Look, we have to be honest, curtain linings are not the sort of thing that will blow your hair back with sheer delight. It’s sort of hard to get excited about a functional item like this – a bit like getting excited about a new water heater, carpet underlay, or new gutters…! It’s usually the face fabric, the star of the show at the window that brings the pizazz, colour or texture to a space, with lining tucked in behind, performing the admirable duties of light blocking and fabric protecting.

However, these are virtues to be celebrated as they help us make bolder decisions about the drapery fabrics for our spaces. They are also not what linings once were, and many now have the capacity to stand alone as a super practical drapery in their own right, heralding a new era for a previously much maligned fabric category.  Prepare to have your hair blown back boys and girls…

Where to Begin: Well, it’s important to establish the purpose of the lining – is this a room you plan on sleeping in till midday? Lucky you! You will need a blackout (sometimes called a blockout), which will completely block light filtration, allowing you to sleep easy in blissful darkness.

These are used in five-star hotels, and in the homes of shift workers or young children who need to be able to sleep at any time of the day without pesky circadian rhythms waking you up from the light. Once upon a time, blackout linings were desperately practical, coming in white or off white (if you were lucky) and with a three-pass coating on the back (three layers of acrylic based flock).

Nowadays there are loads of colour choices, allowing you to amplify the tone of a sheer or compliment your interior or exterior wall colour. Acrylic backing still exists, and now too does silicone, which has some amazing practical aspects such as ease of washing and great for those with dust allergies as dust won’t stick. These will block all light from your space and will sit behind your face fabric adding volume, UV protection and thermal benefits as well. 

One of the window treatment applications we have come to see, more and more frequently both residentially and commercially is a double track system, allowing you to have a face fabric, for example a sheer, with a lining on an additional track, to provide you an element of control over how much light you have coming through the window at any one time. 

Here you may like to introduce some interest on the lining as this may occasionally be used on its own, or face into the room during the day if the sheer is on the window side and is left permanently drawn for privacy (hello urban dwellers). 

Enter some fantastic new additions to the range, most recently a truly excellent poly/linen blend called Northland. With a modern and organic look, there is no need to hide this little friend at all – coated products like this are wonderfully practical and a price conscious solution.  


James Dunlop Northland / James Dunlop Bonny 3 pass Blackout

If you don’t need to sleep in until midday but you want a simple solution for your living and shared spaces, a good quality dimout will still provide significant light blocking but without a coated finish. 

These are also often referred to as a ‘triple weave’ as well and are not to be confused with blackouts. 

A dimout will bring body to a face fabric, provide excellent sound and temperature regulation and also offer excellent washability. Like coated linings, they have “come of age” recently and in addition to super practical plains that live behind your drape (Broadline) – there are also some interesting weaves and even prints that provide fantastic design opportunities and again allows the lining to be the hero at the window. Designs like Guardian, Matrix and Geneva offer tactile surfaces with luxury and interest – don’t hide them, let them shine!

So, now when you are considering how to address the tricky subject of draperies, you can feel confident that gone are the days of a boring lining option, and now variety abounds with lots to celebrate. Play with texture and tone and bring another element of interest into your space in the most subtle of ways – an added attention to detail that will bring so much to your interior.

Written by James Dunlop