Curtains can completely transform a room, but it's hard to know where to start with all the different types available. Whether you're looking to block out light or simply decorate your room, here's all you need to know about buying the right curtains for you.
Type of Curtains
The type of curtain in your room can tie it together, completing any interior design vision.
Panels are the most common type of curtains if you're looking for a classic or contemporary vibe for your room. Depending on the size of the window and desired look, you can choose the number of panels that works best for you – even mixing and matching colors and fabrics to make it your own. Tie them back or let them hang – these are a staple on most windows.
Window valances are a curtain that overhangs the top of your curtain. These can stand alone or be paired with other curtains or blinds for a complete look. You can get them alone or as part of a window treatment set, which includes panels and a valance. They typically hang off a curtain rod and come in various colors, fabrics, and patterns.
Window tier curtains stand about half the size of the window, giving you privacy but still letting light in. They are typically used in kitchens and hang off a curtain rod mounted mid window.
Window scarves are more decorative. They tend to be long, thin pieces of fabric hung from the curtain rod. They can stand alone or be used in conjunction with curtains to dress up any window. Scarves lend a dramatic look to a room, draped to any length for added flair.
You'll want to consider your curtain's opacity when considering which to buy. That will impact the amount of light that is let into any room.
Sheer curtains use only the thinnest fabrics to let the most light, though, whether they are open or closed. The curtains can come in different colors, patterns, and lengths.
Because they are sheer, they do not provide a lot of privacy, even when closed. If you want to increase the opacity, you can always add a liner, a backing that can attach to most curtains. They are typically used in living rooms and dining rooms because of the lack of privacy.
Semi-opaque curtains are in the middle of the road. They aren't entirely sheer but aren't fully blackout either. They allow limited amounts of light into the room while providing a sense of privacy when closed. People looking in a room may be able to see shadows but unable to make out details. They are used in all types of rooms, including bedrooms.
Blackout curtains are the thickest types of curtains and use the heaviest fabrics. They do not let any light in a room, and they are great for bedrooms because they offer the most privacy. Unlike other curtains, they often have a built-in lining to hide the most light.
The type of material used will impact the curtains' opacity, so it's essential to choose the right fabric lest you need liners to achieve your desired function.
Cotton is a semi-sheer fabric that will let a fair amount of light in while still providing privacy. They are easy to clean, come in several colors and patterns, and are affordable.
Another affordable option, linen is heavier than cotton. It's still semi-sheer but will block light and give you a sense of privacy. The fabric's rough texture attracts dust, making it harder to clean and maintain.
Velvet is a heavy, blackout material that offers the most privacy, reduces noise, and prevents drafts. It can be difficult to clean, so you may need to get it cleaned professionally.
Silk offers a luxurious look to any room with its semi-sheer nature. Similar to velvet, it must be cleaned professionally. Depending on the fabric used, silk curtains will let in a decent amount of light.
Lace is a sheer fabric, so it will lend a light and airy feel to any room. These are decorative panels that should not be used without lining for privacy.
Burlap looks and feels like linen, but it's a much heavier fabric, making it great for blackout curtains. They are easy to clean and lend a casual look and feel to any room. Unlike other options, the color and pattern options can be more limited.
Curtains also vary by length, and you may want to consider different sizes for different rooms for the best results.
Sill-length curtains extend to the window sill or just above it. They are commonly used with smaller windows in kitchens, bathrooms, and other smaller rooms.
Apron curtains extend past the window sill, and because of this, they can make any window look longer. Much like sill curtains, they are primarily used on smaller windows.
Floor curtains extend to the floor or just above. They can be used with larger windows to prevent drafts and provide full coverage or shorter windows to provide the illusion of having bigger windows.
Puddle curtains pool on the floor, extended past the window length even as the bar is mounted above the window. They elongate any window and add a romantic look to any room.
The last piece that adds personality to your curtains is how they attach to your curtain rod. There are typically three types: rod pocket, grommet, and tab top.
Rod pockets are hidden pockets that the curtain rod can slide into. It looks seamless, built directly into the curtain, so there's no extra hardware or space to attach the curtain to hang. They are most commonly used with a valance, though they can stand alone. They work best with cotton or linen fabric because it's more flexible.
Grommets or eyelets are the most popular type way to hang out curtains. They feature a cut-out circle that's reinforced with metal grommets, which can come in different colors, including silver, bronze, gold, and more. This added design detail is functional and fashionable, making it easy to attach to any rod.
Similar to grommets, tab tops have a circular opening for attaching to any curtain rod; however, they do not feature any extra material. Instead, the tabs are made of fabric for a more seamless look and feel. Again, these typically work best with more flexible fabrics. There can be embellishments like buttons to add a personal touch.
Final Thoughts on Curtains
Curtains can be a great, inexpensive way to add a pop of color to any room, as well as provide light control, added insulation, and reduced noise control, so it's important to choose the right set for your needs. Consider the function before you set your heart on a style, and let the browsing begin!