Most styles of window can be dressed in a way that will enhance both the window and the room as a whole.

Windows that look out over an unattractive view can be dressed with voile or cotton, or an attractive, thin blind, without much loss of light. Other awkward windows can be treated in the following ways:

Windows on narrow landings

– If the window is in a high traffic area where people are likely to keep brushing past, it might be a good idea to hang the curtains inside the window recess or opt for a blind instead. The former option can work well as long as the fabric does not touch the glass or sill (which might cause staining) but the curtains will not be as draughtproof as curtains hung outside the recess.

Different-sized windows

– bring unity to different sized windows on the same wall by running one track or pole over both and hanging curtains of the same length at each one. Matching curtains on each window also give an added sense of continuity and unity.

Windows above radiators

– Avoid full-length curtains over radiators as they seal off the heat and can waste a lot of energy. Even with short curtains much heat may be lost behind them. Heating engineers recommend fitting a ledge 5cm (2in) above the radiator or extending the windowsill to deflect heat into the room, and hanging curtains only to the ledge or sill. If you do not want to use a projecting sill, make standard short curtains to 10cm (4in) below the sill, or to 5cm (2in) above the radiator.

Kitchen windows

– Curtains in the kitchen can be dangerous if they are hung near a cooker hob. Bear in mind that even a curtain that seems a safe distance away may blow near the hob when a window is open. One way to avoid this problem is to hang the curtains in the window recess and secure with tiebacks when they are open. A blind may also be a good option.

Similarly, curtains hanging over a sink are prone to splashing and this may cause staining or even mould. Again, hanging short curtains in the window recess or using a blind may provide the best solution.

Short, wide windows

– With a window at the narrow end of a room try to give a wider look by fitting the pole or track just above the window and making it wide enough for the curtains to hang entirely against the wall when open. You can also make a shorter window look taller with long curtains hung well above the window.

Arched windows

– Most arched windows make an elegant feature and it is a mistake to hide their shape with your window treatment. Hang curtains well above the arch and make it wide enough for the curtains to draw back completely onto the wall. If privacy is not essential, you might decide not to use conventional curtains at all but to opt for a different style of window dressing.

Tall, narrow windows

– The long, slender shape of sash windows in a high-ceilinged room can be emphasised by floor-to-ceiling curtains hung on a pole. If you are trying to achieve a broader effect, fit a deep pelmet to fit well beyond the sides of the window and let the curtains pull back over the wall.

Bay windows

– Bays are a lovely feature, so do not hide them by fitting curtains in a straight line from one side of the bay to another. Modern bays can be treated with flexible track that follows the sweep of the windows, and hanging one large pair of curtains to draw right back to the wall at each end. On older bays with wide uprights at the angles, you can curtain the three windows separately without losing too much light when the curtains are open.