Fabric Covers for Outside Living Spaces

Outdoor living is one of the greatest things about life in Australia. We love our barbecues and entertaining on the deck. In Melbourne, unpredictable weather, high winds and freak hailstorms can put a dampener on outdoor spaces. However, with a little bit of planning and some smart choices, being outside can be comfortable and rewarding even when the weather is bad. In this article, we’ll talk about why you should look into outdoor fabric solutions and what kinds of options are available.

Protection from the Elements

Has rain, hail or excessive shine ever taken the fun out of your backyard? Melbourne’s unpredictable weather can even make having a barbeque a risky affair. If you’ve ever had to stand out in the rain to flip burgers, you know it’s not what you were intending.

Don’t let dodgy weather ruin your picnic and get a system going to give you peace of mind in your outdoor space, whether entertaining or just relaxing. When you have children, it’s important to know they aren’t being exposed to sunburn every time they go outside so having a good shade sail setup is invaluable.

Make the Most of Your Space

It’s no secret to anyone that has lived through a Melbourne summer that the heat and UV can be intense. When you’re picking fabric to use in your outdoor area, it’s important that you choose something extremely durable and weatherproof that will block harmful radiation.

If there’s a gentle breeze or you have a pool, being outside on a hot day can be cooler than being inside. Having shade and privacy in your backyard can be the difference between enjoying it every day and only ever seeing it through the window. It might be a small investment but the rewards in lifestyle options are immense.

Motorised Awnings

Depending on your space, it may be appropriate to install motorised awnings. These can be deployed to give your space privacy and or protection from the elements and can be mounted in out of the way places such that they are not seen until required. Motorised awnings can even be paired with weather sensors so that the awnings can be retracted in high winds so as to avoid damage.

Need Assistance?

Our expert team at Curtains Direct can design shades and blinds for your outdoor area. Give us a call today to end the stress of guessing and let our professionals do the hard work for you.

Block Out Curtains Help You Save On Your Energy Bill

If you’re spending an extraordinary amount of money on heating and cooling, contemplate installing block out curtains in your home. In this article, we’re exploring the environmental and economic benefits of these window coverings.

How Do Blackout and Block out Curtains Work?

Blackout curtains are capable of keeping 99% of light out of a room. They can make it possible to sleep during the day while minimizing disturbance to our natural circadian rhythms. Blackout curtains also help to reduce temperature fluctuations between inside and outside.

Thermal block out curtains also possess the thermal buffering properties of blackout curtains without stopping all of the light, making them more appropriate for living rooms where there is a desire to keep the internal temperature constant while still being aware of whether or not the sun is shining outside.

Savings in Winter

Manufacturers of thermal block out and blackout curtains insist that up to 25% of a house’s heat can be lost through the windows. That would imply that if you could trap that heat in, you’d spend 25% less on heating than you previously did. According to Sustainability Victoria , the average heating cost for a medium-sized house in Melbourne is more than $1000 per year.

It’s important to remember that the cost of heating is more than just monetary. Burning fossil fuels, whether to provide electricity for your heaters or burning gas directly, produces greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. Think about alternatives to keep your house warm.

Blackout curtains can cost as little as $50. With a little bit of ingenuity, any set of curtains can be converted by purchasing the blackout fabric from a haberdashery and then stitching it onto your curtains. It’s not necessary to blackout every room in your house. Focus on the important places to keep heat in, like bedrooms and living spaces.

You will be doing yourself and the earth a favour, and you will likely be saving yourself money within 1-2 years.

Savings in Summer

Melbourne summers can be absolutely brutal. We commonly experience heatwaves with temperatures soaring above the 40-degree mark. On days like that, it’s common to seal doors and windows, close all the blinds and curtains and relax with a cold drink under the air-conditioner. Blackout curtains with white backing work to reflect light back outside and therefore prevent the inside from warming too much. Another way to capitalize even further on this principle is to install exterior shutters or blinds to stop light ever permeating your windows.

