Windows topped with sumptuous swoops of fabric add a luxurious note to elegant living rooms or contribute to the romance of a feminine bedroom. Window scarves draped over a brass rod and hung to frame a picture window accent a beautiful view. Window swags and valances may look complicated, but curtain draping techniques are easy to learn. The real trick lies in choosing the right curtain draping method to integrate the window shape and size with the design of the room.
Floor Length Swags and Swoops
The single swoop drape is the simplest--and most commonly used--curtain draping technique. To achieve it, mount a decorative rod across the top of the window. Fold a long piece of sheer curtain fabric in half and hang it over the center of the rod, with the folded end hanging in front of the rod and the two tails falling behind it. Pull the folded end down toward the center of the window, arranging it into a graceful curve, which is called a swoop. The two ends will form "tails" which can fall to any desired length.
In a formal living room or dining room, window scarves and swags should fall to the floor or puddle on the floor for the most sumptuous look. In a single swoop drape, the center point of the drape should fall to cover the top one-quarter of the window height.
Two-Tone Window Scarf
Shorter swags and window scarves invoke informality without sacrificing feminine appeal. Less formal curtain draping shapes call for lightweight or sheer fabrics to reduce bulk and work best with solid colors and reversible patterns and fabrics. When there is less bulk in a single swag, the designer can opt for a distinctive two-tone effect using a pair of swags.
To get this effect, mount three swag holders across the window top, one at each side and one at the center of the window. Choose two coordinating or contrasting colors of sheer fabric. Fold each swag loosely lengthwise and drape both scarves over the two corner swag holders, one behind the other, so that the center swoop falls to about one quarter the height of the window. Leave the fabric closer to the glass as is, but pinch the other fabric up in soft pleats and drape it over the center swag holder to reveal the second draped curtain.
Dramatic Drape for an Arched Window
The secret to creating drama with curtain draping is to work with the shape and personality of the window. Windows that present a challenge also offer the opportunity for drama. Arched windows, for instance, are notoriously difficult because most window treatments must either be hung above the window or cut across it.
A novel curtain draping idea takes full advantage of the arch shape to emphasize both the window and the drape. Mount a pair of hooks on either side of the arch and a third hook just above the center of the arch. Drape the fabric over the center hook so that both sides are even, then sweep each side out to drape over the side hooks, letting the material fall in a gently curving arc across the window glass. Wrap once around the side hook, knotting the fabric in a loose rosette before letting the tails drape against the wall. The effect is eye-catching without overpowering the window or hiding its character.
- Complete Photo Guide to Window-Top Treatments: Do-It-Yourself Swags, Valances and Cornices; Linda Neubauer, Kathleen Stoehr;
- Photo Credit David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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