direct Blinds fit snuggly to the window to provide darkness day or night and come in a range of fabrics and frame colours.

(Swift Direct Blinds)
Layer materials in the same tone for minimal luxe

This light and luxe look combines curtains of different fabric weights and similar cool creamy tones. With the glam factor upped by metallic furniture. Marble-effect wallpaper and a deep-pile rug, this scheme wouldn't look out of place in an LA condo.

With this tailored look, it's important to get the length of the curtains just right. Avoid mistakes by buying made to measure.

Double-up with a ‘day and night’ design

Picture windows and bi-fold doors look stunning, but glare from the sun can be a problem on very hot days. The clever double roller design from Blinds2Go, features a sunscreen to the rear to reduce glare and give daytime privacy, plus a blackout roller blind to the front for night time shading, all installed on one set of easy brackets.

Seek privacy with classic shutters

For a window treatment that won't date, try classic wooden shutters. Ideal for period properties, shutters look stylish indoors and when viewed from the exterior of the property.

Café style shutters, from California Shutters, are a good option, giving privacy, plus letting natural light in too. 'Shutters can be pricey, so I’d always go for white for longevity,' advises interior designer Helen Harry.

(California Shutters, Cafe-style shutters in white from £168 per sq m)
Make windows look bigger with clever curtain trick

Try this trick if you want to make a narrow set of doors feel wider or a small window appear bigger. Choose a pole wider than the window, so that curtains can be stacked back on each side - having most of the window frame on show creates the illusion of width. Likewise, fixing the pole slightly above the frame will make windows appear taller too.

Create a smart country look with plains and stripes

Here's one for all the countryphiles out there.

Stylist Emily Henson has put together a look that she describes as 'soothing and relaxing, cosy and nurturing'. The elegant double pinch-pleat curtains frame blinds in smart stripes to classy and classic effect, and the layering continues with a generous pile of cushions and throws on the sofa.

Linen curtains are a classic choice that won't date. If you're planning to splash out on curtains, they're a good way to go.

Choose practical blinds for a kitchen

Fancy curtains and fussy blinds aren’t the best choice of window covering for a busy kitchen. Aside from the fire risk, heavy materials retain cooking smells and can be damaged by steamy conditions.

These blinds have a moisture-resistant easy-clean finish and come in a range of patterned fabrics including this pretty watercolour design - the Evelyn Nectarine from Hillarys.

(Hillarys, Evelyn Nectarine roller blind, from £55)
Use tie top curtains

Tab top curtains in a subtle print are a laid-back solution to dressing large bay windows. They're easy to make yourself as you don't need to attach curtain rings or hooks. They're also easy to remove when you fancy a change as you just need to untie the tabs and swap to a new design.

This style of window dressing works best with lightweight or sheer fabrics. Tab top curtains offer a similar look and are available readymade from many retailers.

Select a pole in a coordinating colour to the windows and walls so it doesn't detract from the soft nature of the curtains.

(Future PLC)
Set the scene

If space either side of a window is tight, opt for a neat roller blind fixed to the frame or inside a recess. Create wow by choosing a bold colour, lively pattern or a striking pictorial scene.

‘Keep it simple and don’t drown the window in layers of fussy blinds or curtains,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd.  ‘A simple roller blind fixed above or on the window (or even right up against the ceiling) won’t block out too much light.’

Create a rosy glow with soft sheers

Replace weighty winter curtains and blinds with lightweight voiles and floaty sheers over the warmer summer months. An easy way of brightening up a room, sheer fabrics will let natural light in while still providing plenty of privacy.

Choose a simple wave curtain heading that will make curtains fall in soft, floaty waves, teamed with a softly pleated blind for a relaxed, laidback look.

(Hillarys, Serenity Powder voile curtains and Roman blinds, from £125)
Go big with a bold botanical

Ditch drab neutrals that blend into the background and make a statement with a bold, standout design. Surface View’s bespoke roller blinds are custom made from a range of unique imagery that includes fine art prints and striking photography.

'Choose a ‘wow’ fabric and it’s like hanging a piece of art at the window,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd.

