Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ottawa - Choosing Custom Drapery Fabrics

Fabrics come in many colours, patterns and textures.  To ensure our choice in fabric will provide the desired look we need to consider a few points.

Each room in our home has a defined function.  Some are high traffic areas and others are more restful.

In high traffic areas we need to clean more often.  The decision to have blinds versus fabric is something to consider.  Blinds can be cleaned with a damp cloth and usually takes minimal time.  The introduction of fabric can still be used in a simple valence or stationary side panels. 

Bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms are lower traffic areas and this is where you can go to town on your drapery fabric choices. 

If privacy is not an issue the outdoor view often becomes part of the indoor living space.  In this case it is important to allow your view to flow right from the indoor space to the outdoors.  Stationary side panels are often used in these rooms to soften the window frame. 

Light is one of the most important considerations.  Fabric is very fragile and sun damage is a big issue.  Good lining is a must in these cases.

Cotton is a fabric that comes in many weights.  It is washable.   Keep in mind that it also shrinks and fades with washing.  If you are doing a small project that does not require a lot of fabric you may want to wash it before sewing.   There are many washing hints online to help you ensure less fading.

Linen is a very popular fabric for a less formal and often more contemporary look.  Lined has a larger weave and can be a dust collector.  Simply shaking the panels outdoors each season will solve this.  It is important to use a good lining with linen fabrics to ensure they hang nicely.    Linen tends to wrinkle easy so it is best to make simple style draperies, such as grommet tops of inverted pleats.

Silk is one of the most popular fabric choices in home decor.  There is nothing more luxurious than the look of silk.  The cast of different shadows of colour make it a great dining and living room choice.  Along with its beauty comes careful cleaning.  Dry cleaning is recommended.  In most cases, simply shaking or gently vacuuming the panels is all you need to keep your silk drapery looking its best.   If the panels draw across the whole window in the evenings the use of a pull rod will stop any moisture on your hands from settling into the side of your panels.   

Taffeta is similar to silk but it is has a stiffer feel.  Not as fragile as silk and gives a beautiful full look to your drapery panels.  Taffeta also makes nice bed skirts.  Whether they are box pleated or gathered, the look is luxury.  Again, dry cleaning is recommended.

Velvet is another popular fabric used in drapery, upholstery and accessories.  It is a heavier weight fabric with beautiful shadows of colour on display with lighting.  Dry cleaning is recommended with this fabric.  The backing on velvet is often much thicker and can be used to darken a room.   A good lining is still recommended to stop sun damage. 

Fabric Blends are harder and harder to tell from their real counter parts.  Blends such as poly-cotton are good choices in high traffic areas because they wash nicely and tend to keep their colour.  Linen blends are great for the true linen look without the wrinkling.  Faux silks are a less expensive and often achieve the same look as a real silk. 

Take a minute to research your choices and open your mind to the possibility of something even more spectacular than you had imagined. 

Speaking from experience with a fabric stash to prove it, fabrics make our homes happy!

Donna Robichaud – January 2012
Donna Robichaud
Custom Draperies and Design
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
At Ottawa Custom Draperies and Design we specialize in Custom Draperies, Curtains and Drapery Design serving the Ottawa Valley from , Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte, Arnprior, Stittsville and Kanata.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ottawa - Window Treatments for Every Room and Reason

I just read a great article by Chantel Simmons of HGTV on Window Treatments with a breakdown for every room of your home.

Enjoy, Donna

Whether you’re looking to brighten your bathroom or darken your bedroom, this guide to window treatments will give you all the options you’ll need to suit your style, protect your privacy and make each area a room of its own.

Style notes

Whatever your decorating style, make sure your window treatments are complementary. Follow these simple guidelines:

Contemporary: Keep window treatments simple. If privacy and darkness are not an issue, leave windows uncovered, simply adding a valence or side panels. Otherwise, try simple, sheer cellular shades in a colour that matches the trim.

Traditional: High-end fabrics (silk, linen, tapestry) that drape and touch the ground, are best. If you prefer a traditional roller shade or silk sheer, add heavy curtains that can be tied to the side or drawn for privacy and darkness.

Casual: Ideal for a family room where comfort trumps couture, try cotton cellular shades, shorter lengths (touching the base of the window, not the ground), and roman shades in neutral colours.


In the bedroom, privacy and darkness should be a priority. Look for cellular fabric shades that contain a room-darkening fabric as well as a design that eliminates or minimizes light from slipping in. For example, if you prefer horizontal blinds, choose three- or four-inch slats (such as Hunter Douglas Silhouette Quartette) over one-inch slats (which will allow light in between each slat). Blinds that have fabric on each side of the slat, allow the blinds in the open position to allow light in, while still providing some privacy. If privacy is not an issue, consider a traditional roller shade that you can lower to darken and raise to let light in.

In a child’s bedroom, make sure that the fabric will withstand dirty hands, crayons and craft supplies. Make sure pull-cords do not descend into a child’s reach and that they’re fastened to the wall so a child cannot get hurt. To add flair to the child’s room, look for a brightly coloured, quirky shade, with a room-darkening second fabric on the back, which will make the shade appear white from the outside view.


