The Simple Things

We live in a busy, complex world, so it’s no surprise more and more people are turning to the simple things in life. Trying to live more healthily, being a little more self-sufficient, doing your bit for the environment – it all helps. And our homes are reflecting this trend. Whether your home is old or new, having surroundings that are spacious, light and eco friendly is really important.

We recently moved into a new factory, and when we were deciding where to go, it was the simple things we looked for.

Read on to find out why.

 

Space

 

When you’re moving, the first thing to consider is the space. In our case, this was the most important issue. We manufacture (and supply) curtain tracks and poles, and they can be quite unwieldy at times: they’re long and often bent into complicated shapes. The main attraction of the new factory is the fact it’s open plan, with a ceiling height of 12m. We can move the curtain poles around with ease and there’s more room for us to bend bespoke pieces.

This need for space also came from the fact our business is growing. Larger premises mean we can handle more orders, more efficiently.

  Our new curtain pole factory

Light

 

We make curtain rails and accessories, so you can be sure we know the importance of natural light. It’s essential so you can see what you’re working on clearly, and sunlight helps improve your mood. The new factory has a very light and airy feel, as you can see from the photos.

Of course, the ability to control the amount of light coming in is important, too. We’re in the process of installing blinds and an electric curtain track in our showroom for this very reason. As you probably know, electric tracks are great as they can be set to open and close automatically, using a timer or light sensor.

 

Green credentials

 

Another advantage of our new building is that it’s really environmentally friendly. It’s made from a special cladding that is designed to let air into a gap and trap it. This air is then warmed by the sun, which in turn heats the building and helps maintain a stable temperature. We also store rainwater which is recycled to flush the toilets. This helps us keep costs down and means our products have a smaller carbon footprint than they did before.

You could also argue that buying a good quality curtain pole from us is better for the environment than buying a cheap DIY product. Our bespoke tracks and rails last for years, whereas cheaper versions from hardware stores need replacing more often. That means more waste, and in the long term, more expense.

Having curtains in itself can be good for the environment – they help keep the heat in in winter, and can shade you from the hot sun in summer.

 

Moving the curtain poles

 

We make some pretty high tech equipment here, so you might be surprised by one of the most useful gadgets in the new factory. It’s a board covered with wooden pegs. We call it a ‘tug pull’, and it allows us to move bay window curtain poles and custom tracks easily.

A clever way to move curtain tracks

If you’re moving into a new home, you might consider a home automation system to bring all your technology together. If you do, don’t forget to include some electric curtains.

 

Our new factory means our service is better than ever. If you’re looking for a custom curtain rod, take a look around the website or get in touch.

 

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How do I Measure a Circular Bay Window?

We’ve given advice in the past about how to measure your bay windows, but admittedly, some are more complicated than others. One of our customers from the USA has been asking for advice on how to measure a round bay. It might seem difficult, but it’s probably not as complicated as you think.

If you’re after a new curtain track and have been wondering how to take the measurements, have a look at our simple instructions.

 

Step 1 – Work at the Right Height

 

Before you start measuring, you need to make sure you can reach properly. You can’t measure the bay at floor level in case the walls aren’t perfectly straight, so get up to the height where the curtains will be fixed. Be safe, though – make sure whatever you stand on is sturdy and secure. A step ladder is probably the best bet (or ask someone tall to help).

 

Step 2 – Measure Across the Bay

 

Now you can actually begin taking measurements. Firstly, measure across the bay from corner to corner, in a straight line (A to C).

 

Measuring the width of the bay

Step 3 – Measure at Right Angles

 

Next, measure from the centre of your A to C line (D) to the middle of the curved wall (B). You may want to mark point B with a drawing pin or Blu-Tack as you’ll be measuring to this point again later.

Measuring the depth of the bay

 

Step 4 – Double Checking

 

The two measurements you’ve taken so far are technically enough for us to bend the track or pole, but we also like extra measurements to double check. That way, you can be sure everything will fit.

 

The best measurements for this are from the corners of the bay to the centre of the curve (A to B and B to C). Don’t worry if these measurements aren’t quite the same – we can still work with them to map out the design.

 Extra measurements

Step 4 – Reverse Bends (Optional)

 

If you want your curtain rod to start and end at points A and C, that’s all you need. However, sometimes it’s nice to have ‘reverse bends’ at one or both ends i.e. the pole turns a corner and comes out of the bay.

If that’s the case, simply measure from points A and C to where you’d like the track to end (1 to A and 2 to C).

