Window Curtains

How to Choose Window Curtains

Window curtains add warmth to a room, softening hard edges and making it feel much more inviting and of course they offer privacy too to varying degrees.

While you always have the option of other forms of window treatments such as blinds, curtains add a feeling of opulence which blinds can’t match simply because you are talking about much more fabric. Blinds are great if you want a minimalist uncluttered look but if you want to give your home a luxurious finish then curtains are a must to dress your windows.

Once you have decided to buy window curtains you will be faced with many thousands of different fabrics, colors and styles as well as custom and ready made options. It can all be a bit daunting.

If you’re not sure how to choose curtains, here’s our easy guide…

Modern window curtains and holdbacks

Modern window curtains and holdbacks

1. Which Room are the Curtains for?

If you are buying kitchen curtains it makes sense to go for an informal, washable style whereas lounge or bedroom curtains can be more formal and “dressy”. Bathroom curtains need to be able to withstand a steamy atmosphere so you would give delicate silks a miss. Novelty curtains are great for kids bedrooms but you probably want something more grown-up for your own.

2. How Much Privacy?

Think about how much privacy you need during the day when the curtains are not closed. If the room is overlooked you may want to add fine voile, lace or net curtains to your windows or fit a mini blind in addition to having curtains to frame the windows and draw at night. If you don’t need to draw the curtains at all, you can get away with dress curtains which would not cover the full width of the windows, use less fabric and yet still enhance your room as if you had full curtains.

3. Which Windows?

Windows come in all shapes and sizes and some are easier to fit with window coverings than others. If you have French or patio doors or a full length window you will need full length curtains whereas you have the option to use sill length or floor length curtains on standard windows. If you have windows which form a feature in themselves such as a small round window or a tall stained glass window you may be better leaving the windows curtain free so that the full shape and style of the window is visible.

4. Measurements?

If your windows are standard sizes you will be able to choose from a vast range of ready made curtains as well as an even vaster range of custom made curtain options. If they are not standard you will have to go the custom route. Ready made curtains are generally cheaper and you can take them home or have them delivered from an online store right away although your choices are more restricted.

5. Current décor?

If you have already decided on or carried out the decoration of the room where the windows are then this will influence the kind of colors and styles you select for your curtains as well as the fabrics you choose. As curtains provide a big surface area make sure they go with the other colors in the room. If all else fails pick a neutral color and use one of the colors or fabrics used elsewhere in the room as a border or trim for a coordinated look. If you haven’t chosen your whole color scheme however it’s easier to start with a curtain fabric and use the colors in that to guide the choices of color for the rest of the room.

The current décor will also affect the style of your curtains which should be in keeping with the general theme you have chosen – contemporary, country cottage, shaker, retro or whatever.

If you don’t know where to start, browse around online where you’ll see many pictures of window curtains to get an idea of the type of styles, colors and fabrics which meet your requirements.

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Styles of Window Curtains

There are many styles to choose from in window curtains and certain styles are more suitable for some situations and uses than others. To help you choose great curtains here is our guide to the styles available.

1. Rod Pocket Curtains

This style of window covering has many names. You may also know them as pole top curtains, casement curtains or panel curtains. The key is that they all have a pocket at the top which is then threaded onto a pole or curtain rod for hanging. Although they are quite simple in style it can be difficult to pull casement curtains across especially if you have tall windows and for this reason you may prefer to use this style for curtains which are more decorative than functional. You can enhance the look by drawing the rod pocket curtains to one side with matching or contrasting tiebacks or hold backs.

Beautiful lilac curtain fabric

Beautiful lilac curtain fabric

2. Pencil Pleat Curtains

These curtains have uniform pleats (about the size and shape of a pencil!) across the top. The pleats are made by using a heading tape attached near the top of the curtain which is then gathered in by means are inbuilt threads. The gathering means that you need about two and a quarter to two and a half times the width of the window in fabric to create the fullness. Pencil pleat curtains are hung onto a curtain track, rail or pole using curtain hooks. These curtains are often used with a valance or other heading as the top of the curtain is not particularly decorative in itself.

3. French Pleat Curtains / Pinch Pleat curtains / Triple Pleat Curtains

These window treatments are again named after the style of heading tape which gathers the curtain by means of cords into a decorative triple pleated effect – more opulent than pencil pleat curtains yet requiring no more fabric. Each pleat is pinched together where the heading tape is positioned and the fabric fans out towards the top of the curtain. Sometimes the pleats are stitched in place where they pinch together with just a couple of stitches in each place to keep the crisp effect. French pleat curtains are attached to the curtain rail by means of curtain hooks. French pleat or pinch pleat drapes can be used for valances as well as curtains. A similar decorative style are goblet pleat curtains where the heading forms the shape of a goblet above the pleat.

4. Tab Top Curtains

These curtains use fabric loops at the top of the curtain which are threaded over a curtain rod or pole. The tabs may contrast with the curtain or be decorated with buttons. Similar to casement curtains tab top curtains can be difficult to move along the pole but as there is less fabric in contact with the pole it is only likely to be a problem with taller larger windows. Curtains tend to be cheaper than those formed using heading tape as they use less fabric. They suit minimalist interiors as there is less fullness in the fabric.