In the bathroom, the priorities are privacy and a product that will withstand humidity and won’t warp or crack. Consider cafĂ© shutters (which cover only the lower half of a window) or a blind that opens at the top of the window, which will allow moisture to escape and let light in while maintaining privacy in the room.


Key considerations in the kitchen are ventilation and durability against heat and stains. High-quality wood shades are easy to clean and, without cords to get in the way, will be easy to maintain. Vinyl shades are easy to clean, and are moisture resistant, which is great around the sink, and kids.

Living room/family room/den

Windows that let in an abundance of sunlight during the day can make a room feel bright, but they can also cause a room to get overly warm, and allow the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays in, causing damage to fabric, furniture and accessories. You’ll need a window treatment that diffuses light, try honeycomb shades, which may come in a variety of light-diffusing categories (such as Hunter Douglas Duettes, which are available in sheer, semi-sheer, semi-opaque and opaque). These coverings trap warm or cool air in their cells, decreasing the intensity of the temperature as it enters the room, while blocking UV rays.

Home office

In a home office, you’ll want a shade that allows light in while shielding glare from your computer screen. Look for metal horizontal shades that can be tilted and reflect the sunlight and glare, while keeping the room cool against the sun’s rays; fabric blinds with a double-cell to filter light, or shades specifically designed to reduce glare (such as Levelor Solar Shadings).

Small spaces

To make a small room (such as a bathroom or guest bedroom) feel larger, keep the colour contrast between the wall colour and the window covering low. Remember, light colours make a room feel larger than dark colours (so choose white walls and blinds over navy blue or charcoal).

Large, open spaces

To make a large open room (such as a living room-dining room or loft space) feel cozier, create a high contrast between the colour of the wall colour and window covering. To highlight furniture, keep window treatments neutral.

Tip: To keep rooms warm in winter and cool in summer, try wood blinds.

By Chantel Simmons

Donna Robichaud
Custom Draperies and Design
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
At Ottawa Custom Draperies and Design we specialize in Custom Draperies, Curtains and Drapery Design serving the Ottawa Valley from , Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte, Arnprior, Stittsville and Kanata.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ottawa - Draperies Should Match Your Lifestyle

by: Donna Robichaud

In the last 20 years I have had the honour of visiting many homes in my career of custom draperies and design.
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “What do you think?”. 
My first visit to a client’s home is to allow both myself and the client to get to know each other.  This gives me a chance to ask all the questions that usually don’t come to mind, such as light, function, purpose and daily routine.  If you use a sliding door to go in and out frequently you might not want to use silk fabric.  This does not mean you can’t achieve the same look.  There are plenty of faux silk fabrics that will look just as wonderful as silk.
In the first meeting I like to hear the homeowner’s ideas and wishes and do my best to make them work.  If I truly feel that their ideas will not work in a certain room I do my best to come up with an alternative idea. 
Drapery is a decorative accessory that can make or break a look.  Never underestimate the power of beautiful fabric such as the sheen of taffeta or silk or the contemporary look of linens.  If all you want to do is frame the window with a neutral colour you can still use luxurious or woven fabrics to add to your decor. 
Linings are also a necessary addition to the look of your drapery.  Some of the most beautiful fabrics are very light weight.  In order for them to hang nicely you will require a good lining.  Light entering the room is another consideration.  Sunlight can fade fabric quickly and cause the fabric to break down.  Your fabrics will last years longer if they are lined with the appropriate lining.   In most cases you will tire of the drapery before it is worn out. 
Drapery rods come in many styles and colours along with decorative rings and finials.  When you are choosing your rods it is always a good idea to choose a wood or metal colour that is already in the room. 
After all is said and done fabric comes in many colours and designs and there is always one that will work for you!

For more information contact:

Donna Robichaud
Custom Draperies and Design
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
At Ottawa Custom Draperies and Design we specialize in Custom Draperies, Curtains and Drapery Design serving the Ottawa Valley from , Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte, Arnprior, Stittsville and Kanata.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Donna Robichaud Custom Draperies - fit for a Queen

When Donna Robichaud was growing up under the watchful eye of protective parents, she had no idea that one day she would help create restful spaces for visiting dignitaries, especially the Queen.

She tried working at a bank for a time but as Donna says, “A creative person just can’t survive in a black and white world.”

She and her husband Don Robichaud of FloodLight Consulting moved around Central and Eastern Canada. It was when they were in Ottawa, two young daughters in tow, that Donna decided to create her own income. Naturally talented at arranging anything to look good, Donna put some flower arrangements together and approached the manager at the Hudson’s Bay Company. “He loved what I showed him and I got the contract to display my work with the Hudson’s Bay.” She loved working from home as she could make her arrangements and be with her small children.

After flower arrangements came curtains; Donna needed new ones for her home so she made them. She discovered she was very good at it and began making them for friends. Her simple pair of curtains turned into the opportunity of a lifetime.