Call Us Today and Compare Your Savings

Here at Curtains Direct , we sell a full range of blackout and block out curtains for every purpose and requirement. Our professional staff are well-informed on how energy saving curtains can be used to the greatest effect and what options are appropriate for your environment. Give us a call today and speak to one of our friendly consultants about how blackout and block out curtains can help you.

Correct Cutting Methods for Window Coverings

When you’re looking into an upgrade for your windows, it’s imperative to get your measurements and cutting right the first time. Otherwise, you could end up spending double. In this article, we’re going through the correct cutting methods so you can have a perfect fit with your curtains and blinds.

Curtains

In an earlier article, we covered how to measure your curtains to fit your window. Just as important as measuring your curtains correctly is cutting the fabric. Large swathes of fabric can be difficult to handle and to avoid costly mistakes in reordering materials, it’s important to get it right. Firstly, you should wash and, if applicable, iron your material before cutting it. Materials can shrink unevenly and it’s easier to deal with this before your curtains are too small. Make sure you have left enough material for the pole mount and hemming in your measurements.

Use a builder’s square to ensure the line you are cutting is perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. If your builder’s square is not large enough to mark the total length of your cut, use a large ruler or straight piece of timber to mark your cut and try to make the whole cut in one go without moving the material. This may mean you need to work on a large table or the floor, just ensure there is a safety sheet underneath the one you are cutting to ensure your curtains aren’t dirty before you have even used them.

Drapes

When you’re cutting drapes and valences, follow the same principles as curtains. Leave room for hemming and pole mounts and use a long, straight piece of timber or metal combined with a builder’s square to ensure you are cutting at perpendicular angles to the edge of the fabric.

Blinds

To fit blinds to your window, take horizontal measurements of your window at the top, the bottom and the middle. On any standard rectangular window, all of these measurements should be identical but it is alarming how often this is not the case. Take the smallest of these measurements to be the width of your window.

You will need to give your blinds 3mm clearance on either side so deduct 6mm from the measurement of the window to get the total width of your blinds. If your blinds are too big, you will need to cut them down. Use a hacksaw to cut metal blinds and a mitre saw, handsaw or electric saw to cut wooden blinds.

Don’t Want to Take on the Responsibility?

Here at Curtains Direct , we have been in the window furnishings game for thirty years. We have worked with every kind of fabric for all sorts of unique windows and are more than familiar with the requirements of cutting to order. Our experts are ready to do the hard yards for you and make your windows pop. Give us a call today to talk about how we can serve you.

Curtains vs. Blinds

What’s the Difference?

It might be obvious to some but there is a difference between curtains and blinds that needs to be addressed before their relative strengths and weaknesses can be discussed. Curtains are pieces of fabric attached to curtain poles or railings. Typically, curtains can be pulled horizontally along the pole to cover or reveal a window although some curtains can be raised vertically. Blinds are typically made of hard slats or consist of fabric on rollers. Today you can even get motorised blinds that can open and close by remote control!

What’s Your Desired Purpose and Feel?

Curtains fall further from a window and occupy more space within a room than blinds. They can billow in the wind and tend to give windows a soft edge. This can be ideal for living spaces where your desired purpose is to create warmth and an inviting atmosphere to put your feet up or think.

Historically, curtains have occupied living spaces and bedrooms because the vast array of possible patterns and fabrics made them more versatile. Trends change with time and modern blinds can come in a vast array of design options , too. They are making a foray into living spaces in a big way.

Blinds have a subtle elegance in their more permanent feel. They are usually the go-to choice for offices, bathrooms and studies because straight edges are less distracting. Blinds typically come in less varied designs and appear plain, in many instances.

Recently, motorised blinds are making a splash in the window furnishing arena both inside and out. They can be particularly effective on large, feature windows.

Maintenance and Cost Differences

Regular curtains are a lot cheaper than blinds. They are essentially just pieces of fabric cut to size, and many are machine washable. There are some curtains, like blackout and thermal block out curtains that can be more expensive than blinds. Additionally, some curtains, like silk curtains , can be exceptionally difficult to clean where vinyl and aluminium blinds can be cleaned without hassle by a dry or slightly damp cloth.

