Sheer window treatments are often misunderstood. Whenever we have small windows in bathrooms or tiny bedrooms, sheer curtains of one form or another seem the easy option.
So up goes a simple track or rod, and we drape a few yards of something semi-transparent from it. There. Job done.
But that's just limiting your options. Sheers can be used to good effect in far more situations and window sizes.
What is a sheer fabric?
Sheer fabric is semi-transparent and usually quite flimsy, as opposed to standard fabrics which are opaque whatever their thickness and weave may be. It's the combination of letting light through and a delicate look which gives sheers their attraction as alternatives for interior designers.
Sheers can be quite thick. Very thin, tightly woven fabrics which are semi-transparent are known as voiles.
Different types for different styles
Some sheer fabrics are very traditional, with corresponding patterns woven into them. These are obviously suitable for traditional rooms and situations.
Other sheer fabrics have a more modern weave, perhaps with more modern colored threads. These lend themselves to contemporary themes.
A practical solution
As we mentioned previously, sheers are often used in small (or even not so small) windows where a certain degree of privacy is needed.
In these situations the fabrics tend to be plain or slightly textured voiles. Some may have an attractive pattern woven into them. These window treatments will usually involve additional draperies such as valances or side curtains to soften the whole window.
Floor length draperies
You can achieve a soft, flowing and delicate effect when you use sheer window treatments. Some situations call for lots of fabrics, while others look best when your fabrics are used with restraint.
To achieve a 'designer look' for your sheer window treatments, one way is to use lots of fabric, far more than you would normally use. To take it a stage further, have about 6" to 12" extra in the length, and let it cascade onto the floor.
Tracks, poles and cornices.
Sheer draperies are very versatile, and you can use all sorts of fittings to support them.
For a contemporary look, think about using a thin metal pole. If your room will take it, a plain track hidden behind a wood or plaster cornice is another option.
If you plan to have standard curtains as well as your sheers, you can get double poles where the sheers hang from the inner pole and the curtains from the outer one.
Roman, roller and vertical shades.
Don't forget that you can also buy roman, roller and vertical shades which use sheer fabrics in their construction. They function in all the normal ways - moving them clear of the window area - but when they are moved across you get the same soft light effect.