How to choose the perfect curtains for your home

We’re shining a light on window treatments. Here’s what you need-to-know about curtains

how to choose curtains

Choosing window furnishings is one of those decisions that is often left to the last minute. After all, it’s more fun to choose paint colours, bedding, art and furniture. But, as an integral element of interior design, deciding what you’ll dress your windows with should be considered
from the outset – even if they’re the last thing to be installed.

Josie Marr from Russells Curtains & Blinds says, “Think about the type and amount of light each room gets. Do you want privacy during the day, night or both? And how warm or cool do you want the room to be during the different seasons?”

We’ve done a deep dive into curtains to help you navigate your options.

how to choose curtains


The wonderful thing about curtains is that they look beautiful open or closed. They provide texture, colour or pattern and can be a statement piece, or blend into the background.

Pros: Curtains are great for introducing texture into a room. If they’re taken up higher, they can help a room look taller and they provide good thermal insulation. A well-lined curtain will block light when closed and they’re easy to use.

Cons: If you’re limited for wall space and you can’t run your curtain tracks past your window frame, then your curtains will hang partially over the window and block some of the light, which could be a problem in a dark, compact room. They can also be clunky in a small space.

Best suited for: Curtains provide warmth and cosiness, for this reason they’re best suited for living rooms and bedrooms.

how to choose curtains

Fabric choice:

Cotton: Versatile and light but will probably need to be lined.
Velvet: Will block out light and reduce noise while adding richness and glamour.
Linen: A natural fibre that can degrade quickly. For this reason, consider a linen blend to achieve the same look with a longer life.
Polyester: The most common curtain fabric choice because it is durable, affordable and easy-care. But it absorbs odours, so avoid using in the kitchen area.
Acrylic: Lightweight and drapes beautifully. This fabric provides insulation and is hypoallergenic as well as being resistant to mould and mildew.
Voile: A crisp, open weave that is best utilised for sheer curtains. It gathers and drapes really well.

how to choose curtains

Curtain style:

Pencil pleat: Folds in the fabric that are gathered at the top – resembling a line of pencils.
New York pleat: Single pleats at even intervals that create a modern look with little to no gathering when drawn.
Dutch pleat: Double pinch pleats at even intervals creates a modern look with a bit more volume.
French pleat: Triple pinch pleats at even intervals offer a full, luxurious look.
Inverted pleat or box pleat: A single pleat at even intervals along the back of a curtain creates a formal, boxy look. Josie says, “The inverted pleat does not use as much fabric as other pleat styles. It folds back off your windows beautifully and doesn’t take up as much room, which is great when you don’t have a lot of space available to clear your curtains right off your windows.”
Tab curtains: A series of fabric loops that thread onto the curtain rod to create a soft, casual look. This style works particularly well with sheer curtains.
Eyelet: Inset metal rings that are threaded onto the curtain rod to create a clean and minimal look.

how to choose curtains

Things to keep in mind:

  • Dark or light? Light curtains will help a space to feel bigger and are arguably a more timeless look. They’re best suited for rooms that get a lot of direct sunlight because they’re less likely to show colour fade. Dark curtains on the other hand are simple to maintain and clean because marks don’t show up as much and they’re better for blocking out light.
  • Curtain lining: A well-lined curtain – no matter the colour of the curtain fabric – will block light from filtering through. Lined curtains hang better and will be easier to manoeuvre. If you’re looking for a complete light block lining, look at polycotton, a good economical option. For heat control, consider a thermal lining.
  • Custom-made or ready-made? Custom-made is the more expensive and time-consuming option, but it delivers exactly what you want. Ready-made curtains are more cost-effective, but you might need to compromise on look and fit.
  • Length: Interior designer Angie McPherson from Frobisher Interiors recommends full length curtains over short curtains for more effective insulation. “Hang curtains a little bit higher than the window frame to emphasise room height,” she suggests.

Words by: Bea Taylor

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