The 7 Do's and Don'ts of Finding the Perfect Curtains

What to Know Before You Buy Curtains

modern living room with dark curtains
SfGirlbyBay

Framing windows with long curtains and drapes is a great way to add glamor and personality to a room. But it can be surprisingly difficult to select curtains. Before you head out to the store to buy some check out these curtain do's and don'ts.

Hints and Tips for Selecting Curtains

  1. Consider the purpose that your curtains will serve in any given room. Will they provide a splash of color? Privacy? Darkness? Warmth? All of the above? Lined panels will allow you to control the temperature in the room as well as the amount of light that filters through. A basic cotton lining protects the fabric a little while still allowing some light to filter through; a more insulating lining helps keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and a blackout lining is ideal for bedrooms because it doesn't allow any light to filter through.
  1. Think long and hard about what color and pattern to use. Curtains take up a large amount of visual space and will have a huge impact on the look of your room. To select the right color, ask for a swatch of the fabrics you're considering. Bring them into the room you're decorating, and hold them up against sofas, pillows, and walls. If you like, tape swatches to the wall and live with it for a while before making a final decision.
  2. Don't skimp on size; curtains should always be at least double the width of the window, even if they're going to be drawn most of the time. It's also vital that they be long enough. For a rich and elegant look they can puddle on the floor, and for a more streamlined and clean look, they can skim the floor. Short curtains should brush the window sill. If you're buying store-bought panels (as opposed to having them custom made) it's better to buy them too long and then have them hemmed.
  1. Don't forget the hardware. Curtain rods and finials should "match" the fabric. Heavier drapes such as velvets should be on large and somewhat decorative rods while light silks and sheers can sit on light-weight and more dainty rods. That said, they should also "match" the rest of the room. Make sure they connect to something in the room. For instance, if you've got Lucite lamps or chairs, a Lucite drapery rod might be in order.
  1. Do consider fabric options for your particular needs. Cotton is versatile and easy to clean; velvet is luxurious and private but can be a bit heavy for some rooms; sheers are light and graceful but don't offer much in the way of privacy, and wool is heavy but strong enough to hold embellishments like tassels and fringe.
  2. Don't forget about finials. It may seem like a small thing, but finials at the end of your curtain rod can provide the perfect finishing touch. Remember, a great room is all about the details.
  3. Do shop around. Once you've decided on the color, length, fabric, and style of the curtains you want, look online or in person at different outlets and stores. You may find that you can save money by buying from discounters or outlets.