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Tips on Buying Drapes

May 26, 2016

by Andrew Schneider Home Decor Specialist

Window treatments come with the burden of unlimited possibilities, making it essential to shrink your search by deciding which fabrics, colors, and styles are best for your space. First and foremost, drapes should offer privacy when you need it and versatility when you want to let the sunlight in or keep the cold out. Whether you're shopping for bedroom, dining room, or living room drapes, aim for a balance of functionality and fashion for window treatments that elevate your home.


Measure and Plan the Layout

Measure and Plan the Layout

Drapery panels add depth to your decor by complementing the dimensions of your windows. Measure the width of your windows, starting at the outer edge of the trim if they're framed. Increase your measurements by roughly 4 inches on both sides, especially if you plan to keep the curtains closed. Then, measure the distance from the top of the window to the floor; leave about 1-inch above the floor if you're concerned about an electrical hazard. Depending on how high you want the drapes to rest above the window, increase the top measurement by 3 to 6 inches.

Think About Daily Functionality

Think About Daily Functionality

Knowing how you plan to use your curtains is the fastest way to eliminate window treatment ideas that don't make sense for your environment. Invest in thick blackout curtains to shut out light and extend your sleeping hours, and choose thermal drapes made from heavy, lined fabrics, such as brocade, to preserve warmth during cold seasons. Unlined sheer curtains are ideal for warm environments if you aren't concerned about privacy and love the look of sun rays shining into your rooms. If you're aren't sold on heavy fabrics, consider purchasing a lining material to place behind lightweight or sheer curtains.

Choose the Right Fabrics

Choose the Right Fabrics

Look for drapery panels that fit your style, environment, and room decor while requiring the least amount of maintenance. Cotton and linen are low-cost fabrics that can complement everything from modern to country decor, while wool curtains are heavier and often create a crisp, conservative look.

For elegant drapery with a sleek, shiny texture, choose silk, satin, cotton sateen, or silk-rayon blends.

Browse Colors and Patterns

Browse Colors and Patterns

A great pair of curtains loses impact when paired with the wrong decor, so think about the shapes, colors, and patterns in your room as a complete picture. Choose pale patterns or solid-colored curtains for conservative and minimalist styles or rooms that already have multiple competing prints. Large bold prints, such as trellis and Chevron, can make a graphic statement, and they work well in both contrasting and monochromatic color schemes. Look for small prints, such as muted florals or polka dots, to create more drama and texture without overpowering other patterns. If you're uncertain about planning a color scheme, stick to colors of similar saturation, such as neutrals, pastels, or bright hues.

Choose a Heading

Choose a Heading

The heading design of your curtains determines how they hang from a rod. Rod-pocket curtains are among the most common styles, offering a two-tier sleeve that lets you choose between a bunched or ruffled top edge. Back-tab and tab-top curtains both have loops of fabric that fit around the rod, but these attachments are conveniently concealed on back-tab styles. Another option is grommet curtains, which feature sewn-in rings to create an effortless pleating effect.

Pick Your Favorite Curtain Styles

Pick Your Favorite Curtain Styles

Exploring a wide variety of curtain styles and accessories can guide you toward a personalized look that grabs attention when guests stop by. Instead of a vertical drape, consider using a long window scarf to create a faux-valance look that elegantly frames your window. Install hourglass or tent-flap styles for a classic triangular shape or multilayered effect that showcases the lofty size of terrace doors, picture windows, and floor-to-ceiling windows. If you simply value flexibility, use tie-backs and valances to enhance or adjust the shape of your drapes, producing a photo-worthy window treatment.