5. Tie Top Curtains

Tie top curtains are similar to tab top curtains and have the same drawbacks. In this case the “tabs” are formed by ties as the top of the curtain which are knotted to form the tab loops. Again the are threaded onto the curtain rods or poles. Tie top curtains are often used with sheer curtains where they form a pretty decorative top.

6. Grommet Top Curtains

Grommet top curtains are also slotted onto curtain rods or poles and sometimes tension wire. In this case the curtains have holes at the top reinforced with round metal grommets or eyelets. They are suitable for contemporary modern interiors.

7. Cafe Curtains

Cafe Curtains originated in cafes in the 19th century in Vienna where they were used so that customers to could watch the world go by while still maintaining some privacy. They are hung on poles which are fixed across the window so that the cafe curtains cover only the lower half. They remain in place the whole time rather than being drawn back during the day. These curtains are best used in informal areas such as a kitchen and therefore suit an informal style of header – tab top, tie top, casement or grommets rather than the formality of pinch or French pleats. They may be teamed with a decorative valance across the top of the window

8. Tie Back Curtains

Tie back curtains are formed from a single full panel that is gathered up and tied or held back to one side of a window with a decorative tie back or hold back of some kind. They are generally decorative rather than functional in nature although if enough fabric is used to cover the whole window with the usual fullness used by the heading, they can be released from their ties in the evening and cover the window as usual. They are most suitable for windows that are narrow rather than wide in nature.

9. Hourglass Curtains

Hourglass curtains are window coverings which are tied together in the center over the window so that they cover the whole rod or pole at the top and fan out towards the floor from where they are tied in the center forming an hourglass shape over the window. Highly decorative in nature, though blocking a lot of light from the window, they may be released from their ties in the evening if a functional curtain is required. If sheer fabrics are used they provide privacy without blocking so much light. Hourglass curtains are best fitted inside the window using tension rods and they may be topped with a decorative valence.

10. Sheer, Voile and Net Curtains

Sheer, net and voile curtains are made from very fine translucent fabric which let in some light while providing a degree of privacy. They are often used as under curtains covering the windows during the day while heavier curtains frame the windows and are drawn for additional privacy at night. For a long time they were considered old-fashioned and were only available in plain white or cream but these days they are available in every color of the rainbow and many are highly decorated with fine embroidery, sequins, beads and so on. Patterned sheers are also available. Sheer curtains usually use a simple casement heading and are threaded onto rods across the top of the window but other headings are also available. You will generally need a double curtain rod to hang them.

When looking at different types and styles of window curtains think about all the options which would be suitable for your windows before making a choice as you may get some new ideas from this list.

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You Need Room Darkening Curtains!

If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel, you’ve probably experienced the luxury of room darkening curtains. We all love taking advantage of them to sleep in on vacation but there are actually many reasons to think about purchasing these light blocking curtains for your own bedroom.

Day Sleepers

In this busy world, a lot of people work jobs that have unusual schedules. You may have to go in to work at night and sleep during the day. This can be hard when there’s bright sunlight streaming into the room you’re trying to sleep in. If you need to get quality sleep during the daytime, light blocking window curtains can be a huge help. When they’re not in use they can be drawn back to allow normal light into the room, but for a quick nap or a daytime slumber, they can be closed to provide the perfect sleeping environment.

room darkening curtains


Room darkening curtains in many different colors CLICK IMAGE for details

Kids’ Rooms

Few kids are enthusiastic when nap time rolls around and it can be challenging to get them to sleep. Babies especially need sleep during the day, and parents appreciate the break. It can help your children to get to sleep easier if the room is properly darkened by curtains. A dark room feels more natural to sleep in and can help you establish a regular nap routine with your kids or baby.

Long Days

Finally, you can use room darkening curtains to stick to your sleeping schedule all year round. The time of sunrise and sunset varies throughout the year. If the sun comes up before you usually wake up, you might end up waking anyway due to the amount of light in the room. Similarly, it’s hard to fall asleep when the room is still bright even if it’s the time you normally go to bed. With these curtains, you can control the atmosphere in your room regardless of what schedule the sun is on.

Street Lights

If you live in a city you may find you are kept awake by the bright lights outside from traffic, street lights and illuminated signs. These curtains also help with blocking noise to a small degree too.

If you think about it, you’ll see that these curtains are really an investment in you and your family getting higher quality sleep – something that is essential to good health.

Room darkening curtains are available in many colors, even light shades. Light is typically blocked by the thickness of the fabric, not how dark it is. This lets you choose a style of curtain that complements your décor without having to worry about how effectiveness the color is at blocking the light. These curtains actually have a backing or a lining which is a kind of blackout material.

If you already have curtains you want to keep, buy blackout linings and attach these to your existing curtains to keep out the light otherwise you can buy room darkening curtains and see for yourself the difference they make. Click HERE for a great selection of blackout curtains and linings.

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