* Prices may differ from that shown
It took me a long time to get my Ikea panel blinds sorted. I have a very large living room window measuring 330cm wide and 240cm high. Apart from wanting something a bit different, the main reason for buying these panel curtains was not so much for privacy as I live on the seventh floor with no buildings in view, but to block out strong sunlight. So I didn't want vertical blinds and Venetian blinds would have been awkward to set up given the size of the window. I also wanted to avoid paying extra for a fitting and measurement so Ikea seemed to be the solution. Choosing a suitable system was certainly a cerebral challenge and after finally putting them up it felt as if I'd just done a workout session down the gym.
Available only from Ikea stores, Ikea panel blinds or curtains can be mixed and matched in a rage of different colours and designs. The curtains are made of different materials ranging from polyester, cotton, paper, wool or various mixtures. Each panel curtain measures 60cm wide and 300 cm in length, but can be shortened to size. Each panel curtain ranges in price from about £6 to £15 with most of the range priced at around the £10 mark. Each style of panel curtain has its own name often after the person who deigned it. The ones I purchased were the Anno Vacker and the Anno Sanela.
There are different ways of hanging Ikea panel curtains but at present Ikea offers two main types of multi rail: a two track Division system (£10) and a three track Kvartal system (£10 for the rail only). The Division system rail can be set to any length between 130cm and 230cm and comes supplied with 3 wall fittings, 4 panel hangers and 4 weights. The panel hangers are attached to the top of the curtain and connect it to the rail. The weights are attached to the bottom of the curtain and simply act as a weight to the material so that it hangs straight. A draw rod for pulling the curtain must be purchased separately. So with the Division system you can hang 4 blinds on a rail - two blinds that can be drawn to each side of the window with one behind the other.
The other option is to use the triple track Kvartal system. This is the one I chose due to the size of my window and also because I wanted more than two tracks. The Kvartal system is usually the more expensive option because you have to buy all the parts separately. The Kvartal rail is a fixed length rail of 140cm but you can buy extra rails and connect them together. You can also use two rails parallel to each other so in effect you can have a six track system. You can also cut these rails with a saw to shorten them to length if necessary. With the Kvartal system you will have to also buy wall fittings (£2 and £3 each), a draw rod (£3) and a top and bottom rail set for each panel curtain (£4). You do have the alternative option of hanging the rail from the ceiling if your property is suitable and in this case you will need ceiling fittings rather that wall fittings. One tip I would add here is to make sure your local Ikea store has all the parts in stock before you make your trip down the motorway.
With regard to fitting the rails, it is important to note that if you have to connect Kvartal rails together you are advised to connect the wall fitting to the join where two rails connect otherwise the connection might not be strong enough. I was unable to use an Ikea wall fitting to do this due to the design of my window frame so I had to buy some bits and pieces from B&Q in order to get round this problem. The Kvartal wall fittings do not come supplied with screws so you have to buy these extra. The only tools you will need is a hack saw, a drill and a screwdriver.
If you're buying online from the Ikea website be careful that you know exactly what you're buying. I would advise people to see the blinds in the store first before making a purchase. This is because from the photographs on the Ikea website it is impossible to tell how transparent some of the blinds are. It's also recommended to see how they feel and how they hang (that is if there are any on display in the Ikea store).
I was more than pleased with the Anno Sanela panel curtains I purchased. They look the part, hang straight and flat, and are easy to cut to length and hang up. I have a three track system rail with six panel curtains - three can be drawn across from either side where they can hang together one behind the other when open. The runners do squeak a lot though when drawing the panels open so I will probably have to apply some oil or grease to quell the irritating sound.
I was less happy with the designer Anno Vacker panel curtains because they do not hang flat - the material curls inwards towards the edges. This is no doubt on account of the complex semi-transparent cut-out design and the different materials from which it is made. Nevertheless it still looks stylish and impressive. One disadvantage of this blind and quite a few of the other styles on offer is that you cannot wash, dry-clean or iron them. Neither the instructions nor the website give insight as to how one is supposed to clean this type of blind. I guess you just have to keep it clean. My whole curtain blind system cost about £130.
The good thing about the Ikea panel curtain system is that it gives you so many options to design your own colour scheme and panel arrangement. It's a versatile system that I would certainly recommend as long as you're happy to invest a lot of you own creative energy. One advantage you do have with Ikea products is that you can return the items to Ikea without much fuss as long as you haven't altered the items in any way and as long as you don't mind driving down the motorway again.
© Zmugzy - November 2007
Various designs and prints to choose from