I adore fabric, so beautiful window treatments make my heart sing! Curtains can really soften your room, and add warmth, color and pattern. Custom drapery panels are absolutely fabulous, but the price of custom is not! Fortunately, you can get some really pretty ready-made curtains you love, at a price you love, too! If custom curtains aren’t in your budget, follow these handy tips for buying curtains and hanging them to get a higher end look at a fraction of the cost.
1. Hang your curtains high.
Drapery panels don’t have to go ALL the way to the ceiling or crown, but should be close. Buy panels long enough so they reach from just a few inches below the ceiling (or crown molding) all the way to the floor — like shown here. Hanging your drapery panels high draws your eye upward and makes your ceiling feel taller. Most rooms are at least 8 feet tall, so you would need to buy at least 96” panels. Sorry, Mr. 84 Inch Curtain, you’re never really going to work!
2. Hang your curtains wider than your windows.
Allow as much of your window to show as possible. Natural light is king! Allow as much of it into your room as possible by hanging rods wide enough so that your panels sit completely outside the window, just covering the window trim. It’s a design trick to make your windows feel larger, which in turn, will make your room feel larger. When buying rods, make sure they are wide enough to extend beyond the windows 6-10 inches on each side.
3. Make sure the drapery panels go all the way to the floor.
No high-water curtains allowed!!
Drapery panels should reach the floor, ideally just grazing the floor for the perfect custom look.
If your room has short windows, as is often the case in a basement or upstairs bedroom, follow the same principle. Hang panels close to the ceiling and make sure the panels go all the way to the floor. Place a dresser, small chest, or credenza to “fill in” the space below the window. It tricks the eye, and makes it feel like the window occupies that space. Such as this window by Centered by Design.
4. Don’t skimp on the fullness of the panels.
For a custom look, the width of your panels should be at least double the width of your window. Actually, 3 times the width of your window is considered luxury fullness. Most ready-made panels are around 50 inches wide, but you can find several wider panel options online, such as this one. Of course, if the curtain you love only comes in 50 inch width, you can always buy an extra panel per side to give you the fullness you need.
If your curtains are going to be functioning, meaning you will open and close them, lean toward a fullness closer to 3 times the width of the window so they look full even when the draperies are drawn.
5. Choose lined curtains.
Linings add privacy, structure and substance to your panels. They create a uniform look for the exterior of your home. Choose curtains with white or cream lining. It’s better exterior curb appeal if you keep this consistent on all of your window treatments.
Panels with blackout lining are great options for bedrooms where privacy is important. They block out natural light if you need to sleep during daylight hours.
6. Decide what you want your window treatments to do for the design of your room.
Are they the main show — the big, bold pattern in the room? Are they a subtle backdrop to soften the space? Make sure the fabric coordinates and plays well with the other patterns in the room. If budget is a factor when buying ready-made panels, you’ll typically have more solid options available in longer lengths and widths at a lower price point. You can always bring in pattern through pillows or other fabrics in the room.
7. Choose a drapery header style that looks custom.
I usually avoid grommet or tab top drapery panels when shooting for a custom look. Try to find panels with Euro or Inverted pleats for a classic look. A lot of ready-made panels are flat tops with rod pockets on the back side. These are good options for a more custom look. You can also hang flat top panels with rings. If panels come with top rod pockets for gathering, I usually opt for hooks and rings to hang them.
8. Sometimes no window treatment at all is the best option.
If you have gorgeous windows, a beautiful view, and no need for privacy, sometimes a bare window is the most beautiful option for your room.
If you’re getting ready to sell your home, removing drapery panels is often the best way to showcase your room for real estate photos. I often coach my staging clients to remove window treatments to showcase a window or a view. It also lets more natural light in the home which is a very important feature when showing a home.
Hopefully these 8 tips for buying curtains help you find the perfect curtains for your room!