Measuring reverse bends

Step 5 – Brackets

 

Those are all the measurements we need to shape your bay window curtain pole, but we also need to know how you intend to fix it in place.  If you are ‘face fixing’ (i.e. attaching it to the wall), we need to make an allowance for brackets so everything will fit properly.

Sizing up the curtain pole brackets

 

If you’d like the track to be top fixed (i.e. to the ceiling), let us know how far from the wall you’d like it to be.

 

Ceiling fixtures for your curtain track

 If the track or pole is to have reverse bends, you could even use a combination of both top and face fix brackets.

 

Combining face and top fix brackets

 

Still have questions? We’ve got the answers. Just get in touch and we’ll talk you through the whole process.

 

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Why Sunlight isn’t Always Good (and what to do about it)

Sunlight through clouds

Sunlight. It helps your body produce vitamin D and it’s good for your mood, but there are times when too much light can be harmful. You skin, your possessions and your eyes can all suffer if the light’s too bright. Here are some examples of how sunlight can have negative effects, and how you can use electric curtains, blinds and other tactics to counter them.

Books and Antiques

 

Anyone who’s left a book on the windowsill will know how harmful sunlight can be to your possessions. UV rays fade colours, and although the amount of UV decreases the further you get into the room, objects in direct sunlight can be irreversibly damaged. This is especially important if you like books, or have antique furniture or fabrics which could be bleached or damaged.

Simply placing these objects in a room that doesn’t get much light will help, but you can’t be there all day to move things if there’s a sunbeam coming in. A much simpler solution is to invest in an electric curtain pole or rail with a light sensor built-in. That way, you can set it so the curtains are closed automatically in strong sunlight. Of course, this has the added benefit of helping you keep cool in summer.

 

Skin

 

If there’s one thing you’ll want to protect from the sun, it’s your skin. Most people know that harmful UV rays cause sunburn, ageing and even cancer, yet many of us don’t wear sunscreen regularly. And although you’re unlikely to get sunburn in the winter, the ageing effects are still there. Ideally, we should be protecting our skin every day, all year round. As well as a high factor sunscreen, wearing hats and long sleeves can help. You could also consider staying inside or in the shade during the hottest part of the day (11am – 3pm).

 

Viewing Pleasure

 

Although not as serious as sunlight damaging your skin, bright light can ruin a movie if the glare means you can’t see the screen properly. This can be a problem with a regular flat screen TV, but it’s even more of a nightmare if you have a home cinema with a projector.

Blackout blinds are a good solution, but for the ultimate in convenience, link your sound system and other gadgets up to a home automation package. That way, you can dim the lights and close the curtains from a single control panel. Or if that’s too high tech for you, simply buy some Silent Gliss motorised curtains with a remote control.

 

If you’re looking to control the light in your lounge, take a look round the site, or send us a message for more information about our range of electric curtain tracks and poles.

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How to Use our Free Protractor to Measure Bay Windows

Bay windows fill your home with light and give you more space, but they’re a little more complicated than your standard flat design. If measuring up for a custom curtain pole or rail fills you with dread, you’ve come to the right place. We have a handy free tool that can be used to measure the angles with ease: a protractor. All you have to do is print it off from your computer and take a look at the following video.

 

 

Once you’ve downloaded and printed the protractor (which can be found here), the next step is to cut out the sections. There are four pieces – the top two are for measuring internal angles (inside the bay), which the bottom two are for measuring external angles (where the bay meets to main wall of the room).

In the following diagram, A and D are external angles, which B and C are internal.

Bay window example

To measure the angles, you simply line up the corner marked A on the two pieces of the protractor, and place the edges marked Wall Side Left and Right against the appropriate wall. The scale with the numbers should be at the bottom. You’ll then see an arrow pointing to the appropriate number.

 

Once you’ve written down the angles for each corner, all you need to do is measure the distances between them (1 to A, A to B, B to C and so on). To be doubly sure everything is correct, you can also measure between the angles diagonally (as shown by the blue lines, above).

 

Bay windows can be stunning, so don’t settle for second best when it comes to the fittings. Our products are all great value for money, and you can order a custom curtain pole with ease using our online store.

 

For more information on measuring bay windows, have a look at our previous post. Or if you’re still stuck, give our experts a ring on 01494 460198.

 

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How we Bend our Curtain Poles

With bay windows, it can be tricky to get curtain poles that fit properly. People often have lots of short poles or try to bend tracks themselves at home. The problem is, the sort of DIY products you can buy are designed to be flimsy so they can be bent easily. That means they’re not very strong and may not last, especially with heavy curtains.  Angle joints are available to join sections together, but these are very difficult for curtain rings to pass and mean the curtains can’t be drawn smoothly.

