The Harlequin Effect Part 2

The Harlequin Effect Part 2

Interview continued with Luke Birchall . Harlequin’s U.K Sales Manager

Hi Elsie here.

Since I began my career in 1995 The magic of Harlequin has never failed to inspire me. They get it right every time because they not only source the best designers but they are also creators of quality, they know what the people need and want from a good up to date design that will also last the test of time.

They do not just tap into the on trend look but put their own personal spin on it.

I have tried to find the secret Harlequin ingredient but it is alluding me, they just get it right every time.

I have been lucky enough to know several fantastic representatives of Harlequin‘s the people who are at the front line of the Harlequin brand . Luke has kindly agreed to chat with me and navigate through Harlequin’s past, present and what may be in their future!

I hope you enjoy part 2 of the Harlequin interview.

Hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading.



E.Wolfe:-            In the present times of Harlequin your customer service is second to none, how has this helped to mould the company and carry you forward?

Luke Birchall:-    Our customer service is something we are so very proud of at not just Harlequin, but all Walker Greenbank brands. In a market that is so competitive and with so much great product out there from various suppliers, we need to offer not just outstanding product but also an outstanding service to our trade customers. I honestly feel that this is a quality that we are known for in the industry and something that keeps our customers coming back to us time and time again.

E.Wolfe:-      Production has always been in England, a fact Harlequin are proud of especially in these economically challenging times; how has this aided the group when so many other companies are seeking cheaper production further afield?

Luke Birchall:- We are extremely proud to have as part of our Group both the Anstey Wallpaper Company based in Loughborough and the Standfast and Barracks fabric printing company based in Lancaster. All the brands wallpapers and printed fabrics are manufactured in these factories and will continue to do so. Both factories are positioned at the higher end of their respective markets and also offer a manufacturing service to many other UK design houses. If you are passionate about interiors, it is easy to see the quality of the products that come from our factories. Just as with the development of our brands over the recent years, we have also invested heavily in our factories and now have the capacity to digitally print fabrics in Lancaster, which I truly believe is the future of printing in the UK. In the same way at Anstey we now have the facility to produce beaded wallpapers which have in a short time, become amongst our best-selling qualities. With this constant cycle of reinvestment into the brands, people and the supporting factories I can see a very healthy future for the Harlequin Group brands.


Harlequin Momentum Beaded wallpaper


Momentum Wallpaper Close up

E.Wolfe:-            Harlequin are beginning to use designers at the top of their game such as Clarissa Hulse & Orla Kiely how is this affecting the group brand in the current market and how is it being received by designers and buyers alike?

Luke Birchall:-    We were always unsure about introducing recognisable and known designers into the Harlequin brand as we had always done so well without them! However, the world of interiors is becoming ever more discerning and if we can attract a new customer to the brand by working in conjunction with an established designer this can only be a good thing for both parties and will attract new followers to our collaborator as well. We decide to work with established designers who very much have their own style which will dovetail with the Harlequin brand. For example the recent collection with Clarissa Hulse and our wallpaper collaboration with Orla Kiely have both been hugely successful partly because they are instantly recognisable styles in their own right.


Clarissa Hulse and The Kallianthi collection with Harlequin


Orla Kiely In collaboration with Harlequin

E.Wolfe:-             Harlequin like most companies has wallpaper books that have coordinating fabric. In recent times Harlequin made a move to create pure wallpaper books focused on one wall papering, providing a go to focal point for customers. What do you feel is the most innovative decision that has been made in recent years by Harlequin?

Luke Birchall:-    We have always produced coordinating fabrics and wallpapers and these were always presented in the same pattern book. We found through trialling different methods of presentation that sales were encouraged when the books were presented separately and individual focus was given to either the fabrics or the wallpapers. This has enabled us to develop stand alone wallpaper and fabric ranges that have no direct coordinate but will work with other elements of the Harlequin portfolio. Most of our business still comes from the coordinated ranges but it is beneficial and more flexible to be able to produce a stand alone range.


Boutique Wallpaper collection. Harlequin


Artisan Embroideries by Harlequin

I feel that our most innovative decision in recent years was the creation and launch of our Scion brand. As most other companies were slowly trying to increase their price points, we decided that there was a huge opportunity for a design-led, funky and price conscious brand to complement the growing Harlequin brand. And so Scion was born only three years ago! We had to ensure that the brand was different enough from Harlequin to be able to stand on its own and to have its own identity so we opted for a fun, Scandinavian approach to designs. This year we have launched Scion‘s fourth main collection, Levande, which I’m glad to say has been well received and is selling through exceptionally well.


“Lotta” Fabric by Scion, Harlequin


Scion Levande

E.Wolfe:-             Harlequin have made steps to become a lifestyle brand, creating lamp shades, bedding and other decorative items to coordinate with their beautiful wallpapers and fabrics. How is this working out for the company in today’s market?

