Options When Choosing Living Room Curtains

Things to Know Before You Buy Window Treatments

Light living room curtains. Stocknroll / Getty Images

Decorating windows with curtains and drapes is a great way to add style, color, and personality to a living room, but before you make a purchase be sure to consider all the options.

Curtain Style

Curtains and drapes come in a variety of different styles. Think about what suits the style of your room and the window itself. Double panels are classic and create symmetry. Single panels are great in smaller spaces. Panels with a fabric valence are romantic and traditional, while panels with a pelmet or a cornice board framing the top edge are structured and formal.  

Also, consider the type of heading you like best. Pencil pleats, grommets, French pleats, and pole pockets are some of the most common.

Window Treatment Fabric

Curtains come in every fabric imaginable, but some are better suited to certain rooms than others. Heavier fabrics help insulate a room, which is why they work better in cooler climates, and light fabrics work best in warmer climates.

  • Silk: Silk curtains are classic and traditional. They add a sense of formality to a room—particularly if they are pleated and puddle on the floor. If privacy is an issue, have them lined. Silk curtains have a sheer quality and allow some light to pass through.
  • Cotton: Cotton is the most versatile curtain fabric and one of the easiest to clean. It is available in every imaginable color and style and can be formal or casual depending on the style. However, it tends to be a bit stiffer than other fabrics.
  • Linen: Linen is light and often sheer. It is usually used in more casual rooms.
  • Velvet: Velvet is heavy and luxurious. Rarely is this material used in casual settings.
  • Sheers: Sheers are great if you want something that allows light to pass through, but it is not ideal for offering privacy.

Color and Pattern

Curtains take up a large amount of visual space, so it is important to carefully consider what kind of color and pattern you want. Put as much thought into it as you would a chair or sofa fabric. And while curtain panels can be inexpensive to purchase, custom drapes can be very expensive.

Curtain Size

When it comes to living room curtains, size matters. They should always be at least double the width of the window, even if you keep them open most of the time. It is also important that they are long enough. For a dramatic and elegant look, they can puddle on the floor, or for a more contemporary and clean look, they can barely skim the floor. But, they should not be higher. When drapes are too short they look truncated. If you are getting store-bought panels, as opposed to having them custom made, it is better to buy them too long and then have them hemmed.

Mounting the Curtains

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to hanging curtains. Take a look at two of the best options:

  • Traditional: Mount the hardware a few inches above the top of the window casing. It’s traditional and will always look good.
  • Contemporary: Mount the hardware just below the ceiling. It’s a very popular modern look and can make the ceilings appear higher.

Window treatments are important decorative features that take up a lot of visual space. Make sure you consider them as carefully as you would any other major piece in the room.