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How to Choose Curtains and Drapes

Decorating with window treatments can be an overwhelming process. But once you've found the right one, they can make a major impact and draw together an entire look. When selecting a curtain or drape, think about function before style. This instantly narrows down your style options (and believe us, there are a ton of options!). Whether you want to filter light, create a little privacy, or add color, keep these four components in mind when picking out curtains or drapes.
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1. Privacy and Lighting


Depending on your space, consider how much light you want to filter in or out: 

  • If you're choosing curtains for a common area like a living room or sunroom, opt for sheer curtains to allow more light into the space.
  • Consider a heavier fabric in a room where you want more privacy or less natural light, such as a bedroom or theater room.

For spaces that get a lot of natural sunlight, opt for curtains in a natural hue. Sunlight tends to fade bright colored curtains faster. 

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2. Measurements


Curtains mounted correctly will enhance your décor and make your room feel bigger. Choose a curtain or drape based on the following: 

  • Measure the height from rod to floor before hanging curtains. Remember to account for the height of the rings or hanging hardware and how much space you want between the curtains and the floor.
  • When measuring the width of your window, consider how full you want your curtain to be. For a draped look, the curtain should be 3 times as wide as the window. For a tailored look, a good standard is curtain panels 2 inches wider than the window.


  • Choose a curtain length based on the four types below:  
  1. Brushing the window sill: For short curtains, the hem should just touch the window sill.
  2. Brushing the floor: Slightly touching the ground.
  3. Breaking the floor: The edge of the curtain carries an inch or two over the floor.
  4. Pooling at the floor: A curtain draped over the floor at two inches or more. 

Hanging curtains or drapes closer to the ceiling can add height to your room. 

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3. Material


When in pursuit of the perfect curtain or drape, fabric choice is a key element to think about. Determine how the curtain will function in a space before deciding on a fabric.

  • For a sunnier vibe, consider a lightweight fabric, like linen or cotton. It creates a casual, airy feel in most spaces.
  • Add drama to a space with heavier fabrics, like suede and velvet. Heavyweight fabrics block out light and offer a more formal touch to a space. 

Find a fabric sample and hold it up against a window to see how well it functions and looks in your space. 

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4. Style


Once you've evaluated the elements above, it's time to pick a style that complements your décor. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Pull in a hue from your color palette with a solid or patterned window treatment.
  • Go bold and make a statement with colorful patterned curtains.
  • For a more subtle style, try a neutral patterned curtain or drape.  

 For more information on curtain styles, check out our Curtain Style Guide.

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