If you want to update your living room without going to the bother (or expense) of a complete overhaul, a new pair of curtains will instantly refresh your room with no pain and very little money. Whether you want a simple, casual look, or something bold and dramatic, the right type of curtains can work wonders at transforming and completing your living space.
The first thing to consider when deciding on your choice of curtains is the fabric. “If they’re too heavy, they may not fold crisply when drawn; too light and they may not fall well,” designer Suysel DePedro Cunningham of Tilton Fenwick tells Elle.
Depending on how much light you want to let in, the style of the living room, and the amount of privacy you need, there are several different options to choose from:
If you’re aiming for a light, bright, informal look that requires minimal upkeep, opt for a pair of cotton curtains. Cotton will allow plenty of natural light to filter through, and has the added benefit of being very low maintenance: an occasional going-over with the brush attachment of a vacuum to prevent dust gathering in the pleats (which should be ironed on low to keep them crisp) and a dry clean once in a blue moon is all that’s needed. If you’re swayed by their convenience and easy availability but want an option that allows more privacy, make sure = the cotton curtains you choose are lined.
If you want to really want to make the most of the natural light and have no real concerns about privacy, a pair of linen drapes can be a great choice. The textured weave of linen allows plenty of dappled light to shine through, while their naturally wrinkled, slightly disheveled look means you can get away with very little in the way of maintenance. A quick vacuum should be all that’s required (although if there’s a particularly irksome deep crease you’d like to get rid of, simply dampen the area and run it over with an iron on a low heat).
Linen Silk Blend
If you want a slightly more elegant look than either pure linen or cotton will afford while still maintaining an informal vibe, a linen silk drape may be the answer. The silk adds a gorgeous, sophisticated luster, while the linen will keep things just the right side of relaxed. The one thing to bear in mind is that these types of drapes are a little higher maintenance than their cotton or linen equivalents and can become damaged through excessive sunlight or water. Keep them to rooms that are naturally more shaded and be very careful when ironing to avoid any droplets of water getting on the fabric, which could lead to permanent water spots.
Like real silk, faux silk has a sumptuous look that will add a touch of sophistication to any room. If you make sure the material is high quality, it will be very difficult to tell apart from the real thing but has the added advantage of being much easier to maintain and less vulnerable to sunlight or water damage.
Suede, velvet, tapestry or tweed may be less commonly used than the other options we’ve looked at, but they carry unique benefits that make them worthy of consideration. As Elle Décor notes, fabrics such as these tend to be excellent at blocking light and providing the ultimate amount of privacy, making them great options if your living room is street-facing or benefits from a little too much sun to be comfortable.
Once you’ve chosen your fabric, the next thing to consider is the style.
Solid curtains are a great option and an easy fit for most styles of décor. Color will be the main thing to consider if you plump for this option: if you want your window treatments to feel light, airy and blend into the room rather than stand apart, opt for neutral, paler shades like creams, whites, beiges, and ivory. If you’re happy enough for the drapes to draw the eye and be a real focal point of the room then feel free to get adventurous with bolder, darker shades. Again, consider how much light you want to allow through before making your final choice; choose unlined drapes if you’re happy for your room to be flooded in sunlight, and lined ones if you’re not.
If you really want to make a feature of your windows, consider a pair of printed curtains. Options range from subtle, understated designs to big, bold graphics, giving you the choice of just how dramatic you want to take things. Remember to consider other furnishings when you make your choice, and to choose items that will complement, rather than overwhelm, your other fixtures.
Length + Width
Crucial to getting the right look is to choose curtains of the right length. If your room is on the petite side, try creating the illusion of extra ceiling height by hanging the curtains a few inches higher than the window. Also consider whether you want a contemporary or traditional look: for the former, measure from where the curtains will hang to the floor; for the latter, add a few extra inches onto the total so that the curtains can “puddle” (something that, as Homes To Love notes, is something that works particularly well with cotton and linen drapes). When measuring width, be sure to add 4-8 extra inches to the measurement to allow for fullness.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect pair of curtains, don’t forget to pay some attention to the hardware too. The wrong shade or type of curtain rod can end up making even the most exquisite pair of curtains look cheap or outdated, so make sure to choose something that’s a suitable fit. Matt rods tend to be a good choice for curtains that have a warm tonal quality, while as Houzz notes, a double rod can be a great way of allowing you to utilize different fabrics and shades for an eye-catching style.