When choosing new curtains or drapes for your home, there are a number of factors to consider before deciding which type is best for your needs:
Main factors to consider when buying curtains
- Privacy level – Sheer, transparent, light-filtering or blackout
- Light blocking – Ability to block sunlight and streetlights from entering
- Insulation – Thermal abilities to conserve energy
- Sound dampening – Reduce outside noise
- Ease of cleaning – Machine washable or dry clean only
- Cost – Budget-friendly or luxury investment
- Aesthetics – Color, pattern, style to match room décor
Taking all these practical and decorative considerations into account will help determine the ideal curtain type for each room.
Curtain Types Compared
Below is an overview comparing the most popular curtain styles on the key factors that impact which performs best in different scenarios.
Overview: Completely blocks outside light for bedrooms
Privacy Level: Opaque, 100% light blocking
Light Blocking Ability: Maximum
Insulation & Noise Dampening: Excellent, with multilayer blackout lining
Ease of Cleaning: Machine wash gentle cycle in cold water
Cost: $ – $$$
Best For: Bedrooms, home theaters, nurseries, shift worker sleep schedules
Overview: Insulated to conserve energy in extreme temperatures
Privacy Level: Opaque to transparent options
Light Blocking Ability: Medium to excellent
Insulation & Noise Dampening: Excellent, retains warm or cool indoor air
Ease of Cleaning: Machine wash gentle cycle, air dry
Cost: $$ – $$$
Best For: Cold climates, insulating windows year round
Overview: Lightweight, see-through for layering look
Privacy Level: None, transparent
Light Blocking Ability: Minimal
Insulation & Noise Dampening: Minimal
Ease of Cleaning: Machine wash gentle cycle
Cost: $ – $$
Best For: Layered window treatments, decorative element
Overview: Softens sunlight in family rooms
Privacy Level: Semi-sheer
Light Blocking Ability: Good
Insulation & Noise Dampening: Minimal
Ease of Cleaning: Machine wash gentle cycle
Best For: Living rooms, kitchens, offices, daylight softening
Blackout Curtain Liners
Overview: Lined backing for enhanced light blocking
Privacy Level: Opaque liner
Light Blocking Ability: Excellent boost behind main curtains
Insulation & Noise Dampening: Good boost
Ease of Cleaning: Machine wash gentle cycle
Cost: $ – $$
Best For: Bedrooms and media rooms, insert option
Curtain Header Types
In addition to fabric and function, curtains differ by header style across the top:
- Rod pocket – Basic gathered top slides onto curtain rod
- Back tabs – Fabric tabs slide over rod from behind
- Grommets – Metal rings thread onto rod for a clean look
- Clip rings – Clips attached to front to hang on rod
- Tie tops – Pull strings secure around rod without needing rings/grommets
What To Consider Choosing Your Curtains
Here are key considerations when deciding which specific curtain is right for your room and windows.
Window Purpose & Location
Think about the window’s purpose and location in the room when deciding the ideal curtain. Highly decorative windows can stay uncovered as a focal point, while others should provide insulation or block light/noise.
Bedrooms and media rooms need blackout curtains that prevent any exterior light from interrupting sleep or viewing TVs/projectors. Sheers alone fail to meet practical needs in spaces like these but make excellent supplementary layers in other rooms for ambiance.
South-facing windows receive intense direct sunlight so thicker light-filtering or even blackout lined curtains help prevent overheating, glare and fading on décor. North-facing windows rarely receive direct light but still warrant energy efficient thermal curtains in cold climates.
Consider adding lining or separate blackout liner panels if the view or natural light is still desirable during the day. This allows you to close the opaque liners tightly at night while opening the exterior sheer or light-filtering curtains as part of your morning routine.
Kitchens, dining rooms and offices typically need transparency for daylighting or garden views but benefit from light-diffusing sheers or thermal insulation blocking street noise and temperature extremes.
