Dressing Your Sash Windows The Victorian Way

Sarah Beeny's Rise Hall - Sash Window Repair by Ventrolla

 Image credit: Andy Marshall Photography at Rise Hall. Windows by Ventrolla.

Sash windows ­– a classic feature in Victorian homes – are sought after for their elegance and statement style. And if you’re lucky enough to live in a property with traditional timber windows – original or reproduction – it’s likely that you won’t want to hide them away. However, you will probably be aiming to achieve the right levels of privacy, shade and warmth – balanced with all-important aesthetics. So, if you want to get an authentic period home look, inspired by Victorian times, these are the top three details to consider.

Heavy-weight fabrics

Heavy curtain fabrics were a particular favourite of the Victorians – to keep out the cold, help maintain that all-important privacy and to prevent furnishings and carpets from fading. But it wasn’t all about practicality. The Victorians loved to show off their wealth, so the more ornate the window dressing, the better.

Today’s tip: As well as hanging beautifully, thanks to their weight, curtains made from heavier, textured fabrics are still popular today – keeping rooms with high ceilings warmer and cosier. Another benefit is that these more substantial fabrics don’t always need lining – thick velvets, tweeds and tapestry fabrics naturally act as black out materials, too. If you go for one of these weighty or textured fabrics, make sure your curtain pole is strong enough to withstand the curtains, especially if your window is large and the drop is long.

Trims & details

Adding to the sense of luxury that was so important, Victorian window dressings were big on detail, too. From heavy, ornate curtain poles and fancy tasselled tie backs to elaborate pelmets and intricate or frilly lace for inner curtains – less was definitely not more!

Today’s tip: To get this look in your home, you could add a bold tassel tie back to a heavy velvet curtain or beaded fringing or vintage-look braiding to the bottom of a blind. While today we might prefer a slightly more understated look, you can still get an authentic Victorian with just a few carefully-chosen trims or details.

Ornate patterns

The Victorians loved pattern for their window dressings. And it wasn’t just about the pattern they chose for the heavy curtains in their most elaborate rooms. They often layered these over fancy or frilly lace, voile or muslin inner curtains, and sometimes added blinds, too.  Contrasting pattern and texture for extra impact.

Top Tip: Today, Victorian-style heritage patterns are still popular ­– take William Morris, for example – so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking patterned window dressings for your home. From ornate damasks to intricate florals, while the Victorians opted for dark colours that didn’t show the soot from open fires, today these come in a range of tones – from deep jewel hues to crisp whites – so you can keep the look light and airy, if you choose.

Victorian Sash Windows
Less was definitely not more in Victorian times!
Before you begin

Before you fit new curtain poles, blinds or pelmets, it’s worth having your Victorian sash windows checked over by experts. Contact Ventrolla to arrange your free, no-obligation window survey to make sure your sash windows are sound. You can talk to a member of our team today by making an enquiry – we look forward to hearing from you.