Luke Birchall: –   Our decision to produce more lifestyle products was taken around 6/7 years ago and has been a major driver in how and why the brands are more widely recognised. We now have licensing agreements with Brink & Campman (Rugs), Bedeck (Bedding & Towels), Christie (Towels), Make International (Housewares) and Stoneglow (Home Fragrances) amongst others and this is an area of the business we are very keen to expand upon. We select suitable manufacturing partners who are specialists in their fields operating in a similar place of the market to Harlequin or Scion. This is attracting a new customer to our brands who may not have been familiar with the Harlequin or Scion names. The Scion brand for example is only just over three years and already has a whole host of lifestyle products available. We are finding that people know, for example, the famous Mr Fox design, not from the ‘core’ products of fabrics and wallpapers, but from the beautiful rugs produced for us by Brink & Campman or the Mr Fox mugs or eggcups made by Make International. This is then in time generating sales of our fabrics and wallpapers. The whole licensing part of the business is hugely exciting and I can see a significant amount of growth being generated through these activities.


Kallianthi Lamp shades by Harlequin


Scion living Mr Fox collection


Harlequin Bedding and Rugs

Come back Next week for part 3 the final instalment to The Harlequin Effect Interview?

Design Awards 2015 “The Wizard Of OZ”

Design Awards 2015

“The Wizard Of OZ Effect”

Hi Elsie here,

                        I just want to begin by congratulating all the Designers who have reached this stage in the competition. You are the cream of the industry and deserve your place. You create wonderful designs for clients all over the world.

In the current economic climate and with the amount of designers out there it is hard to stay on top of the industry and be front runners in your trade.

I personally congratulate you all on your achievements’ and making it this far in the competition.

This article is not just about the design awards. It focusses on one particular aspect. COLOUR, or lack of it. We are going to look at those who have chosen to use colour in their designs and therefore go out on a limb and be in the minority.

Good luck to all the finalists.

I Hope you enjoy the blog.



I have no problem with the trend of the last few years of sophisticated designs of greys, silver, taupe, white and occasionally black. In fact I quite like it.

I do feel however that saturation point has been reached.

Everyone is doing it, to the point that companies have been set up that do this look alone and no other!

When I looked through the shortlist in the design awards I was shocked at the lack of colour, so much so I began to actively seek out and home in on the ones with colour.

When I found them I felt like Dorothy Gayle in the original Wizard of OZ !



Here are my favourite colour finalists of the  .

In no particular order……………


Design Intervention does not have a specific house style. This means that along with their rich mix of interior designers, architects, stylists, interior architects and project managers, they have the ability to create a colourful and divergent portfolio that facilitates the ability to be diverse with their clients. This allows for far much more flair, vibrancy and punch to their product.

arcres10-2b Design Intervention


res2-5d design intervention


res5-2c Design Intervention



Interior designer Mervyn Toh is the creator of Hottoh Design. They are a creative team that has forged a brand, unique in style, identity and direction.

Their tag line “HOTTOH is a place where clients become friends…” is central to their creation of individual and highly personal designs. They are able to produce design solutions tailored to their client by placing their needs and desires ahead of their own as designers. This creates a distinct balance of designer, client and creation.

asialiv-1a Hottoh design Pte Ltd

Asian Cosmopolitan Penthouse Living Space

asialiv-1e hottoh

asialiv-1c hottoh


KNS Architects based in Mumbai was formed  by Ar. Kanhai Gandhi, Ar. Neemesh Shah and Ar. Shresht Kashyap and since its inception the Company has successfully designed and executed several projects across India. They offer Architecture, Interior Design and Retail. They have cleverly managed to carve out a niche for themselves in the high end design market known as box designs and solutions. Their portfolio is as vast as it is diverse. They create innovative designs, and their ability to adapt to various styles and needs of their client has placed them at the cutting edge of the industry. The young and dynamic team are able to translate the client’s needs and desires to create breath-taking designs.

asiares1-8a KNS Architects




Viterbo Interior Design founded by Graça Viterbo  in 1979, then known as Atelier Graça Viterbo. In 2008, passes the legacy on to her daughter Gracinha. It is an international interior design brand on a mission to……

“Design Extraordinary Spaces for Extraordinary Clients.”

They are a full service interior design firm with a carefully-curated team of Designers and Artisans. Their creations have a dialogue; it speaks to you like a story, oozing style, individuality and balance of tone, texture and colour. They aim to meld their client’s personality with their designs to create a harmony that is unique and highly personalised. They not only are able to create hard edge cutting contemporary design but also have sensitivity for the classics and are able to magically blend the two.

asiares1-9a Viterbo Interior Design

Family Chic

asiares1-10a Viterbo interior Design

Geometric Harmony

Rosa May Sampaio

The highly publicised Rosa May Sampaio has been operating in the interior design world for over 20yrs. Her high education, family back ground and experience has evolved over the years to create a rich and versatile portfolio that illustrates her sensitivity to a client’s desires and deep understanding of the way architecture, soft furnishings and furniture come together to create a symbiotic and refined end product. Her use of colour in her designs is ingenious and shows a skill to collate colours that look so naturally amalgamated and not contrived.

