Window dressings come in several different types, but curtains are the most popular. They’re simple, effective, and can provide visual accents that tie a room together. However, once you’ve decided to dress your window with curtains, you still have many options to choose from. 

How to Choose Curtains


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Before you start looking at particular curtains, it’s worth first figuring out exactly what you want.

What Curtain Heading Do I Need?

When deciding which curtains to buy, you first need to figure out what heading you’ll need.

You’ll most likely be choosing between eyelet curtains and pencil pleat curtains.

Eyelet curtains feature hoops sewn into the fabric itself. They offer a contemporary look that works well in modern homes.

Pencil pleat curtains feature a series of tightly-wound folds along the top, which result in pencil-thin pleats that run across the curtain. There are several different styles of pencil pleat to choose from, including double and triple pleats, where the pleats are arranged into twos and threes. The principle, however, remains the same.

Curtain Tracks or Poles?

A curtain track is a thin strip of plastic or aluminium, along which rolling carriages can slide, bearing the weight of the curtain. They’re functional, flexible and inconspicuous.

Curtain poles tend to be chunkier. They consist of a long cylinder, made from either wood or metal. Since they’re difficult to hide, they usually serve a decorative function. A third option is tension rods, which sit within the recess and bear the weight of lighter curtains such as voiles and nets. 

Lightweight or Heavy Curtains?

So which curtains are best? That all depends on your requirements.

If you’re dressing a bathroom window you probably want lots of natural light to enter the room, but you’ll also want to retain your privacy. In this case a set of lightweight voile or net curtains may be ideal. Being so thin, these types of curtains absorb minimal moisture – ideal for moist environments like bathrooms and kitchens.

If you work night shifts (or simply enjoy a lie-in on the weekend), then you might choose blackout curtains for your bedroom. Blackout curtains feature a special lining designed to block out light – ideal when trying to sleep during the day, or if you live on a well-lit main road.

Blackout curtains are also a good fit for living rooms and any other room where you’d like to avoid screen-glare.

The weight of the fabric has other implications. Heavier curtains are more effective insulators - both of heat and sound. They require strong poles to hold them in place. 

Which Curtains for Bay Windows?

If you’re dressing bay windows, you have two options.

  1. You can have a wide curtain running across the front of the recess.
  2. You can install a wide curtain that runs along a curved rail within the recess.

The first option will somewhat undermine the point of installing a bay window. The latter option will require that you secure a curtain track or pole that fits the curve.

There are several ways of finding a curtain that fits your bay window.

You can install a flexible track, bending it to fit the contours of the window. This approach might work with lighter-weight curtains, but you’ll get better results with a made-to-measure curtain pole.

Alternatively, you might decide to install multiple rails, and have the curtains wrap around the bay in stages. This approach tends to be a little fiddly, but for some windows, it makes sense.

Which Curtains for Patio Doors?

When dressing patio doors, there are a few other complicating factors to consider. If you’re not careful, your curtains could interfere with your doors. You’ll also need to make sure that the opening and closing of the door isn’t impinged. Your doors, whether they’re French or bi-fold, will need to open out from the building in order to avoid intersecting the curtain.

This comes with its own disadvantages, as it means your doors are at risk of damage from strong winds while open. That means you need to make sure you have a way of locking the doors into position.

Alternatively you could try attaching the dressing to the panels of the door itself. This will allow it to open and close inwards without bashing against the curtains. Going down this route will, however, limit your options.

Choosing Curtains: Colour & Style

Curtains, like any other home furnishing, should be colour-matched with the surrounding décor, and in particular the walls.

What Curtains Go with Red Walls?

Choose a deeper shade of red, or a bright colour that jumps out from the wall. A bold yellow is a popular choice; match it to your bedsheets or soft furnishings.

What Curtains Go with Grey Walls?

If your interior is looking a little monochromatic, a few subtle splashes of colour will brighten it up. On the other hand, you can keep things subtle with a pale blue, or even, more grey.

What Curtains Go with Blue Walls?

A contrasting shade of blue or white makes a good match for blue, particularly in bathrooms.

In this instance, we’d suggest combining a darker shade of blue with a lighter one.

What Curtains Go with White Walls?

Go too white, and you risk your home looking clinical - not to mention that any stains will easily stand out. A deep, dark shade of red or navy is a good choice against white walls.

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