Curtains And Drapes Let The Sunshine In

Ready to learn how curtains and drapes can become a part of your dream living room?

Curtains are functional, but they also add a great deal to your decor. How about letting the sun in when they’re open? What about keeping light out and cool in?

The wide variety of colors, patterns and styles makes them key accents, helping to unify your color scheme. In your living room, curtains and drapes take on their greatest importance.

The style you choose helps solidify your overall design style. The colors you choose support the mood you’re conveying. The fabrics you use create function in their ability to help regulate heat and cold. Your decisions, with regards to your wall coverings, are very important so you need to spend some time defining what exactly you want.


When you moved into your first home, we bet you put up some curtains and drapes almost immediately. You wanted privacy and you wanted to keep some light in and some light out. Perhaps there was an eyesore just beyond your window and you didn’t want to look at it day and night. Maybe it was a little noisy outside and closing the drapes filtered out just enough noise. All of these are important functional uses for curtains and drapes.

The light you allowed in helped create or enhance the mood you were conveying. By closing the curtains or using a sheer behind them, you blocked out some of the outside world that didn’t exactly flow with your design. There you have it, curtains and drapes provide some very basic functional and décor elements…

    • privacy
    • controlling incoming light
    • controlling heat and cold
    • supporting and enhancing your design style
    • adding another element to your color scheme

Within your chosen design style, you have a multiple of options so here’s some advice on how to choose the curtain style that works best for your living room.


First of all, let’s limit our discussion to the most basic of curtains and drapes those that hang straight down from curtain rods. Usually, with this style, you’ll use two to four panels across a window, depending on size. To shut them, simply pull the middle panels together ’til they meet. Vice versa when it’s time to “let the sunshine in!” On wider windows, you’ll probably use a cord to open and closes your drapes, while with narrow windows, opening and closing by hand is sufficient.

Two of the more popular styles to consider are pinch pleated and tab top, or grommet top. Pleated curtains and drapes are fuller in appearance as the fabric is gathered together at the top into pleats. These pleats enable the curtain to move back and forth across a traverse rod quite easily. Pleated drapes provide a more traditional look, using the more traditional traverse rod with a cord to open and close.

Tab top, or grommet top curtains and drapes use a stationary rod with tabs built into the top of each panel. Grommet top drapes actually have holes cut into the panel versus an extra tab on top. The stationary rod slides through the tabs or grommets, allowing you to manually open and close your curtains. Understand that many variations exist, like pocket rod drapes, for example. In addition, drapery hardware can be used to modify pinch pleated drapes for use on a stationary rod, while tab and grommet top curtains can be hung on a traverse rod, as well.

Window valances are another popular type of covering you’ll find these days. I know we weren’t supposed to talk about them here, but since they do integrate very well, it’s worth a brief mention. These are short panels hung at the top of the window to provide a décor enhancing effect. Valances are often matched to bedding, but in living rooms they can be used as an accessory of the curtain panels you’re hanging.

Curtains and drapes come lined and unlined. Lined drapes definitely have some versatility advantages, which we’ll discuss further down, but personal preference and the needs of your room will always determine what type of drapes you use. Sheer drapes are also very popular, either as an inside drape to the main panels you’re using or by themselves, when you want to obstruct, but not totally eliminate the view from outside.

Now that you’re starting to think about curtain and drape styles, let’s spend some time on their advantages over other window coverings.

Advantages Over Other Window Coverings

Window covering options are fairly simple.


  • Curtains
  • Drapes
  • Shades
  • Blinds
  • Blankets and sheets


There are others, but in most homes you’ll visit, one of these is probably on the windows.

So why would you choose curtains and drapes over other window treatments?


  • Privacy – no gaps like in between the slats you find in blinds
  • More design options – just mixing and matching your hardware and accessories can spruce up your curtains. Your choices with shades and blinds are far fewer
  • Insulation – lined drapes are far superior to the average blind at keeping the elements outside
  • Coziness – there are some very nice blinds out there, but your guests may just feel like they’re in an office
  • Easy to clean – dust gathers on blinds and looks nasty; draperies show dust and dirt much less
  • Long lasting – lined drapes lasting 10-15 years? Believe it.


