Decorating a home for the first time can be intimidating: it seems like there are all these terms you’re expected to know and clever tricks that everyone else is already employing. Window treatments can be especially difficult to get right because there are so many different options. That’s why I’d like to provide a brief cheat sheet from Moshells home decor for decorating with curtains. Read on and learn how to become a drapery master.
Basic Vocab –
Curtains: Typically consist of fabric panels that are hung in pairs and fall to roughly floor length. They are often pulled back on a rod and can also be tied back.
Drapes: A close cousin to curtains, drapes tend to be slightly longer and are primarily designed to block light and create privacy.
Valance: A cloth panel that runs along the top of your curtains to cover the rod. They’re not essential, but they can be a nice decorating touch.
Cornices: The more formal, ornate relative of the valance. They’re often made out of wood and are meant to look like an ornamental extension of the wall.
Café curtains: Usually found in kitchen or dining room spaces, these are short curtains that fall to roughly the midpoint of the window.
Grommets: The rings often used to hang curtains from a rod.
Prepping your Space –
Determine the purpose of your curtains. Before even starting to think about design aesthetics, you need to figure out what purpose your curtains will need to serve in each room. In some spaces, you might want heavier curtains or drapes that can block light and create privacy. In other spaces, you might want more decorative curtains that let light in. If you live in a cold climate, you might even want curtains that can help trap heat in the room.
Measure your space. Take a tape measure and record the width and length of your windows. For curtains that are purely decorative, your curtains should be about one and a half times as wide as the windows so that they still look full when they’re pulled back. For curtains that you actually want to close, aim for two and a half times the width of the windows. The height should be from either the top of your window or several inches above the window (depending on your tastes) to the floor.
Purchasing and Installing Curtains –
Choose your fabric. Some of the most common fabrics used for curtains are linen, velvet, silk, and faux silk. All these fabrics tend to drape nicely and won’t bunch up awkwardly when you open the curtains. You can also find curtains made from recycled materials if you’re trying to be environmentally conscious. Whatever fabric you decide on, make sure that you test it out before you buy it. Hold it up to a window to see if light shines through, and try pleating it at the top to see whether it falls nicely.
Choose your style. There are almost infinite options when it comes to choosing a style of curtains, and there are no hard and fast rules. You might choose a bright solid color as an accent to the room, or a hue that’s a few shades darker than the room’s color scheme. If the room is fairly neutral, you might want to pick out patterned or two-toned curtains. If you want to brighten a room and make the most of natural light, try a sheer, pastel or white curtain. Keep in mind that sunlight tends to fade fabrics, so if you are choosing curtains for a room with a lot of natural light, you may want to opt for lighter or more neutral hues.
Choose how to hang your curtains. Using grommets to hang your curtains from a rod is easy, minimalistic, and creates a modern look. If you want to cover the rod and grommets, you might consider choosing a valance made from the same material as the curtains, or even a wooden cornice (although this last option tends to be more expensive). There is a more extensive guide on hanging curtains located here.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Curtains can truly transform a room into a personal space, so once you’ve installed your new curtains, take some time to sit back and enjoy the addition.