While working part time at a fabric store she was introduced by one of her curtain customers to the “Decorator of Official Residences” in Ottawa. She was impressed with Donna’s work and quickly signed her to a contract.

Donna was now part of a team that decorated, revamped and revitalized such residences as Rideau Hall and Rideau Guest House as well as the residences of the Governor General, the Speaker of the House and the Prime Minister.

In 1997, in preparation for the Queen’s visit, Donna was part of the team called in to update a room at Rideau Hall. The rooms are redone approximately every 15 years yet need to maintain their classic style. For the Queen’s room, Donna was responsible for the bedding, including bed skirts, covers, pillow coverings etc.

Donna was again involved with the update of the Residence of the Speaker of the House which was the original residence of Mackenzie King. This residence is better known as "The Farm" and it rests in the beautiful Gatineau Hills of Quebec. “Because of the history of these homes, it was like having the ghosts of everyone who made Canada great watching you. It wasn’t spooky; in fact it was quite comforting knowing how much history was there.”

Donna and her husband moved to the Okanagan in 2003 and she now “works with regular people.” She looks back on her past experience and knows she wouldn’t change a thing. “My girls learned that you can raise a family and be self-sufficient. They’ve seen me do it and now I see them all grown up and very self-reliant and independent.”

Donna usually doesn’t like to tell people about her past work. “I don’t want people to think I’m out of their price range. I know all to well how to work within a budget for myself and I can easily do it for others.”

In the fall of 2011 Donna brought her business back to the Ottawa Valley and settled in the Historic town of Perth Ontario, nothing fancy, just a woman helping other people make their homes look and feel as wonderful as their owners.

Donna Robichaud Custom Draperies and Design specialize in Custom Draperies and Curtains serving the Ottawa Valley from , Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte, Arnprior, Stittsville, and Kanata.
You don’t have to be a Queen to gain the benefit of her experience; however, once she’s through with your home, you may feel like you are.

For more information contact:

Donna Robichaud
Custom Draperies and Design
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Friday, December 31, 2010

Ottawa - Saving Energy with Insulated Drapery Panels

Save up to 30% on energy costs by using properly insulated drapery .

When considering your next set of custom drapes, selecting the correct lining may be the most important choice you make. Designers have always had a little secret when designing custom drapes for their Clients; the lining and interlining.

"It may sound like just an insignificant part of the construction of a drape but the lining may be the most overlooked and critical part of the Designing Process", said Christian Lee, Production Manager at DrapeStyle in California. "Most consumers who buy ready-made drapes just don't really know what they're missing, by adding the perfect lining we can give the Client much more value for their money when compared to imported or ready-made", Lee Added.

So let's explore the options and the benefits of each.

The lining is the backing fabric used in the construction of a custom drape. It is used to create more fullness and protect the fabric from the harmful effects of sunlight. "A good lining is 50% cotton and 50% polyester. The cotton makes it soft to the touch and the polyester allows it to stand up to years of UV rays," Lee said. "Use a 100% poly lining and it's too stiff, use 100% cotton and it will disintegrate after just a couple of years," Lee added.

Between the lining and the drape fabric is the Interlining. The interlining is sandwiched between the two fabrics. "The interlining is really where all of your options are and can make a huge difference in the value and lifespan of the drape", Lee said. "You have great options today and there are some important considerations regarding the insulating factor of the curtain, the sound barrier performance and overall look of the product" Lee said.

"Most people are unaware that, according to the US Department of Energy about 25-30% of their homes energy is lost through their windows," Lee added. "Installing custom drapes with a heavy-weight (6oz) cotton flannel interlining can reduce the loss of heat by 25% in the winter and also reduce heat gain in the summer by up to 33%" Lee said. When choosing an interlining material you should use a 100% cotton flannel material which will provide great insulation plus an added sound barrier.

For those who live in a frigid climate, you may also want to consider using an English Bump Interlining which is about twice the thickness of flannel interlining. As the name implies, English Bump is a traditional material that was used in the cold damp winters of England to keep homes warm. "You really have to know what you're doing with Bump", said Lee, "It is very heavy and difficult to properly sew but the results are amazing, it's like wrapping a blanket around your house".

Another common interlining is "Blackout" or "Outblack" which blocks about 99% of the sunlight from penetrating through the drape. "Blackout has never been more popular with our Clients", said Lee. "We have always used blackout for many high-end hotels and restaurants and now consumers are asking for it for their home media rooms, bedrooms, etc." Lee added. Blackout protects the drapery fabric and may also protect the upholstery in the room by blocking the harmful UV rays that can destroy upholstery fabric.

"There are some great options available today and when using the right fabric, lining and interlining combination you can get far more value out of custom drapes than ever before", Lee said. "If you really do the math, buying well-made custom-drapes from the right place will often cost you less in the long-run than buying a ready-made product." Donna Robichaud
Custom Draperies and Design
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
At Ottawa Custom Draperies and Design we specialize in Custom Draperies, Curtains and Drapery Design serving the Ottawa Valley from , Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte, Arnprior, Stittsville and Kanata.