Choosing Curtains for Every Room of Your Home

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When decorating a room, it can be so easy to treat curtains like an afterthought. We pick furniture, paint colors and carpets, but choosing the right window treatments can be just as important. But here’s the thing: Once you do find curtains that you like, it can be tempting to use them throughout the house. Don’t be tempted. It really is important to consider each room individually and decide what would work best. You may have to consider the size and height of the room, how much sun exposure it gets, whether it tends to get hot or color, the color palette and more. If you care about sustainability (which I assume you do, if you’re here 🙂 ) you also have to consider what the curtains are made of — organic cotton, hemp and linen are good options — or if they’ll help reduce your energy bill. Plus, once you see the huge range of options that are available at stores like Tesco, you’ll realize how easy it is to have some variety.

Function Over Form


The purpose of your curtains will have a big impact on many other decisions you have to make, so this is something to think about early on. Different rooms demand different curtain characteristics. For example, bedroom curtains are more likely to be picked for their ability to block out the sun than dining room curtains. So if you’re hanging curtains for privacy, you want to make sure you get ones that are thick enough so that no-one can see through them — even when the lights in the room are on.

If you want to keep the sun out or help regulate the temperature of a room, then you’ll need black-out curtains. If you want to make a statement as the focal point of the room, then you need bold colors or patterns that will draw attention. You may also want heavier fabrics and longer lengths for dramatic effect.

Size, Shape, and Style

The style of the room will also have an impact on the style of curtains you choose. Placing swags or valances in a modern apartment would completely throw off the vibe of the room, while heavy, thick curtains for a room with limited space will make the room feel smaller. Additionally, to make sure you get the most out of your new curtains, choose a fabric and color that won’t fade easily in direct sunlight for particularly sunny rooms, unless you plan to change your curtains regularly.

Lastly, this should go without saying, but measure. Twice. Decide where you want to hang your curtain rod before you buy the curtains. This way, if you choose to use decorator’s favorite tip for making a room feel taller — hanging the curtain rod a few inches from the ceiling rather than right above the window frame — you’ll be sure to buy curtains that are long enough to graze the floor. In many cases, this will require curtains longer than the standard 84 inches, so it helps to know that beforehand.

Cohesion or Clash?

Photo by tapetenpics

Photo by tapetenpics

The colors that you choose will need to work with your existing color palette, and your choice between solid or patterned curtains will be heavily influenced by the other decorative items in the room: Think artwork, cushions, furniture, etc. Choosing colors that complement each other will tie the room together. For example, busy patterns probably won’t work in a room that already has a lot going on, but could be perfect if the rest of the room is monochromatic or simple. But, if you’re looking for kitschy, vintage feel, pattern mixing might be just want you need to accomplish that.

There may be other factors you have to consider in your specific space when choosing the right curtains, but these steps will help you get a head start.

So what about you? What do you think is the most important factor when choosing curtains? Let me know in the comments section below.


Haley Hobart has been an interior decorator for 10 years and frequently contributes to home decorating and DIY sites with her expertise. She lives in London with her partner and rambunctious puppy, Shiloh.

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2 comments… add one
  • Avatar Lillian Schaeffer September 20, 2016, 3:28 pm

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that function is an important consideration when choosing curtains. My husband and I just moved into our first house, so I’m really excited to decorate everything and make it really feel like a home. I’ll definitely make sure to get thicker curtains for bedrooms for better light control, and I’ll consider the function of each room when choosing window treatments. Thanks for the great post!

  • Avatar Caden Dahl January 10, 2017, 2:10 pm

    I like how you mentioned that what the curtains will be used for is important when choosing new ones. I’m going to be redecorating my bedroom, and my husband has trouble sleeping at night if there’s light coming in through the windows. Perhaps it would be a good idea to get something thick enough that it blocks out all of the light.

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