The Sheer Delight of a Veil of Privacy; INTERIORS Voile Equals Net Curtains Plus Style. Jo Ind Reports on the Chic and Practical Form of Window Dressing

Article excerpt

It is easy to become captivated by the effect created by sheer materials.

As well as enhancing the natural light within the interior, they can be used as veils.

Any translucent fabric can evoke a fascination with what lies beyond - a soft, billowing sheer curtain could be screening a tantalizingly beautiful scene or it could be used to mask a less-than-perfect view and reduce the harsh reality of the outside world.

But the real joy of sheer fabrics is that they let light stream into your home through windows and glass doors.

By keeping window treatments uncomplicated and avoiding heavy drapes, it is easy to create a light and airy mood throughout the house.

Simple banner curtains and blinds offer little hindrance to daylight and, depending on the fabric they are made from, they can even be reflective thus increasing the amount of light inside the house.

When the views are glorious and your rooms are not overlooked and privacy is not your main concern, you can choose to allow the light in, unfettered even by sheer fabrics hanging at the windows.

However, for many city dwellers, the balance between letting in the light and protecting their privacy presents something of a challenge.

The traditional solution is to use net (or sheer) curtains in conjunction with heavier drapes.

However, the modern quest for light, and a reluctance to shroud the windows, has led many people to use sheers as their main window dressing.

During the day, whilst the interior is darker than the exterior, sheer curtains provide as much privacy as traditional net curtains.

It is later in the evening, when the house is artificially lit, that they may need some help to provide the privacy required.

One solution is to fit blinds snug against the window behind the sheers.

These can be drawn up and out of sight during the day and then pulled down at night for privacy.

Another method is to treat window panes themselves to shield your home from prying eyes.

Glass can be stained, sand-blasted and etched for extra privacy, and these methods can be used with sheer blinds or curtains to create layers of translucency.

There are other light-filtering ways to bring even greater privacy to your home while keeping the window treatments simple.

In Georgian times, shutters were cut short to let light in over the top, even when they were closed.

For a contemporary look, try fitting Venetian blinds.

These have lourves that can be finely adjusted from fully closed for complete privacy to a horizontal angle that offers a veil of privacy whilst allowing plenty of light into the room.

Some Venetian blinds have finely pierced louvres, which create a pattern of fine pinpricks of light, even when closed.

Shutters can be fitted with panels of pierced aluminium or zinc.

Pierced aluminium is available in sheet form - large holes let in light while tiny holes offer maximum privacy - so you can select your materials according to your needs.

Wooden louvred shutters provide great flexibility as they can be fitted in sections that can be opened and closed independently and the louvres themselves can also be adjusted.

If it is sheer fabrics you are after, then there is no need to limit yourself to interior suppliers when looking.

Try fashion fabric stores, markets and haberdashers for delightful material to dress your windows.

Most translucent fabrics can be used for sheer window treatment, but the body of the material will make a dramatic difference to the way it hangs, and therefore to the final effect.

A fine, soft fabric, like voile, has little body and makes a soft, floaty window treatment, while stiffer organdie will provide a crisper, more tailored, look.

Check how the fabric handles by gathering the width together in your hand. …