Interior Style

The curtain trends you need to know to have the best dressed windows

Dress your windows to impress with the latest trends in curtains and blinds

Whether we’re hibernating through winter or hiding from the harshest rays of the summer sun, window treatments are a necessary element of New Zealand interiors. As well as being a practical essential, they also offer an opportunity to play with colour and creative combinations, or to dress your windows in the latest fashions.

Choices, choices

Before you get swept away by the hottest trends in window fashion, look at the demands of your space. Considerations such as thermal protection, light-blocking, privacy and letting as much light in as possible comes down to the functions of specific rooms. Even within one home, it’s likely that a single style of furnishing won’t work for every room, so let’s explore the options.


The classic choice for almost any window, curtains do so much more than simply block out light. “Curtains can add so many things to a room – texture, colour and pattern – but most importantly they add a layer and frame the window,” says interior designer Ali Brown of The Design Co. There are myriad variables to work with, for an endless array of effects: fabric weight and colour, hidden tracks or decorative rods, degree of fullness, pleat options and more. The only hard rule is always making them full-length – if a half-mast curtain is necessary because there’s a heating unit in the way, a different window treatment might be a better solution.

Length aside, there’s no one right way to hang curtains. “In modern homes, where there are flat ceilings, we tend to mount curtains at the ceiling, which accentuates the height of a space and creates a luxurious feel. Where we are working in a character home with cornice details or beautiful architrave details, we lean towards using decorative rods,” says interior designer Candice Van Dyk of Mooi Design.

Pelmets are also an option. “They can add a touch of formality and provide a neat finish by concealing the curtain hardware,” says Bill Liddell, director of Russells Curtains. However, he warns, “They can also make windows appear smaller, so consider the proportions of your room when deciding to use them.”


Energy-efficient shutters are among the more expensive window treatment options but are worth every cent. They are said to actually boost the market value of a home, plus they’re fantastic insulators – and, of course, they look gorgeous too. “They work best in a situation where you need to permanently filter a view – this may be for privacy or sun control or simply street appeal,” say Ali, who suggests a wider blade (usually around 90mm) to maximise the light and view in between.

Classic white shutters are a quintessential Hamptons look, but they’re also available in other colours, like modern black, or in stained timber for a tropical holiday vibe.


When curtains won’t cut it – such as on a small window, or in kids’ rooms, where beds and other furniture often occupy every wall – blinds are a great solution, particularly Roman blinds, which still allow you to play with coloured and patterned fabrics. “They can be a great way to highlight bold fabric designs and fun embellishments or decorative trims,” says Ali. “Our golden rule here is to always use a roller mechanism on our fabric blinds rather than the strings that invariably break, tangle or discolour.”

Roller blinds get a bad rap, but they can be incredibly useful, particularly when layered with another window treatment. “We view roller blinds as a functional window treatment that helps with sun protection. They don’t tend to offer much in terms of colour or interest and texture to a space, but they are very practical,” says Candice, who suggests the best scenario is to incorporate roller blinds in the construction phase and hide them in the ceiling.

Curtin trend alert

1 Cafe curtains

What’s old is new again, and this staple drape used in country cottages and, of course, coffee lounges is stepping out of the past and into modern homes. As well as adding a layer of charm to interiors, cafe curtains are a uniquely practical addition, particularly in suburban homes where the neighbours might be too close for comfort. Mounted on the midpoint of the window or below, they cover only the bottom half, giving privacy without sacrificing light. Traditionally used in the kitchen, cafe curtains can work anywhere you need light and privacy – use them to lend softness to a bathroom or try layering under full drapes in a bedroom.

Keen to give this trend a go? Choose a beautiful metal curtain rod and show it off with tab-top curtains or metal curtain rings. Fabrics can be sweetly simple in floaty, sheer linen, or old-school charming in ticking stripe or gingham – just avoid anything too fussy. Back away from the frilly lace and don’t go pilfering Nana’s net curtains.

2 Handcrafted details

If plain drapes are too boring for your taste, you’ll love the move towards handcrafted embellishments. Whatever your interior jam, from retro nostalgia to English country estate or loud and proud maximalism, this trend has something for you; it embraces everything from oversized scalloped edges to decorative trims, fringes and tassels, hand-quilted panels and embroidered tiebacks, and is a fantastic way to add an element of surprise and delight to a room.

A major advantage of details like decorative trims is the flexibility to change with the seasons or your mood, without shelling out for expensive new drapes. “Kiwis are very safe and conservative with their interiors, particularly items that are expensive to replace. Edging detail is an easy way to add interest, and it can easily be removed or changed in a few years,” says Candice.

3 Nature’s best

While synthetics tend to stand up better against the fury of the New Zealand sun, there’s nonetheless a growing demand for renewable fibres – linen, cotton, hemp, bamboo and even silk – as people seek to connect their interiors with the natural world. The benefits are two-fold, introducing an organic look and feel to interiors, while also earning eco cred with materials that have a lesser environmental impact.

If heading down the natural route, be aware that natural fibres can be more susceptible to fading, staining or moving with temperature changes. Choosing a fabric that blends natural and synthetic fibres is one way around this, or Stacey Howell of CurtainStudio suggests designing around these limitations. “When using natural fibres there can be movement in the fabric so we always recommend puddling the bottom of your curtains to allow for this, especially with the use of linen,” she says.

4 Colour crush

Colour drenching, which involves running a single colour across an entire room from ceiling to floor (and furniture and more), is a hot interior trend right now. Following your wall colour into your window furnishings is a gorgeous way to capture this immersive colour experience. This look can be achieved with any shade, from beige to black, but is often tackled to striking effect using bold, saturated colours. A seamless effect is key to making the room feel cocooning, but not claustrophobic – for the closest colour match, choose the curtain fabric first, then have the paint colour matched to a swatch. Try extending the track above the frame. The ceiling-to-floor look helps a room appear larger, particularly if you’re using bolder paint colours, which have a tendency to make a room smaller. The effect should be soft and soothing, rather than jarring, so avoid colour-absorbing fabrics rather than reflective or silky ones. Matte paint also helps achieve the look.

5 Layer up

Can’t choose between the different types of window treatments? Mix and match. Beyond indecisiveness, there are good reasons for using more than one treatment on each window. Your window dressing needs are likely to be two- or three-fold – insulation for warmth, privacy, light-blocking or filtering – and choosing two layers of treatments allows one to pick up the slack of the other. It’s also an effective way of helping to protect investment and antique furniture from sun damage. Practicalities aside, layered window dressings can add enormous visual appeal to a room.

“Combining curtains with blinds or shades adds depth and texture to windows,” says Russells Curtains’ Bill Liddell. Sheer curtains behind heavy drapes looks elegant and classic, or consider roller or Roman blinds behind floaty sheers to match romance with light-blocking practicality.

Hang about

Words by: Shelley Tustin

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