 

For high quality custom curtain poles, you need to start with a robust product and use technology, expertise and experience to bend it to the right shape. While that’s not something you can do at home, it’s easy to order bespoke products through our website.

 

Here’s how we make up your design.

 

Once we’ve got your order and the measurements of your bay, we feed the dimensions into our software and draw up a full-size plan of your window. This means we can check everything looks right before we start. We then cut the pole to length, lay it over the plan and mark the pole at the exact points the bends need to start and finish. The software makes allowances for the brackets so the pole will project from the wall and fit perfectly when the brackets are in place.

 

Once this preparatory work is done, we use our specialist machines to bend the poles. These use computer technology to make sure all the bends and curves are correct, with the exact radius and angle that’s required. As these are professional quality machines, they exert enough force to shape durable stainless steel poles.

 

When the product comes out of the machine, we lay it back over the plan to check it fits. We then add the finials, rings and brackets you’ve ordered, package everything up and send it over to you along with the full scale diagram the pole has been bent to. With everything so carefully checked, manufactured and packed, you can be sure your pole will be a perfect fit.

 

It doesn’t matter if your bay is round, square or has lots of funny angles, we can make a pole that fits. For more information on our packaging and customer service, take a look at our previous post, or contact us for advice.

 

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Getting it Right First Time: How Our Order Process Works

It seems a little foolish to make a big deal out of good customer service these days. After all, it’s something every company should be doing – there’s no need to shout about it. Having said that, we often get customers who want to know how our order process works and are amazed at the lengths we go to to make sure things are right first time.

Here’s a quick rundown of how things work.

 

Place Your Order Online

 

We’re the only website there is where you can order a custom curtain pole or track for your bay windows without having to pick up the phone or send in detailed drawings. Our clever ordering system means you just need to tick some boxes, enter your measurements, and that’s it.

You can phone us for advice if you need to, though. Or check out our guides on how to measure your windows.

 

Perfectly Bent

 

If you order a custom pole for your bay windows, we’ll bend it for you so you can make sure it fits first time. Our trained engineers use computerised equipment for perfectly smooth curves, and we check every pole before it goes out. That means laying it over a full size plan of your window to make sure it fits.

 

Bay Window Curtain Pole with Plan

 

Custom Packaging

 

Having gone to so much trouble making bespoke products for people, we like to protect them too. That’s why we make wooden frames to support our poles and keep them in good condition until they’re delivered.

 Robust packaging

 

No Quibble Guarantee

 

How many times have you signed for something that’s come through the post without checking it’s actually all in one piece? People often don’t realise that when signing for goods they’re also signing to say they are in good condition.  Although our products are hardly ever damaged in transit, we offer a no quibble guarantee if they are. That means we’ll replace the goods free of charge, even if you’ve signed to say they were in good condition.

 

Whatever sort of curtain track or pole you need, we’ll get it to you fast. Take a look at our product range for more information, or get in touch.

 

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5 Ways to Customise your Curtains

With Christmas now a memory and the January blues firmly setting in, changing the decor in your home is a great way to cheer yourself up. A DIY project not only keeps you busy, it helps you look at your space in a new way.

 

Here are some tips on simple ways to customise your curtains and revitalise your life.

 

Dip Dye

 

If you’ve come across the word ombré, you’ll know it’s a hair and home decor trend involving graduated tones of delicious colour. Buying a pair of ombré curtains can be expensive, but it’s not that difficult to make your own by dip dying a plain fabric. The trick is to gradually lower more of the curtain into the dye over time, so you have a deep colour at the bottom that gradually fades out. Or alternatively, dye strips of fabric in a range of slightly different tones and sew them together.

 

Stencilling

 

DIY stencilled curtainsStencilling is another great way of jazzing up plain curtains. You can either buy stencils from a craft store, or make some yourself using stiff card and a sharp craft knife. Then simply fix the stencil in place with masking tape, and stipple paint onto the design with a sponge or brush. Make sure you use a paint and medium that’s suitable for fabrics though, so you can be sure they will be washable.

 

Finials and Midials

 

As well as the curtains themselves, you can customise your curtain poles with finials and midials. These are elements that fit onto the end or middle of the pole to add a little more style to the mix, and there are lots of different designs available. Choose from natural materials like bamboo and wood, or finish the rod with a sparkling crystal or metallic orb.