city-2c Rosa May

 São Conrado Penthouse


“Private Residence, São Paulo”

livnorth-4c Rosa May Sampio

  São Paulo Apartment


Cave Interiors is an interior design practice founded in London by Georgina Cave. Georgina and her team not only create contemporary designs at the top of the industry but also renovations of landmarks and listed buildings. Their ability to create the clients “dreams” is truly wonderful. Cave Interiors’ design portfolio demonstrates a wide and varying range of design styles. There is everything from ultra-modern to traditional; opulent to minimalist; and anything else you can think of. They tailor it all to the client’s needs, lifestyle and personality and by their own words “not the designer’s signature”.  They are able to produce highly imaginative designs that do not look staged. It is truly amazing how their designs do not look designed but look naturally evolved.

livuk-4a Cave Int

Gloucester Crescent

download (1)

 “Hotels should be living things not stuffy institutions”

This statement is obviously more than that. Looking at the Designs that Kit Kemp has created for her and Tim’s Firmdale Hotel’s that exist in London as well as in the states . The statement is more of an ethos. Because of her fresh innovative approach to design and colour the hotels are alive and buzzing with luxury, comfort and glamour. Kim’s unique personal way of decorating is a breath of fresh air. Like so many of the companies mentioned in this article Kim and Tim Kemp have many design accolades and Kim continues to push the design world of hotel interiors.

Firmdale 2

livuk-12a Firmdale

 Terrace, Ham Yard


Michael Ong and Jeremy Tay are the creators of Prestige Global Designs in Singapore. The central beliefs of this company are a spiritual and ethical essence combined with a drive and yearning to succeed. They don’t so much as slap you with colour but caress you gently with subtle hues and the odd splash of sensual focal colour. There is warmth to their designs that is seductively alluring. Michael and Jeremy aim to be at the top of their tree in Singapore and with the talent and determination they have anything is possible.

res1-9d Prestige global designs

The Orchard Residences


Hill House Interiors creators Jenny Weiss and Helen Bygraves, have built a sophisticated design company that produces opulent, seductive and exacting designs. Although a large portion of their portfolio is the neutral look I have described at the start of this piece, delve deeper and the designs where they have used colour draws you into the space intelligently. Even though the colour is used sparingly it is done in such a brilliant way that it takes your breath away.

“We like to think there is an unmistakable touch of glamour in everything we do”

This direct quote from their web site is an absolute truth. Glamour seeps out of the pours of everything these brilliant women create.

res1-12a Hill house interiors



Dorothee Junkin is the principal and visionary of DJDS. If you view the portfolio it’s obvious to see her desire to produce internal décor that is sympathetic with the architecture and even its external surroundings. This approach enables an almost fluid beauty between, design, colour, form, architecture and nature. Her use of colour seems to be drawn from nature giving it an earthy sophistication.

“Every project is as unique as the client for whom it is designed.”

Dorothee’s extensive training, expertise, experience and talent equip her with an eye for detail as well as deep understanding of her client’s needs that result in beautiful and at times surprising end product.

res5-3c Dorothee Junkin Design Studio


Vero Beach

You can vote be following the link

These are not the only designers to have used colour in this year’s design awards but they are my favourites. I notice the main thing they all seem to have in common is the fact that they design for the clients own taste  instead of having a specific look of their own that people come and ask for. This customer driven design seems to be the primary reason that these companies have such a diverse and at times colourful portfolio.

As a designer and artist I love colour and the sparsity of its use in recent times is for me a touch depressing.

I crave the colour and hunt it down then post it. I do like the fashionable creams, taupe, silver grey monochromes, but the colourful designs turn me on in a way these other designs leave me wanting.

I hope you have enjoyed the walk with me down The Yellow Brick Road of The Interior Design Awards 2015.

Good luck to all the professionals shortlisted.


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The Harlequin Effect

The Harlequin Effect

Interview with Luke Birchall UK Retail sales Manager for Harlequin

The Harlequin Group (a brief history)

Originally founded as a wallpaper company, Harlequin has embraced its heritage by producing breathtaking designer wallpapers in an all-encompassing selection of designs and textures.    A master of the flamboyant statement wallpaper, Harlequin also specialises in imaginative finishes, visionary techniques and mouth-watering colours guaranteed to make your walls a work of art in their own right!

The Harlequin Group has a rich past full of wonderful designs, designers and mergers.

Founded in 1899, the company originally known as C&W Walker Holdings Ltd was engineering company which manufactured gas containers.

In 1986, the merger with Greenbank Group PLC, another engineering firm, established the current entity Walker Greenbank PLC a public limited company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

In 1987 the Anstey Wallpapers  was acquired which thrust the company forward to become the group we know and love today, creating the marketing brands named Harlequin and Zoffany.

Palmetto Fabrics. Harlequin

Palmetto Fabrics. Harlequin

Constantina Damask Weaves. Zoffany

Constantina Damask Weaves. Zoffany

In the late 80’s the decision was made to concentrate on the wallpaper and home furnishings market, and the various engineering companies that had comprised the group were sold in 1990.

