Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

The Art of Window Dressing Part I

While I was researching about the home of Judie and Bennet Weinstock for my previous post dedicated to gingham, I stumbled across a book on google called ‘Window Dressings: Beautiful Draperies & Curtains for the Home’  by Brian D. Coleman. Google allows you to browse online a few pages of the book and I thought that the fascinating world of window treatments would make a, hopefully, very interesting blog post!

When I started to write this piece I thought it would be useful to have some expert advice so I reached out to Emma Stewart, who specialises in bespoke curtain making, upholstery and soft furnishings to the trade. Since I found all the insightful info that Emma shared with me very helpful I will be dividing this post into two parts so I can share everything from our conversation as well as some images of my all-time favourite curtains.

How to choose the length of the curtains.

Curtains really do change the feel and style of a room and depending on what you would like the curtains to say about you and about your home there are numerous options!

Getting the correct length is certainly in the top three decisions you can get wrong in so far as what is the look you are aiming for. So when I talk about what lengths the curtains should be with my clients – we first, of course, assess the window: what’s beneath it or indeed above it? are the curtains floor-to-ceiling? is there a radiator below? wall lights to the sides? a beam to navigate? With many period houses, especially cottages – we have to learn to love the irregular walls and sloping floors, so the length of the curtains can cleverly correct these characteristic – at least to the naked eye!

It’s all of these things you need to take into consideration when thinking about the length. Then, when the practicalities are all watertight – you can have fun working with your selected fabric and decide what headings will look most beautiful.

For me, the ideal curtain would be long and full with soft undulating pleats helped by using a beautiful lining fabric from Nile and York and a good quality interlining.

The time of oodles of puddling fabric spilling over the floor beneath curtains may have passed but having a few centimetres so that the curtains ‘break’ on the floor will soften the feel and also add a little casual luxury.

As the pleats will not fall in a completely organised fashion the light and dark of the shadows in the pleats will add another texture and dimension to your fabric choice.

However,  if the curtains are in a high traffic area such as a garden door, you may wish to have them finishing just off the floor – one could even consider a deep border along the base of the curtains that can cope with a muddy Labrador’s tail on a daily basis!

For a sleek tailored finish, I would suggest finishing just off the floor where possible and using a simple tailored hand pinch pleat or cartridge pleat. The type of fabric chosen will also affect the finished look greatly – large curtains need to be moved about a fair bit during the making process so make sure that it is alright to steam the creases out of the fabric – never steam a moiré!

For smaller windows that have a large amount of space above and below I would still go for the drama of a full length curtain but with a pelmet or valance above. I would be keen to avoid having a large amount of space on show between the top of the window recess and a curtain pole which can look unbalanced!

Short curtains in smaller rooms can look terribly sweet and suit a cottage style and work well with a hand gathered or dainty tape finish but I would say not to have short curtains if you are hoping to get a tailored neat finish as this can look quite un-evocative.

emma stewart curtains vsp interiorsCurtains by Emma Stewart in two projects by VSP Interiors

Working for interior designers who have differing styles means that I need to ensure that I have understood the client’s preferences and so I quite often will sketch out a window treatment to scale as a visual aid.

emma stewart curtian sketchA series of cape headed curtains with bullion trimming reusing the original embraces. Sketch by Emma Stewart.

After speaking with Emma I wanted to also have an interior designer’s point of view on window dressing. I wrote to Kate Aslangul, founder of Oakley Moore – an award-wining London based interior design practice. In the past, I’ve mentioned to Kate how much I loved the curtains in her projects and I wasn’t surprised when she told me she used to be a curtain maker. Naturally, designing the window treatments in their projects is always amongst her favourite tasks.

I always start designing a room by looking at the sight lines from every angle – what will the client see on a daily basis? I create modern timeless interiors that feel elegant and comfortable, spaces to live in and enjoy and that will lift your spirits for years to come as I believe that where we live has a big influence on who we are and how we live – something we are all recognising during this lockdown. Windows are nearly always in a sight line as our gaze is drawn to the outside, drawn to the light.

How you dress a window can make or break a room. Curtains not only affect the appearance of the windows but they also alter our perceptions of the proportions of the room as a whole. Whether your style is pared back, sculptural, dramatic, formal, or easy-living the first most important thing to do is to stand back and assess the window, the architecture, the light, and the proportions. Window treatments should frame a view – never dress a window in such a way that it fights with a stunning view outside.

