If it were just a matter of picking a color or pattern, selecting window curtains would be a relatively simple choice. Alas, there is so much more involved to have a clean, finished and stylish look.
Choosing curtains that accomplish the intended purpose(s), and look great while doing it, requires a bit more time and effort.
Answer These Questions Before Choosing Curtains
Reviewing the following question and comments can help you along your way. Plus, I’ll throw in a few tips to help your curtains look as good as you pictured them once they are installed.
What are the curtains for? If the curtains are purely decorative you have way less to consider than if they are required for privacy or to block the sun at particular times of day.
- Decorative: These curtains can be made from just about any fabric and do not require a liner. However, if the curtains will be exposed to a lot of sunlight – like in windows with western or southern exposure – a liner is a worthwhile investment to prevent fading.
- Privacy or Darkening. In order to make sure people can’t see into your windows or that the sun is fully blocked, you will need curtains that are heavier in weight and include a liner.
- Insulation. If you have older, less-efficient windows or have a room in the house that is particularly drafty or cold, a liner or a special insulation layer will help to keep things more comfortable. In most cases, insulated curtains require custom-orders as they are less common in ready-made panels.
What fabric is best? Often, the answer to this question comes down to your home’s style: traditional, modern, formal or casual. Heavy silks or velvet are thicker and provide a more formal look. They are also ideal for insulating and blocking sunlight. However, these fabrics need to be dry cleaned. If you prefer lower-maintenance option, look for panels made from cotton sateen or rayon blends that can be thrown in the washer and dryer. Cotton and wool blends are versatile. They provide a crisp look that can go more formal or casual, depending on the patterns and colors you select.
Keep in mind that curtains are a great way to add texture to a room so think about what texture is least represented in your room’s current design and narrow your fabric choices from there.
Color or Not to Color? There are two options with curtains when it comes to color and pattern – to blend or pop. If you choose to blend, peruse colors or patterns that match the wall color, but are just a few shades darker. You can also blend by picking a subtle color from an existing pattern and pulling it out with complementary panels. Popping requires a more bold choice with bright colors or wowing viewers with a stunning pattern – always keeping in mind that brighter colors are more prone to fading.
How to measure and hang? The rule of thumb with curtain hanging is that they should just touch the floor or the windowsill, depending on the look you want. If a radiator is in the way, then they should come just above the top of it (being careful to use non-flammable fabrics).
Curtains that open should be 2 to 2 ½ times the width of the window, if they are simply used to frame the window then 1 ½ times the window width will be sufficient. Always round your measurements up because curtains can always be hemmed to fit, whereas curtains that are too short in either direction can’t be helped.
The curtain rod should be installed just above and just beyond the upper window trim or molding. However, in smaller or shorter rooms, consider mounting them 4- to 6-inches above the molding to add the illusion of height.
When in doubt, work with a professional interior designer who can assist you in selecting the best fabric, styles and colors for your design.