“As any interior designer will tell you, curtains make a room—but only when chosen correctly. When it comes to window treatments, it’s a matter of color and fabric, length and lining, and custom-made versus off-the-shelf. With so many decisions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so ask the pros for advice on narrowing down the options and selecting the right curtains for your home and take a look at our tips for DIY.”
1. Find The Perfect Fabric
“Fabric is an essential part of choosing curtains, since the material will dictate how well your curtains function and hold up over time. “If they’re too heavy, they may not fold crisply when drawn; too light and they may not fall well,”
Choose your fabric based on how much light it lets in, its density (denser fabric insulates from noise, light, heat and cold) and the look you want.
Lets in the light and looks great layered under opaque curtains.
Blocks light with a dense layer that absorbs noise and insulates.
Makes windows a focal point, available in several textures and styles.
Creates a natural look with texture that ranges from sheer to opaque.
Includes several classic colors in textures from sheer to opaque.
Linen, silk, faux silk, and velvet are best choices to use for window treatments since they tend to hang the best, says Guercio. “Faux silk tends to be the most durable,” she says. And in a particularly sunny room, faux silk doesn’t deteriorate as quickly as real silk.
Filters light and has a subtle, luxurious shimmer.
Helps insulate windows, provides privacy and looks luxurious.
Some fabrics can help keep out the cold. Many hotels use suede, velvet, tapestry, or tweed since their weight helps block light and keep heat in. Still, nearly any fabric can be interlined with bump, a thick, insulating felt material. And interlining—a piece of fabric slipped between the lining and the face fabric—can also help prolong the life of the curtains.
Works as a natural insulator and helps filter light with a semi-opaque lining.
This durable fabric insulates in cold weather and keeps you cool in the heat.
2. Select The Right Size
Before you take out the tape measure, decide how high above the window you’d like the curtains to begin. Hanging panels higher than the window will give a sense of height to the room. Designers often hang curtains about six inches above the window frame, but for a dramatic look, some go higher.
Measure from the top of the window (plus the added inches of height where the curtains will hang from) to the floor. For a more traditional look, with the curtain slightly puddled on the floor, you’ll want to add another two or three inches to your length. For a modern, crisp look, have the panel fall flush with the floor. When measuring the width of your window, be sure to add four to eight inches on both sides and double the total number to ensure curtain fullness. “Then you won’t block a lot of window glass when the curtains are open, and they won’t get in the way,” says Lawrence. If you plan to use the curtains to shut out the sun, those extra inches around the perimeter of your window frame will also help block out any creeping light.
A. Sill Length
Curtains should graze the sill. Creates a casual look. Recommended for windows that open frequently.
B. Apron Length
Curtains should fall about 4″ below the sill. Creates a casual look. Practical in kitchens and bathrooms.
C. Floor length
Curtains should fall about 1/4″ above the floor. Creates a polished, pulled-together look. Visually lengthens windows.
D. Extra-long puddle length
Curtains should puddle 6-10″ extra inches at the floor. Creates a romantic look. Not recommended for high-traffic areas.
3. Pick Your Hardware
Use this chart to choose your hardware:
Works with pole pockets, hidden tabs and grommets.
Hidden tab has concealed back panels that the rod is slipped through, creating dressed-up pleats.
Pole pocket bunches the curtain as the rod slides through the top hole, for a more casual look.
Grommet Top. Metal grommets slide over the rod, for a modern look + feel.
Clips give curtains an industrial look. They hang down from the rod and attach to any unlined curtains with non-grommet tops. Clips can also be used to hang loose fabrics.
Double Window Rod
Works with layered drapery that requires two rods.
Pulls panels away from the window in a sweeping drape.