An Oakley Moore London project with  a tailored roman blind in a Schumacher fabric and an upholstered pelmet with the stripes aligned.  ‘Perfect and smart for this Georgian sash window.’ says Kate.

Oakley Moore curtainsChristopher Farr & Objets Nomad stripe, a wonderful horizontal stripe, was used on this Victorian terraced house bay window by Oakley Moore to give the illusion of width. A horizontal stripe pulls the eye to the sides.  Paired with a covered lathe and fascia in an ethnic print from Warris Vianni

The chief ingredient in any successful window treatment is imagination. Often the best designs are those where a traditional idea is injected with a touch of originality – in the proportions, the detailing or the choice of fabric and trims.

London Townhouse by Oakley Moore. The Colefax and Fowler fabric with Samuel and Sons piping around the edge of the upholstered shaped pelmet add definition. Designed and templated by Oakley Moore Interior Design, made up by Emma Stewart. ‘We doubled the embroidery in the centre of the pelmet to ensure that the pattern repeat fanned out evenly across the width of the pelmet and accentuated the centre point of this gorgeous Georgian arched window in this London project near Regents Park’

After this super useful information by Kate and Emma (that I will be saving forever!) I wanted to share some of my favourite window treatments from past and present interior designers.

Veere Grenney always does wonderful window treatments in his projects and he often uses curtains to frame beds which I love!

A country house in Norfolk by Veere Grenney.  A country home in Norfolk featured in House and Garden  In this bedroom the curtains are made in ‘Mughal Flower’ linen from Lisa Fine Textiles. House and Garden. David Oliver photography

veere grenney country home.

Veere Grenney’s second home, an eighteenth-century folly previously owned by David Hicks. The festoon blinds, made of Fox Linton satin and taffeta from Tissus d’Hélène – disguise the fact that the windows on one side of the room finish higher than those on the other. Veranda Magazine. Simon Upton photos.

Veere Grenney country home, the TempleAnother view of the same room featured in Grenney’s book ‘A point of view’ David Oliver photography.

Festoon blinds at Valentino Garavani’s Chateau de Videville. Architectural Digest.

Deeda Blair bedroom with handpainted French curtainsDeeda Blair’s bedroom at her Manhattan apartment with handpainted French curtains. T Magazine. Julia Hetta photography.

cathy kincaid window treatmentCathy Kincaid 

A Palm Beach home by Gil Schafer.Blithfield Parham linen on th curtains  Palm Beach home by Gil Schafer. Blithfield Parham linen on the curtains. Luxe Magazine. Eric Piasecki photography.

lady wakefield london home curtains in colefax and fowlerThe Twickenham house of Lady Wakefield. At one end of the drawing room, three tall Georgian windows frame the greenery of the garden. The full-length floral-print curtains from Colefax and Fowler add to the effect. House and Garden. Michael Sinclair photography.

Who can forget Mario Buatta’s iconic curtain designs? He was a master creating dramatic and impactful window treatments.

‘There is nothing like Mario Buatta-designed curtains, trimmed, pinked, lined, interlined, and embellished by hand.’ Emily Evans Eerdmans

Mario Buatta’s Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse, 1984 . Architectural DigestMario Buatta’s Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse, 1984. Architectural Digest. These iconic curtains were auctioned at Sotheby’s last January. You can read my blogpost about the timeless  ‘Verrieres’ print here

Curtains in the Dillon Room of Blair House decorated by Mario Buatta. 1988. Curtains in the Dillon Room of Blair House decorated by Mario Buatta. 1988.

