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How to choose and hang curtains in a bay window

Bay windows are a much sought after feature given the amount of natural light they let into a room. As the likely focal point of the room you’ll want to make sure your window looks its best, however with all those angles, dressing a bay window can pose a real challenge.  Here we’ll look at the dos and don’ts of hanging curtains in these openings. 

The best type of curtain track

The main curtain track options for a bay window are PVC/plastic hand-bendable tracks, aluminium hand- bendable tracks and steel made-to-measure tracks.  All these options are available as either hand-drawn or cord-operated designs. 

What about curtain poles?

The best option really does depend on the shape of your bay window and the weight of the curtains you’d like to hang.  Curtain tracks made from bendable aluminium are considered to be stronger than plastic/PVC ones and work well for bays with multiple angles, however, PVC tracks flex easily into shape, making them a more suitable choice for curved or semi-circular windows. 

If you’d prefer the aesthetics of a curtain pole over a track it is possible to get metal poles with finials that can be bent to fit the shape of the bay. This option would allow you to match the pole with existing metal furniture in the room, such as light switches and door handles. Alternatively you could look at poles with gliders which offer the minimal look of a curtain pole with the functionality of a track. 

Is a manual or cord pull better?

Generally, tracks have a cord pull, whereas poles tend to be hand-drawn, though if you choose a pole with a track inside you can choose to have a cord. A cord puts much less tension on the tracks when opening and closing the curtains, and if you have a larger bay window it’s a lot easier to stand at one side and pull the cord to open and close them. Bear in mind that the cording mechanism can wear out over time, particularly if you have heavier-weight curtains, so ensure the track you choose can support the weight.  

If you have the budget and like the idea of creating a smart home, why not try a motorised curtain track? Certain designs can be controlled via an app on your phone or set to work automatically depending on the levels of light in the room. It’s also a safer option if you have small children as there are no cords to pull on. 

How high should you hang your track or pole?

The best area to fit a pole or track is midway between the top of the window opening and the ceiling coving; the minimum height to consider would be 10cm to 15cm above the window opening.  Fixing the track to the ceiling within the bay, with the curtains hanging in front of the sill, will create the best overall look and allows for the sill to be used whether the curtains are open or closed.  Curtains should fall to the floor where possible, though radiators can often present a challenge here.  If you have a radiator under your window, consider having blinds alongside ‘dress’ curtains, which is a more practical, yet aesthetically pleasing option. 

How to hang curtain tracks on a bay window

Installing a track that follows the shape of your bay window can be tricky, requiring evenly-spaced brackets placed above the window frame. Getting the dimensions and angles correct is crucial, along with any offset from the window or the sill. Once you have your measurements you must select the right fixings for the track to ensure it doesn’t come loose. Any professional fitter will be able to do this.

If you have a smaller bay window, a hand-bendable track would be more straightforward as opposed to a metal pole, which would require numerous brackets to support every join in the pole.

How many curtains should you have and what type works best?

A pair of curtains works best, that way you won’t be blocking the windows or restricting the light by stacking multiple curtains.  Less fabric means less weight on the pole or track, though the weight of the curtains is determined by the fabric, curtain length and lining and whether you’ve chosen blackout lining. 

In terms of the type of curtain, any style that operates with curtain rings is best, while pencil pleat and pinch pleat curtains also work well.  Whatever style you choose it’s always better to follow the line of the window than go straight across the opening; hanging your curtains straight across would mean losing all the features of the bay as well as wasting a lot of space. 

Bay windows are a beautiful feature in any room and selecting the right curtains will frame them perfectly. While it can be tricky to get right, full-length curtains will create a cosy, comfortable and inviting feel. Not only do they provide complete privacy, choosing a quality thick fabric will provide an extra layer of insulation, as well as creating a sense of luxury.

Where to begin?

Bay windows have tons of kerb appeal and make a real statement in any home. If you’d like to take a closer look and get some inspiration, why not visit our showroom and talk to our friendly team about your options, or contact us for more information.

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