How to Choose the Right Curtains or Drapery Selection


As renovations move along you might find yourself asking…is this ever going to end? Thankfully, one of those “light at the end of the tunnel” moments that we’ve been longing for, finally came around this week.  It feels great to finally make decisions on some of the finishing touches!  One of those details that I’ve been working on lately, is our drapery selection.  I’ve worked my way through most of the house, but am left now with what feels like the biggest decision of all…the living room and kitchen.

drapery selection

Curtains or drapes, whatever you prefer to call them, are a vital part of a room’s finishing touches.  There is a technical difference between the two, but for simplicity I am going to use the terms interchangeably.  They both provide functional beauty to your space, adding colour and texture to the overall look.  In reality though, curtains and drapes are so much more than simple window dressing.  They set the tone for the room and affect the mood of the space.  Drapery can be a basis for or an enhancement to the colour scheme you have designed.

drapery selection

So where do you start?  Drapery selection can be a frustrating and overwhelming process.  There are hundreds of options out there, how can you make sure you get it right?  Here are 10 tips that I have used this week making my drapery selection.  I hope they help you select the right drapery option for your space.

1. Function

Consider what function you want from your new drapes or curtains.  Do you need privacy?  Do you need them to block light or provide some insulation value?  Once you have determined the function, it will provide significant focus to your drapery search and selection.

2. Lining

Choosing the right lining will help you to control light levels in your room.  For common areas like living rooms you may want something more sheer to allow the light in.  Bedrooms, however, may require a thicker lining to provide privacy or room darkening options.  Linings range in thickness and can be tailored to meet your light filtering needs. Tip:  Lining your drapery can also prolong the life of your curtains as it provides protection from harmful UV.

curtain drapery selection Sheer living room drapery via

3. Fabric

The type of fabric you choose for your draperies is a vital part of the selection process.  Which material you decide on will affect not only the look but how well your curtains function and hold up over time.  For a formal feel you could consider a silk or velvet fabric.  They are a heavier material and provide great privacy and insulation value.  For a more casual look, a lighter weight fabric like linen or cotton offer a beautiful light diffusing option.  Tip: Remember to consider the care instructions of each fabric and select one that is easy for you to care for.

drapery selection

4. Style

Draperies are available in a wide array of styles.  Choose the header that best suits your formal or relaxed style.  Personally I love grommetted curtains.  They are easy to open and close, create a nice arrangement when they are stacked to either side and have a modern feel about them.  Drapery headers can range from tailored pleats, to rings, to pocket rods.

curtain drapery selection via FaAB Home Fashions

5. Colour

When making your drapery selection, decide whether you want them to blend into the room’s decor or make a statement all on their own.  Draw inspiration from other elements in your space and highlight your overall colour scheme or accent colour.  It’s important to note that sunlight will fade fabrics over time.  As a result, it may be best to avoid brightly coloured fabrics in rooms with a lot of light.  We have chosen a warm grey (Sherwin Williams Repose Gray) for our main wall colour.  We are looking for a subtle pattern in the same grey scale to coordinate in our space.   (Click here for more warm grey and cool grey colour options).  Tip:  Bring your paint swatches with you when shopping for draperies to keep your colour selections consistent.

6. Patterns

Choosing a patterned or solid fabric for your drapery selection will be influenced by other elements in your space.  If you have patterned furniture, for example, you may find it easier to coordinate solid curtains.  Whereas solid coloured bedding may need a patterned curtain or graphic print to add some interest to the space.  A happy medium may be to choose a subtle neutral print like small dots or thin stripes.  These will give the illusion of a solid from a distance but add a subtle detail up close.

curtain drapery selection Kids bedroom with patterned curtains via Studio USS

7. Hanging Height

Before you decide on the length of your curtains, determine how high you would like them to hang.  Hanging them higher than the window will give a sense of height and sophistication to the room.  A good place to start is by hanging draperies at least six inches above the window frame.  For a more dramatic look, you can hang them even higher.  For 8′ ceilings, for example, I like to hang drapery panels around 95″ to give a more substantial look.

curtain drapery selection Living Room drapery via Studio McGee

8. Length

To find the right length for your drapery selection, measure from the top of the window to the floor.  Add the extra inches of height for where the panels will hang from.  If you want a traditional look, puddle the panels slightly on the floor.  For a modern look, measure the panels to fall flush with the floor.

curtain drapery selection Bedroom Curtains via Decor Pad

9. Width

Measuring the width of your window is important to ensure you have enough fullness for your window treatment.  Measure the width of your window, add an extra 4 to 8 inches on both sides and double the total number.  A 48″ window, for example, would need a total of about 112″ of drapery fabric for optimal fullness (48″ + 4″ + 4″ = 56″ then 56″ x 2 = 112″).  That’s approximately 56″ per side.  Tip:  Select and hang a rod that is also 4″ to 8″ wider than your window.  This will allow you to stack your drapery panels on either side of the window without blocking the light from coming in.

curtain drapery selection via FaAB Home Fashions

10. Ready-made vs Custom Draperies

Deciding whether to buy ready-made window treatments or custom drapery options can be largely influenced by price.  Although custom draperies can be made to suit, offer a tailored look in a wide array of fabrics, they can be pretty costly.  I have found a great budget friendly middle ground in FaAB Home Fashions.  They offer the look and quality of custom draperies at a fraction of the cost.  Tip:  If you want to try for a higher end ready-made look, buy an extra panel or two per window to get a fuller look.

drapery selection

For more great design inspirations, follow me on Pinterest.

drapery selection


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