Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Choose the Right Curtains for Your Space

Ok, ladies and gents. This is going to be a relatively extensive post about curtains!! But I promise it'll be worth it!!! This post will be followed by a post on my own curtain install!


They really can make or break a room. They pull together your design. They are a focal point of a room. Curtains cover such an expanse of a wall that their color, pattern, and style are more significant than most pieces of furniture! What I have learned is that curtains (&/or other window treatments) really can make a home.  You can live with minimal furniture but having nice curtains (also shower curtain, kitchen curtain, etc) makes a home more home.

There are a million options out there for curtains, curtain rods, and other window treatments (vertical blinds, horizontal blinds, curtain panels, etc). While I do love me a beautiful set of wooden, horizontal blinds in the right space, I'm really more of a curtain girl.

A great conversation with Debbie - my amazing friend and design guru - has really spurred this post. I recently moved into a new studio apartment and have some beautiful windows in the main space. I do NOT want to hide these windows but want the option to cover them with sheer curtains at times, and then other times with heavier curtains (when watching t.v. or needing extra shut-eye or temperature control). Also, because it is a smaller space, I do not want these curtains to take over, but merely complement the beautiful space they will be in.

Here is some great and useful information I gathered while working with Debbie while trying to figure out the best option for picking out curtains for my new space!

So, a few things to think about when choosing curtains for your home:

DESIGN: Spend sometime in your new place just sitting and being. Look at the sunshine… think about colors you want to use. You want a place that is calming to greet you when you walk in! Think of what one item will be the anchor… color, design item… for each room!  It can be a painting, a chair, a fabric…. it is your start and you build around it.

  Another important factor is how large the room is and how busy your curtain design can be. What can the room handle? A smaller room can be taken over with a busier curtain pattern. While a lighter colored curtain can make the room instantly expand in size! A bigger room can handle a busier pattern and the curtains can almost turn into a piece of art of their own.

  Consider fabric type at this point as well. I like a bit more informal fabrics such as cottons and linens, but there are also silk, lace, satins, and brocades. Also consider weight of these fabrics - whether you want sheer curtains or heavier curtains. Oftentimes I like the option of both - a sheer and a heavier curtain.

WIDTH: Measure the width of your windows you are trying to cover. Once you have your side to side measurement you want to consider giving yourself enough room to place brackets on either side of bank of windows.

 Next consider how many supports you will need to span your window length.  If it is a very long expanse of dowel or pipe it will likely need at least one or possibly 2 supports (to the right of each window) in the center of the rod. (A standard sliding glass door is about 75 inches and you will typically want to have a support in the center of those as the center of the rod will bow.)

LENGTH: Curtain length is dependent on where or how high you want to hang the rod (from ceiling, half way between ceiling and top of window frame, or at window frame.  Standard options for ready made curtains in the US are 84 or 96 inches. And, it is best to have about an inch between floor and curtain so that they open and close easily. (If you have too much fabric then it will drag on the ground, be more difficult to open and close, or your family pet will think it is his new bed!)  I think curtains to the floor will look most elegant instead of a couple inches off the floor.

 Measure your window height and consider the look you want. I prefer curtain rods that hang between the ceiling and the top of the window frame. I think they tend to make a room look taller and look a bit classier.

FUNCTION: If these will be ‘working curtains’, ones that you will be opening and closing several times a day, the rod needs to be sturdy and it needs to have that slide-ability. A wood dowel alone would be hard to use for this as it sticks. You can get those wood rings and either sew them to the curtain or use rings with clips, seen here from Home Depot. Metal or pipe rods have better slide-ability for fabric, rings, or curtains with grommets that have a more modern look.
 This is once again where you will need to consider fabric type as well. When you are thinking about the function of the curtain it is important to think about what fabric to use. I want three functions for my windows: 1) completely open (no curtains), 2) sheer curtain to let some light in but still have some privacy, and 3) and a heavier curtain fabric to have the ability to shut out some light to cut down on glare of the t.v. and for sleeping.

Utilizing both curtains leads into the curtain rod question.

RODS: Double vs. single curtain rods? Of course if you are only using one curtain per window you only need a single curtain rod. If you are going to have a sheer on the inside of your window and a thicker curtain on the outside you will need to consider what type of double rod you will want. The nicest way of doing this is to purchase an official double curtain rod (as opposed to trying to have a tension rod for the sheer and an actual curtain rod for the heavier curtain. Hey! Been there and done that in my college/first out of college days where you're just trying to make it work!). But that option is often not very strong or functional. 

INSTALLATION: If you have ever unsuccessfully installed curtains you have experienced the curtain rod ripping out of the wall as you adjust the curtains.... This is an incident you would like to avoid for both your wall's sake and for your sanity! So think about if you are able to securing install the curtain rod into the wall. OR, is there a handyman around there who can help with inserting a strong curtain rod secured very tightly? Remember find your stud (wall stud or handyman stud..... ;) )!!!

Remember, and most importantly, there are no hard and fast rules here. It all depends on the style or look that you want and how you will use them. You hang curtains in a way that works for you, i.e. do you want very full curtains, curtains that are hung from ceilings to cover entire walls, ones that drape on to the floor, or ones that provide a very tight frame around the bank of windows.)
But, you have to be pretty accurate with hanging anything like curtains or shelves… unlike pictures or wall do-dads! So, re-measure your walls and your windows. Be very accurate so that you get the look that you are after.  
There are lots of calculations that go into curtains.  But I know that you can make the choices that will give you the look you want and the function that you need.

Great places to buy your curtains: Ikea, OverstockWayfair, HomegoodsTJ Maxx, Pier 1 Imports
Great places to buy your curtain rods: Same places for the curtains, as well as Home Depot, Lowes, plus there is the option to make your own.

 (Stay tuned for my next post on making your own curtain rods!)

Let me know your thoughts on this post! What have you tried in the past? What style or designs do you like most? Where do you buy your curtains?

Show me pictures of your success, and heck, your fails, too!! :)


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