Moving to a new country can be an exciting prospect; new cultures, new languages, new people. However, moving to a new house in a new area can be as daunting as it is difficult to know where to start and who to call. Married to someone in the British Army, I have become adept at moving every few years and know how to make the key touches to making a new house a home quickly. Making your new home feel lived in, with your own personal touch, is hugely important and helps everyone to settle in quickly.
Curtains transform and immediately put your own mark on a room. The most versatile of headings is the triple pleat and this works extremely well on all tracks and poles. Curtains hung from a covered pelmet board and fascia are a simple but smart window treatment which can be fitted to both small and large windows, and this hides the curtain track and is covered in the curtain fabric. I make all curtains and blinds with interlining unless specifically stated otherwise. Even the most modern and draught-free houses can benefit from interlined curtains as they have a lustrous, rounded look as well as protecting the face fabric from damage by sunlight. This, in turn, extends the life of your curtains.
Pelmets in formal rooms with high ceilings create the ‘wow’ factor. Swags and tails are the grandest and are typically British but if you wanted a more modern look you could have a box pelmet with a curved arch.
When moving into a rental property you often have to work with existing neutral wall paint and carpet, so a fabric with a splash of colour can bring life to an otherwise dull room. Chelsea Harbour Design Centre is a great place to start as it has all the major fabric houses. In order not to become too overwhelmed, I suggest looking at the following shops there: GP&J Baker, Colefax and Fowler, Zimmer + Rohde, Romo and Henry Bertrand. Outside on the Lots Road there is Knowles & Christou and Nicholas Herbert. On the Kings Road you can find Osborne & Little and Designers Guild. There are also excellent online shops that will send you a swatch of their fabrics – Emily Bond, Barneby Gates, Inchyra and Kate Forman. Alternatively, you can go for a light cream linen which will lighten up the whole room.
Adding a trim to curtains and Roman blinds adds a bit of fun and texture. Susie Watson has great trims at very good value and don’t be afraid to be a bit adventurous – coloured balls on striped fabric for example.
To make a bedroom pretty have a good tall headboard with a matching bed valance. Neutral colours work well here as they don’t overpower the room and you can always have brighter curtains picking out the key colour. Old wardrobes can be re-vamped with linen panels, and if you have a large bedroom, a small armchair will make it look cosy. It’s always a battle to keep the light entirely out of a bedroom, and the only thing that totally works are curtains on a covered lathe and fascia, with black out lining and interlining.
Privacy roller blinds are great for windows facing the street as they create a mist over the window so people can’t see in, but they still let all the light in.
Kitchen windows are usually small and so are ideally suited to Roman blinds, as are bathrooms. Ian Mankin has lovely fabrics at very reasonable prices. As with a bedroom, if you have enough space, a sofa upholstered in a faded linen makes the room feel more inviting.