George Clarke’ s amazing ways to dress bays, wides and Crittals

George prefers to use shutters in a bay window
George prefers to use shutters in a bay window
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Architect and Amazing Spaces presenter George Clarke reveals his top tips for making the most of hard to dress windows. Sharon Dale reports.

Architect and TV presenter George Clarke knows a thing or two about styling properties, from Victorian and mid-century to contemporary. With this in mind, Hillarys, which specialises in made-to-measure window dressings, challenged George to dress the windows in three architecturally different homes, including his own. He offers solutions to some of the common issues faced when dealing with wide, bay, and the increasingly popular Crittall windows.

Lined curtains help insulate a room.

Lined curtains help insulate a room.

Make sure you set and stick to objectives.

How to decide on the right style, fabric, colour, of window treatments in your home is a tough decision and can make or break the look of a room. Be clear about whether yours is a purely design-focused move, or about light control, privacy or heat insulation before you even start looking at options. Then stick to your objective. Otherwise, you’ll end up with something that might look good but doesn’t do the job you wanted it to do. And when you think about it, this is actually a great tip for pretty much everything you try to achieve in the home.”

How to make wide windows look amazing in an urban environment.

I live in a 1960s London town house which has been adapted from a number of small rooms on the ground floor to be fully open plan living. One of my favourite things about these houses is the big, wide expanse of windows that give you fantastic views out. Like me, many of us live in built-up areas, where houses overlook each other and passers-by can see in. Wide windows only exacerbate the problem. Sheer roller blinds offer a solution, with the light fabric creating a veil-like effect. The beauty of these is that they still let in that lovely diffused light while giving the privacy that you might need at certain times of the day.

Curtains at a Crittal window add a splash of colour.

Curtains at a Crittal window add a splash of colour.

How to improve your heat insulation.

Heat escapes through windows – even more so through wide ones. So it pays to add extra layers of insulation at wide windows to help keep the warmth inside.

Having made-to-measure curtains will help to achieve this and also change the acoustics in a room, making it feel that little bit more intimate and cosy.

What can I do if I don’t have space for curtains?

Clashing colours and prints look good if you are brave enough to try them

Clashing colours and prints look good if you are brave enough to try them

In my son’s bedroom I’ve done something quite unusual. Because it’s not a big space and the windows are full width, it was difficult to get curtains in here without blocking out too much of the light. So instead, we’ve doubled up on blinds. A white roller blind provides privacy, teamed with a blackout Roman blind that does the job of curtains but in a more space efficient way. Layering up two different types of blinds works brilliantly for a space like this.

How to dress Crittall windows

The current trend for open-plan living and the industrial look have seen a surge of interest in Crittall windows. They’re often associated with the Art Deco period of the 1930s, but their history actually stretches back to the Victorian era. Their continued success only proves great design never goes out of fashion. The delicate, thin lines of the steel frame have an industrial but very smart feel. The real appeal though is how Crittall windows allow a space to be zoned or divided and create a real sense of continuity between the living and outside areas. Some people worry that they look a bit too tough, too hard and a bit cold. Beautiful lined curtains add a splash of colour, privacy when needed, that extra bit of insulation to keep a room cosy over winter and soften the look of the frame while still showing it off.

So the most important thing to think about when you’re dressing Crittals is to extend the track as far and as wide as it can go so the curtains can be pushed back to maintain the integrity of the Crittal frame. You don’t want to hide it.

Blinds bring a contemporary feel to this urban apartment

Blinds bring a contemporary feel to this urban apartment

How to dress a bay window

While it’s a delight to have original period features, they can prove to be decorative challenges. Bay windows are big and beautiful and will open up a home far more than a normal window. There’s more glass on show and the shape projects across three planes. This lets in so much sought-after sunlight and offers excellent views up and down the street – it’s why bay windows are so popular.

But it’s these benefits that are also the downsides of bay windows. Sometimes the sunlight coming in will be too much and sometimes privacy will be an issue because of people being able to look in from all angles.

My favourite way to dress a bay window is with shutters. For a start, choosing made-to-measure shutters means each panel is designed to fit each section of the window. The result is something tailored to your home that looks very special. You can also adjust each of the panels individually to let more or less light in or for privacy reasons. Plus with custom colour options available you can find the exact shade that goes with your room.

For more information and to see George’s videos on how to style period windows visit https://www.hillarys.co.uk/inspiration/life-styles/

Modern luxe equals understated elegance and these subtle off-white curtains are the perfect fit.

Modern luxe equals understated elegance and these subtle off-white curtains are the perfect fit.