Curtains Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

Add style and color to any room with the right window treatments. Curtains help define the theme of space and add a finishing touch to the overall decor. Are you staring at a blank room, wondering where to start? Select your curtains, and then pull colors and patterns from them for your rugs, pillows, furniture, lamps, art, and accents. Curtains also provide a simple and affordable way to finish or update a room. This guide is the perfect place to start when you're looking for inspiration and tips on window treatment selection and installation.

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  • Patterned:

    Choose patterned curtains if you want to make a statement with your window treatments. Patterned curtains allow you to decorate almost instantly, without having to paint or replace furniture. Traditional patterns include floral, medallions, and trellises. These offer a timeless, versatile look. Contemporary patterns such as stripes, chevrons, and geometric shapes bring your room into a more modern space. For whimsy, choose polka dots!

  • Solid:

    Solid curtains give you many decorating options. Color-coordinated window treatments create a polished aesthetic. A teal and beige couch, for example, looks fantastic with beige window treatments. Solid curtains can also add a vibrant contrast to your decor. Try pairing bright pink curtains with an orange mid-century modern armchair.

  • Sheer:

    Sheer curtains lend airiness to a room that is hard to achieve through other decorating techniques. Even in the winter, sheer curtains feel balmy and breezy. Sheer curtains are typically layered with opaque curtains or shades for privacy.

  • Thermal or blackout:

    Thermal curtains are designed to protect against outside temperatures while blocking light. These curtains are available in a variety of styles and are layered with a heavy backing for thermal and blackout properties. If you want to save money on energy costs, or if the early morning light is disrupting your sleep, then thermal curtains are the perfect solution.

  • Window scarves:

    Want just a touch of color and style on your windows? Try some fun and flirty window scarves. Drape sheer lime-green scarves over light blue curtains or try patterned gold scarves with ivory blinds or shades.

  • Valances:

    A valance sits atop your curtains, similar to an awning. If your room feels a little plain, try a valance with a pop of color or fun multi-hued stripes. Valances also disguise drapery rods, offering a clean, professional look. Most valances require brackets for hanging.

Hanging Your Curtains

  • Rod pocket:

    Rod-pocket drapes are made with a casing at the top that slips over the curtain rod. Rod-pocket curtains hide most of the curtain rod.

  • Tab top:

    Tab-top curtains offer a casual look. Tab-tops are made with flat loops spaced along the top edge of the curtains.

  • Ring top and grommet top:

    Ring-top and grommet-top drapery is sophisticated and contemporary. Ring-tops have decorative rings attached to the drapes. Grommets are rings that are built into the fabric. Rings and grommets create a pleated look that is crisp and modern.

Hardware for Curtains and Drape

  • Curtain rods:

    You can find curtain rods in almost any style, finish, and color. Choose from thin, neutral rods that blend in or large, ornate rods that contribute to the look of the window treatments. Telescoping rods are convenient, but can impede the opening and closing of some curtains. If you choose sheer curtains or ring-top drapes, choose curtain rods that you don't mind showing off.

  • Finials:

    Finials are the decorative ends of the curtain rod and come in many styles and finishes. Scrolls and leaves offer a traditional look, while oversized silver spheres are distinctly modern.

  • Curtain rings:

    Curtain rings make it easier for you to open and close your drapes. They are attractive and easily attached to window treatments. Curtain rings slide easily along the curtain rod without pulling a telescoping rod open.

  • Tiebacks:

    Tiebacks, also called curtain holdbacks, are fabric loops, cords, and chains that hold drapes open. Metal hardware tiebacks are popular, too, in ornate designs like branches, feathers, and embellished flowers.