How to Choose a Curtain Color for Any Room of the House

green brown curtains in living room

Gray Space Interiors

Professionals agree that curtains are pretty much a non-negotiable during the design process. "A drapery always makes a room feel finished, no matter if the look is center stage or a pretty backdrop for the rest of the room," designer Jen Dallas says. Why exactly are curtains so key? "Window treatments add height, layers, and softness to a space," explains Sarah Montgomery of Sarah Montgomery Design, who also believes that curtains make a room appear more tailored and complete.

But you won't want to rush into the curtain-buying process. It turns out that there are many important factors to keep in mind when choosing a curtain color for any given room within your home. Below, experts weigh in with what to keep in mind when selecting a curtain hue for your space.

light gray curtains in living room

Desiree Burns

Don't Make Curtains Your First Buy

When designing a room from scratch, curtains might actually be one of your very last purchases. "Choosing curtain color isn't necessarily the first choice you make when designing a space," Amy Peltier, of Amy Peltier Interior Design & Home, says. "In fact, it should be one of the last choices you make. After you pick your paint color, rugs, and furnishings, you can then determine if you want your curtains to be subtle or if you want to add bold accents to your room."

Look to Your Wall Color

When the time comes to search for some curtains, look at your wall paint. "For a modern home, I like to choose the color of the drapery fabric to be either a step darker or lighter than the wall paint," Dallas notes. "In this style of room, the drapery is more part of the background than it being center stage for the room."

Daria Demin, of Circa 22 Design Studio, maintains a similar approach. “When it comes to window curtains or shades, I like to match them with the wall color—it creates a minimalist and well-tailored look," she says. But you can also feel free to take cues from surrounding furniture, Demin says. "Select [curtains] based on the complementary color, meaning the opposite color of the main piece of furniture in the room."

Peltier appreciates white linen curtains when designing modern, clean-looking spaces. "This will be the finishing touch and help add texture to your space," she says. But if you're feeling vibrant, by all means, say yes to color. "If you are more daring and want more of a bold look, pick curtains with some pattern to them," she adds. "Decide that your room needs more punch? Layer in curtains with colors to create contrast and interest."

Another approach? Look at the trim. "To keep your window treatments quiet, match the white or ivory tones," suggests designer Kirsten Conner.

Note That Room Type May Influence Your Decisions

Montgomery will often decide whether to go bold or stay neutral depending on the type of room she is designing. "I'll often use a small-scale print, woven texture, or stripe in a living room," she says. "In the dining room, where there tends to be less upholstery and other soft finishes, I'll bring in a bolder color and pattern."

neutral curtains in bedroom

JK Interior Living

Order Swatches Before Making a Commitment

If you haven't already, it's always best to sample your curtain fabric at home before placing an order. "I always recommend ordering swatches first, even if you are going for a neutral fabric," Montgomery notes. After all, it's important to get a sense of how the fabric will appear as the lighting within a room changes throughout the day.

blue velvet curtains

Meghan Balcom for Daria Demin

Keep in Mind One Case Where You Can Purchase Curtains Straightaway

There is one case in which Peltier says that it's ok to choose curtains first, rather than last. "If you have a beautiful pattern fabric that you want in multiple places in the room, choose the curtains first," she comments. "You could fall in love with a pattern so much that it becomes the statement piece of the room. This would be the only time I would plan around the drapery treatments."

Dallas shares similar sentiments, noting that she sometimes will come across an amazing pattern that both she and her client will love. If this is the case, she will use the curtains to shape the rest of the room. "From there, I’ll choose a rug and then add the upholstery fabrics one by one to finalize the palette," Dallas explains. "In this style scheme, the drapery is the pop or center stage of the whole palette."