CURTAINS

Curtains.

One of the most versatile decorating elements is the humble curtain. Curtains don't just have to go on windows either. Panels can be used in a variety of ways to dress up any room, from living room to bathroom. If you've only used curtains to dress up your windows, it's time to re-think and re-use them in new ways in your home.

Dividers

Curtains make a natural choice for creating delineation in open rooms, such as loft apartments. A tall sheer can mark off the boundaries of a bedroom without cutting it off from the rest of the apartment. It's hard to match the dreamy effect of a billowy curtain in a bedroom. Make them feel lush by adding fullness, and it will also add a little privacy. If sheers are, well, too sheer, add a solid curtain on one side to mark the bedroom area and keep the less open sides hung with sheers to maintain an open feeling. The contrast is more interesting than surrounding the bed with opaque panels.

Another clever way to use curtains as a divider is to add them in foyers that expose the whole house at the entryway. A patterned sheer panel will let light through but still help tone down the exposure level. Whether sheer or opaque, curtains add some interest, as well as keep nosy visitors and delivery services from seeing everything at the doorbell.

Doorways

Once used to keep out drafts, drapes over doors are seeing a return to interiors, making them old-fashioned, romantic, and current, too. Adding drapes over doorways is a way to add privacy and frame doorways with softness. One fresh way to add drapes is to hang them over the front door in a foyer. Pulled back on either side with ties, these curtains give softness around the front door area and add a touch of romanticism. Want to make your master suite a standout? Add a drape at the arch or entrance to the master bedroom that will give it an old-world touch of luxury. Look for drapes that mimic the color of the walls to give the walls added softness and blur the line between wall and curtain. Dining rooms are a natural spot for curtains in doorways. Create a cozy ambience by adding curtains with posh detailing such as bullion fringe at the bottom to dramatically sweep the floor.

Walls

Curtain walls are another contemporary use for curtains. This is an excellent way to create a focal wall and a light touch of drama. Not only that, but curtain walls are great for rentals because the curtains can be added and then taken down easily for moving. Add curtain walls behind sofas, beds, or in a guest bathroom. Give them extra panache by hanging paintings or prints where the drapery panels meet. This would make a dramatic hallway treatment, especially if you place artwork lighting over your print. If you have a number of panels on a wall behind a bed, for instance, try adding sconces that can be used as reading lights over a bed or a sofa.

(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.)