Mario Buatta CurtainsThree different silks, two by Kravet and one by Brunschwig & Fils, make up this living room curtains in Buatta’s latest project. Architectural Digest. Scott Frances photography

“Wiggle-stripe” cotton curtains and tortoise-shell bamboo blinds in a library of a penthouse pied-à-terre that Mr Buatta decorated for Hilary and Wilbur L. Ross Jr. Trevor Tondro photo for The New York Times.

envageline bruce london apartment decoracted by John FowlerEvangeline and David Bruce London apartment decorated by John Fowler with its legendary silk draperies. Derry Moore photography.

the grove, david hicks and lady pamela home in OxfordshireThe Grove, the late David Hicks and Lady Pamela home in Oxfordshire.Brittany Ambridge photography

The bamboo blinds are an essential element because without them it really gets too cold. They help give the space warmth and ground it. The organic materials, including the faux-bois wallpaper, help a lot, especially in conjunction with the fancy medallions and the carved elements that are over my desk.Alexa Hampton Photography by Steve Freihon

Beata Heuman is another favourite when it comes to getting window treatments right. Her projects are packed with brilliant curtain ideas.

‘The ladder stitched half curtain is a nostalgic detail – inspired by my favourite restaurant Trattoria Cammillo in Florence’ Beata Heuman

Beata Heuman bedroom. Curtains

I love a contrast grosgrain braid on a blind, especially when it’s midnight blue’ Beata Heuman

rita konig london flatRita Konig London Flat. House & Garden. Paul Massey photography.

Rita Konig North Farm Durham Rita Konig’s Northfarm Durham

‘When I think of curtains, the analogy that comes to mind is that of clothing. There are all these tiresome bits of advice dealing with personal adornment, how it all has to harmonize and interrelate. The same is true in the world of curtains. Whatever you may think, you want hanging at your windows, it has to go with your room, your furniture, and your whole decorating style.’ Mark Hampton

estee lauder palm beach home by mark hampton curtains and chair in toile de nantesEstee Lauder Hamptons home decorated by Mark Hampton. Armchair and curtains in Pierre Frey ‘Toile de Nantes’

Decorating with Gingham

Finally, I managed to write a new blog post. I’m sorry it’s taken so long but hopefully staying at home means I can spend more time blogging and researching. I have a never-ending list of posts I’ve been wanting to do and I’ll try to tick them off little by little.

The first one is dedicated to gingham. The word gingham entered the English language in the seventeenth century; originally it was a striped fabric imported from India. However, in the mid-eighteenth century, when Manchester mills started producing the material, it was woven into checked or plaid patterns. A plain-woven cotton cloth the colour is on the warp yarns and always along the grain (weft). Inexpensive, it has been used for home items, but also for toiles, which are a test version of a finished garment made in a cheap fabric. The history of the fabric is vast and has been used endless times in homes all over the world. Below I’m sharing some of my favourite gingham interiors. I hope they inspire you to use it more often!

Hugh Henry Marbella buffalo check chairA home in Marbella by Hugh Henry (co-founder of design firm Mlinaric, Henry and Zervudachi)

The Philadelphia home by Judie and Bennet Weinstock. Bill Cunnigham photography. AD

manfuctures a rouen fabrics

Document from Manufactures of Rouen in 1737 with some of their checked fabrcs. Bliblioteque Nacionale de France

robert kime gingham bedRobert Kime

Studio Peregalli bedroom
Gingham, stripes and florals (Mortefontaine  by Le Manach) a la Studio Peregalli

Hotel Peter and Paul in New Orleans – a paradise for any gingham lover!

Pequena Inglaterra store in Madrid, gingham tableclothGingham tablecloths available at Pequena Inglaterra, one of my favourite stores in Madrid

Sig Bergamin Gingham SofaSig Bergamin

Brownlow interior designBrownlow interior design

brownrigg antiques gingham chairBrownrigg Antiques

get the gusto gingham pierre frey scalamandre

get the gusto gingham

Get the Gusto 

bellamont forest john coote

Bellamont Forest, the late Australian designer John Cote 18th-century Palladian mansion in Ireland’s County Cavan. 

Cathy Kincaid

north farm durham rita konigRita Konig’s North Farm Durham

Furlow Gatewood

jeffrey bilbhuber home decorated with gingham jeffrey bilbhuber home decorated with gingham jeffrey bilbhuber home decorated with gingham

jeffrey bilhuber gingham green and blue corner sofa Jeffrey Bilhuber

Georgia Mac Millan Faraglioni Blue Check Georgia Mac Millan Faraglioni Blue CheckGeorgia Mac Millan’s Faraglioni Blue Check

The Old Vicarage, where Deborah (Mitford) the Duchess of Devonshire retired after Chatsworth. The Old Vicarage where Deborah (Mitford) the Duchess of Devonshire retired after Chatsworth. The Old Vicarage where Deborah (Mitford) the Duchess of Devonshire retired after Chatsworth.