Aesthetics & Decor Goals
Factor in how the curtains will complement your décor aesthetics and color palette in the room. Bring fabric swatches of furniture upholstery to the store when curtain shopping to compare colors side by side. This prevents clashing tones or picking drapes that disappear visually into similarly hued walls.
Light colored sheers help interiors feel more spacious while making rooms appear taller. Dark opaques have a cozying effect that counters cold hardwood or bright white backdrops.
Pair solid curtains with patterned furnishings or layer patterns-on-patterns for an eclectic bohemian style. Mix textures like sheers and heavy velvet for visual interest and dimensional layers.
Incorporate header styles that coordinate with your curtain rods. Ringless clip curtains maintain sleek contemporary silhouettes while ties and grommets take on a casual cottage feel. Swag drapery panelscastle.jpg require more formal decorative rods.
Beyond the fabric itself, extend your style into perfectly positioned curtain lengths. Pooled panels framed closely around the window play up craftsman charm. Long floor-skimming lengths make small rooms feel grander. Cafe curtains covering only the bottom window portion maintain views while adding a pop of privacy.
Insulation, Light Blocking & Noise Reduction
Evaluate your climate, window exposure, exterior noise and bedroom darkness needs to prioritize performance. Features like blackout linings, thermal insulation and sound deadening provide practical light blocking, energy efficiency and noise reduction later into nighttime hours.
If buying separate blackout lining panels, take precise width and length measurements of your window and existing curtains to size the liners for a custom fit. Too narrow and streaks of light sneak past the edges, while oversized panels proved challenging to neatly mount.
Installing ceiling-height curtain rods extend your drapes to the floor for improved insulation and noise dampening. Opt for pole pocket headings to neatly enclose edges or splurge on auto-seal tracks to guarantee total blackout along sliding panels. Consider rod weights and magnetic curtain hems if breezes in an open window tend to billow sheets outward letting light pass through the split panels.
Collect ratings on insulating R-values required for your climate when choosing thermal curtains specifically to retain heat in winter and block summer UV rays.
Easy Care & Durability
Evaluate cleaning requirements when curtains may require frequent washing to maintain appearances. Delicate embellished sheers prone to snags make dry clean-only care high maintenance and cost additive over time compared to durable washable fabrics.
Kid and pet friendly spaces also warrant curtains that can withstand repeated use, abuse and stain cleaning without fading or tearing seams. Blackout curtains specifically line up along edges to block streaks of light so ensure durable tightly woven fabric withstands tugging.
Consider special order flame retardant, antimicrobial or even water resistant outdoor curtain materials to withstand elements in tough environments.
Best Curtains By Room & Style
These selections serve as top picks for performance, function and style by room:
The kitchen needs durable, machine-washable fabrics able to withstand splatter, spills and steam near ranges. Bright white colors keep small spaces feeling open while allowing natural light from garden views.
- Best Blackout – H.Versalles Faux Silk Lined Eyelet
- Best Sheer – Nice town Gauze Tier & Valance set
- Best Thermal – Naturally Nestled Insulated Checkered
- Best Pattern – Amherst Checked Gingham Clip Ring
Bedrooms need guaranteed blackout technology along with sound absorption and dark colors for sleeping in. Choose pole pockets or tab top styles above grommets to prevent metal-on-metal noise when drawstrings open and close rings repeatedly as blackout lining shifts during the night.
- Best Blackout – Coulson Cordless Night Vision
- Best Thermal – Comftek Noise Reducing Insulated
- Best Liners – NICETOWN 3-Pass Heavy Duty Inserts
- Best Pattern – LEEVAN Texured 2-Panel Pinch Pleats
Living Room Curtains
Living room curtains balance style and visibility allowing daylight while framing views. Light filtering fabrics prevent glare on TV screens with Convoy Rod Pockets earning top picks thanks to 130 colors suiting any style.
