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The New Curtain Book: Master Classes With Today's Top Designers    by Stephanie Hoppen order for
New Curtain Book
by Stephanie Hoppen
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Considering new curtains, but wondering about current trends? The New Curtain Book gives Master classes on curtains and blinds derived from the author's interviews with over thirty innovative designers (who are introduced in sidebars). The text is enhanced by lovely photos of rooms with a great variety of window and bed hanging treatments, taken by Fritz von Schulenburg. There are many intriguing combinations pictured in this book, such as bamboo shades under silk curtains in a French drawing room. Suede draperies were new to me as were trims of crystal beads or metallic threads, and unusual types of blinds.

Stephanie Hoppen tells us that things have changed dramatically in the 'world of windows' over the past decade, with simpler treatments, and use of different fabrics in new ways ('the art is in the detail') as a result of a 'revolution in fabric technology'. She introduces modern window treatments through examples and tells us that the current trend is to work with generous layers of fabric. She explains how to take window measurements and discusses rules such as to avoid over-dressing tall windows. A great variety of unusual headings, valances and swags are shown and described in detail.

On to the Master classes, grouped under Classic, Simple, Dramatic, Tailored, Country and Romantic - each with comments from designers and many gorgeous examples. Jacques Garcia aims for 'a first impression of coherence, but that on closer inspection you become aware of the mix of styles'. Nina Campbell tells us to reuse what is good and to create comfort. We learn that designers are 'reinventing the classic' with less fussy fabrics and tailored touches. I was impressed by unusual use of colors, as in a peppermint and bronze silk, or a lush purple damask.

But I don't think Classic or Dramatic styles are for me or my home, though I can appreciate the effects. I prefer Simple - which of course is not simple to achieve. These designers see a window's purpose as being to 'let in light and air'. Kelly Hoppen has changed his view of curtains, telling us 'today it's about light'. I love the idea of using Japanese shoji panels and of roller blinds that pull up from the bottom. Tailored styles also appeal to me in some contexts. But whatever your taste, there are many inspiring examples here. Pick your style, or incorporate elements from each, taking to heart the advice that 'Decorating is about lateral thinking.'

Hoppen ends her beautiful design book with a Curtain Directory listing sources for products available around the world - fabrics, trimmings, tiebacks, blinds, shades and shutters - many also listing a website. If you want to update your window treatments or are simply curious about recent developments, open The New Curtain Book; it's given me much food for thought.

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