Interior Designer Kit Kemp shares her expert advice on choosing beautifully designed curtains to instantly elevate your room
THE TOWNHOUSE AT LONDON’S HAYMARKET HOTEL. IMAGES: FIRMDALE HOTELS
They can often be overlooked as purely functional, but beautiful curtains can bring just as much to a room scheme as the paint colour or the furniture. And few people design them with more elegance and creativity than interior designer Kit Kemp, Founder and Creative Director of Firmdale Hotels.
As anyone who has been lucky enough to drift off to sleep in one of her unforgettable design-led hotels can attest, not only do their classic full-length curtains, usually designed with a single goblet pleat heading, invariably make a style statement, they also promote a sound night’s sleep. It’s a winning combination.
Known for her insatiable appetite for colour and pattern and her keen eye for detail, here, Kit shares her advice for how to choose curtains for your home; from the perfect fabric to exquisite finishes that add depth and personality. As Kit says: “There are so many options out there but don’t be afraid to have some fun.”
Use solid colours
(LEFT) HAM YARD HOTEL; (RIGHT) ROOM 19 AT NUMBER SIXTEEN HOTEL. IMAGES: FIRMDALE HOTELS
In the newly designed Oak Leaf suite at Ham Yard Hotel (above left), we’ve had great fun using Etamine’s Voyage a Tunis wallpaper which features camels and sand dunes. This adventurous walling works well with the plain burnt orange curtain finished with a lovely trim.
In Room 19 at London’s Number Sixteen hotel (above right), the dramatic red curtains make a bold statement. We wouldn’t typically use a deep red for curtains but in this room, the full-length windows and wonderful natural light allow this dark and punchy colour to make a real statement.
Don’t be afraid of a pelmet
THE LIBRARY AT LONDON’S KNIGHTSBRIDGE HOTEL. IMAGE: FIRMDALE HOTELS
A pelmet is stiffened and shaped fabric that covers the top of the curtains. Pelmets are often thought to be old fashioned and fussy, however in the right setting and with the right fabrics they can finish off a pair of curtains perfectly.
In the library at London’s Knightsbridge Hotel (above), Peter Dunham’s big and beautiful paisley Samarkand fabric looks great against the strong warm linen walls. The pelmet offers a chance to admire the pattern repeat without the curtain folds and helps to frame the bay window.
(LEFT) LONDON’S COVENT GARDEN HOTEL; (RIGHT) NEW YORK’S CROSBY STREET HOTEL. IMAGES: FIRMDALE HOTELS
We always encourage creativity with curtains. In the Drawing Room at London’s Covent Garden Hotel (above left), we have used yellow flags along the top of the curtains, which creates a point of interest and brings sunshine yellow light flooding into the room.
In Room 709 of New York’s Crosby Street Hotel (above right), we have used a white linen on the curtains but added a punch of colour to the edge with a fun green and navy zigzag collage. This makes the curtains an interesting design feature whether open or closed.
Go for a large scale print
LONDON MEWS HOUSE DESIGNED BY KIT KEMP
Curtains are the perfect place to use a ‘wow-factor’ large scale print that you love. Bold prints are best used on tall curtains so you can see a good amount of the repeat. We love a wide geometric design.
In this London mews house (above), my over-scaled One Way fabric for Christopher Farr Cloth brings a zingy freshness to the scheme.
The devil is in the detail
NEW YORK’S CROSBY STREET HOTEL. IMAGE: FIRMDALE HOTELS
A ‘leading edge’ is the border of the curtain which meets in the centre of the window. It can become a feature in its own right and it’s these tiny details that can capture the imagination and make a room interesting. We love to add detail to the leading edge, whether it be a braid, trim, piping or a contrasting fabric which can bring a playful pop of colour to an otherwise simple curtain.
In this suite at Crosby Street Hotel in New York (above), we have used a plain fabric on the leading edge of the curtains with an added detail of jangly bronze beading, which adds a handmade and tactile quality to the scheme.
(LEFT) THE TOWNHOUSE AT LONDON’S HAYMARKET HOTEL; (RIGHT) ROOM 508 AT NEW YORK’S CROSBY STREET HOTEL. IMAGES: FIRMDALE HOTELS
I always sit curtains back from the window so that every ounce of natural light can come into the room. The leading edges of the curtains in Paisley Parrot fabric by Soane (above left) are given a playful detail with a gorgeous wriggly Ric Rac trim. Samuel and Sons’ French Jumbo Ric Rac trim works well either by itself, or even doubled up in different colours, as we have here with a striking contrast of black and white.
In Room 508 of New York’s Crosby Street Hotel (above right), a block of fiery orange against a cool formal grey linen curtain, separated with a smart contrast leather piping cord, creates a powerful and tailored feel.
THE SOHO HOTEL IN LONDON. IMAGE: FIRMDALE HOTELS
At The Soho Hotel in London (above), a geometric indigo blue fabric along the leading edge of a crisp white curtain draws the eye to the sunlight flooding through the impressive windows. This Jim Thompson fabric edging looks just as good on a fabric trim as it does on a lampshade, and echoes the smart blues and graphic patterns throughout the scheme.