The Old Vicarage where Deborah (Mitford) the Duchess of Devonshire retired after Chatsworth.

The Old Vicarage where Deborah (Mitford) the Duchess of Devonshire retired after Chatsworth.The Old Vicarage where Deborah (Mitford) the Duchess of Devonshire retired after Chatsworth. You can read the blog post I dedicated to this house here

mard d sikes interior design gingham and florals Mark D Sikes

Gloria Gonzalez tablesetting bonadea napkinA table I did a while ago. The hydrangea napkins can be found at Bonadea

veere grenney tangier kitchen blue and white gingham

Veere Grenney Tangier home.Simon Upton photography

Gingham at Svindersvik, a beautiful Rococo mansion in Sweden Gingham at Svindersvik, a beautiful Rococo mansion in Sweden Svindersvik, a beautiful Rococo mansion in Sweden. Miguel Flores-Vianna photography

Musée de la Vie Romantique Paris Gingham walls
Musée de la Vie Romantique, Paris Valentino new york apartment gingham vogue

Valentino’s Central Park Apartment with Le Manach red gingham walls. Photographed by Michael Mundy, Vogue, March 1989

renzo mongiardino ginghamRenzo Mongiardino via WSJ

gloria vandervilt home gingham

Gloria Vanderbilt with her sons Anderson Cooper (left) and Carter Vanderbilt Cooper on a bed in their home on March 30, 1972 in Southampton, Long Island, New York.Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images gloria vandervilt home ginghamDetail of the master bedroom in the Long Island home of Gloria Vanderbilt and Wyatt Cooper, decorated by Vanderbilt; the brick fireplace as been covered with a Friendship quilt, each white block of the quilt stencilled with the name of one of the quiltmaker’s friends; the room is covered with purple and white gingham wallpaper; Photo by Horst P. Horst. Condé Nast / Getty Images. gloria vandervilt home ginghamGloria Vanderbilt with her husband, Wyatt Cooper, and sons Anderson and Carter, in their Southampton living room, 1972.Photo by Jack Robinson. Condé Nast / Getty Images.

Seeing Red

For the last couple of weeks, my Instagram feed has been inundated with a plethora of reds: cherry, crimson, burgundies…even someone mentioned to me ‘Gloria, you love red!’ and I really do! So I thought it would only be appropriate to keep this red momentum going and share some of my favourite red interiors on the blog. As Franco-American couturière Pauline  Trigère and fellow red aficionado used to say ‘when you are feeling blue, think red’.

Betty and François Catroux’s 16th-century farmhouse, Les Ramades, photo by Tim Clinch for House & Garden.

alidad day bed redAlidad 

ines de la fressange home

ines de la fressange paris apartmentInes de la Fressange Parisian Apartment

Miles Redd. Veranda Magazine

Zanna Roberts Rassi manhattan play room in red and white

A very chic playroom! Zanna Roberts Rassi Manhattan apartment. One Kings Lane

Noemi Marone Cinzano portugese home decorated by John StefanidisNoemi Marone Cinzano Portuguese home decorated by John Stefanidis. Tour the full home here

Melanie Johnson @melathomeltd bedroom with headboard upholstered in Bennison Palampore fabric.

painted floor nick olsenLove the touch of red on this painted floor designed by Nick Olsen. Photo by Reid Rolls

nick olsen red lacquer libraryA Manhattan apartment by Nick Olsen. Photo by Maura McEvoy

‘Dark red is like a spice, it’s there to accentuate and to give balance. It is not the main ingredient. I would never paint a gargantuan room dark red because that would be too much of a good thing.’ Alessandra Branca

alessandra branca ny apartment

Alessandra Branca

charlotte moss red toileCharlotte Moss

‘All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. It’s exactly as if I’d said, “I want Rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple” – they have no idea what I’m talking about.’ Diana Vreeland

diana vreelandDiana Vreeland by Horst.P. Horst

‘Red is the great clarifier – bright and revealing. I can’t imagine becoming bored with red – it would be like becoming bored with the person you love.’ Diana Vreeland