 

Appliqué and Embroidery

 

Appliqué is just a posh word for sewing cut out pieces of fabric onto something. With curtains, that could mean long strips and blocks, or smaller, more detailed shapes. Simple designs can be very effective. Wide, horizontal stripes are great for curtains, or you could attach chevrons and triangles for a more tribal look.

 

Embroidered curtains are all the rage as well, but readymade versions can be extremely expensive. If you have the time to do it yourself, embroidering curtains can make them extra special. Birds and flowers are particular favourites.

 

A New Curtain Track or Pole

 

If you love your curtains but feel like there’s still something missing, it’s probably the curtain pole that’s to blame. Old designs can look dated these days, or you might have a cheap corded version that’s never worked properly. A new pole is a great way to quickly update a room, and allows you to hang the curtains higher and wider for a more dramatic effect. You could even go for a corded or motorised version for the ultimate in luxury.

Silent Gliss Uncorded Metropole

If you’re looking to update a room in your house, take a peek at the website for our range of curtain tracks, poles and accessories. With quality designs from the likes of Silent Gliss, you can’t go wrong.

 

Image courtesy of Hey Love (Flickr)

 

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Gran’s Coming Over: Can a New Curtain Track Save Christmas?

Christmas is brilliant, but it always seems to sneak up on you.  October time we complain it’s too early to even contemplate, then before you know it you’ve got a week left, millions of presents to buy and your elderly grandma is coming to stay. Getting the spare room prepared for visitors is a necessary chore, but it needn’t be time consuming or expensive. A new curtain rail, a lick of paint and removing the clutter will make your loved ones feel even more at home.

 

Declutter

 

Twin guest room with eggshell blue paint

Unless you’re fastidiously house proud or have acres of storage space, your spare room has probably collected a lot of junk since last year. As well as old packaging, unwanted gifts and unused gym equipment, it’s probably full of boxes of Christmas decorations you’ve just got down from the loft.

 

Even if you don’t have anyone coming to stay, a pre-Christmas clearout is a great idea. You’ll have presents to find homes for, so go through your old stuff and get rid of things you no longer want or need. They can go to the charity shop or you can pop them on eBay and make some money.

 

As well as being good for the soul, decluttering means your elderly relatives won’t fall over anything in the dark.

 

Update the Curtain Rail

 

Nothing lifts a room as quickly and cheaply as putting up a new curtain pole, especially if the old one is past its prime. Poles hanging off the wall aren’t safe, and basic designs are difficult for granny to open and close. Consider a corded or electric track instead. Corded tracks have a nylon pull cord so the curtains can be drawn without having to reach upwards, and electric versions can be operated at the push of a button or with a timer or light sensor.

 

Corded curtain tracks are also great for kids if they have trouble closing the curtains from the top. It’s important that the cords are safe though, which is why we give free safety devices to all our customers. You can order online for convenience and get the job done in no time.

 

A Lick of Paint

 

Another cheap way to brighten up the place is to give it a new coat of paint. If you’ve only got a day or two before Christmas you might want to give it a miss (the fumes will linger), but if you’ve got more time paint will cover dirty marks and inject some colour into your decor. Soft duck egg blues, sage greens and oatmeal colours are all great options for guest bedrooms as you need a palette which will please a variety of people.

 

Decorations

 

It’s Christmas, so don’t forget to add some festive cheer. Paper chains, tinsel, fairy lights and a wreath on the door can all make your guest room feel homely and welcoming. Whoever’s coming to stay this Christmas, make sure they get the best possible welcome.

 

Treat your home and your guests to a new curtain track this Christmas. Our electric curtain tracks and corded rails are perfect for adding a touch of glamour to your home, and make it easy to open and close the drapes.

 

Image courtesy of …love Maegan (Flickr)

 

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“How do I Measure my Bay Window?”

If you’ve got a bay window, the thought of measuring it can be pretty daunting: all those angles and curves make it look complicated. Once you have the right tools, though, it’s actually quite simple. You just need to know which parts to measure.

 

“What Tools do I Need?”

 

You don’t need much to measure your bay window, but to do it accurately it’s advisable to use the following:

  • A DIY style tape measure. This needs to be the kind that uses a rigid yet flexible metal stip. Don’t use a fabric tape as this may stretch, and a 30cm rule is definitely not recommended.
  • A protractor to measure the angles. We can supply an adjustable plastic protractor which makes the process really easy, or you can download a paper version from our website. Alternatively, you can fold a piece of paper to the angle of the bay window and use a traditional semi-circular protractor to measure it.
  • Something to stand on. Depending on the height of the window and where you intend to fix the curtain pole, you might need to stand on something so you can reach easily and take accurate measurements. A small step ladder is probably the best solution, but you could also use a chair (at your own risk).
  • A pen or pencil, and something to write the measurements on. It might help to call the numbers out and have someone else write them down.

