I recently toured
a “Dream House 2005” designer showcase home with one of
my current clients. I was very impressed with the draperies I saw
in one of the rooms. They were very elegant, yet had a casual and
free- flowing elegance about them. The home aspired to a period
look, and I just cannot forget these ceiling-to-floor draperies.
The treatment included tab tops and hung from the most elegant large-scale
antique wood pole.
I know the fabric choice plays a big part in creating this elegant
look. Yet, I was not sure what it was. Could you please offer some
insight to the type of fabric to use for this formal-yet-casual
I do know the type
of drapery treatment you are referring to, and I recently found
a similar style in the current issue of home interior design consumer
magazine, so the look is indeed popular right now.
Let me give you some insight on fabric types and performance. I
also can suggest styles of window treatments that work with these
• Lightweight panne velvet:
This velvet has its pile
pressed down in one direction, appearing glossy. This is a great
fabric for a free flowing, tab-topped, ceiling-to-floor drapery.
It appears very elegant and rich.
This is a medium-weight silk that includes
an irregular, elongated slub throughout the fabric. This fiber originally
was made of Tussah silk, and now the texture has been imitated with
yarns of various fibers. This fabric is an excellent choice for
free-flowing draperies of any length.
• Transparent velvet:
This velvet is elegant and reflects
light. It tends to change color when viewed at different angles
in different lighting and can appear almost iridescent. One of the
nice qualities of this fabric is that it is given a crush-resistant
finish and is excellent for draping.
• China silk:
Made in China and Japan, this silk has
been around for centuries and still is hand-made in some parts of
the world. It is very soft and lustrous. Be sure to secure this
type of treatment in all areas, as it tends to move around because
it is so smooth and soft. It makes for an excellent choice for elegant,
There are many faces to damask, either woven
or printed. Either way, it is elegant and comes in a wide array
of styles. Damask can be either light-, medium- or heavyweight.
The best for window treatments is the light or medium weight. It
is distinguished by a contrasting luster for the background and
is woven on the Jacquard loom. It is simply elegant for window treatments.
As with all the fabrics listed above, the fabric you choose for
your client’s free flowing draperies will have its own personality.
Consider the window (its size, how much light will come through,
etc.), as lining may be required. A lightweight lining or a self-lined
window treatment may be needed for energyefficiency or privacy.
If the windows are energy-efficient, or have been tinted or treated
for sun exposure, then you should be fine and not need to line the
I usually like to see these types of fabrics used for swags and
cascades, bishop sleeves, pinch-pleated or simple tab-top draperies.
Do not be afraid to include a synthetic fiber look-alike, as the
performance of the synthetic fibers have great advantages. With
today’s technological advances, a fabric may appear to be a
silk, when it actually might included up to 50 percent synthetic
Large-scale wood or antique finished poles work great with the elegant-yet-casual
treatments mentioned, as the decorative hardware adds lots of texture
to the design. Casually hanging these draperies using tab tops and
the not-too-perfect puddling of fabric on the floor is a great way
to use these fabrics to their fullest potential.
By choosing from these types of fabrics, your treatment will appear
elegant yet casual, and your clients will be pleased.
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles written
by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions
we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions
Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question
you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and
commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member
at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in
numerous books and publications.