French pleat curtain guide for living room
by Wana Che Ujang

Located in the heart of your home, the living room is the place where you spend the majority of your time. It is a versatile area where you can dedicate it as a formal space to entertain guests, or it can be a casual space where you can unwind and do leisure activities such as watching TV or playing board games with your family.

How and who coined the phrase “living room”? The parlour room was historically the first household room without an apparent function. Having a parlour room in the house has been proof of high status, where the homeowner used it to flaunt their exceptional décor to the guests. Hence, it was commonly recognised as the “finest” room in the house. Following World War I, the horrific influenza pandemic resulted in more deaths than the war. Thus, the parlour was dubbed the “death room,” in sharp contrast to its current term, “living room.” 

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With millions of people dying from the pandemic, unoccupied areas of the house became spots for stacking bodies while mourning. The parlour room became the obvious choice because no one was receiving visitors during this horrible period. With the passage of time, society evolves to be more casual in character, and the income of the middle class also rises, leading to a new use of the parlour room. Families began to ‘live,’ and the room evolved from one used to display furnishings to the public to one that reflects the family’s own characteristics and flair. Following this change, the phrase “living room” was invented by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Bok.

Given the importance of a living room in a home, the curtains you pick to cover the window in that space are essential features of home décor that you simply can’t ignore. From eyelet to tab top curtains, from French pleat to pencil pleat curtains – the choices you can select are endless. In this article, we will provide you with a guide on how to decorate the most important space in your house with French pleat curtains.

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About French Pleats

French pleat curtain is one fantastic window treatment option for those who consider to spruce up their living room. The name says it all – this highly-structured and luxurious-looking drapery is named after a country in North-western Europe – France. Others may also refer to this curtain as the three-finger pleat curtain, as they are made of three pleats pinned together at the bottom and fan out towards the top. The number of pleats is important because they are known as pinch pleat curtains if there are two pleats. The pleats on the curtain header are sewn and uniformly spaced apart, permitting a smooth fall and a regular gather.

One distinguishing feature of French pleats is the way in which they are draped, creating huge folds when the curtains are shut and producing neat rows of tight folds when they are pushed back. Given its pleating design, this is a very practical style of draping. The entire draping maintains a clean and beautiful appearance for a long time. You may make an hourglass shape by tying the curtains around the waist.

If you prefer a sleek and stylish curtain heading, then a French pleat curtain is the perfect choice for you. The level of fullness of the curtain can be adjusted based on how far apart the pleats are sewn from each other, the number of pleats, and the number of folds in each pleat. For example, if they are sewn close to each other, the pleats control triple-fullness material, and at the same time, the extra material can flow and undulate across the window. In contrast, the pleats help a thin curtain to seem full when they are set widely apart.

The Best Way to Hang a French Pleat Curtain

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Finding the ideal French pleat curtains is, in fact, simply half the challenge. The next half is ensuring that they are correctly hung. The method of hanging the French pleat curtains can either be on a rod with rings or pin hooks, or on a track system. A hook that slips in between the pleats or one with a spike that pierces through the back of the pleat can be used. The pin hooks consist of two ends – the sharp and the hook ends. When hanging a French pleat curtain, the sharp end should be inserted under the stitches at the back of your curtain until the point is not visible and only the hook end can be seen. Putting in a few hooks is a good idea, and then hanging the curtain on the pole or track will allow you to check that you are satisfied with the length. A little adjustment is sometimes necessary to get the curtain to the right height. One thing to consider – as a result of the weight of the curtains, the curtains may ‘drop’ by up to a centimetre after hanging for approximately a week. One step to do before installing the curtains is to determine how many pin hooks are on the curtain and check that you have the matching quantity of runners on your track or rings on your rod.

Starting from the middle section of the rod, you can insert each hook into the eye on the bottom of the ring and work your way outward. This provides the ability to remove extra rings or hooks if you have the wrong number of them, without having to take down the entire curtain. One important rule is – the end-stop or the last ring between the bracket and finial must be used. Fully draw the curtains back once they are hung, and then from the top of the curtain, push back the fabric in between triple pleats. The pleats should be pressed down the length of the curtain with your hand.