You know about the basics, the styles and the advantages so let’s decorate a little.

Decorating with Curtains and Drapes

Start with your design style. More formal living rooms will lend themselves to pleated drapes, swags or pocket rod curtains, accented with valances. However, that’s not to say you can’t use an ornate stationary rod with different drapery accessories to accent your formal, or traditional décor.

With the move towards more contemporary and casual living rooms, stationary rods in wood and decorative metal poles are popular. Casual pleated panels are now available and grommet panels work very well in more modern rooms. Just be sure not to mix and match your woods and metals. Wood rods should have wood hooks. Also, keep in mind to increase the size of your poles and hardware, the higher the ceiling and the longer the drapery gets.

Your design style is established and you know the basic type of curtain rod and drape you’ll use. So let’s cover a few basics on how to hang curtains, from the design perspective.

One of our most basic curtain ideas is using decorative tie backs, or hold backs to keep your open drapes in place. You can use just about anything for a tie back, like wreaths, belts, chain, or ribbon. The main rule of thumb is that the tieback should be 62% down from the top of the window treatment to the floor or 62% up from the bottom to the top of the rod. Either location is referred to as the Golden Mean.

What you use as a tieback is very important in the overall room décor. Be sure to match, or complement the living room’s design style. You can also match them to the curtains or to other colors in the room. Matching them to brighter or more prominent colors will give them more visual weight. Before you get started, decide how much you want your tiebacks to stand out.

Another idea to think about is layering. Will you use a sheer panel behind your curtains, perhaps mounted on a traverse rod to keep the main curtain stationary while the sheer panel opens and closes? Maybe you’d like to create multiple tiers, with and outside mounted rod and an inside pole with sockets.

Want some more ideas? Our friends at Window Treatments Made Easy have some great window treatment ideas for you take a look at.

Proper Care

Curtains and drapes can last a long time when cared for properly. Here are some great tips for keeping your panels looking great for a very long time.


  • Periodically take your curtains outside for a good shaking. Hang them out in the fresh air for a little bit if you’d like. (not too long, to prevent fading)


  • Vacuum your draperies to get rid of dust and dirt and clean all the surrounding surfaces. Then, use a clothing steamer close to the surface to freshen them up.


  • Sort your curtains by cleaning methods before any washing takes place, making sure that heavy, or stiff fabrics stay together first.


  • Sheer, or knit drapes should be placed in wash bags first, to keep threads from pulling or tangling.


  • Only machine dry on the lowest settings. Ironing will almost certainly be a must.


  • Delicate fabrics (like lace) or your heaviest floor to ceiling curtains need to be dry-cleaned for their protection


Buying Tips

Curtain and drape pricing varies widely. Getting a great deal on what you want is important. How do you do that?

First of all, measure your windows before even setting foot inside a store. Buying the right size saves money and, even more importantly, time. Grab a measuring tape, paper, pen and maybe some help depending on the window width. Think about width of the rods and how high you’d like the rod to sit before you measure. Odds are you won’t be measuring just the width and height of the window itself.

When buying pre-made panels, consider purchasing one panel for every 25-30” of width. If you’re having them sewn for you, take into consideration the fabric width after it’s pleated. You lose a little more than half in the pleating process of each panel.

Plan for that when it’s time to buy the fabric. It’s always OK to have curtains that are wider than the rod. If they’re narrower or shorter, you won’t like the result, trust us. They’ll look funny and they won’t keep light or heat out as well as fuller drapes.

Your accessories are important to the overall look of your curtains, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on them. By all means visit the discounters like Target, Wal-Mart and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Hit the internet too. There are lots of choices on sites far and wide, including eBay and

Here’s the bottom line on curtains and drapes. They’re versatile, stylish, functional, and relatively inexpensive. They come in a wide variety of styles, they’re easy to care for, and you can either buy them pre-made or just buy the fabric and make them yourself. Accessorizing them can be fun and it’s easy to match your rods and tiebacks to your living room’s overall theme.

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