Blinds don’t have to be bland

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I have recently moved into a new home and need to put up curtains and blinds. Which rooms suit blinds best and what styles should I go for?

It can be a challenge at home to know which rooms will need curtains and which ones will suit blinds. In my opinion, curtains feel much cosier and generally look better, both open and closed. Go for curtains in rooms you want to feel particularly warm and inviting: drawing rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.

I do, however, like blinds in certain situations. They work best in practical spaces, particularly in ones with small windows or in more awkward spaces, such as above a sink or behind a dressing table. I wrote a column recently about curtain styles. Although blinds are more straightforward, there is still a lot of choice out there.

A favourite style of mine is Roman: simple, elegant and timeless. Structured Roman blinds feel smart and work particularly well with striped or geometric fabrics because the rigid form allows graphic patterns to be seen properly and really shine.

Nicky Haslam’s trompe l’oeil Shutter Stripe fabric, for example, always looks fantastic when made into blinds. See Haslam’s own home in the Cotswolds, where the red colourway has been used to startling effect in his sitting room, and the blinds are finished with fringing. John Fowler’s similar Venetian Stripe design was often used by him for blinds, and paired with magnificent sets of curtains.

I also like loose, relaxed Roman blinds, when the bottom of the blinds are not straight but soft and gathered. These lend a more romantic, decadent feeling. They look particularly good made from plain fabrics, with contrasting tapes, borders or ribbons set in from the edge on either side.

Blinds don’t have to be bland

In our bathrooms and little downstairs loo at home in the country, I wanted to do really fun blinds. When we moved in we decided not to change much about these rooms, focusing only on paint colours and window treatments. We picked bold colours for the walls: arsenic green, dusty lilac and bright blue. The blinds needed to live up to these colours and so we asked our curtain maker if she could whip up some Austrian blinds: all 1980s froth and pomp, big and puffy like pantaloons.

We used scraps of silk and taffeta I had lying around from projects (pink for the arsenic and lilac bathrooms, canary yellow for the blue loo), which added extra extravagance. The zingy colours in these rooms save the blinds from feeling too old-fashioned, and the elegance of the silk contrasts nicely with the sensible tongue and groove panelling.

I am not an enormous fan of Venetian blinds, as they can feel institutional. However, I could certainly be persuaded by some very good versions in a New York apartment decorated by Mlinaric, Henry and Zervudachi. These blinds feature red fabric tapes that lift up the slats, and the same red is used as a painted detail on white bookcases placed between the blinds. The overall effect is extremely smart and tailored, and rather masculine.

Sheer blinds work very well with curtains, with even more blinds or on their own, when one wants privacy but still requires a good amount of light — an ideal solution for bathrooms and bedrooms. Consider using a sheer fabric with a pattern or motif, or experiment with ruching. I love a ruched blind behind a set of smart curtains.

My designer friend Rachel Chudley often puts sheer blinds in her bathrooms, and they almost always seem to feature a charming pattern or detail: Deco-inspired curves, for example, or rectangular blocks. Pierre Frey makes some lovely sheer fabrics: I particularly like its Louxor and Mandala designs, with their embroidered geometric shapes.

Let’s not overlook the simplicity of a good old roller blind. Forget the usual, boring versions. Instead look to Marianna Kennedy, who makes beautiful rollers using book cloth and horsehair fabrics. The book cloth Kennedy uses comes in fabulous colours from lemon yellow to azalea pink. These blinds look particularly marvellous with sober wooden shutters, light streaming through, as shown in many of Kennedy’s own photographs. I am waiting for the right space to install one.

Whatever route you choose, dress your windows well. Give good thought to fabrics, of course, but remember the details, too: tapes and borders, extra sheers. Think about the kind of feelings you want to evoke. My little country bathrooms feel completely glamorous thanks to their inexpensive, overblown pink and yellow silk blinds: a bit of old-fashioned glamour in the wet English hills.

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