How to choose curtains for your home
Think about your purpose before purchasing curtains, and you won't go wrong.
Photo Credit: Eli Romero
Curtains have a multitude of uses besides merely covering windows. They can serve a decorative purpose, insulate your home, divide spaces, or cover ugly window frames. Before you purchase curtains, first decide what you would like their primary purpose to be.
If you would like curtains for privacy, choose a heavier curtain with a lining. You can add tiebacks for occasions when you would like to look out of the window. If you like, you can keep the look relatively simple. Hang the curtain from rings on a pole, and presto, you're finished.
To block out light, and thus lower your electric bills while protecting your furniture from fading, you will want to choose a curtain that is heavily lined, perhaps even with blackout fabric. These liners can be purchased separately and hung behind the curtains if need be. If you are someone who is not only looking to lower their electric bill, but who also needs complete light blockage due to working a night shift, consider also hanging a roller shade behind the curtain for extra darkness.
Decorative curtains can take all kinds of forms, and can include curtains used for privacy and light blockage as well. Many people do not need curtains for these reasons, however, but would like to add a more designer feel to their home. In this case, you may want to consider purchasing a simple window dressing. You can mount a decorative curtain rod with fancy finials, and hang a long swag across the rod so that it hangs down on both sides of the rod and reaches to the floor. Sometimes these swags are called scarves. At any rate, you will want to make sure that it is long enough for your purpose, if you will be hanging it alone, without the curtains themselves.
If your purpose is to merely accent a room, sheer curtains are a lovely way to accomplish this. You can choose the curtain rod that strikes your fancy, and hang the curtains from it in a variety of ways. You may want to choose rings, tab-top, or simple gathered curtains. Sheers do not block out light or provide privacy, but they are a beautiful airy addition to a room. You can find sheers that feature beautiful embroidery on them, further enhancing their decorative appeal.
If you like, you can go all out, and hang multiple window treatments. There are many ways that you can do this. You can hang curtains, and then hang a scarf in a complimentary color from the rod as well, or you may choose a box valance instead. You can even hang two rods and have sheer curtains behind a practical set of privacy curtains. You can also combine curtains with different types of blinds and shades. Consider a Roman shade in a complimentary color or pattern hung behind the curtains.
Sometimes, you may want to use curtains to provide a separate space in your home, as opposed to limiting their use to windows. If you have a closet without an attractive door, or perhaps no closet at all, but a clothes rack, you can use curtains to conceal these areas, and provide protection from dust. In these cases, you will want to choose a thick curtain that cannot be seen through. Curtains with backings, or that are made of a thick material, such as velvet, are perfect for this purpose. Suddenly, where you once saw a cluttered closet, you have a beautiful fabric treatment instead. This can also give the room a space-enhancing effect, as the curtain implies a window behind it.
You may want to use curtains as space-dividers if you live in a studio apartment, and would like to separate your sleeping area from your dining area, for example. In this case, you would suspend poles from the ceiling, and hang the curtains. It can be a particularly attractive arrangement if you have tie backs, so that the curtains can be opened, in which case, they provide a beautiful decorative effect. Again, you will want to choose a heavy curtain for this purpose, although in this case, the curtain should be attractive on both sides, since you will be able to see it from either side. A lined curtain may not be a good idea. You may want to simply purchase a heavy curtain. If you are not pleased with how the other side of the curtain appears, you can hang double panels, so that the decorative side is facing out on both sides of your curtain divider.
Many people choose curtains over shades and other window treatments because of how easy it is to coordinate them with other furnishings in the room. In this case, you may choose to have curtains custom-made for your home, or to make them yourself. If you have had your sofa reupholstered, you can choose a complementary fabric for your curtains. An inexpensive way to accomplish a similar look in a bedroom is to buy extra flat sheets and make curtains out of them that will match the bedding. In these instances, be careful not to overdo it. Too much chintz, for example, can be hard on the eyes!
You have more options than ever when it comes to curtains and their accessories. It can be overwhelming to walk into a store and see all of the different choices. Remember to keep your purpose in mind, and you will have no problem selecting the right ones for your home.