Although the motifs, textures, colors and patterns of interior décor change throughout the eras, there is a timeless elegance to the use of net curtains at windows. Strolling down a residential street, sun shining, sheer white curtains fluttering in the breeze in the windows, the passerby is enchanted by the attractive sight. The time period may be Victorian, the 1600's or 2010; the place may be Paris, England or Boston, but the view from the street is strikingly similar. When windows must be covered for privacy, but light from outdoors is wanted, net or lace curtains provide a ready solution. These curtains gently filter sunlight yet also help to screen the view from the exterior so that the heavier outer draperies can be kept opened during daylight hours. Made of sheer, open-weave, translucent fabric, light and air pass through but visibility from the outside to the inside during daylight hours is reduced.

The simplest of these panels are unadorned, ranging from iridescent to a matte finish. Embellished, lace curtains become works of art with interwoven patterns of lace, macramé or embroidery. Made in white, off-white, ecru or ivory, they lend a fresh look to any window. Materials include cotton, silk, voile and synthetics such as polyester and rayon.

Various mesh sizes and patterns produce different effects, particularly when combined with other decorations. Filet aSheer curtainsnd cable nets are coarser weaves and bobbinet has a hexagonal mesh. Small dots are used to form intricate patterns in Point d' Esprit and dotted Swiss. Traditionally handmade, today many attractive machine-made varieties are available.

Styles can be adapted to the décor. Voile curtains with eyelet rings hung on a thin rod blend well with a modern look. Madras lace, fine patterned lace motifs on a sheer panel, will complement nineteenth century, Victorian-era and early twentieth-century period decors nicely. Originally developed as a hand-loomed lace in the early 1800s, Madras lace is still made in Glasgow, Scotland, on the same machines.

Special hardware ensures that the light weight and fine weave are not overwhelmed by heavy poles and hooks. Wire, spring-wire or coated wire can be easily attached by hooks within the sash. The lightness of the fabric prevents the wire from bending or sagging. The poles for this fabric are very small in diameter, minimizing attention to the hardware. Spring tension rods can be placed anywhere within the sash, avoiding nail holes in woodwork or walls. Rings made especially for sheer draperies slide onto the rods; plastic clips hang from the rings and clip easily to the fabric. No sewing is required.

Whether a room décor is Japanese minimalist or reminiscent of a William Morris Arts and Crafts style, using translucent net curtains provides light, air and privacy while adding a touch of elegance. The passerby will appreciate the timeless beauty of this window dressing.