- Best Sheer – Household Attire Crisscross
- Best Light Filtering – August Grove Align Triple Weave
- Best Pattern – Waverly Tucson Room Darkening Lined
- Best Luxury – Signature Design by Ashley Tailored Rib Weave Back Tabs
Home Theater Curtains
For dedicated home theaters, Roommates Decor Blackout Window Panels paired with White Noise Reducing Thermal Liners optimize both light blocking and sound absorption so immersive movies can run any time day or night.
Outdoor spaces need weather resistant fabrics in materials like polyester, acrylic or olefin. Solid vinyl curtains work well within covered areas while mesh netting offers airflow on screened patio enclosures.
- Best Solid – East Urban Home Water Repellent Polyester Back Tab solid panel
- Best Pattern – Flora Bella Fade Resistant Abstract Trellis lace panels
- Best Mesh – Sheltery All Climate See Through Netting
Curtain Trends & Innovations
Stay on top of recent curtain developments improving aesthetics through creative headers, automated functionality and even air purifying options:
Designers create modern headers that become an intentional decorative focal point above the window. See open airy macrame knotted tops, chunky braided pulls or fabric wrapped cords eliminating visible hanging rings.
Motorized & Remote Control
Take cues from upscale hotel blackout shades and upgrade to convenient motorized curtains operated with remote controls or voice activated. Schedule them to automatically close at set times pulling opaque liners across for media rooms.
Wellness & Air Purifying
New innovations like the Indow window insert filled with aerogel insulation regulates temperatures without bulky side panels. KOOLTEX anti-microbial curtains actively filter air and kill bacteria using encapsulated ions woven into certain blackout fabrics. Even carbon-infused curtains like Vapor Apparel absorb odor, moisture and VOCs purifying indoor living spaces.
- Match blackout curtains with thick multilayer lining or separate insert panels in bedrooms needing 100% darkness and insulation. Prioritize noise dampening tech and tightly woven durable fabrics on ceiling height poles.
- Sheer panels make great supplementary layers letting in views and filtered light using easy care machine washable fabrics.
- Calculate necessary R-values on thermal insulating curtains in extreme climates helping contain expensive HVAC energy costs.
- Purchase flame retardant, water and stain resistant outdoor curtain fabrics standing up to sun and environmental exposure on covered patios.
- Refresh room décor and design interest choosing patterned or uniquely headed statement curtains complementing existing furnishings and wall colors.
Finding the best curtains for your space depends on several practical factors like light and noise blocking levels along with coordinating attractively with room aesthetics. Compare different curtain types from opaquely insulating blackout to sheer lightweight panels judging which serve window purpose and location needs.
Audit the room’s privacy needs, existing decor and your own cleaning maintenance considerations before visiting local stores armed with swatches in hand to make the ideal curtain purchase. Splurge on technologically advanced motorized curtains putting comfort and convenience top of mind.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What curtains are in style now?
Some of the most popular modern curtains trends include textured fabrics like chunky sheer waffle weaves along with elegant floor length panels making dramatic statements. Light filtering soft sheers provide a bright airy feel complimenting clean Scandanavian design elements.
- What is the most luxurious curtain brand?
Designer luxury brands for high end drapery panels include Villa Home, The Curtain Factory, Prestigious Textiles and Berkeley Mills. Using rich fabrics like embroidered silk organza or velvets trimmed in beading and fringe.
- What are some short curtain alternatives?
In place of short cafe curtains, also consider decorative fabric window swags mounted above on an ornamental rod or sleek cordless cellular shades mounted inside the window frame itself.
- What fabrics avoid needing ironing?
To skip ironing maintenance and touching up wrinkling, look for crisp fabrics with inherent structure like duck cloth weaves and easy care poly-cotton blends perfect for casual rooms. Options like faux silk taffetas help achieve a soft luxurious shine minus the delicacy.
- Do blackout curtains really block out all light?
