My Lessons on Curtains and Blinds (Review)
Oh yes, this furnishing may be one of the most important things to have in a home. It is not a nice-to-have, but a must-have. My family and I lived in our previous home without utilising a single curtain or blinds. We just used temporary window coverings—a whiteboard and a banner—for seven years! This was not appropriate living conditions, which I’ve come to realise recently.
In my new abode, we explored using curtains, blinds and motorised units for the different areas of our home. To ease our hassle of sourcing multiple vendors, we engaged mc.2 as our one-stop vendor to provide all the above. We went with them as their showflat at Vertex is one of the most impressive in terms of variety and customer service. But of course, there are areas to be improved on which I’ll cover later in this article.
Match curtains and blinds with furniture
I don’t mean colour-matching, which is relatively easy to do either by yourself or with the help of an interior designer. Space-matching is more crucial. You want to keep in mind window frame measurements, the space around your window and the surrounding furniture that will affect your curtains and blinds placement.
Consider the following scenarios you may encounter for a bedroom:
- How near is your bed frame to the curtains? Is there sufficient space for you to walk in and manually draw the curtains?
- Do you have day and night curtains? These add additional depth so you will want to account for that. If installed, will there be sufficient space to add in a queen-sized bed and two bedside tables with walking space? If you are getting a single bed, you may want to consider the possibility of upsizing your bed in the future when planning out your curtains or blinds.
- Do you want to draw the curtains to both ends or just to one end? The corners matter for future provision of other furniture like, shelves, wardrobe, etc.
What-on-Where and Why?
With the measurements planned out, you should be thinking about what are the types of curtains or blinds you need for each room. It doesn’t have to be all curtains or all blinds for the entire home. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, and you should choose based on how the room is used and per your lifestyle.
Two of our bedrooms were combined together, with the middle wall hacked. Curtains suit best for the windows in this area as they provide us with soft natural curves that help to create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere for sleep. We opted for day and night curtains. Day curtains allowed for natural light to come into the room when we spend time in it during the day while having slight privacy,, while night curtains gave us total darkness for an undisturbed sleep.
There were three types of night curtains we could choose from: normal night curtains, dimmed out curtains and finally, black-out curtains, which we went for, as sleeping without a single light distraction is of utmost importance to us. But of course, there are some of you who don’t like total darkness as your subconscious mind will think of horror stories.
There are also a few types of folds for the curtains to select from: S-Fold, Pleated and Eyelet. We decided on S-Fold for its contemporary aesthetic beauty. Do note that with S-Fold, a wider depth is necessary for the folding space. I do have slight regrets on this as the day and night curtains coupled with the S-Fold meant that I had to sacrifice a depth of around 40 cm, which is quite substantial for just curtains…
These curtain tracks are by TOSO, and it has been buttery smooth in operation. It also comes with a magnetic latch when the curtains are closed to the end.
To future proof our boys’ bedroom for privacy when they grow up, we opted for something out of the ordinary in an HDB flat—an Accordion Door by TOSO. There are no other alternatives to this product for my specific requirements. I needed something that:
- Provides privacy when my kids come to age.
- Able to open up for my family bonding time.
- Able to lock up at my end (from our bedroom), and not be able to at the kids’ bedroom.
- Not too bulky when folded/kept, and still look presentable.
Comes with lock and key
To fulfil the above criteria, frosted bi-fold or sliding glass doors were out, as they were too heavy and took up a lot of space when opened. Neither will a regular curtain fit well as we won’t be able to lock it up and you can easily slip through underneath.
The TOSO accordion blinds come in a variety of different colours and textures. And the only actual sample I’ve seen in the market is at the mc.2 showroom. It comes in a beautiful leather textured chocolaty canvas. This product is great as you can match both the material and its frame colour with the interior design of your home. It isn’t flimsy, but it does wobble a bit when you put pressure on it. But it’s definitely a sturdy structure.
Our study room, which was originally the default living room area, went with Altex motorised venetian blinds. We were deciding whether to go with curtains or blinds, but choose the latter in the end because we could better control the amount of natural light coming in.
In the study, we have a work desk and a piano, which my boy plays on. This area is also a small play-zone for family board and stacking games (Yes, the work and play area is in the same, but we make sure there is a strict distinction when it comes to time for work or play). So with the variety of activities to consider, this area needs to adapt and to adapt fast.
