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Curtain Call Choose Your Style

Martha Stewart Living, February 2006

Country Charm
Unabashedly feminine details, such as ruffles, ribbons, and bows, upbeat hues, and cheerful prints -- including plaids and florals -- are the hallmarks of country curtains. Less structured than other kinds, they create a warm, inviting environment in kitchens, bathrooms, guest bedrooms, and other informal spaces. The country style should be uncomplicated, so avoid heavy, layered fabrics and try not to load up on trimmings; when used, valances should have curved edges, to soften the look. Lightweight cloths-cottons, linens, organzas, and the like -- in a single pattern or color -- are most appropriate.

Sheer Magic
Ruffled white organza curtains softly diffuse light and add a ladylike touch to a bedroom. Pockets at the tops of the panels hide the tension rods that hold them in place. Pleated grosgrain ribbon, used as a tieback, mimics the folds in the chair and provides a foil to the frothy material.

Traditional Elegance
In formal dining rooms, parlors, and master bedrooms, traditional curtains are in their element. Although these curtains can be as simple as two panels attached to a rod, their construction is often more complex. Multiple layers of fabric, lining, and interlining are customary, as are graceful swags, jabots (separate vertical panels that finish a swag or other treatment), and valances. Fabrics are sumptuous and include damasks and silk brocades, as well as velvets, sheers, and printed linens and cottons. Feel free to dress these curtains up with whatever gorgeous trimmings -- cords, tapes, fringes -- appeal to you.

Delight in the Details
Lined and interlined printed linen panels are trimmed with grosgrain tape. The valance features tape, fringe, and box pleats. Just a few brass rings attach the panels to the wooden rod (painted to match the adornments); this looks cleaner than using many close-set rings.

Modern Flair
Simplicity reigns in pared-down contemporary interiors, and curtains are no exception. Flourishes such as pleats, patterns, valances, and trimmings are kept to a minimum. (Choose richly textured materials instead.) When adornments appear, it is often in unexpected ways-a graphic printed lining or valance juxtaposed against solid-hued panels, for example. Some sleek modern styles, including those mounted on swing-arm rods, cause us to rethink our notion of curtains altogether. Cloths range from cottons to sheers. Colors can be both quiet and neutral, like those shown here, or bright and emphatic.

The Perfect Fit
In an update on cafe curtains, custom ivory linen panels are stretched across adjustable crane rods, which swing in and out thanks to hinges attached to the frame, in the bottom halves of these windows. (Also use them to cover the whole window.) The look is tailored and undeniably chic.

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