Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hangin' Out

"How do I determine the correct width and length for my curtains?"

I spend a lot of time with our customers who are asking just this question. They're on speaker phone, standing on a step ladder, and I can hear the tape-measure clattering in the background.There's no exact formula for determining the appropriate measurement of length and width is when buying lace curtains, but one can usually divide their selection into one of two eras: the 19th century or the 20th century.

In the 19th century (Federal, Greek Revival, Early-Mid Victorian and some Colonial Revival), window treatments were "fuller" with more gathering. Typically, the ratio of lace was 1½ to 2 times the width of the window opening. Lace curtain patterns of ours that work best with this amount of fullness are the Grecian Panel, The Eastlake Panel, Cherwell and even the Hunter Rose lace curtain in some instances. 19th century lace panels often hung well below the window sill, sometimes even pooling onto the floor, but usually they terminated near or on the baseboard.

20th century (Mission, Craftsman, Arts & Crafts, Colonial Revival, Bungalow, Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern) window treatments were hung much "flatter" with less gathering; the lace ratio in this instance was no more that 1½ times, and preferably 1 to 1¼ times lace to glass. Our panels that look best in this treatment are Hunter Rose, Glen's Edge, Gingko Leaf, Pine Cone, Prairie Sumac, Art Deco, Old Colony and Good Hare Day. The preferred length for this era is just touching the window sill, which lends a much crisper, modern appearance to the window treatment. Our seamstress will custom shorten any curtains (from the top, so as not to cut into the decorative border) for only $7.50/panel. She will keep the rod pocket and header, or just the rod pocket, if you wish. Please specify which you would prefer.

If you are undecided which pattern and its respective length and width look best in your home, please request a loaner or two, and we'll send them out straight away.

The simplest and cheapest way to hang your lace curtains is with a spring-compression rod, available at most hardware stores. Choose a white one, and it will visually disappear when tucked inside the lace. If you're looking for something fancier, especially if you want to mount the curtains on the face of the woodwork, we suggest Rejuvenation, who makes a great set of inside and outside mount café rods in a variety of finishes.

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