 

“What do I Measure?”

 

This depends where you intend to attach your track or curtain pole.

For face fix or wall brackets, you should take the measurements of the wall at the height you intend to fix the pole, although if you are fitting to a frame you should measure the frame.

If you are top fixing, say to a ceiling, the measurements can be taken from a variety of places:

  • You can measure the wall at the point where it meets the ceiling and tell us how far forward the track is to be fitted.  If the track is being top fixed there are no limitations to bracket extension so you can project as far as you like.
  • You can measure the window sill, ensuring the track will allow the curtains to hang past the sill.
  • Or you can measure an existing track.

 

“How do I Take the Measurements?”

 

Now you can actually take the measurements. Measure from where you would like the pole to start to the first angle, then measure from angle to angle around the bay window and finally from the last angle to where you want to pole to end. Bear in mind you might need some overhang on either side of the window so the curtains don’t block the view when they’re drawn back.

Whether your bay window is square or is more complicated, this method will work. Take the shape below: it has a large number of angles and the track bends back on itself at the ends. All you need to do is measure from point 1 to A, A to B, B to C, and so on, taking the angle at each point.

Measuring a square or angled bay window

You can also measure from the first and last angles to each diagonal corner (the blue lines, above). This isn’t strictly necessary, but allows us to double check the other measurements so you can be sure everything will be spot on.

 

“But My Window is Curved!”

 

No problem. All you need to do is measure across the bay between the points you want the pole to start and end (you might want to pin up some string to mark this line). Then measure at 90 degrees from the string at three points to find the depth of the bay, give us the measurements and we’ll do the rest.

How to measure a curved bay window

Still confused? Give us a ring and we’ll talk you through it.

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How People are Getting Ready for Winter – with Curtain Poles

If you went to see some fireworks over the past week or so, you’ll have noticed how dark and cold it’s getting out there. Winter is on the way, and we’ve noticed a growing trend here at Tracks-Direct. Whether they’re preparing for the festive season or trying to save some money, a lot of people are buying curtain poles right now.

 

Cosy Curtains to Fight the Cold

 

Curtains with winter landscape

If you’re the sort of person who thinks of hibernating hedgehogs with a touch of envy, you’ll want to make your home as cosy as it can be. Since the clocks have gone back the evenings seem darker than ever, and it’s cold too. Curtains are the perfect solution.

 

Not only do curtains stop nosy parkers peering in when you’re watching the telly, lined versions reduce heat loss, so your home is more efficient to keep warm. That means lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

 

The downside is that lined curtains made from thick, quality fabric are heavy, especially if you have bay windows, which tend to be taller and wider. Buying a new curtain pole or track is a great solution as you can tailor the quality and strength of the pole to the weight of the curtains.

 

Curtain Poles for a Family Christmas

 

Another reason to update your curtain poles this time of year is to get the house ready for friends and family coming over for Christmas. If it’s your turn to do the entertaining or you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party, you’ll want the place looking its best. Small changes like painting a feature wall, hanging your curtains differently or investing in some new cushions can make a big difference, especially when you add a Christmas tree and some decorations to the mix.

 

The in-laws will be especially impressed if you invest in some nifty gadgets to get in on the home automation trend. House-wide audio systems and fancy lighting are popular, but electric curtain tracks are one of the most practical things you can buy. They can be set up to automatically close when it gets dark (either with a timer or a light sensor), which is great if you often forget or are going out. Opportunistic burglars often target empty properties around Christmas time to swipe presents, but electric tracks are a great deterrent as they make it look like you’re at home.

Christmas decoration

Autumn and Winter DIY

 

Now is a great time of year to be doing all those odd jobs you’ve been putting off around the house. Lagging pipes to make sure they don’t freeze up, clearing autumn leaves out of the guttering and blocking any holes that cause draughts are all useful things to do.

 

You might also think about investing in one of our bay window curtain poles. A lot of people make do with poor quality poles or buy several shorter ones, but there is a better way. We bend our tracks and poles to the exact shape of the window so they’re easy to fit and look fantastic.

 

If you’d like to update your home in time for Christmas, give us a call on 01494 460198 or fill in our online form.

 

Images courtesy of m.a.r.c. and Hades2k (Flickr)
 
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