How to choose and hang the perfect curtains for your home

  • Curtains should be the finishing touch on a room that ties it all together for a cohesive and beautiful look.

    Curtains should be the finishing touch on a room that ties it all together for a cohesive and beautiful look.

  • Drapes don't have to fade background. Make them the star of a room witha bold pattern or bright color choice.

    Drapes don't have to fade background. Make them the star of a room witha bold pattern or bright color choice.

By Erin Chan Ding
CTW Features
Posted9/24/2016 6:00 AM

Earth tones. Linens. Neutrals. Patterns. Nature-inspired. Stripes. Burgundy. Blues. Browns. And on and on. The choices for curtains, draperies and window treatments may seem overwhelming, but don't feel intimated by the choices. Get excited!

Choosing the right curtains can add sparkle, grace and vibrancy to a room. Danielle Kerr, owner of Danielle B. Interiors in suburban Chicago, says window treatments often make rooms feel complete.


"The nice thing about window treatments, curtains and draperies is that whatever style you choose, whether it's contemporary, transitional, traditional, draperies can fit into any design style," Kerr says. "Pattern, texture and color -- all of those things are important. It's like jewelry for the room. It's one of those things that when you go into a room, if they're not there, it looks like something's missing. Something needs to finish off that window."

Kerrie Kelly, an interior designer and the owner of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, says "a window can be a fantastic focal point in a room and adding a great curtain enhances the beauty."

But where to begin?

First, get over the fear. Trust yourself, says Kerr. "If you look at something, you know in your gut if you like it or not, so go ahead and trust it."

And don't be afraid to try something a little nontraditional like bold colors or patterns, she adds.

"People are so fearful of pattern and color," Kerr says. "I'm a big fan and encourager of mixing design styles. I don't recommend that people just stick to one design. It's boring. It's typical. I'm trying to get people to get out of their comfort zone a little bit, at least in their accents. A traditional room can add a little pop to it with some awesome draperies that make it unique. I think that's the key to successful design."

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For inspiration, Kerr says to look to globally inspired fabrics. Several of those pieces have cozier looks that translate well as we approach the cooler fall and winter months.

"I recommend trying something tribal, Moroccan, anything that's just an around-the-world sort of look," she says. "Look at adding color, pattern and texture, like really knotty, knitted, chunky fabrics."

If you live in a more temperate area, Kelly suggests exploring linens. "Linen is one of our go-to fabrics, as it has a comfortable, California vibe," she says. "With the large amount of linen weaves and colors to select from, it's a very versatile option."

Cotton curtains can also give a room an airier feel while dressier fabrics, like silks and velvets, work well in cooler metropolitan areas.

For homeowner who would like more texture of heft, she recommends combining materials. "We are also big fans of organic materials such as woven wood or bamboo shades, being layered under a drape," she says.


Certain fabrics can also help keep the heat in the house during the winter chill. Thermal curtains, for example, are typically constructed of two or three layers of wool or polyester and have an acrylic foam or layer of aluminum to protect against damage from ultraviolet rays.

Blackout drapes or liner, which will block out sunlight (a bonus if you have a fussy baby who won't fall asleep) also help keep in the heat. Kerr says she often picks up liner that runs an affordable $5 to $10 a yard at a craft or hobby store and takes it to a tailor to sew into the curtains.

With so many different treatment options, it can be tough to make a commitment. No one wants to buy a piece of décor only to get it home and realize it doesn't mesh with the rest of the room. Luckily, many companies are willing to send swatches so you can play with how the design looks in a certain space before investing.

Technology has also given us tools to help us envision how rooms will look. Kerr recommends using with Olioboard, which allows users to design 3-D rooms.

Hiring a designer to help you create custom drapery is a great way to guarantee you get a look you'll love that actually last, though it can be expensive, sometimes as much as a few thousand dollars per window. "You gotta be sure because custom is not cheap," Kerr says.

While buying off the rack may not give you a one-of-a-kind style, it is a much more economical option. Plus, it gives you the freedom to try something totally out-of-the-box. So, if you hate it in a few months or just want something different, you don't have to feel guilty about having spent a bunch of money.

"I'm not going to lie," Kerr says. "Depending on if it's really short term, and I want to pop this room with some orange, I might just go to HomeGoods or T.J. Maxx and just grab those curtains off the rack. You get some fun and color, and next year you don't feel bad about taking down those $29.99 curtains."

Kerr also cites Pottery Barn and West Elm as stores that carry quality curtains whose designs can be trusted.

You can also check out semi-custom online ordering, which usually costs well below premium priced custom draperies. Kerr specifically recommends Loom Décor, which offers free samples, shipping and returns. It also has a chat option and can virtually pair you with a stylist for assistance.

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