During the early 1990’s the group became one of Europe’s largest commercial wall-covering manufacturers and distributors and one of the UK’s leading domestic wallpaper and fabric companies , thanks in part to its intelligent and innovative acquisition of several companies.

In the late 90’s decisions surrounding the consolidation of the wallpaper companies and their manufacturing bases to one unit helped streamline the manufacturing side of the company. The purchase of Standfast Dyers and Printers and Barracks Fabric Printing Company was also achieved at the turn of the century thus creating a complete in-house of manufacturing.

In August 2003 the group acquired the trade and certain assets of Arthur Sanderson & Sons, which included the prestigious Morris & Co brand.

Papavera Prints & Embroideries Sanderson

Papavera Prints & Embroideries Sanderson

Archive III Morris & Co

Archive III Morris & Co

Many more changes within the group occurred and they have grown to be not only a leader in the financial world but also one of the most prestigious and trend driving company in the world of interior design and soft furnishings.

zoffany WG_logo Scion@2x Sanderson general use logo Morris & Co logo_blue-200 harlequin-logo Anstey

I have been very lucky indeed to know and work with Harlequin fabrics and wallpapers since 1995.

It has been and still is one of my most favourite products / brands. Their designs are an absolute joy to work with not only for artistic reasons but also for reasons of quality. It is such a pleasure when my clients have been overjoyed with them just as much as I, time and time again.

I first met Luke Birchall when he became a representative for Harlequin. He was an instant hit with me and all the other retailers.

His friendly and easy-going manner was a pleasure to work with, as well as his organised, enthusiastic professionalism showing his obvious love for the product and brand he represents. That coupled with the amazing designs and price point that Harlequin always has, created a winning combination that was just always impossible to resist.

So you can imagine how excited I was when Luke and The Harlequin Group agreed to this interview.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy reading it as I have writing it.


Luke Birchall. Harlequin’s UK retail Sales Manager.

Luke Birchall. Harlequin’s UK retail Sales Manager.

Harlequin Looking Back

E.Wolfe :-          I have delved into the past of the Harlequin company to its infancy in 1973 with Anstey as just a wallpaper company and the takeover with Walker Greenbank. How do you feel this has contributed to Harlequin’s growth in the past not only economically but also with its designs?

Luke Birchall: – The acquisition of the company by Walker Greenbank was certainly a turning point for the Harlequin brand but it was years later in the 1980’s that the company now known as Harlequin would bear any resemblance to the brand people know today. It was in the 80’s that we started designing and producing coordinated ranges for which we are so well known today and are the foundations on which the business has been built from. Over the past 10 years or so the company has experienced huge levels of growth both in the UK and internationally largely because of an expanded product portfolio and a greater breadth of designs which in turn appeals to a greater number of consumers. With the success we’ve achieved over the years we have been able to successfully create new stand-alone brands such as Scion and Anthology which have helped reach new customers and will hopefully continue our success into the future.

E.Wolfe:-             Have in house designers always been the way for Harlequin?

Luke Birchall: –   Unlike many of our competitors, we are proud to always have had our own design team, and this has been expanded upon and developed over the years. With the Harlequin Group now having three completely different brands in Harlequin, Scion & Anthology, it is essential to have a diverse spread of designers so that each brand maintains its own identity. Each brand has been developed specifically to have its own handwriting and whilst there is a huge amount of cross over between the designers we have also developed design specialists who live and breathe their brand. This has worked extremely well for us in the past and we envisage the same strategy for the immediate future.

Scion Levande collection

Scion Levande collection



E.Wolfe:-             Harlequin always seems to walk alongside the Fashion world with their designs has this always been the aim?

Luke Birchall:-   The Harlequin Group brands are increasingly driven by the fashion world, but the same can be said for any contemporary brand. The interiors world has always been inspired by the fashion industry in terms of trend colours and textures. In the past trend colours featured in fashion would come through the following season for interiors but now the two go hand in hand and what is hot in fashion is mirrored during the same season in interiors. As our brands have evolved and become more fashion oriented we must make sure that we have the right style of products for our increasingly fashion conscious customer base.

Amazilia Collection by Harlequin

Amazilia Collection by Harlequin

Jean -Paul Gaultier & Deta Von Teese on the catwalk in Paris

Jean -Paul Gaultier & Deta Von Teese on the catwalk in Paris

E.Wolfe:-             What was the most defining moment in Harlequin’s past as far as design direction was concerned?  

Luke Birchall:-   The most defining moment in terms of design was the appointment of our current Design Director, Claire Vallis. Claire’s background was at our sister company Anstey Wallpapers, and she joined the business with a clear vision of how she wanted the brand to evolve. Her different design direction, coupled with substantially increased investment in marketing, showrooms and exhibitions, has directly formed the brand you see today and will continue to do so in the future.

