Window treatments aren't just for privacy, although that's obviously an important function, especially in the bedroom. When well chosen, drapes are an easy way to add a soft touch of color and pattern to your bedroom décor. Whether you choose a bright hue for exciting contrast, a color just a little bit darker than your bedroom wall to visually enlarge the space, or a lively pattern to wake up your room, fabric window treatments are a definite splash of style.
When it’s time to choose... curtains or drapes, however, it’s a good idea to know your options. There are many different types of panels to choose from; here are photos and brief descriptions of the four most popular.
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As the name suggests, ringed panels hang from rings (also called grommets) that are either attached to the top of the fabric panel or inserted into the fabric near the top edge. Since the curtain rod is quite exposed to these types of curtains, it’s common to use an attractive wooden or metal rod with decorative finials on the rod’s ends. Depending on the fabric, color, and pattern chosen, ring-top draperies work with just about any decorating style from casual country to sleek contemporary looks.
Designer Tip: This type of window treatment is perfect for a patio window that needs to be accessible since it’s easy to open and close.
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Rod-pocket panels are made of lightweight fabrics and are typically unlined for a more casual feel. They are very easy to hang; the curtain rod simply slips through a channel sewn into the top back of the panel. The more fabric is squeezed onto the rod, the more dramatic the bunching of the fabric.
Some rod-pocket panels have a ruffled header. Although not as popular these days as straight-topped panels, the ruffles give a more formal or old-fashioned look that some people prefer.
Designer Tip: Rod-pocket panels are normally kept in a closed position, or held back with decorative tiebacks.
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Pleated panels are a classic style of drapery and so never really go out of fashion, although their popularity rises and falls with current trends. They look quite formal, so work best with formal or traditional decorating styles.
The pleats are formed with the help of header tape that is available by the yard at fabric stores if you’re inclined to sew your own window treatments. Sewn from the panel’s back, the tape forms pleats when pulled together. The hanging hooks are then inserted into the tape, and the panels hung on rings or traverse rods, which use a cord-and-pulley system for opening and closing the curtains.
There are several styles of pleats, all of which are sewn into a panel’s top edge to create a decorative header.
- Pinch Pleat is the most common style. It is a series of equally spaced single, double, or triple pleats that are pinched in the center, forming fans above and below the pinch.
- Goblet pleat is like a triple-pinch pleat, except the pleating of the pinch is embellished with a stiffening paper or card to form a wine glass silhouette.
- Pencil pleats are thin single pleats formed in neat, taut folds.
- Cartridge pleats are single pleats that are spaced more widely than regular pinch pleats, and also rounded at the top.
- Tuxedo pleats are larger pleats normally hung on a decorative rod to create a contemporary and formal flair.
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Tab-top panels have loops of fabric sewn into or onto the panel’s top seam. The panel hangs flat from these tabs, making this type of window treatment a perfect way to showcase fabric prints and patterns. These drapes work well with many casual decorating styles, but are especially popular with country or cottage looks, as they show off the florals, checks or stripes so popular in those themes.
Designer Tip: One bit of information to know about tab-top panels is that they’re normally stationary, since drawing them across the rod can be a bit of a burden. Therefore, they are best used on windows that aren’t opened on a regular basis.