Now that movement restrictions have ended in Malaysia, it means that your home (and office) is, once again, open to visitors. Bring out the champagne flutes and polish the silver, ladies and gentlemen, for it is time to rejoice and celebrate the end of a segregated life. Throw that dinner party or have friends over – it is time to reenter society!
And while trends indicate that people are, indeed, splurging on personal items such as clothes and makeup to “scrub up” for post-lockdown activities, we should not neglect our soon-to-be-visited abodes as well. If we are getting a makeover, so should our homes. And there is nothing as easy (or affordable) as getting new curtains to freshen up our properties.
If you are thinking of doing just that, read on to get the low-down on the curtain designs and styles that are making people fall in love all over again.
Let’s face it – the pandemic has truly done a number on the modern lifestyle we had become accustomed to in the 21st century. Easy travel. Brunch with friends. Nights out in the city. A lot of activities became untenable in the face of a rapidly-spreading disease. And with this as the backdrop, it is no wonder that a lot of people felt the need to revert to a time when things were simpler.
Enter Cottagecore, a movement that centres around the idea of an idyll bucolic lifestyle that draws heavily from the aesthetics of the English countryside. Think of scenes taken out of Far from the Madding Crowd or Downton Abbey (for the much posher version). Or if you prefer something with a more pioneering spirit, look to Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie for inspiration.
Whichever you prefer, however, the unifying element in the Cottagecore movement is nature – our relationship with it and how it influences the way we live, the things we make, or what we wear.
Therefore, it will come as no surprise that the overarching theme or motif is nature itself: Natural lighting and colour palettes that are inspired by landscapes and gardens. And prints featuring lush botanical patterns such as flowers and fruits.
It is a sweet and oh-so-pretty style that is a throwback to a time when things were simpler. And, yes, there are many curtain designs that could help turn your home into a cozy cottage where you can recharge and fall in love with life again.
A sheer thing
To start with, let’s discuss the kinds of curtains or fabrics that will maximise natural lighting in the home. Sheer curtains are the prime choice in this regard. They are timeless, on-trend, and very versatile – you could use sheers on its own, layer them with other curtains or blinds, or even use them to separate or create new spaces. There is a wide variety of fabrics to choose from such as chiffon, cotton, voile, linen, and organza.
Regardless of your choice, however, spaces featuring sheer curtains will attain a light, airy, and ethereal atmosphere because of the way it diffuses sunlight. It will offer an amount of protection for your fixtures, flooring, or furniture against direct sunlight and some measure of privacy as well. Sheers can be used anywhere in your home but it will be especially perfect in living areas, nurseries, or dining rooms.
If you would like to maintain the cottage vibe, however, go for embroidered sheer fabrics that feature delicate floral or botanical patterns. Alternatively, you could turn up the charm with embroidered pastoral creatures such as birds and butterflies in a child’s bedroom, at alcoves, or in the kitchen. It is really your preference that matters here.
Sheer fabrics can be used in many curtain designs but if you would like an extra flair, consider using them as valances. Hung at the top of curtains or windows, valances serve two purposes: One, it is a pragmatic item that camouflages tracks, poles, or other unsightly fixtures. Secondly, it provides a visual interest to jazz up your windows.
A scallop valance is a design that features an undulating bottom edge. It resembles an unbroken line of waves – albeit uniform in size – that a child might draw. It is simple and can look great on its own as a dressing for small windows, top of doors, or bay windows. Scalloped valances can also lend a touch of farmhouse charm to your kitchen. They can be made of sheer or solid fabrics.
If you are looking for something right out of a fairytale, however, you may want to consider a swag valance. In its simplest form, you could simply drape the fabric over a curtain rod to create a wide “U” shape (what we call a swag) or several of them. The remainder of the fabric on each end (the tails) should hang softly down the entire height of the window or door.
As such, this valance creates a beautiful frame and is known as the scarf valance. It is also possible to layer the valance by draping a matching or even contrasting fabric over it. Apart from being draped over a rod, it could also be attached or tied to medallions (decorative knobs that are fixed above windows or doors). Suitable fabrics include sheers or other lightweight materials.
There other two varieties of swag valances – pleated or shirred – create a more formal setting. Unlike the scarf valance, these two designs do not require lightweight materials. Although sheer fabrics can be used, pleated and shirred valances are usually made with solid or heavier fabrics.
