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Can curtains brighten a room?

Curtains can make a dramatic difference in brightening up a room by allowing more natural light to filter in during the day and providing privacy and coziness at night. The right window treatments can completely transform the look and feel of a space.

Can curtains brighten a room?

Factors That Impact Whether Curtains Brighten a Room

Several key factors influence whether curtains make a room brighter or darker:

Fabric Choice

  • Sheer/Lightweight Fabrics – Allow a good amount of light to pass through, illuminating rooms during the day. Cotton voile, linen, lace sheers optimal.
  • Medium or Heavy Fabrics – Block more light for privacy/insulation reasons. Velvet, brocade, blackout curtains absorb light.


  • Light Colors – White/cream/pale yellow reflect and diffuse daylight effectively.
  • Dark Colors – Bold colors like navy, emerald may dampen brightness by absorbing light.

Window Exposure

  • Southern Exposure – Receives the most sunlight, best for brightening.
  • Northern Exposure – Limited direct sun, light colors aid with brightness.

Layering and Strategic Opening/Closing

  • Layer sheers behind blackout curtains for nighttime privacy and daytime illumination.
  • Open all curtains during the day and close blackouts at night for optimal control over room brightness.

Curtain Designs and Styles That Brighten Rooms

Floor to Ceiling Curtains

Draw focus to high ceilings and windows to make rooms feel more open and airy.

Sheer Curtains and Drapes

Filter daylight beautifully while maintaining visibility and view. Chiffon, lace, voile and linen are ideal sheer fabrics.

Light Colored Curtains

White, cream, pale gray and yellow allow maximum light diffusion and amplification.

Layered Curtains

Combine sheers and blinds for custom privacy, insulation and brightness control.

Walls of Windows and Curtains

Make the most out of large/numerous windows by framing with curtains for a brightly lit aesthetic.

Ceiling Curtain Tracks and Rails

Extend rail mounted curtains all the way across ceiling for an expansive look, unobstructed windows and light diffusion.

Curtain Placement Tips To Maximize Light

  • Hang curtains as wide as possible, extending past the edges of the window frame to maximize transparency and light entry.
  • Allow ample overlapping when closed for better insulation. 10-12 inches overlap is ideal.
  • Mount hardware at proper heights just above the window frame and puddle curtains on floor for full coverage and light control.
  • Utilize wall space on window sides to reclaim brightness near edges that would otherwise fall into shadow.
  • Stagger insets on windows lined up across a wall rather than having one straight uniform line for wider distribution of light.

Best Rooms for Brightening with Curtains

Rooms and spaces that can gain the most brightness from well-selected curtains include:

  • Living Rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Dining Rooms
  • Home Offices
  • Nurseries
  • Bathrooms/Powder Rooms
  • Kitchens with Window Nooks
  • Media/Entertainment Areas
  • Sunrooms/Solariums
  • Laundry Rooms
  • Mudrooms
  • Hallways and Staircases

Prioritize bright curtains in spaces where you work, play, eat, socialize and relax to promote productivity, mood and overall wellbeing.

Key Takeaway

The proper curtains can drastically amplify brightness throughout a home when thoughtfully selected based on qualities like sheer transparency, light colors, generous widths/heights and strategic layering or operation. Seek out well made curtains in lightweight fabrics paired with complementary window treatments for rooms washed in natural illumination.


Q: What color curtains make a room look bigger and brighter?
A: Light and neutral colored curtains like white, cream, pale gray and yellow make rooms appear larger and infused with natural light. They reflect and diffuse daylight effectively for amplified brightness.

Q: Should living room curtains touch the floor?
A: In living rooms, puddling curtains so they lightly touch and stack on the floor creates an enhanced sense of height and space while allowing brightness to stream in unobstructed from top to bottom.

Q: What color curtain goes with grey walls?
A: Light grey curtains nicely complement charcoal grey walls without clashing. For variation, aqua, pale yellow or cobalt blue curtains pop beautifully against grey backgrounds.

Q: What color curtains go with brown sofas?
A: Earth tones like caramel, olive green, dark red and orange curtains tie nicely into brown leather sofas. For contrast, stripes and shades like champagne and navy blue bring out richness.

Q: Should bedroom curtains be floor length?
A: Yes, floor length bedroom curtains finishing just atop the floor contribute an elegant focal point and opulent hotel aesthetic. They also insulate for tranquil sleep.

Q: Do curtains make a room hotter?
A: Dark or multi-layered thick curtains can trap heat from sunlight streaming through windows. Lightweight, light-colored sheers allow sunlight’s brightness and breeze without forming a heat barrier.

Q: Where should curtains fall on a window?
A: For floor length curtains, the rod should be installed about 3-4 inches above the window itself. This allows curtains to obscure the entirety of windows for complete privacy and light control.

Q: Should curtains match the walls or furniture?
A: Curtains should complement but not blend fully into walls. Contrasting or stylistically matching key furniture pieces pulls a room together more seamlessly than perfectly matched walls and curtains.

Q: What is the standard curtain length?
A: The standard length for room darkening curtains is floor length with 2-3 inches of puddling material atop the floor. Sheers can be floor, sill or cafe length based on preference and privacy needs.

Q: Should living room curtains touch the floor?
A: In living rooms, puddling curtains so they lightly touch and stack on the floor creates an enhanced sense of height and space while allowing brightness to stream in unobstructed from top to bottom.

Q: What fabric are blackout curtains made of?
A: Blackout curtains feature tightly-woven, opaque fabrics on the backside with blackout bonded linings that prevent light seepage. Common blackout fabrics include polyester, nylon, cotton and linen weaves.

Q: Should kitchen curtains touch the floor?
A: For safety and hygienic reasons around appliances and sinks, kitchen cafe curtains with valances ending midway between countertops and ceiling aid brightness better than hazardous floor length panels.

Q: What color carpet goes with white walls and curtains?
A: Simple yet posh options like plush pale gray and light tan carpeting amplify ethereal brightness from white backdrops. Bolder colors like navy blue also elegantly ground white walls and curtains.

Q: Should curtain rods match the color of the curtains?
A: Curtain rods do not necessarily need to blend into curtains seamlessly. Contrasting metals like brushed nickel and matte black rods diversify all-white curtains attractively.

Q: Do sheers keep a room cool?
A: Sheer curtains improve ventilation and airflow from outside, allowing warm air to escape and be replaced by cooler breezes. This circulation prevents room heat buildup during summer far better than heavy drapes.

Q: How wide should curtains be for large windows?
A: For soaring windows, each curtain panel should measure about one and a half times the window’s width itself. This provides full coverage when drawn while allowing maximum light exposure when opened.

Q: Should curtains cover the radiator?
A: Curtain lengths should leave several inches of clearance above floor-based radiators to allow heat output to freely circulate into rooms. Covering radiators traps in warmth counterproductively.

Q: Should blackout curtains touch the carpet?
A: For bedroom blackout curtains, install ceiling mounted tracks to allow panels to seal out all exterior light sources. Stop curtains 1-2 inches above flooring without puddling for light blockage efficacy.

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