Opaque “blackout” drapery description can be misleading, as even the best thickly lined curtains may leak tiny streaks of light around edges. For guaranteed zero-light sleep sanctuaries, layer true blackout curtain panels behind existing drapes or purchase sets with separate blackout liners custom sized to your windows.
- How well do light filtering curtains work?
Light filtering sheer and semi-sheer curtains diffuse harsh direct sunlight, preventing glare, overheating rooms and bleaching décor. Softer filtered daylight creates pleasant workspaces boosting comfort and eye strain relief over afternoons versus dark opaquely blocked windows. But true light blocking blackout versions still rule for nighttime insomnia needs.
- Which header type hangs most smoothly?
Drapes slide most fluidly using clip rings evenly dispersing weight across the rod without sagging concentrates that stress curtain panels themselves leading to stretched necking and distortion over time. Sturdy ring connectors also withstand frequent opening and closing without wearing down holes along the tops.
- Where should curtain rod sit: above or below molding?
Designers suggest extending floor length curtains to the ceiling emphasizing vertical lines drawing the eyes upwards making rooms feel taller and more expansive. heights also improve insulating and noise dampening abilities when panels cover more surface area without gaping. clauses suggest mounting rods 6-12 inches above window frames themselves to accommodate depth needed for blackout linings or enough flat space panel stacking when opened.
- Can you put blackout curtains in the dryer?
Avoid extreme heat ruining blackout linings by skipping machine drying cycles after washing. Excessive heat can shrink layers leading them to separate and delaminate. Instead allow curtains to drip dry on rod extenders or lay flat just avoiding direct sunlight preventing UV faded spots over time. A ceiling fan speeds air circulation overnight.
- Do thermal curtains shrink when washed?
Quality thermal insulated curtains withstand multiple cleaning cycles without shrinking or bunching. But because layered fabrics sandwich thick batting fiberfill, extra weight when holding water during machine washing and drying can drag dimensions lower over time. Save energy and prevent this by skipping the dryer letting them drip dry naturally.
- How do you reattach a curtain header?
Reinforce stretched out curtain tops by turning under a 1/4 inch double hem before sewing a new channel for curtain rod insertion. Use durable upholstery weight thread and tightly packed straight stitching lines to support the full panel width without sagging. Alternatively switch to sturdy clip rings or sew on silver grommets along the top edge.
- How do you make curtains longer?
The simplest DIY curtain extension involves adding a coordinating solid color fabric panel along the bottom using folds, iron on hem tape or more permanent invisible stitching hems before hanging back up with the original curtain. Fullness masks slight variations. Or upgrade curtain panel hardware itself switching out standard sizes to extend from ceiling to floor for a custom built in look.
- Which curtains are cheapest?
Budget friendly curtains include basic white or ivory polyester blends under $15 per panel. Or watch for sales on custom sized panels at big box stores for steep one day discounts. Closeout lots from fabric stores offer deals for sewing DIY panels yourself without designer markups.
- Is buying curtains online cheaper?
Online sites can significantly undercut locally priced options buying direct from manufacturers overseas removing retailer markups. But customer pays return shipping costs if any sizing or quality issues arise upon arrival. Measure meticulously before clicking buy or budget alteration costs still required after delivery from e-commerce vendors abroad.
- Should all curtains in a room match?
Matching curtains throughout multiple rooms lends a smooth pulled together aesthetic for more formal open concept layouts preferable for staging homes to sell. But designers encourage creatively mixing and matching complimentary patterns, colors and textures that still coordinate across different windows and functions of more casual lived in residences.
- Why are curtain measurements so confusing?
The frustrating confusion comparing simple window glass measurements versus opaque assembled curtain panel sizing stems from accounting for additional fabric allowances needed to create folds when gathering onto poles. Packaged heights factor in heading depths and stacked overlaps at top and bottom edges. Plot meticulously on paper before ordering anything custom sized unseen online.