01 Dec 2017

How to create amazing windows with George Clarke and Hillarys

Architect and TV Presenter George Clarke knows a thing or two about the quirks of styling all kinds of period properties; from Victorian and Mid-Century to cutting-edge and contemporary. With this in mind, Hillarys, a UK-leading supplier of made-to-measure window dressings, challenged George to create amazing windows in three architecturally different, but quintessentially British homes, including his own.

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Here, he offers his solutions to some of the common issues faced when deciding on which window dressings to choose including privacy, and how to dress wide, bay, and increasingly popular, Crittall windows.

Make sure you set and stick to objectives

How to decide on the right style, fabric, colour or window treatments in your home is a tough decision and can make or break the look of a room. Be clear about whether your window dressing is a purely design-focused move, or if it's about a more beneficial aspect such as light control, privacy or heat insulation before you even start looking at options. Then stick to your objective. Otherwise, you’ll end up with something that might look good but doesn’t do the job you wanted it to do. And when you think about it, this is actually a great tip for pretty much everything you try to achieve in the home.”

How do I make wide windows look aesthetically pleasing in an urban environment?

I live in a 1960s London townhouse which has been adapted from a number of small rooms on the ground floor to be fully open-plan living. One of my favourite things about these houses is the big, wide expanse of windows that give you fantastic views out. Like me, many of us live in built-up areas, where houses overlook each other and passers-by can see in. Wide windows only exacerbate the problem. Sheer roller blinds offer a solution, with the light fabric creating a veil-like effect. The beauty of these is that they still let in that lovely diffused light while giving the privacy that you might need at certain times of the day.

How do I improve my heat insulation?

Heat escapes through windows – even more so through wide ones. So it pays to add extra layers of insulation at wide windows to help keep the warmth inside.

Having made-to-measure curtains will help to achieve this and also change the acoustics in a room, making it feel that little bit more intimate and cosy.

What can I do if I don’t have space for curtains?

In my son’s bedroom, I’ve done something quite unusual. Because it’s not a big space and the windows are full width, it was difficult to get curtains in here without blocking out too much of the light. So instead, we’ve doubled up on blinds. A white roller blind provides privacy, teamed with a blackout Roman blind that does the job of curtains but in a more space-efficient way. Layering up two different types of blinds works brilliantly for a space like this.

How to dress Crittall windows

The current trends for open-plan living and the industrial look have seen a surge of interest in Crittall windows. They’re often associated with the Art Deco period of the 1930s, but their history actually stretches back to the Victorian era.

Their continued success only proves great design never goes out of fashion. The delicate, thin lines of the steel frame have an industrial but very smart feel. The real appeal though is how Crittall windows allow a space to be zoned or divided and create a real sense of continuity between the living and outside areas. Some people worry that they look a bit too tough, too hard and a bit cold.

Beautiful lined curtains add a splash of colour and privacy when needed as well as that extra bit of insulation to keep a room cosy over winter and soften the look of the frame while still showing it off.

So the most important thing to think about when you’re dressing Crittalls is to extend the track as far and as wide as it can go so the curtains can be pushed back to maintain the integrity of the Crittall frame. You don’t want to hide it.

How to dress a bay window

While it’s a delight to have original period features, they can prove to be decorative challenges. Bay windows are big and beautiful and will open up a home far more than a normal window. There’s more glass on show and the shape projects across three planes. This lets in so much sought-after sunlight and offers excellent views up and down the street – it’s why bay windows are so popular.

But it’s these benefits that are also the downsides of bay windows. Sometimes the sunlight coming in will be too much and sometimes privacy will be an issue because of people being able to look in from all angles.

My favourite way to dress a bay window is with shutters. For a start, choosing made-to-measure shutters means each panel is designed to fit each section of the window. The result is something tailored to your home that looks very special.

With shutters, you can adjust each of the panels individually to let more or less light come into your home or for privacy reasons. Obviously, you can throw shutters wide open to really take advantage of a bay window’s perks or fully close them too.

You can adjust the shutters in each panel to change the amount of light coming in and the privacy available. And, with custom colour options available, you can find the exact shade that goes with your room.

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