Planning a room refresh? Here’s a tip: Don’t forget about curtains! The unsung heroes of home décor, curtains are both stylish and functional, serving a number of purposes from temperature control to privacy. Choosing curtains for the first time, however, can be a bit intimidating. There are several factors to consider, such as material, length, and hanging hardware. Read on for our curtain buying guide and a look at some popular styles and trends, too.
How to Choose Curtains
When shopping for curtains, it’s important to remember there’s no one-size-fits-all. The good news, however, is that there is nearly an infinite number of options to choose from, ensuring you’ll get a look that is unique to your home and personality.
An easy way to categorize curtains is by light opacity. Depending on your preferences for natural light and privacy, you’ll want to consider the following four categories.
Sheer: If you love natural light, opt for sheer curtains. These lightweight designs are relatively see-through, however, so you may want to consider pairing with heavier drapes for the evening hours.
Light Filtering: Light filtering curtains will block out a touch more light than sheer designs. As such, they’re slightly heavier, too.
Room Darkening: If you’re looking to block out even more natural light, opt for room darkening curtains. They provide more privacy and work well when paired with sheer styles on a double curtain rod.
Blackout: Blackout curtains are ideal for bedrooms because they let in zero light – particularly helpful for day sleepers or families with small children. Heavy material reduces noise and helps to control room temperature, as well. If you live in a particularly cold climate, you may even want to consider thermal curtains, which are specifically designed to prevent moisture and heat transference.
Material is an important factor to consider, not only as it plays into style, but for price and durability as well. Here are some common options and what to expect from each.
Silk curtains are somewhat formal but can complement a range of design styles from modern to glam. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, faux silk can provide the same glossy finish at a fraction of the cost.
Before you buy, decide how you plan to hang your curtains. The size of your windows and look you wish to achieve will greatly influence panel width and length, but a general rule of thumb is that your curtains should be at least 1.5 times the width of the window to ensure proper coverage.
As for the curtain rod, install it four to six inches above your window frame, extending five to six extra inches on each side.
Pro Tip: Styles range from charming to formal with length. Kitchen valances, for example, are particularly country in style, while curtains that touch the floor are polished and formal.
Top construction refers to how each panel of fabric attaches to a curtain rod. Most curtains are designed with rod pockets or grommets, but there are a couple of alternate styles to consider as well.
Curtains with rod pockets are easy to hang – simply slide the curtain rod through the horizontal pocket at the top of each panel. Rod pockets conceal the entire circumference of the pole, keeping it hidden from view.
Similar to rod pocket styles, grommet curtains hang on a single curtain rod. Instead of a pocket, however, the rod slides through equally spaced metal loops at the top of each panel. Grommets create crisp, evenly spaced folds when curtains are drawn.
Tab top styles work exactly like rod pocket curtains – simply slide your curtain rod through the fabric loops at the top of the panel. Unlike rod pockets, however, tab tops allow portions of your curtain rod to show.
Pleated curtains are gathered at the top to create a consistently pleated look, even when curtains are drawn closed. Unlike other styles, these often require a single curtain rod with clip curtain rings or a traverse curtain rod with clips built-in on a track.
Curtain Styles & Trends
Now that you are equipped with the logistics of curtain buying, it’s time to think about the look you desire to make them your own. The options are nearly endless, but we’ve gathered a few trending ideas to consider.
Floor-to-ceiling curtains work because they elongate your room. Similar to artwork, oversized curtain panels can make a space look larger and more intentionally thought out.
Step aside, white curtains. Dark neutrals, such as gray, charcoal, and black, are very modern and surprisingly easy to coordinate with other home furnishings in your living room and beyond.
While there are a variety of window treatments on the market, curtains offer traditional functionality in an infinite number of looks. Decide what is important to you, then have fun creating a space that is both smart and stylish.