Claire Vallis. Design Director

Claire Vallis. Design Director Harlequin

Sample board from Anstey Wallpaper company.

Sample board from Anstey Wallpaper company.

E.Wolfe:-             What is your favourite past design and Harlequin’s best seller since its birth?

Luke Birchall: –  There’s so many to choose from! My personal favourite design is a true Harlequin modern classic, the digitally printed Paradise, and features in our spring 2015 Amazilia collection.

Paradise, Amazilia.

Paradise, Amazilia.


This is the 1st of a 3 part interview.

Come back next week and check out Harlequin in the Present??!!

Fringes, Frills and Frosting (The love of trims)

Hi Elsie Wolfe here.

Some people love them and some people loath them. I intend to show you with this blog that a trim, tassel or diamanté do not have to be fussy or overly extravagant if you don’t want them to be. In the contrary they can enhance and define a look or colour within a given scheme.


This is what frightens people who don’t like trims. This image (or something like it) enter their head.

Don’t get me wrong some people love the fuss, to them more is more (I like it in the right place).

Companies like KRAVET, TROYNORTH, HAYWOOD, BRITISH TRIMMINGS, HANDSOME and HOULES to name but a few specialise in a wide range of trims specifically for soft furnishings of all kinds. Modern, classic and traditional.





You do not have to go all fussy and frilly to make a statement.


It doesn’t have to be a tassel, it can be a simple braid.


Or a more detailed one.


It doesn’t even have to be a braid, it can be a contrast border or piping (with the pipe removed), or a double border trim, like the ones in these images below.



A trim can have a practical use to hide a join that is needed. Like in this next image where two plain fabrics have been used the trim makes a feature at the same time as hiding the join.


But most of the time it just adds a bit of something special to a curtain, pelmet, throw or cushion to enhance a look or make a flat design look more interesting and three dimensional.





Trimmings are so versatile that fabric companies such as Designers Guild, Harlequin and Zoffany have their own ranges to specifically match the colour pallets in their collections.




This clever bit of marketing also makes it far easier for a designer to put those little extra details together to create a beautifully coordinated end product for the client.

Most collections also have matching tie backs.



Other companies such as Haywood will make trims and tie backs to a custom colour.

You can even get diamanté and feather trims for your soft furnishings now.                                    Handy if you like a bit of bling!



Trims on soft furnishings are just like jewellery on person.                                                                Some people like rich excess and some like classic and understated.                                               One thing is true, we all like to were a little decoration don’t we?

I hope you have enjoyed this blog and will consider the addition of trims to the next design in your home?

Elsie Wolfe , , / , / , , , , , ,

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Amazing Apexes

Hi Elsie here,

I always get people asking me how to dress their apex windows.



They look great admittedly but they are a bit of a pain to dress.

You are restricted but it all depends on what you need the dressing for. You may not need one at all.

However if the apex is in a bedroom or bathroom……………

Option 1


Curtains are shaped into the apex so therefore the heading is unable to move. You have to open and close the curtains via Italian stringing at the sides.

P1080266-Italian-Stringing-back-side Italian string from the back.

Surprisingly they do not cut off as much light as you would imagine, but be careful which fabric you pick. Avoid bulky and stiff fabrics and go for something that has a good “drape”.                                The drape is the softness that the fabric hangs in its folds, with as little kick out as possible.



The fabric here is a Prestigious Poly-cotton. The Zeplin light fitting looks cool too. Pencil pleat heading fitted onto battens with horse shoe hooks for strength. I always use press and drape for added support between the hooks to help stabilise the heading.

I use velcro with pinch pleats as well as hooks.

IMG_0390 This is a crushed velvet type fabric that drapes beautifully.

You tend to have to set them down a smidge when fitting otherwise the forward pleat squashes on the ceiling, a quarter inch and no more should be fine. calculate this in your drop before making.

Expert advice from Clive Pennington  =There should have been a sub batten somewhere between one and two cms away from the ceiling so the curtains could be mounted slightly away from the ceiling enabling them to be dressed out into a V shape.


You can shape around beams.

Apex 3 Pelmets look good also

06e13b6582512155dca4e6552ce7b8d6 (1)

Always work out if the curtain will pull back off any doors that are there.

The Italian stringing is always shaped up to the corner (where the heading usually begins).

If you pool the curtains on the floor it gives you luxury and makes it that you do not have to hem on site. I always hem on site with apex curtains that are not pooled or kicking as you cannot guarantee a precise hem for this type of window finished in the workroom. This is because of the way the weight of the curtain hangs on the warp and weft weave can cause a hem to be uneven when in situ.




Great for bathroom areas and minimalist looks. If you are worried about light leaking through the slats then there is a bevelled version that interlock that you can get from The New England company.

Custom made  and fitted.


Plisse’ Blinds


Very similar in its simplicity to shutters but lets more light in. Opens up or down as you can see.

Available in a range of colours. Minimalist and neat.

I would say these are the three best options to dress apex windows.

Measuring these windows is interesting.