By adjusting the wooden slats of the venetian blinds, I can adjust the amount of light entering in throughout the day, while also adjusting for different levels of privacy at night. You cannot do that with curtains. Because this study area is the main room in the home, I also needed full brightness to receive guests or to dim things a little and rely on my ambient lighting when my boys are practicing songs on the piano.
In the evenings, when the sun goes down and with our ambient lights switched on, privacy goes out the window. Our neighbours across can thoroughly see everything happening at home during this time. This is when I will have my blinds down with just a slight opening for breeze and evening garden views.
With so many configurations to adjust daily, a motorised blind is best suited. mc.2 brings in one of the best motorised systems in the market – Somfy Motors. The remote control is clean and simple with a few necessary buttons. Other than the basic up and downs, it also comes with a rotary dial for precision opening of slats. The wood grain design adds warmth and matches the greenery outside the window.
Curtain Control (left), Blinds Control (right)
Also, not forgetting that they have a smart home mobile app that allows you to create presets for certain scenarios. But I would go for the remote control because the app isn’t very intuitive at times (I tried this with iOS). The responsiveness can be a hit or miss, but when it works, it is a very useful tool especially when you need to remotely control them. For instance, we would remotely close the blinds down when it gets extremely hot so that my lonely pet dog won’t be sweating and helpless at home when we are out.
And last but not least, our entertainment room, which was originally a bedroom that we hacked off the walls to with the intention of converting it to our cosy corner, family room. Why can’t we have it at the standard living room? Because with this semi-enclosed room, I can contain noise, light and cold air from within.
I have a curved motorised curtain to replace the walls and door that we knocked down. As advised by my interior designer, I went with the two-layered curtains to have a nicer feel when I’m inside the room. Similar to my other bedrooms, I went with day and night curtains. The only difference is that they are motorised here.
One layer curtain
Two layer curtain
The model for the day curtains is called Speechless 98-Snow, and night curtains are the 07-Marshmallow. Both are under the same brand, Acacia. They are selected by my designer to match the light tones on my walls and to allow light to be reflected off it.
The Somfy motor was again utilised here and I thought this curtain set-up was perfect in terms of the functionality and how we wanted our entertainment room to be. We can have a fully air-conditioned room, blocking off all the lights from outside or reflection from the windows. It also gives us a full cinematic experience at home.
Sure, there are other brands of motorised curtains in the market, and I believe they are also cheaper than Somfy. But coming from a first-time user perspective, Somfy shines in two areas: versatility and reaction time. It was versatile in adapting to my curved curtains and it also provided me the ability to manually open or close the curtains by hand. You know sometimes when the controller isn’t within reach, adjusting the curtains by hand is the fastest way. There may be a split second lag in the reaction to open or close, but I don’t expect it to be fast due to the nature of the curtains movements, which are intended to be smooth and relaxing.
What could have been better?
The material that I’ve chosen for my night curtains, 07-Marshmallow, is thick, and because of that, it is not possible to straighten it all out even with the handheld steam iron. Well, that was what was told by the mc.2 staff. That means I will have to live with eyesore creases. But I will probably invest in my own steam iron to try to iron any crease out myself from time to time.
According to them, this material is one of the thickest, high quality fabric that has both heat and sound absorption. The pros outweigh the cons in this case, but it would have been better if their sales staff advised me on this way before I made my purchase.
Creases to stay
My motorised venetian blinds come in pairs, but when controlled, the blinds do not move in sync at times. The slats angle may differ and the length of extension are not aligned side by side (which can be seen in the previous blinds video). Is this a common issue due to the adjoining of slats by strings, which will be tough to engage simultaneously for both pieces?
Unaligned blindsmc 2
Curtain and blinds local vendors are in abundance. And they are likely to offer similar brands like TOSO and Somfy, but the positives for mc.2 are in these two areas:
They have a pretty impressive showroom. A double volume showroom that showcases a wide range of blinds and curtains in an organised manner. This can be visually overwhelming, but you don’t get lost thanks to the helpful staff.
Secondly, due to the high competition in this trade, you can expect pushy salespersons trying to clinch your deal in the fastest possible way. But this is not the case in my experience with mc.2. I’ve been there three different times and engaged three different salespersons. Each openly shared the knowledge of their products without expecting anything in return. I enjoyed the tour in every single visit.
Their installers are also impressive and polite. Notably Ah Hui, the accordion door installer, who rectified an on-site situation by switching the locks to face my room instead of my kids’. Imagine them unlocking the door while their parents are having happy-times… And also Ah Jun, the motorised curtain installer, who educated us on each product after completion. Overall the experience with mc.2 has been an enjoyable one.