Window Treatment 101: Pleats

Window Treatment 101: Pleats

Pleats. It’s not something most people think about, other than when you think of pants. But custom draperies always have some sort of pleat. The pleat style you select will depend on your overall style and whether the draperies are functional (actually open or close) or stationary (just for looks).

Let’s dive in. There are three main pleat styles I use in my projects: pinch pleat, Euro pleat, and ripplefold.

Pinch Pleat

Pinch pleat is the most traditional of all the pleat styles. It’s really a timeless look and works well with classic, traditional, transitional, and even eclectic decor.

Pinch pleat up close

Here’s what the same panels look like in the full room. Super appropriate for a traditional space!

The whole room

Pinch pleat is exactly like it sounds: the drapery is “pinched” a couple of inches from the top of the panel. The example above is called a “three-finger pinch pleat.” Count the pleats and I bet you can figure out why! You can also do a two, four, or five-finger pleat, but three-finger is the most common.

Here’s another three-finger pinch pleat drapery:

A mix of traditional and contemporary elements

This drapery mixes more modern patterns with traditional elements, like this French bench. The pinch pleat style with the ikat fabric blends those traditional and modern elements together nicely.

Here’s one last pinch pleat example:

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More pleats

Pinch pleats don’t have to be stuffy and formal. These fun toile panels don’t take themselves too seriously!

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Fun and funky panels liven up the traditional space

Euro Pleat

Next up is the Euro pleat, which I use a lot in my transitional and contemporary designs.

Euro pleats close up

Here are the same panels farther away.

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Euro pleat is also called “inverted pleat.” You can kinda see why if you look at the photo above. The pleats are pinched at the VERY TOP, instead of a couple of inches down. Euro pleats are great for updating super traditional space. Euro pleats also look nice in transitional and even more contemporary spaces.

Here’s a two-layered drapery with Euro pleats on both the stationary (non-moving) side panels and the traversing (moving) sheer panels.

Double layer of Euro pleats

These panels are in a more transitional space than some of the pinch pleated panels were.

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Transitional dining room with a contemporary chandelier

Here’s another example in a more eclectic space with a mix of antique and contemporary elements.

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Simple orange Euro pleat panels

Euro pleats are great for combining traditional and contemporary elements, since this pleat is a mix of both.

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Lastly, ripplefold has become super popular in residential design lately. The name pretty much describes what it is: the fabric ripples and then folds up when you open the panels.

Please note: I have no professional photos of my ripplefold projects (thanks, covid…), so you’ll have to trust me that they look fabulous. I’m super self-aware that I take crap photos.

Ripplefold is the most contemporary of the common pleats. It’s appropriate for transitional and contemporary spaces. I don’t generally see ripplefolds in super traditional spaces. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, especially if you’re trying to modernize a space.

Ripplefold panels have to be on a special ripplefold rod, like the one below.

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Here’s a rendering of another ripplefold project I haven’t gotten to photograph. Ripplefolds provide a clean, streamlined look for folks who prefer a more minimal look.

Kristi Drab Family Room Ripplefold Draperies 1

I’ve also designed stationary, board-mount ripplefolds, which apparently really isn’t a common “thing,” but I really love how they turned out.

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The board mount look is perfect for this more contemporary space! My workroom did an amazing job bringing my vision to life. (I cannot over emphasize the importance of having a great window treatment workroom!!)

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One Last Thing…

One more final note about custom drapery panels: you can’t find ANY of these fabrics in stores! There are hundreds of thousands of beautiful drapery fabrics out there – WAY more than any retail store offers. If you want a truly unique room, custom window treatments are the way to go! Contact me for more info, or check out my custom window treatment services page.

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