1. Draw out the basic shape of the window and the space it fills. Some apexes have wall around and some do not.

2. Plot along the angle (sloping edge) at set spacings, I tend to do do every 2 / 3 inches depending on the size of window. That or take the length and divide it by how many sizes I want to take. Use your own discretion.

3. Measure at these points top to bottom. Yes ALL of them, it will be worth it in the end.


The shape is wrong here but the concept is the same as an arch




Just a couple of types of apex you may come across. Some even have beams cutting into them!


Here are the basic sizes needed. I would recommend the segmented drop sizes being taken when you have the job or before ordering. This saves time and money. You should be able to work out costs off these sizes.

4 . Make sure you have the very centre drop.

5. Measure also the width you are covering.

6. Measure the outside drops which are vertical. Corner to floor.

7. If you can reach take the angle measurements.

You will then need to scale draw this all up to work out your curtains or whatever you decide to do with the window. I would recommend hemming on site if pooling is not being done!!

Be aware of their restrictions before you have one fitted .

Thanks for reading.

Elsie Wolfe

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Language Barrier.

Hi All Elsie here.

O.K. So there is a whole other language in soft furnishing.

One of the main areas of confusion surrounds the decorative item above a curtain. The following post aims to help you with the difference between them.



Soft gathered or flat item to decorate the top of a window.

This item is normally frilled with tape at the top or hand formed  pleats.

The item is not solid. (You can also have a valance on a bed to cover the base).



The first image is a pencil pleat valance with an upstand but you can get other headings (as with curtains).

You can keep them simple or make them complicated. Whatever suits.


Hard decorative item across top of window.

Stiffener is used such as ply or bucrum.

I personally prefer ply as it holds its shape better, is easier to shape and gives you neater returns. You can also make the pelmet quite big if needed with ply but not so good with bucrum.

Ply is dearer but the finish is far superior.

Pelmets are also attached to a pelmet board (plank of wood) after curtains have been hung underneath the board). Tape, velcro or both can be used to make them stay put.

The returns on the pelmet can vary but the basic two are 3 / 4 inch over a roman blind or 6 inch over a curtain. Things can effect the return size such a casement window, rails and other obstacles.

new-interior-design-trends-for-green-living-room-by-founder-aman-bansal IMG_1211 272d53f8991e8b62b478f4278bd94bf1

These are all ply pelmets.

The following is a bucrum, look at the return (the fold going to the wall). Not very neat is it? Also note the ripples on the face. These are inherent on most bucrum pelmets.



These are a bit more complicated. Similar to pelmets they are ply.

The board however is an integral part of the pelmet so the construction is similar to that of upholstery.

Everything is covered with lining, interlining and the fabric. Because of this the main fabric finishes at the bottom of the board and does not wrap under and around the back of the board (unlike a pelmet), therefore a trim needs to be added to the bottom to hide the end of the fabric and the subsequent staples that are used to hold the cloth in place.                                                                   As you can imagine this item becomes very time-consuming and therefore expensive.

Due to the board being part of the lambrequin face the curtains have to be hung onto the rail under the board, then the whole thing is lifted onto brackets. Lambrequins tend to be heavy so two people are generally needed for fitting them, adding to the cost again.

Lambrequins tend to be a lot more elaborate and can be quite architectural due to how they are constructed. You can layer them up aswell these are then called double layered.

I liked to put an additional visible pelmet board on top that was wider than the lambrequin underneath. I often covered it with a contrast fabric to give an additional feature with a cord nestled underneath. This is called a top hat.



I hope this helps clear up any confusion.

Thanks for reading. E.D.Wolfe

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FABRIC FLARE (The Basics.)

Hi Elsie here.

You would not believe how many people do not know the basic differences and properties of fabric.

This is absolutely vital in knowing which fabric to use in what situation.

Fabrics 101.


Is from the cotton Plant.


  • Comfortable Soft hand.
  • Good absorbency.
  • Color retention.
  • Prints well.
  • Machine-washable.
  • Dry-cleanable.
  • Good strength.
  • Drapes well.
  • Creases easily.

Most times it is mixed with man made polymers that make it crease less = Poly cotton for example.

Poly cotton can also some in textured form to look like velvet.


Sweet Bay Ivory_Green Roomset(3)

Plain died cotton and Sanderson printed poly cotton.

POLYESTER                                                                                                                                       (There are more man made fibres but you will see this mostly)

Man made. Chemical process.


  • Polyester fabrics and fibres are extremely strong.
  • Polyester is very durable: resistant to most chemicals, stretching and shrinking, wrinkle resistant, mildew and abrasion resistant.
  • Polyester is hydrophobic in nature and quick drying. It can be used for insulation by manufacturing hollow fibres.
  • Polyester retains its shape and hence is good for making outdoor clothing for harsh climates.
  • It is easily washed and dried.
  • Not easy to die.
  • Liable to pill.
  • Static problems.

In recent years the process for polyester has massively improved to produce very convincing faux silk. With none of the downsides to silk.



