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no idea what to do about curtains for big bay windows

(32 Posts)
whoneedssleepanyway Wed 04-Jan-12 08:38:49

We have just moved. The house is a 1930s semi with very big square bay windows in the living room and front bedroom.

Curtains are proving a real challenge. The house was tenanted before and the seller cleared everything out so no curtain poles or anything left behind. At present we are making do with old curtains attached by drawing pins at night.

In the upstairs bedroom the ceiling is dropped in the alcove above the bay so the window frame meets the ceiling so there is no wall above it on which to attach a curtain pole. The frame of the window is wooden but is ridged not flat so can't attach a pole to that I don't think as there is no flat space for a bracket to sit against. Getting a pole made that can be attached to the ceiling is going to cost an absolute fortune.

The front room downstairs, does have wall above the window frame but is recessed so you can't attach a pole as there is no space for the filials of the pole to overhang the edge of the window if you see what I mean, there is a wall across the front of the window recess.

Added to which the windows are over 2.5m wide and 1.75m high so the cost of the fabric alone is astronomical.

What has anyone else done in these situations?

I am now wondering about shutters in the living room (although these will be v expensive) and then some kind of dress/ false curtains...

Any ideas? Many thanks.

Pannacotta Wed 04-Jan-12 10:46:08

Shutters look great in bay windows, we have them in our bedroom bay, but they arent that cosy and not esp insulating if you have draughty windows. And yes they are expensive.

Roman blinds are another option, these can be interlined if you need warmth. How many windows are in each bay?

There is some useful info here on curtain track for bay windows here

In your shoes I would get some local curtain makers or even John Lewis round to have a look, they usually have fitters they use and are used to dressing tricky windows.

musttidyupmusttidyup Wed 04-Jan-12 10:47:24

Had a sim

musttidyupmusttidyup Wed 04-Jan-12 10:49:24

Similar problem. Got a local curtain/ blind place to come and look. Ended up with them providing and fitting a track made to size which isn't exactly what I would've chosen but it's v strong and will hold heavy curtains. Not cheap though.

alisonmynameistrue Wed 04-Jan-12 10:52:25

I would go for Roman Blinds from a cost and neatness point of view. If you got a fairly plain fabric you could always add curtains too at a later date when you could afford it. Although I have see patterned blinds with plain curtains and that can look good. Meanwhile you can have privacy and warmth. I have used Econermine Furnishings for some curtains recently. I am very pleased with them and would use again. You have to order on line and no one comes to the house which I liked. You do have to be fairly brave and confident about your measuring mind!

7to25 Wed 04-Jan-12 10:58:19

local curtain makers will not be busy at this time of year.
I would go for Roman blinds in a 1930's square bay semi. your making cost will be higher but your fabric costs lower.
BTW you do not have very large windows.

minciepie Wed 04-Jan-12 12:12:00

I'd go for shutters - though it does work out quite expensive, especially if you want dress curtains as well.

Or you can get curtain tracks which attach to the ceiling, which looks quite smart and modern IMO. if you look up Silent Gliss, I think they make them.

FlossieFromCrapstonVillas Wed 04-Jan-12 12:15:50

There aren't a lot of options without paying for it unfortunately. I had mine made around ten years ago, I really don't like bay windows with curtain poles across the top so mine follows the shape of the window. We paid a fortune ten yrs ago but it was money very well spent.

pootlebug Wed 04-Jan-12 13:04:12

I find that buying standard sized curtains in John Lewis etc and then having them altered to fit by my local dry cleaners is sometimes much cheaper than having made to measure in the first place. Our living room windows are similar size and that's what we did.

notquitenormal Wed 04-Jan-12 13:30:58

We have a big curved bay and have a flexable curtain track (cheapy from the hardware shop) and two sets of the biggest curtains we could find at each window.

Ikea do a thin curtain track that has angles, which might work in a square bay. The brackets are quite simple and DH customised them to fit to the ceiling instead of the weirdy walls of our old house.

PigletJohn Wed 04-Jan-12 14:17:05

you might consider screwing small wooden blocks to the frame, perhaps with packing wedges to make the outer face upright, or with no-more-nails to fill the gap if the frame is moulded. Once they are firmly set, you can fix brackets to the blocks (so make them about the right size and shape). Once painted to match the frame they will not be noticable.

Remember that the moulding you are looking is probably decorative trim lightly pinned to the frame, so your screws must go into the solid timber behind. This sort of trim, like architrave round a door frame, covers the joint between frame and plaster, so there will usually be nothing substantial behind the thinner edge.

SoupDragon Wed 04-Jan-12 14:36:08

If you're near an Ikea the Kvartal track system can be attached to the ceiling and comes in straight pieces and curves to go round corners.

