Home Decorating For Dummies
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How long should curtains or draperies be? Generally, the longer the curtain or drapery, the more dignified, dressy, and formal the look. Shorter curtain lengths always imply a casual, relaxed, and informal mood. The decision is yours:

  • In formal or dressy rooms, curtains should just touch the floor.

  • A romantic room deserves elegant, extra-long curtains that pool or puddle on the floor.

  • Curtains to the sill, or to the bottom of the window trim (called the apron), look great and are practical in a kitchen.

  • Never hang curtains of any length near a stove.

  • Dens or family rooms gain dignity from draw draperies or curtains that reach the floor.

  • Curtains that stop short of the floor, ending at the top of floor moldings, look awkward. If curtains are hung too high, simply lower them (if possible) to solve the problem.

Not all windows are beautiful. Fortunately, draperies can help hide flaws. Try these solutions for the following questions:

  • Window too short? Attaching rods just below the ceiling molding and hanging long, to-the-floor curtains make the window look taller and more elegant.

  • Window awkwardly long? Add a deep cornice or valance above draperies with a bold horizontal pattern. Create further distraction by adding a horizontal line in the form of a strongly contrasting louvered shutter.

  • Window too narrow? Extend curtain rods beyond the window and hang open draperies so that they barely cover the frame, leaving as much glass exposed as possible, all of which makes a narrow window seem wider.

  • Window too wide? A huge window wall can overpower a room. Break up the space by hanging several panels across the window. They can hang straight, or be tied back in pairs. If draperies must be drawn for privacy, let the panels hang straight, and rig drawstrings so that the panels close as though they are separate pairs of draperies.

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Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

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