From Sheep


  • Is dull in colour due to it not reflecting light.
  • Warm.
  • Insulates.
  • Highly absorbent.
  • Returns to shape when crushed.
  • Rubs away so ideal to use with other fibres.
  • Shrinks. Can be modified to combat this.
  • Vulnerable to moths.
  • Absorbs dirt.
  • Easy to die.
  • Inherently fire retardant.

Makes great upholstery fabric and is being used more and more in blinds and curtains.

Harlequin Wool.

harlequin-delphine-wools-and-textures-2 Harlequin wool. Delphine.



linen plant

 linen 2

  • Absorbent.
  • Withstands High temps.
  • Lustrous yarn.
  • Very strong.
  • Creases easily.
  • Shrinks.
  • Flammable
  • Blends well with other fibres.

linen-curtains-with-oak-floor1 prod1159311_S14

I love the natural look of linen, the creases  don’t bother me, it is nice feel. Being used more and more in modern designs to soften everything off.


By product of the silk worm.


  • Strong filament.
  • Elastic and resilient.
  • Refracts light, lustrous appearance.
  • Insulates.
  • Easy to die.
  • Watermarks easily.
  • Rots in sunlight.
  • Fades in sunlight.
  • Creases.

Can be mixed with other fibres  to reduce downsides. Must be interlined to help protect and drape. I would also recommend treating polyester like a silk.

Silk is luxurious and beautiful . Most designers love it.




Embroidered silk GP & J Baker Larkhill collection

These are the basic ones you will encounter. When looking through fabric samples the fibre content is normal on either the back of the sample or in the the back of the book or hanger.

When looking for upholstery fabrics please ask for the “martindale”, this is the rub test that tells you how durable a cloth is. I would personally not use anything under 20 thousand rubs for a domestic item of furniture. Anything over 40 thousand is normally considered to be contract standard. There are also two levels of fire retardancy required for upholstery items. One level for domestic and crib five for contract.


  • Brocade = Figured silk or velvet with silver woven into it to create a design.
  • Chenille = Tufted, velvet yarn. Has a pile.
  • Cisele velvet = Velvet in which some of the loops are left uncut, to form a pattern.
  • Damask = Reversible figured fabric.
  • Jacquard = Figured fabric woven on jacquard loom.
  • Lampas = Figured fabric, with supplementary weft woven over the main warp and ground weft.
  • Moire = Ribbed fabric which is folded in two, then put between two metal rollers, leaving some of the ribs flattened, giving a watermark effect.
  • Ottoman = Silk fabric with broad, flat rib.
  • Panne = Velvet with longer pile and lustrous finish.
  • Shantung = Wild silkworm silk, with uneven finish and poor lustre.
  • Tussah= Silk from oak fed worms.
  • Chintz = Was originally glazed calico textiles, initially specifically those imported from India, printed with designs featuring flowers and other patterns in different colours, typically on a light plain background.


When looking for a fabric. LOOK at how it hangs, or ASK the designer how it drapes.                            A good designer will guide you but if they don’t it is important to ask.                                                 How will this work on short / long curtains, blinds? Does it need specialist lining.                              What are the characteristics of the fabric and are you happy with these?

Ultimately the choice of fabric is THE CLIENTS and not the designer’s. The designer makes SUGGESTIONS only. Too many clients try to push ALL the responsibility onto the designer and likewise some designers do not point out all the pros and cons of a fabric choice.

WORK with your designer to help create a look you are happy with.                                             LISTEN to what they say to help you make the choices that suit you to help create a stylish home that works with you lifestyle and needs.


Again there is a lot more to it than above, but here there is enough to get you started.

For a more comprehensive look at fabric types, I strongly recommend looking at Fabric and Curtain History on It is a wonderful guide and jam packed with information.

That is all for now, hope you enjoyed. 

Thanks for reading.

Elsie . D. Wolfe

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

All Boxed Up (Box Pleats)

Hi Elsie here.

Box Pleats
Box Pleats are one of the most popular types of pleats for Italian Renaissance and 16th century costume. They are, basically, two knife pleats “back to back”. They are seen nowadays on some skirts.

Box pleating still used  by many for skirts and petticoats which will be worn over bumrolls. You see them in valances and on curtains as well t. Box pleats are often wider than knife pleats, but the bahese days. sic 3:1 ratio remains the same–3 inches of unpleated fabric makes one inch of pleated fabric. Box-pleats tend to puff out .

Distance of board x by 3 and add returns. Make sure your pleats fit into the distance of the board fully, no half pleats. Meaning the face of the valance ends at the end of a pleat. Always use a board, never a valance rail.


Returns are normally bigger than this especially with curtains underneath.

If you’re short fabric, you can get the effect of box pleats by pleating as shown to the right–very shallow box pleats. Naturally, you won’t have the fullness that whole box pleats would give.

Because they tend to puff out the longer the pleat the better, the weight tends to help. Also be very careful what fabric you choose otherwise they will not lay / hang properly.


