Got the furniture and wardrobes and kitchen cabinets for your home? There’s one element of home decor that you simply can’t ignore – curtains.  They are one of those crucial pieces of decor that can set the tone for the room. From light and breezy to substantial and ornamental, from solid colours to prints, from sheer fabrics to heavy opaque textiles – the possibilities are endless. With the sheer variety of options for tracks, fabrics and accessories out there, making the right choice can be quite confusing. Here are a few quick tips on how to choose curtains that could help you:

#1: Difference between curtains and drapes

pink wall-floral curtains-grey and white curtains-vanity unit
Pick curtains for privacy and drapes to block out sunlight

The first step to figuring out how to choose curtains is to figure out what your room requires. Oftentimes, homeowners choose curtains, drapes, blinds and shades without knowing the difference. Doing so, these window treatments can actually interfere with the amount of sunlight your room should get.

Curtains are fabric panels made of light materials and hang from curtain rods. They are mostly used for privacy purposes, making it perfect for living rooms. Whereas, drapes are made of thicker materials that are made to block out sunlight, making it ideal for bedrooms.

#2: Pick out the right fabric

blue sofa-arm chairs-neutral curtains-pendant lights
Materials can change the tone of the design

The material plays a vital role in the look of the curtains and consequently, the room. From sheer lace to lightweight cotton, medium weight brocades to heavy velvet, your options are aplenty. The two factors that you should consider while picking your fabric are:

  • The amount of sunlight you want streaming in
  • The mood and décor of your room. For example, heavier fabrics suit more traditional rooms while sheer fabrics work best in more minimalistic rooms

Remember, each fabric falls differently from an elevation and therefore will look different when pleated and drawn back.

#3: The choice of colour can make or break the look

blue curtains-blue sofa-pendant light
Curtains should complement the furnishings in the room

The colour of your curtains should ideally be in sync with the rest of the furnishings. You could either choose drapes that harmonise with the decor or contrast with it. For a pleasing look, choose drapes in a colour that complement the shade of your walls. Alternatively, if you want the curtain colours to be the focus, pick a hue that contrasts with the furniture and walls.

#4: Choosing between prints and solids

pattern design-yellow wall treatments-wooden tv unit
Opt for patterns when the room is packed with solid colours

To answer this, we need to look at the rest of the décor. If all the other soft furnishings in the room are a solid colour, going with printed curtains can be a popular choice. The opposite holds true as well. One thing to remember is that prints add visual weight to any element. Therefore one way to work with printed curtains is to pair them with solid-coloured furniture accessorised with printed cushions, area rugs, etc. You could use quirky prints and geometric patterns with contemporary style space, while florals would suit modern classic and traditional decor.

#5: Selecting the ideal length

how to choose curtains-blue and white design-floral-sofa
Floor length curtains give the appearance of a high-ceiling room

Curtains that fall exactly to the floor level are in vogue. For a more dramatic look, you can opt for a curtain size that is longer by a few inches, so that the drapes puddle on the floor. On the other hand, if you have kids, you are better off with curtains a couple of inches above the floor. Ending them at the sill for smaller windows is yet another classic option, but full-length drapes could work equally well.

#6: Measuring the width

how to choose curtains-curtain rod-white and yellow theme-wooden be
Get drapes that are wide for a neat and gathered look

The ideal width of your curtains depends on the width of the moulding of your window pane or door. One way to arrive at the ideal width is to measure the frame and multiply it by a factor of 2/2.5. The extra fabric helps accomplish the gathered look on the sides when the curtains are drawn back.

#7: Trims and accessories

how to choose curtains-floral bench-bar-wooden design
Curtain tie backs are a great way to spruce up the design

Dress them up or tone them down. Trims and accessories for curtains range from pull-backs and valances to ornamental curtain tracks fixed on the wall above the curtains. Trims and accessories can be cleverly accompanied with light drapes to add richness and grandeur. Valance, the decorative frilled fabric placed at the top of the window,  is an excellent way to add embellishment to your room. On the other hand, simple pull-backs and absence of decorative trims will make fabrics like velvet or satin look chic and sleek. This again will depend on the effect you want to achieve.

#8: Picking between lined and unlined curtains

how to choose curtains-blue and white bedroom theme-storage shelves-upholstered bed
Drapes with curtain lining give you privacy and allow sufficient sunlight to enter the room

Here’s where you weigh the functionality of the curtains or drapes that you have chosen. If the curtain hangs on a window that receives direct sunlight, a protective lining can make it more opaque, fade slower and last longer. Also, two layers – one sheer, one opaque can give you the flexibility to choose the amount of privacy and light you want. The fact remains that a lining makes drapes heavier — so choose wisely.

#9: Select fabrics based on the maintenance required

how to choose curtains-tv unit-sofa designs-white theme
Drapes with stitched pleats and swags must be dry cleaned

The fabric and material of a curtain determines how it should be cleaned and how often you need to clean it. While all curtains and drapes should be washed every 3-6 months, there are some fabrics that require more care and some that can be machine washed. 

  • Low maintenance fabrics: If you are looking for curtains that need to be washed twice a year opt for cotton or synthetic fabrics. These can be machine washed if they are unlined or else give them your lined curtains a quick hand wash. A great option for those with dust allergies or kids and pets at home
  • High maintenance fabrics: Any curtain that has pleats or swags must be dry cleaned regardless of the fabric. However, wool, silk and sheer curtains must be dry cleaned or hand washed in cold water to retain their colours and shape

You can also choose to vacuum your drapes and curtains on a weekly basis if you are prone to dust allergies. 

It’s always best to factor in the curtains while you’re deciding the rest of the decor of your room. Consequently, your decor will be more co-ordinated and harmonious. If you liked this article on how to choose curtains, take a look at How to Buy Curtains the Right Way!

Send in your comments and suggestions