Picking Drapery Fabric with the Right Qualities Picking Drapery Fabric with the Right Qualities

Drapery fabric, carefully measured and hung around a room's windows, can often be the most important factor in the comfort and appearance of the space. Consider the function of the drapes, their shape and their care before investing in these window treatments.

Function of the Drapes

Window draperies can function in many ways.

  • Washable suede for the bedroom to allow a night-shift worker to sleep in the daylight, or for a family room where the TV is always on.
  • Floor-length woven wool lined with heavy cotton will keep out chill breezes coming through a single-glazed window.
  • A subtle pattern or texture in cotton or linen that blends well with the wall color can disguise an undesirable view.
  • Sheer nylon, lace or gauze drapes will diffuse bright sunlight to lend privacy.
  • Dramatic brocade drapes topped with a ruffle header can be roped back to showcase a seashore, valley or mountain panorama.

The Room's Function and Decor

The function of the room itself will also suggest the most suitable drapery fabrics.

  • Lined silk, brocade or velvet drapes, falling from graceful pleats, will enhance the salon where you host visitors.
  • In children's rooms, use easy-care polyester and cotton blends that match a basic color scheme. A boy may prefer simple drapes on grommets in a solid color or subtle stripe, while a girl may want truly romantic draperies with ruffled trim, valances, or swags.
  • In the kitchen, go for stain-resistant materials for durability and quick laundering. When cooking, secure kitchen drapery up and away from all heat sources and electrical outlets.
  • In bathrooms, woven or lacy sheers of washable nylon, cotton or gauze will usually provide enough privacy while maximizing available light.

Drapery Fabrics and Fibers

  • Pure cotton is strong, long-wearing, washable and comes in a vast range of colors, textures and weights. However, it can shrink, wrinkle and fade rapidly in bright sunlight.
  • One hundred percent polyester is almost as easy to care for as cotton, but will pill after extensive handling. Do not use this fabric in the kitchen, as grease spatters will permanently stain the chemical fibers.
  • Polyester-cotton blends make excellent drapes for just about any room in the home, combining easy cleaning with color-fastness and minimal wrinkling.
  • Wool is soft, a great insulator and drapes well, but can be expensive, as you will need to dry-clean wool drapes every few years.
  • Silk, velvet and brocade add elegance to rooms that are infrequently used, but must be dry-cleaned, too. However, silk drapes lined with a medium-weight woven cotton will resist fading for decades.
  • Washable suede (whether real skins or brushed polyester) has set a new standard for beauty combined with easy care for every room decor, from traditional to contemporary.
  • Stiff, artificial-looking fiberglass draperies no longer have a place in the modern home. They can also scratch children's delicate skin when grasped by small hands.

When you choose drapery fabric, keep form, function and fibers in mind, to make the best choice for the windows in every room of your home.

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