Try tailored stripes for a chic look

Unsure about pattern? A subtle stripe or plain textured weave will always look classic and can easily be incorporated into a new colour scheme. Weaves also have the advantage of being slightly thicker than standard fabrics so are more insulating.

‘Bold patterns might draw your eye and make more of a feature of a window, but they will date more quickly, says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd, ‘and you might tire of them sooner – fine if you like to redecorate every few years, but not ideal if you’re thinking “this is it” for the next 15 years.'

Whether you're prone to changing your mind or not, using home furnishing discount codes will help cut the upfront cost of your window treatment ideas. This way you'll be able to stay on budget and if your tastes change it's less of an issue to replace.

(Loom and Last)
Frame a gorgeous view

Build a bench seat into a window recess so you can make the most of a glorious view outdoors. Keep the window treatment neat and tailored by opting for an unfussy pleated blind that can be pulled up out of the way without obscuring too much of the glass.

Add an accent colour with shutters

The traditional shutter is an inspired and effortlessly stylish choice of window dressing and has become increasingly accessible. There are many different styles on offer, including full window shutters, the half cafe design and full solid shutters to completely block out light - ideal for bedrooms.

For kitchens and bathrooms, opt for waterproof vinyl shutters to ensure water and humidity doesn't damage your purchase over time. If you're looking for value for money, crafted shutters are the way to go as these are made from medium-density fibreboard, whereas hardwood is the classic choice.

Paint your shutters in a bold shade for a statement window dressing that coordinates with your unique room scheme.

(Shutterly Fabulous)
Use a wave heading

Soft waves of fabric create a smart but simple finish that's easy on the eye. A wide Tempo heading pleat makes curtains fall in soft, regular waves, so they will always look just right. Team it with a sleek, modern suspension rail that the curtains glide below and let the curtains sit flush with the floor so they'll look neat open or closed.

A cut-velvet pattern adds a luxurious edge to this otherwise pared-down window treatment.

(Future PLC)
Hang a double pole

A clever double pole design means you can hang both a sheer and a curtain around the bay window, but draw them independently. Brackets normally get in the way of curtain rings being pulled around a bay, but this design uses passing rings that allow the curtains to be drawn all the way round.

A standard heading tape left ungathered on both curtains creates a soft, informal effect. Keep the sheers sill-length for a neat finish and go for floor-length curtains to create real impact in a bay.

Team a bold, modern, floral curtain fabric with a floral patterned voile for a modern take on a curtain and sheer.

(Future PLC/ Colin Poole)
Style with single curtains

If you have a sequence of large windows in a room, choose single curtains instead of pairs hung centrally to give a contemporary, laid-back look. Omit holdbacks for a further relaxed feel, instead opting for a lightweight fabric such as linen as it gathers and drapes beautifully. Allow plenty of length on the curtains so they pool on the floor to complete the look.

Use a narrow chrome pole with small curtain rings so as not to overpower the overall effect. Small curtain rings will also allow you to gather the curtains more tightly to let in more light in the absence of tie-backs.

(Future PLC)
Enhance decor with decorative panels

A fabric with a pretty illustration is a great way to dress up a window with an uninspiring view. Use plain fabric for two-thirds of the length, with the panelled pattern on the lower third. Create visual separation between the two with a ribbon braid, finishing off with a trim below.

An eyelet heading on a pole means the fabric won't fold up, so the illustration can be seen clearly. Keep the curtains to sill height so they hang properly, draw easily and don't block heat from the radiator.

Choose a plain fabric in a paler contrasting colour and trim the join to make the print stand out.

(Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)
Layer patterned panels

Add layers to dress windows to the max. Voile fabric panels featuring bold floral prints in coordinating colours have been layered to create beautiful sheer curtains that still let the light through. To further the eclectic feel, hang using a narrow iron pole and small curtain rings to match and a tieback for the perfect finishing touch.

First things first, begin by cleaning your windows before you start dressing them. Get rid of those cobwebs and sticky finger prints with a thorough wipe down so that they sparkle on the inside and out.

There are many different varieties of curtains to choose from, it's easy to get a little bamboozled. How will you be dressing your windows? Let us know your thoughts!

(Future PLC/ Tim Young)

Add colour, pattern and privacy with these beautiful window treatment ideas to suit every room in the house