The rule of thumb for the French pleat curtains to flow and undulate elegantly is to hang curtain brackets on the wall above and outside the window moulding. The rod should be extended 3 to 6 inches outside the frame on each side, making the curtains hang against the wall when you push back the curtains, giving a full view of the window glass and its frame. This, in turn, causes the window to appear larger and lets more light to get into the room. This is perfect if you want to display exquisite moulding. However, if you prefer to conceal your intricate window frames, you can hang the curtains within a frame, similar to when you hang curtains with a tension rod. This is otherwise known as an inside mount. To do this, the rod should be mounted 4 to 6 inches above the window frame or midpoint between the frame and the ceiling moulding. This will give the impression of a taller window.

What to Consider When Decorating your Living Room with French Pleat Curtains?

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It’s crucial to think about what kind of relationship you want your French pleat curtains to have with natural light and what type of interaction with the daily lighting you hope it will be.  Do you prefer the curtains to provide shade or simply filter light? The alternatives are many, and you can choose the suitable materials, patterns, sizes, colours, and textiles for your French pleat curtains depending on your taste for “managing” lighting. After all, it is mostly a matter of recognising the value of natural light in your living room.

The fabric has its own structure that is not confined to the material from which it is created because, depending on its type, it may or may not be appropriate for a particular function and style. For instance, satin, cotton, silk, and linen are lighter and thinner fabrics that contribute to the implementation of living room lighting. These materials are suitable if you simply want to add a dash of colour or pattern to your living room. On the flip side, if you want privacy or want to block out light, the thicker ones, like brocades and velvet, are the most suitable as they have the tendency to darken the room.

It is essential to select French pleat curtains that suit the general aesthetic of the space, especially the colour of the walls, carpets or flooring, and other soft furnishings. When integrating curtains into a living room with brightly coloured walls, furniture, and carpets with a complex pattern, a good tip is to select curtains with a neutral tone. Vibrant curtains, on the other hand, may add character to a living room that is painted white or cream and has neutral décor. Keep in mind that when you choose French pleat curtains with heavy patterns or repeats, you should think about how the pleat will affect the pattern. Apart from that, French pleat curtains lend an air of tailored elegance to the living room. The best way to use them is to cover large areas, such as wide windows.

Furthermore, due to the extensive pleating, this window treatment requires a massive amount of material. It will not seem as luxurious if there is inadequate material. The exquisite pleating accounts for the charm of these curtains. So, if you prefer sophistication and grandeur, the pleating must be flawless, and the tailoring must be immaculate, with each pleat appropriately accentuated. The choice of hooks is also extremely crucial, as a poor choice might ruin the aesthetic. Solid and sturdy hooks are typically used to hang these drapes securely.

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The Length and Width

How long should your French pleat curtains be? Unless there is a radiator or a deep sill in the way, a floor-length curtain is the best idea. Make sure to take the measurement from the floor to where you intend to hang the rod or track, after which you should round up the measurement. It is ideal for the bottom end of the curtain to just touch the floor or sill in your living room. It is also practical since you will be opening and closing the curtains frequently, so this length will ensure that the curtains will easily go back into place when they are moved.

The curtains should have a total width that is 2 to 2.5 times the width of the window to give an illusion that the panels are spacious and drapey when they are drawn back. However, there are some exceptions – if your purpose of hanging French pleat curtains is to simply frame the window and you don’t plan on closing them, the width of the curtains can be 1.5 times the width of the window. French pleat curtains have built-in fullness, so their width should roughly fit the area you’re trying to cover.

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The Take Away

As an English-born interior designer Peter Dunham once said, “Hang curtains, they make a room seem finished. Think of them as the lipstick of decorating.” In other words, draperies are to your interior what lipstick is for your lips. The curtains can make or break the entire aesthetic of the space. You may have the fanciest and the most expensive designer furniture and decorations, but if the draperies are dull, it will ruin the appearance of the living room. We hope this article helps you in your endeavour to choose the right French pleat curtains for your living room
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