One major advantage of curtains over blinds is the ease with which they can be updated or swapped to match or change the internal feel. It’s usually just a matter of demounting the curtain rail and replacing the fabric. Replacing or changing blinds, on the other hand, can require the detailed work of a tradesman to uninstall.

Still Can’t Decide?

We can help. Our professional staff pride themselves on being experts in the window furnishings game. Our mobile showroom can come to you (if you live in Melbourne) and we can determine the right solution for every window in your house or office. Get in touch with us today.

Tips for Cleaning Your Curtains & Drapes

Once you’ve chosen your window covering design, it can be extremely frustrating to watch them gather dust and deteriorate. We’ve put together this helpful guide to maintaining and cleaning your curtains and drapes.

Dealing with Dust

To keep dust from accumulating on your curtains and drapes, the best thing to do is clean them regularly. Make it part of your weekly cleaning schedule to give them a light shake and inspection. Curtain rails can be one area particularly prone to accumulating dust because they are above eye level. Use a long-handled duster to sweep along the top of curtain rails. Heavy curtains can be vacuumed using the upholstery head on a vacuum.

Wipe blinds down with a dry cloth. Once again, the trick to managing their cleanliness is repeating this process regularly.

Avoiding Mould

Mould is not just unsightly; it can also be extremely detrimental to health. As curtains and blinds are often located between you and the source of air, removing it should be a high priority. When removing mould, if possible take the item being cleaned away from other household surfaces. Outdoors is ideal so you don’t spread spores.

Follow whatever directions for cleaning are on the fabric, whether that is machine washing or dry cleaning. Hopefully, this takes care of the problem. If manual cleaning is required, it is better to use light, repeated alternating efforts with a brush and damp cloth. Avoid using too much force or you will create abrasions in the surface that become perfect sites for dust and further mould to accumulate.

Removing Stains

To remove stains from your window furnishings, the first step is to clean them as per the materials’ instructions. If the stain is persistent, there are a few options you can try. It is important to spot test the fabric to ensure discolouration, fading and fraying does not occur.

One strategy is to soak the stain in lemon juice and then coat the stain in salt. Massage the salt into the stained area and allow to rest for a few moments before rinsing the entire area. Avoid leaving lemon juice to dry into the fabric as it may leave its own stain. Another strategy is to use hydrogen peroxide bleach on white fabrics and let it sit until it dries, repeating as necessary.

It is important to spot test these methods on an inconspicuous part of the fabric to test that they don’t cause discolouration or damage.

Sun Damage

UV rays damage plastic or vinyl blinds, causing them to become yellowed over time. This process is due to the way ultraviolet light interacts with the chemical bonds in this synthetic material. It is not possible to reverse this photochemical reaction in any meaningful way, but the appearance can be overcome.

To refresh plastic blinds, remove them from your window and soak in a diluted solution of bleach for several hours. Alternatively, wash them with a diluted solution of bleach in situ, using an old towel to prevent the solution from dripping onto windowsills. Once washed, make sure to thoroughly rinse with water and completely dry.

Still Not as Clean as You Would Like?

Here at Curtains Direct , we’ve been in this business for thirty years. There isn’t a lot we haven’t seen. If you need expert advice on cleaning your window coverings, call us. Our team are professional and respectful and will be able to offer bespoke solutions. Contact us for help.

FAQs for Block out Blinds and Curtains

What Are Block out Blinds and Curtains?

Block out blinds and curtains block out the sun, form heat barriers and can even reduce noise. They come in a few forms, from 100% blackout and thermal block out to simpler, room darkening curtains. The darkest approach 100% opacity, and have white foam backing to reflect light back through the window.

