The art of dressing a window

Dressing a window is an overlooked art. Yet, from a white, almost gossamer-like veil to an opaque velvet fabric, curtains contribute greatly to the look of a room.

For the choice of colour, the strong points are the same between the curtain and the room to decorate: contrasting, harmonic or complementary.

A pale and discreet curtain highlights the colour of a wall or another surface that you want to emphasize, such as an artistic wall. This same curtain would overshadow the flashy look of a room that needs to stand out from rest.

However, a dark curtain will add character to a pale, monochrome room. For example, brown has a tonic effect on a deluge of white or cream.

Why shouldn’t the curtain share the same colour as the chest used as a coffee table in the middle of the living room, or the assortment of cushions, or the colour of the footstools and the throw on the couch, or the flooring or carpet? In the bedroom, the colour of the curtain will want to automatically blend with the four-poster bed.

Other decorative effect: the colours of the curtain and the wall blend to highlight a piece of furniture that you are proud of. If not, a dark curtain will highlight a vase, a trinket or any other object placed between two drapes, in the middle of the window.


We sometimes lose sight of the fact that the curtain acts like a hyphen between the ceiling and the floor. This is an important aspect to consider, depending on the decorative style of the room.

Let’s look at the charm of the dressing. A fabric with numerous shimmering reflections generates elegance and sumptuousness, especially if the curtain rod has tiebacks and tassels that give it a touch of royalty.

The valance, the band of fabric that dresses the curtain, can take the form of a canopy. Sometimes it takes care of decorating a window on its own. Nothing hanging below it. It is all by itself.

Another possibility: the valance can offer a different colour of drapes by playing on the contrasts. Even better: three superimposed valances with different shapes and colours, forming a cascade. The look is refreshing.


There is a huge choice of drapes on the market. You just have to be patient and curious when you’re shopping. Patterned curtains add joy to a room with their offbeat side. Speaking of offbeat, will your valance have fringes? Will it have beads, pompons and feathers?

Those who are passionate about the English cottage style, i.e. warm colours, will be seduced by raffia tiebacks. They have a soothing effect.

Why not mix various veils? You decide how many. If not, a single veil hanging from multiple spots gives look of nonchalance and carelessness. It’s amazing what a set of folds can do!


A curtain with a vertical pattern gives a room height. It works even better if the wallpaper also has vertical lines. The magnifying effect is undeniable.

Nothing prevents you from using a curtain to separate two rooms. And there’s nothing like adding a long curtain to cover a windowless wall. Why not?

For more ideas, we strongly recommend that you read the following three books.

Je crée mes rideaux, 75 idées d’habillage de fenêtre, trucs et étapes pour les réaliser vous-même, éditions PraticoPratiques, 2004, 64 pages

Je décore avec les rideaux, éditions PraticoPratiques, 2006, 64 pages

Les rideaux, Caroline Clifton-Mogg, Gründ, 1998, 191 pages

Habiller ses fenêtres, Anne Valéry, Massin, 2013, 95 pages


Photos: iStockphoto