Layers with sheers
Aside from using valances, sheer curtains can be layered with curtains or blinds in a number of different ways. Layering curtains can give you a greater amount of control over privacy, lighting, and insulation from heat or sound.
The most conventional combination is solid over sheer, which is simply using a curtain or blind made of a solid material over sheer curtains. This is a great combination for areas such as bedrooms where you may need the extra privacy that sheers alone cannot provide. To bring light into your room, the solid curtain can be drawn aside.
Apart from using the valances, you could also choose to layer full sheer curtains on top of solid curtains or blinds. This provides a visual interest that softens the look of other window coverings.
And, of course, you could always choose the sheer over sheer combination. While this is not an ideal setup for bedrooms, this is an elegant pairing that will work well in living rooms, home offices, or play rooms. To add depth and interest, you could use sheers in different colours or combine a plain sheer fabric with an embroidered one.
Farmhouse prints and colours
As mentioned earlier, Cottagecore is all about nature. So, when choosing a curtain or upholstery fabric, you will not go wrong with floral or botanical prints. The same goes for colours – pastels are favoured but anything that is close to the shades of the things you would see outdoors such as trees, the sky, or gardens will work just as well.
The trick here, then, is to find a way to coordinate the colours and prints or to pick the ones that match your existing interior. As a note, however, proponents of the style do deliberately mismatch objects – different dining chairs, for instance – to create a carefree and cozy environment.
Nevertheless, if you are attempting to create this atmosphere, it can become a visual clutter if it is not executed with a deft hand. For example, if you were to use different dining chairs, it would be prudent to choose those that are more or less the same colour, made of the same wood, and feature similar grains.
The same goes for your curtains, soft furnishings (cushions, rugs, tablecloths), and furniture. You could pick similar motifs such as vintage roses for one space, for instance. Or you could limit the colour palette or use fabrics that are within the same colour family in one room. For instance, if your sofa is pastel blue with pink and yellow floral prints, you could pick a curtain in light yellow or a fabric that has blue embroidery.
Window dressings for a rustic home
Almost nothing could be as chic and homespun as cafe curtains. So named because it was the style of curtains used in old roadside cafes, cafe curtains are hung partway up a window or door. Although its height can be adjusted, It is usually made to cover the bottom half of a window. It can also be used to cover doors with glass panels.
Cafe curtains can be hung almost anywhere but they are particularly suited for the kitchen. It will allow the light to stream in at the top – giving you ample light to work with – and the covered bottom half will provide some privacy. You could also use it in a reading room or to cover odd-sized windows. And, if you like, you can even pair cafe curtains with matching valances.
Another feature to pay attention to is the curtain heading – the top part of a curtain that is attached to a rod or track – that will determine how your curtains look and drape. Although it is possible to use any type of heading you prefer, there are two types of headings that are particularly suited for a cottage-style home.
The first is the cottage pleat. Made by sewing the curtain tape a few inches below the top, cottage pleats create a bunched up, soft gather at the top. This gives the finished curtain an informal and traditional look, which adds up to the coziness of the room.
Secondly, a rod pocket curtain will also create a casual homespun look. It is a classic heading that is created by sewing a casing or a pocket at the back of the curtain. This casing is slipped through the rod, thus, concealing it.
Aim for a dramatic bunching by slipping more fabric through the rod. However, you should choose rod pocket curtains in areas where you do not expect to draw or move the curtains frequently because it will take some effort to do so. Hence, it may work well in places like the dining room or the kitchen.
There are a lot of online resources that could help guide your decision. If you use the keywords “cottage”, “country”, “farmhouse”, or “rustic” in your searches, you will find a lot of inspiring tips and ideas. Pick several looks that you like and use them as a reference when consulting with your interior designer or fabric consultant.
Home makeovers could be simple or complicated depending on how much time and money you would like to spend. If you have a limited budget, you do not have to do everything at once. For instance, you could start with an area or a room and see how it feels before moving on to another. The ideal situation is to find a style that could work for you and your family in the long run and, most importantly, make you fall in love all over again.
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Wikihow Staff. (2022, March 28). How to Drape Window Scarves. wikiHow. https://www.wikihow.com/Drape-Window-Scarves
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