See what can happen if the fabric is thick or stiff. It causes skirting on the valance. Tack stitching the corners down can help but not ideal.

You can get differently spaced pleats and pleats that are designed to fit into a pattern, this requires a different calculation .

Lovely Bay Window

05©W_Uber_Vic_LR_DrawingR01-1170x650 (Designed by Uber Interiors)




See what I mean about the longer pleats hanging better, I feel they look more elegant.

I also like it when a contrast is used on the inverted pleat.


Small bands across the top can be used, and trims along the bottom can look great.

Just watch the bulk you are creating it all effects the end result.

I have also seen them as a feature for underneath swags.

351a2a0b34ff53d9df2c70e38cf49727 (1) I find they give added depth and a softness.

You can put box pleats on curtains. Again be very careful with your fabric choice. Nothing too thick or stiff. Go with something that “drapes” well.

b0bdb6721065dcfa1879d94d2f591b5f 9d0627e4487324b08d205ff99b3d1969 2d6c50099121c7c1f2df238d50c8803f

Most of the time you will see them as “Static” or “none functional” curtains. I personally feel they are better as this. You will occasionally see them as working curtains but not often because it can ruin the hang and function of the curtain.

93abd6660ee2eabd758842e2451be0d5 This one is the best example I could find of a good result.

This is a lovely style valance / heading that I feel has stood the test of time from the 16th century and still looks wonderful and stylish today. Especially on tall windows.

Thank you for reading


THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Size is everything. (How to measure for curtains).

Hi All Elsie here.

OK sizing a curtain or blind.

Straight forward I hear you cry. Well if that is the case why do so many people get it wrong?

I have had clients insist that their measurements were precise only to end up with a useless curtain or blind. Lets focus on curtains.

With a few simple pointers I can help you reduce if no eliminate the possibility for errors.


Obvious, I know but so many people falter at this first step making everything else you do useless.

Fat Max Tape Measure

Fat Max Tape Measure


Choose a good sturdy tape measure I find Fat Max to be the best it extends the longest before buckling.

Pick a measurement and stick with it.

Inches at top cm’s at bottom. I always went with inches because I measured big windows so inches were easier to read. If you have a digital great but you will still need a tape measure digital ones will only measure surface to surface so a tape measure covers everything else.

By not jumping from imperial to metric and back again you reduce your chances of miss reading the tape measure.


Tip = I always start with the width.

When I say this I mean do not list them.

Draw a simple picture of your window with arrows showing where you are measuring and fill in the sizes on the diagram. This way you reduce the likelihood of you mixing up the sizes.

This diagram gives you an idea.


You do this at the beginning and everything else has a higher chance of going right.

Once you have these sizes you then need the dimensions of the pole or rail you are fitting. They are all different.


a. Size of backplate of pole

b.Top of backplate on wall to bottom of ring when on pole.

c.Pole diameter.

d.Ring size.

Make sure that the pole will fit into the gap at the top of the window, still allowing  the pole to lift into the brackets and also for the curtain to be above the top of the window reveal when hung on the pole. as mentioned in my other blog.

The top of the curtain (unless there is an upstand) should sit at the base of the rings (eyelets should not be visible).

Pinch pleat curtains hung correctly.

Pinch pleat curtains hung correctly.

Now you can either calculate the drop of your curtain using the sizes measured allowing for the position of the top of the curtain when hung or fit the pole and measure from base of ring to where you want the curtain to end.

REMEMBER to make an allowance for off the floor if having full length. Alternatively add length on for pooling or kick.

If your curtains are eyelets the top of the pole position must be used then add an upstand this can vary slightly depending on size of ring. The bigger the ring the bigger the upstand so the curtain remains balanced. I allow a min of 2″ unless there is a restriction.

Eyelet upstand

Obviously the sizes as I have already said vary depending on the item you are hanging curtains on to.

The following rails are the everyday affordable ones I use.


Nylon-Glyde Nylon-glyde

Silvo rail

Silvo rail



Each are good affordable rails used in the right space and with the correct weight of curtain.

Sometimes a specialist rail is required or a client requires a higher specification. I strongly recommend Silent Gliss. I have also used Evans as a middle costing but good quality.

Silent Gliss rails I have used and very happy with 1082, 3982, 3841, 1280,1090,1080 metropole and metroflat. both companies have electric systems that are excellent but the customer service and technical support of Silent Gliss are second to none.

Please note that wave headed curtains can be tricky to size and need to be done so with the tape in front of you, or ideally by a professional. I would also recommend this practice for any tape to give you the position of the curtain when on the eyelet and hook I have always done this to give me an extremely precise measurement.


Most tapes are set down slightly from the top 1/8th to 1/4″ aprox. This varies with the manufacturer.

Whilst all of the above is good handy info I do recommend using the person who is making your curtains to measure. They are then fully responsible for the curtains fitting and working correctly and are also responsible for any mistakes. Your measurements, your responsibility. So double check everything.

Good luck


Silent Gliss =    

Swish =              

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.