They are not necessarily thick and can be made from polymer weaves that achieve exceptional darkness through the combined effort of layers. Thermal block out blinds and curtains maintain these thermal properties while allowing more light. These kinds of curtains are more suited to living spaces and situations where you want the energy efficiency boost but you still want to know the sun is shining.

Why Do I Need Block out Blinds or Curtains?

Energy Efficiency

Block out blinds can form an insulating layer for your windows. The air gap between the blind and window acts as a buffer, keeping the internal temperature more constant. On hot summer days, block out blinds and curtains can keep the sun out and stop heat from flooding in with it. During cold nights, block out curtains can keep warm air in. This means less money spent on heating and cooling and less greenhouse gas emissions .

Sleeping during the Day

After all of that hard work on interior decorating, it can be nice to sleep in on weekends. Having block out blinds or curtains in the bedroom is an excellent way to stay in bed during the day. If you work nights or like to stay up late, getting that crucial daytime sleep can be difficult. Block out window coverings can provide some peace of mind.

How Do I Choose the Right Block out Blinds or Curtains?

This is about understanding the purpose they will fill and the space they will occupy. Curtains are typically more appropriate for living spaces. Where they are going to be closed for long periods of time, patterns and even custom designs can form a pleasing alternative feature to a window view.

Blinds are more suited to offices and studies. In minimalist environments, they can do wonders to hide distractions. There are no hard and fast rules, if you don’t need total block out curtains then you could opt for room darkening curtains.

Do You Still Have Questions?

Here at Curtains Direct , we have thirty years of professional experience. Our experts know a thing or two about block out window furnishings so we can devise a solution for your needs. We even have a mobile showroom that can come to you. Call us today on (03) 9998 5700 or contact us for more information.

The Long & Short of Correct Measurements

In today’s age, nearly all windows are different. There might be a few standard sizes, but there is an ever-increasing quantity of custom windows out there. When you combine different windows with different length walls and ceilings at different heights, it becomes clear why each window needs measuring with individual, scientific rigour.

In this article, we’ll break down the correct way to measure windows and frames. We will also determine the measurements required for your furnishings by calculating the space required. If this already sounds too hard, it goes without saying that here at Curtains Direct , we are experts at measuring so get in touch for a quote.

Why It’s Vital to Get Your Measurements Right

Just imagine everything that could go wrong if you don’t get the measurements right the first time! You don’t want to have to reorder custom fabrics cut to size, not if you don’t have to. When working with furnishings, take the same mantra as a carpenter – measure twice and cut once.

How to Measure Windows for Curtains and Blinds

Use a metal tape measure to ensure accurate dimensions. Record all measurements neatly with an annotated sketch so you won’t need to repeat the process in a week.

Measuring Pole Width

Measure the width of the window and add 30-40cm. This is the track or pole length and it will ensure the curtain covers the window and extends 15-20cm on both sides.

Calculating Curtain Width

If you are mounting pleated, folded or eyeleted curtains , multiply the pole length by 2 for the curtain length. If you are using flat tabbed style curtains, multiply the pole length by 1.5 for the curtain length.

If you do not apply this calculation, your curtains will appear flat and stretched when covering the whole width of the window.

Measuring Curtain Length

The curtain pole should optimally sit 15cm above the top of the window. If the pole is a feature and curtains are going to hang below from eyelets, start your measurement at the eyelets. Otherwise, the top of the pole is your starting point.

Your endpoint is where you want your curtains to sit. If they are to end at a window sill, then 1.5cm above the window sill is your endpoint. If they should cover the sill, then 15cm below the sill is your endpoint. If you want curtains to extend to the floor, 1.5cm above the floor is your endpoint. In the case that you want curtains that spill out onto the floor, add 20cm onto the distance from your starting point to the floor.

If you have a heater below the window, make sure any curtains are kept well clear.

Is There an Easier Way?

Yes. Here at Curtains Direct , we can do that for you. We’ve been doing it for thirty years. Our staff are professional and respectful, we even have a mobile showroom if you want to pick your curtains while we measure them. Get in touch with us and we’ll take care of it.