Dormer Window Curtains

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 in Case Studies, Curtains, Roman Blinds | No Comments

Now we’ve written about dormer window challenges in previous blogs and so last Thursday’s installation in a charming village just south of Bath was interesting because in one house – in two adjoining rooms in fact – we tackled two quite different way of dressing these notoriously tricky spaces.

In this blog we investigate how dormer window curtains on dormer rods, if planned carefully, can make the perfect window treatment for your loft dormer windows, and next week we will be blogging about the use of roman blinds in the same space.

Dormer window curtains and blinds Bath
The two dormer windows are side by side, but called for two very different window treatments

What’s the best way to dress a dormer window?

A great deal of discussion took place on this during our clients’ initial home consultation. The obvious, traditional solution for dormer windows is curtains with a slot heading mounted on dormer rods. This is a particularly good solution for juliet balcony windows where there is no, or very little draw back space for curtains or blinds because of inward opening doors. For larger windows where there is draw back space, curtains on ceiling mounted tracks can offer a creative, pragmatic solution.

But our clients views on dormer rod curtains were a little jaundiced by the fact that the existing dormer rod curtains (left by the previous owners) were pretty inefficient on the blackout front – having plenty of gaps at the top and bottom for light to get in (dormer rods can sag if they’re not great quality or the brackets aren’t aligned properly).

The Solution

So, as is so often the case in these situations we hit on a great compromise. In the two young boys’ bedrooms and adjoining bathroom we would install roman blinds (we cover this in our next blog), and in the guest bedroom further down the same corridor, we would revert back to dormer window curtains, but making a few small but important changes..

Dormer window curtains – getting it right

For the guest bedroom, our clients settled upon a Vanessa Arbuthnott fabric  (Out and About in Cornflower and Forget-me-not). The fabric is 138cms wide, and has a pattern repeat of 61cms. The plan, to keep on budget, was to reuse the existing dormer rods left behind by our client’s vendor. On a window just 85cms wide by 99cms drop, the existing dormer rods overlapped in the middle by about 20cms. This is a little more overlap than we would normally apply when fitting new dormer rods, but actually not a bad idea as the additional overlap would help to keep light out.

For dormer window curtains choose your lining with care!

Now the main characteristic of dormer rod curtains, which swing open and closed, rather than being drawn, is that the back of the curtain is always on show during the day time. So careful thought is required to ensure the back of the curtain is as pleasant on the eye as the front.

In this case we recommended an Ian Mankin ticking lining, but if stripes aren’t your thing, you could consider making the back of the curtain in the same fabric as the front.

dormer window curtain
The back of the curtain is permanently on show during daylight hours, so you need to choose a lining fabric that is as pretty as the face fabric. In this case, we suggested an Ian Mankin ticking stripe in a dark blue that complimented the tone of the Vanessa Arbuthnott face fabric.

Normally for a bedroom dormer window curtains we would as a default recommend blackout lining, which typically comes in ivory, cream or white (but can also be obtained in other colours). The ticking lining has taken the place of the blackout lining at the back of the curtain, but this doesn’t mean you can’t blackout your curtains. In this case, we fabricated the curtain with 4 layers – sandwiching a light weight interlining and a layer of blackout lining in between the face fabric and the ticking lining.

Fullness and width of slot heading is crucial

The light weight interlining just adds a little extra softness to the layers. Now these extra layers do make the curtain a little more bulky, so you need to plan the making up carefully. Fullness (in this case the width of the ungathered curtain in relation to the width of the dormer rod) needs to be quite low – about 160 – 180%, as otherwise there will be too much curtain to push onto the dormer rod. Also, the slot heading that the dormer rod slides through needs to be sufficiently wide to allow for the gathered effect to form as the curtain is slid onto the dormer rod.

dormer rod curtains Moghul
Remember to make the curtains at least a few cms longer than the window drop, as the gathering will reduce the drop of the curtains more than you think!

Don’t make your curtains too short

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it, but the gathered effect reduces the drop of your curtains more than you would think, so in this case we made the curtains 3.5cms longer than the window drop (quite a lot when you think the drop was only 99cms) with the end result that the curtains were just touching the ceiling and sill.

And the final trick – angle your dormer rod brackets

I said at the start of this blog that dormer rods have a tendency to sag with the weight of the curtains. This is more a fault in their design than the rods themselves actually bending under the weight of the curtains. So a quick trick to correct this is to angle the dormer rod bracket so that its bottom screw points further in to the centre of the window than the top screw. The effect of this is to point the dormer rod higher when the curtains are swung shut. This enabled us to keep the curtains parallel with the ceiling when shut (see above).