BananaPie Wed 04-Jan-12 20:14:55

We've got similar windows - 3.2m wide and 1.4m drop. Also recessed in the way yours are. We bought a cheap plastic curtain track from homebase (it's flexible and comes rolled up) for about a tenner. Then bought made to measure curtains from dunelm mill - ordered online, they send you samples of fabric. Think the curtains were about £150.

hobnob Wed 04-Jan-12 20:44:47

Another vote for Roman blinds. We have a box bay window and would have lost a lot of light with gathered material at the sides if we'd had curtains. Romans are a fabulous option, with the advantage that you can have them at various heights if, for example, you want to block out the sun at one particular point. Also they're economical with fabric compared with curtains.

Good luck, whatever you choose.

whoneedssleepanyway Thu 05-Jan-12 11:55:16

Thanks everyone, I have come to the conclusion that whatever we decide is going to cost £££.

Having spoken to our decorator who is also a carpenter, he reckons he would be able to fix brackets to the architrave by taking small pieces out where the bracket for a pole needs to be fixed. This way we can buy poles off the shelf with a flexi bend which will still be expensive but half the price of made to measure poles.

We do want to fit shutters in the living room too eventually but I would still want curtains I think.

Thanks for all your comments.

7to25 thanks for putting me straight on the size of my windows, having come from a 2 up 2 down where the windows were a quarter of the size of these new ones they are big to me, also given we are unable to buy any ready made curtains big enough I was under the misconception that they were on the large side wink

7to25 Thu 05-Jan-12 12:26:45

Making curtains with a 3.5m drop and eight widths of fabric in total makes them seem "average"!

whoneedssleepanyway Thu 05-Jan-12 14:51:29

Please can I ask you about how much fabric for curtains, 7to25 as you seem to know about this smile.

The fabric I want is half price in the sale. It has no repeat and is 140cm wide.

I was going to buy 21m working on the basis of total window width 390cm (I know you should measure pole but haven't got this yet and want to get fabric while reduced and figure pole will be slightly shorter than total window as will curve round the bay) (main window 278cm and 2 side bits 56cm each) multiplied by 2.3 (for double pleat curtains) and divided by 140 so need 7 widths of fabric and then 3m long for full length curtains (the total drop is around 2.5m and I have allowed 30cm for hem and heading).


Whorulestheroost Thu 05-Jan-12 15:51:04

Have you had a look at you can go for ready made ones in a number of widths and fabrics and they will alter them for you up to 250cm drop, or you can have made to measure. We have a five sided bay and have also found it difficult to get curtains to fit. We already have roman blinds but they provide no insulation, where as the curtains have a thermal lining and have made such a difference. If you are going for a pole then try for bespoke, they are about the best price I could find. smile

TalkinPeace2 Thu 05-Jan-12 16:12:46

not sure where you live, but in Horndean in Hampshire is the Blendworth fabrics outlet shop
I got the perfect fabric for my 6 window 1930's bay
(heavy cotton) ; and cotton lining ; and header tape ; and weights
for £250 .....
and a friend made them up for me for £250

Blendworth's fabrics range in price upwards but end of line stuff is eye wateringly cheap!

we already had the glide track fitted

7to25 Thu 05-Jan-12 17:24:44

You are correct in your calculations, if there is no pattern in the fabric.

whoneedssleepanyway Thu 05-Jan-12 17:35:14


EtInTerraPax Thu 05-Jan-12 22:27:52

I agree with talkinpeace- Blendworth do some lovely fabrics!
I too prefer curtains that go into, and around the bay, rather than straight across the wall behind it, but we were lucky enough to have some wall above our bay to affix curtain track to.

whoneedssleepanyway Mon 09-Jan-12 11:40:17

Well we have gone with the silent gliss track.

In the end I got John Lewis to come out and measure up for me, they offer this service for £50 but the £50 is then redeemable against poles or tracks you buy from them. The guy was really knowledgeable and told us that poles fitted to the ceiling wouldn't work and wouldn't look right either, he said our best option was silent gliss track and the made to measure tracks for the two rooms is £280 in total so expensive but a fraction of what a made to measure pole was going to cost.

I really reccomend this service to anyone in the future, he didn't try to sell me the most expensive thing and was really honest about what would and wouldn't work.

Thanks again all. Think I will check out that Blendworth outlet shop.

PattiMayor Mon 09-Jan-12 11:55:26

I got floor to ceiling curtains readymade from John Lewis for my bay. The drop is 228 and I needed 4 curtains to fit it. Think they cost around £250

miserablemum Tue 10-Jan-12 18:23:23

Another vote for Dunlem here. We have massive bay windows - victorian double fronted bays. They always have a good sale selection of fabric and our one always has a sale on the making price ihn January. Every year Ihave had some curtains made smile in January.

We had to go with plastic tracks which are not my ideal choice but work well despite the weight of the fabric. You can get different headings to make the cutains look nicer, like a pinch pleat or something to take away to boringness of the track.

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