If you ask me, Hamptons style curtains should be a design category all of their own. They are the graceful queen of a room, central to the space and effortless in her splendour. I’ve already spent this entire blog post singing the general praises of window treatments, but when it comes to bringing Hamptons style into your Canberra home, curtains and drapery are essential.
So, what makes curtains “Hamptons style”? Well, a decade in design and a trip to the Hamptons themselves means I can spot them at a glance, but describing what makes them lovely and ageless? This requires some deeper thinking. I teamed up with our resident decorating expert, Lorraine (who has lived on the East Coast of the United States) to define what our eyes know to be true…
1. Curtains suspended by rings
Hamptons style drapery is usually suspended from rings that slide along the curtain rod, rather than on glides. These rings are exposed, creating a look that feels natural yet sophisticated. They can be in any colour or material suited to the design, though they typically match the curtain rod.
While ringed suspension isn’t always possible for windows that have more than 3 brackets supporting the curtain rod, ringed suspension is perfect for smaller windows. If you live in a Canberra Heritage home, you will likely have smaller windows in the front rooms, which are ideal for rods with rings.
2. Decorative rods & finials
When it comes to Hamptons style rods and finials, there are definitely some “wrong” options (nothing overly geometric or industrial), but there are quite a lot of “right” options, too. You can either run with the simplest of rods or really go to town with decorative rods and finials, which are the bits at each end.
Rods (left) and finials (right)
There’s an art to selecting rods and finials. First, you will need to consider the finish of the metal (brass, matte black, chrome, aged bronze, etc.) to make sure it fits with the style and design of the rest of the room. You will also want to make sure that it complements, not competes, with your curtain fabric. If your fabric is patterned, a simple rod and finial is best. If your fabric is plain, you have more room for rod and finial creativity, like the finials we chose for the Hamptons-inspired living room below.
3. Fabric fullness when open and closed
Fabric fullness is a MUST for Hampton style curtains. Without fullness and the proper width, the curtains will look like a sad, flat sheet when they’re closed. Instead, you want them to look as full and luxurious when closed as they are when open.
In order to get the proper fullness, you will need to make sure that your curtain fabric is at least two times the width of the window. Any shorter than this, and you will not have the fullness that makes your drapery command the room. We also suggest mounting the curtain rod several inches outside the edge of the window, so that when the curtains are closed, there is a full stack that just barely covers the edge of the window casing, but doesn’t hamper the view.
Tip: Motorisation is great for saving time opening every window treatment in the house. A large house can take 15 minutes to open up.
4. Banding and trim details
Trim or contrast bands are also popular in high-end American homes, especially around the Hamptons and New England. They can take the form of an interesting pattern or solid colour, like these:
We’ve been known to design and procure these for clients, and I personally love the effect. It can add interest, contrast, and a general tone of elegance in a room. Perfect for classic sophistication that is timeless in its beauty. Note: The only way to get this effect is to design them custom. (Which is something we do for you.)
5. Pooling, skirting, or as I call it, the puddle!
There are a few terms to describe it: overlong, pooling, skirting. But I like to say “puddle”. So, what is it? It’s when we make the curtains longer than kissing the floor. It creates the look of fullness, luxury, and has a high-end, classic feel.
1930s Canberra Bungalow (left)
It also adds the illusion of even more height as the eye moves from the floor to the rod, and helps with insulation by closing up the gap between the fabric and the floor. Who knew curtains could do all that? However, curtain puddles aren’t for everyone, so here’s what you should know…
If you are opting for a fabric in a natural fibre, it will naturally have movement up and down with humidity. I’ve seen curtains drop up to 4cm when steamed. The puddle gives you a buffer against movement, and therefore a consistent look. (Heated Canberra homes can get quite dry in winter.)
Yes, they may get a little dirtier touching the floor (and they don’t glide well across carpet), but honestly, it’s not as bad as you think. I recently shifted one of my puddling curtains from my home to our Manuka Studio, and despite Bailey, our Goldie, using the curtain as a pillow now and then, they don’t look too bad for nearly 10 years of use. I have also slowly trained my cleaning lady to lift them gently onto the chair when she mops.
I also believe you should finess how they sit when you open them. Don’t worry, we will show you how to do it on Install Day, but if you aren’t that way inclined, you might prefer an option that saves you time. Fortunately, adding a blind that you use everyday counters the maintenance or carpet situations.
All in all, I love the puddle look, and if you think it might be right for your home, we can customise and vary the degree of it. Please come see us in the shop!
6. Multiple, layered window treatments
Combining blinds and curtains is both practical (with or without puddles) and creates a full and luxurious look with the bonus of even more insulation. I particularly love the look of woven timber blinds with curtains (no, not the Bunning’s ones).
1930s Canberra Bungalow (right) and source unknown (right)
I installed white-washed timber weave Roman blinds with fixed side drapes for my study (above left), but I also love timber-coloured ones in the second image. We sourced this image from Pinterest and it’s been on our studio inspiration board for some time, but we can’t seem to find the source. It is very well done and in quintessential Hamptons style. Well done.
7. Customisation for perfect Hamptons style curtains
The final element of Hamptons style curtains is this: they are custom-made. This means high-quality materials. The perfect fit for the window. And all of the above elements executed to perfection. The only way to get curtains like these is custom — you simply won’t find them in retail, especially around here!
Custom drapery, whilst expensive, is really the only way to ensure curtains fit and are full and luxurious. An-ill fitting ready-made that is stretched over a window reeks of student or rental living! What is different about us is that we aren’t the “man in the van”. How do we work?
We take the time on the details. Heck, I’ve even driven to Sydney on occasion to find the perfect fabric! Thankfully, our library is now filled with gorgeous options in our new Manuka studio. (No more driving to Bowral!)
We design every detail, and we have your curtains made by our workroom. You won’t just get some bloke rocking up to do the install. You need someone who sees what needs to be done and will clean up properly. (In my experience, this is usually a woman.) Our ladies supervise the install to make sure the results are spectacular.
How to Get Hamptons Style Curtains
It used to be that you would have to hire us for a full-service custom decorating project (our highest level of service) to get our designs, but after many, many years of clients asking for “just curtains”, we’ve decided to open up our services to just the bits and bobs you need…with our Choose Your Own Adventure service.
With this service, you can select what you need. Custom curtains or shades? Rug selection that will work for your space? Need help selecting upholstery, lighting, or paint colours? You choose the items you want. We do the rest.
GO HERE to choose your adventure, build your custom quote, and get our expert assistance selecting the perfect pieces for a beautiful, sophisticated space you’ll be proud to call home. We can’t wait to help.
Until next time,