The bifold door phenomenon is now embedded in every sophisticated architect’s brief when it comes to designing uber chic, contemporary kitchen and living room spaces, and in recent blogs on bifold doors we’ve discussed the various benefits of these innovative systems.
However talk to any bifold door manufacturer, and they will tell you that, with this trend towards designing ever larger glazed living area windows, sliding doors have quietly but implacably muscled in on this lucrative market (any episode of Grand Designs will support this).
Sliding doors are back: think sliding doors and you tend to cast your mind back to those rather clunky unpainted aluminium structures that we optimistically installed back in the 80’s. But they didn’t really work, did they? Draughty and ugly, with limited pane sizes, they would get stuck after a few years, and so after much cursing we all tore them out, to be replaced by some good old fashioned french doors or equivalent (this was, remember in the days before the bifold).
But now, sliding doors bare no resemblance to their awkward predecessors. Today’s incarnations are slick, triple glazed systems which glide slickly on finger tip control. Linking your living areas with the outdoors has never been more seamless, but the age old problem of how to incorporate soft furnishings into these minimalist contemporary spaces doesn’t go away – which brings us onto this month’s case study.
The Challenge! Back in August one of our clients was nearing the end of a dramatic refurbishment of their south west London home, and their architects got in touch with us to discuss curtains for the soon to be installed kitchen sliding doors. Client had sensibly insisted on incorporating sheer curtains into the kitchen area design, so as to afford some privacy to this space. However the architects didn’t want to compromise on the aesthetics of the room, and were interested to know if we could install a semi-hidden track system which could continue into a cupboard, so that the curtains could be hidden away when not in use.
Choosing the right tracks: the easy part was recommending a track system, in this case the KS Klick System from Evans Textiles, chosen for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s profile was ideally suited to being rebated into the plaster board so as to sit flush with the ceiling with the plastering complete. Secondly the larger section of windows would span over 6 metres with three 90 degree bends. The length of this run would necessitate a join in the middle of the track, which would need to be seamless to ensure smooth operation of the curtains. The Evans system is one of the few systems on the market that can work to this challenging brief.
Stacking the curtains into cupboards: by far the most challenging, and in many ways novel part of the brief concerned the cupboards that the curtains were to stack into when not in use. The first set of doors were just under 4 metres wide, with an intended cupboard area of just 50cms. The preferred option of a wave headed curtain was swiftly abandoned in favour of a double pinch pleat heading – which would be much more economical when stacked. The size and shape of each pleat, together with the number of pleats and their spacing would have to be carefully calculated to ensure the curtains could be stored in this limited cupboard space.
The second set of doors had two sections meeting at right angles, with a combined width of 6 metres. Again, the design anticipated minimal cupboard space of 50cms. As there was no way that a 6 metre wide curtain could be stacked into such a limited space, some hasty advice from us following an on-site technical measure led to the reconfiguration of this cupboard to incorporate a track that would turn at 90 degrees in the cupboard into a 1 metre deep hidden space behind a shelving system.
Our input to the architects complete, we turned our attention to fabricating the curtains. To minimise stacking space, each pleat would be sewn together at the top to stop it fanning out and using up valuable space inside the cupboards. The number of pleats on each curtain was carefully calculated, as was pleat spacing – so that the curtains stacked to the exact space required.
The curtains are hand drawn by means of 152cm long white fibreglass draw rods, also from Evans Textiles.