Just like a fresh coat of paint can dramatically transform a space, so can the right curtains. And not only that: custom-made window treatments have the power to infuse your home with a sense of style that’s unique to you because you get customise every detail of their confection. Are they cheap? Of course not! But if you get them right, they’ll be worth every Swiss franc and they will bring you joy for years to come.
Most Swiss homes feature curtain tracks (railings), whether it be single or double, built into the ceiling, mounted thereon or on a separate track panel. Therefore, for the purposes of this article I am going to assume that your home is fitted with some sort of track system.
Here are some track examples:
To mount curtains on tracks you’ll need carriers, normally referred to as Gliders or in German: Gleiter.
This brings me to…
Work out exactly what size Gleiter your track requires.
If necessary, purchase a pack of mini and maxi Gleiter from a local store and test them out.
When you go to select your curtains, the store or atelier will advise you on the different kinds of Gleiter that will fit your needs and how they need to be sewn, but knowing the size that's right for your tracks is essential. Save time and money by getting this right from the get go: I say this from experience!
Note whether your tracks are separate or built into the ceiling, which is a trend I have noticed in new-builds. This is crucial when we come to…
Decide how your Gleiter will be sewn on to your curtains.
At the store or atelier, you will be asked whether you want them ‘normal’ (on the edge of the top band) or ‘versenkt,’ (a couple of milimetres lower from the edge, hiding behind the top band).
If your tracks are built into the ceiling, stay away from the ‘versenkt’ option especially if you’re selecting a substantial fabric. Why? Well, the fabric will virtually be touching the ceiling, which will make it heavier to open and close the curtains. In turn, you may end up pulling hard from the fabric and ultimately damaging it and even the ceiling paint. Again, I say this from experience, learn from my mistakes!
Unless you’re working with a decorator or have the advice of the atelier’s salesperson on location, stick to ‘normal.’
Avoid having your curtains hanging too high from the floor. I have seen this mistake far too many times during home consultations, and the result is a room that looks unfinished. You’ll have the sense that something is missing, especially when the curtains are closed. Not to mention, it’ll feel like the investment wasn’t worth it because you had envisioned something more elegant and magazine-like.
In addition, ceiling height can vary to up 2 cm along the same wall, even in new-builds. So, let's talk about
Measure correctly to set yourself up for success!
Avoid having the fabric touch the floor on the right of the window and too short on the left!
The measurement you need is that from the bottom edge of the curtain track to the floor.
To measure correctly, I recommend using a laser tool and measuring both sides of the window plus the centre. In the case of full-width large windows, recording your room height every 1,5 m. along the wall where the curtains will hang will give you a clear picture as to how high each curtain panel should be. Don't despair if the room height varies, it's easy to get around this obstacle if you spot it early enough.
When it comes to curtain width, if your track is wider than the window, and goodness let's hope it is, measure the track’s width. However, if the track runs wall to wall or is way wider than the window, measure your window’s width and add 20-30 cm to each side to ensure the fabric doesn’t just cover the window.
In the examples below, you can appreciate how curtain heights will vary to adjust to differences in the room.
Defy the Establishment and the law of the least effort!
Depending on the kind of atelier you get your curtains from, chances are they are going to offer you what they are most comfortable doing: a certain top and bottom finish, and full width panes. Why? Well, because it's the quickest and there’s less to cut and sew, they price their service by the ‘Laufmeter.' So requesting a pair means they cut and sew almost double...
However, their standard offering may not always be what’s best for your home, so…
Do your homework!
Find out beforehand what kind of top band finish you would like, how much fullness you favour, do you prefer more or less fabric, whether you would like a bottom hem and how many cm it should be, etc. Do your research and bring along pictures so you can give the service person at the atelier a good idea of what you're after.
Having this information will help you ask the right questions, such as whether the fabric you’re selecting can be sewn in the finish you like and with a certain hem, and what the price difference between finishes is.
Finally, wherever possible, if you’re dressing a standard window, go for a pair of panels instead of just one drape. This will give you the flexibility to cover both unsightly window edges, it frames the window nicely and symmetrically and if the fabric is washable, it’s easier to stick two smaller panels in the washing machine and manipulate them after washing than to deal with large single panels.
Here are just three examples of different top band and hem finishes but there's plenty more to choose from:
Custom window treatments, and in this case, curtains, are a worthwhile investment because they bring a lot of personality and function to a space. Therefore, the process is not one that should be rushed: quite the contrary, enjoy the opportunity to customise every detail and give yourself plenty of time to research your dream options.
If the thought of designing every finish for each window in your home sounds daunting, simply enlist the help of an interior decorator. A trained professional can not only suggest the most appropriate window treatments for your different spaces, but also guide you through the process or simply take over and manage the project so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the finished product.