Suitable draperies or curtains add a lot to your interior space and enhance your room’s decor. Besides providing privacy and control over the light that comes in, fabric window treatments allow you to incorporate color, texture, and visual interest.
Whether or not you decide to hang them in your living room is strictly a matter of choice.
If you have expansive views of a city skyline, the majestic view of a mountain range, or the calming view of a beautiful body of water, you don’t need drapes — just bare windows.
But not too many people are fortunate enough to have a view such as this. Many need draperies or curtains for privacy and light control. So unless you are in the first category of individuals with a view to die out their living room window, then the answer to the question is yes.
What is the Difference Between Curtains, Drapes, and Draperies?
These three words are used interchangeably, but each has a different meaning.
- Curtains are made of lightweight fabric, such as cotton, voile, lace, gauze, and are not lined. They usually remain stationary and have no opening or closing mechanism. Curtains offer little privacy but still allow light into the room.
- They are a popular choice for kitchen and bathrooms, although not as popular as in the past. Café curtains covering just the bottom half of the window are still used on windows over a kitchen sink.
- Draperies, which are traditional window treatments for living rooms and bedrooms, are made of heavier fabrics such as silk, velvet, or brocade and are often lined. They’re usually opened and closed to let in light or block it out, using a corded pull system in the curtain rod.
- Draperies provide total privacy—an essential in the bedroom “Blackout curtains” have very heavy linings that block out light, vital if you or your partner need to sleep during the daylight hours due to work schedule or illness.
- While the word “drape” is a verb, not a noun, it refers to how a fabric hangs, whether it’s clothing or a window covering. It has become a synonym for draperies.
What Type of Curtains or Draperies is Best for the Living Room?
Decorating windows with draperies and curtains is the perfect way to add color, style, and personality to your living room. Here are a few suggestions about fabrics and styles.
Selection of curtains here on Amazon!
Draperies and curtains come in various styles. Curtain panels can be cost-effective to purchase, but custom drapes can be very expensive.
Consider what suits your decorating style in the room and the window itself. Double panels create symmetry and are classic.
Single panels are best in smaller areas. Panels along with a fabric valance are traditional and romantic, while panels with a pelmet or a cornice board framing the top edge are more formal and structured.
Consider the heading you like best. Grommets, French pleats, pencil pleats, and pole pockets are some of the most commonly used.
Window Treatment Fabric
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Curtains and draperies come in every fabric you can imagine, but some work better in certain rooms than others.
Heavier fabrics insulate a room and work better in cooler climates, while light fabrics work best in warmer temperatures.
- Silk curtains are traditional. They add a touch of formality to a room. If privacy is an issue, they should be lined. Silk curtains have a sheerness to them and allow some filtering light to pass through.
- Cotton is a versatile curtain fabric and one of the easiest to clean, as it is usually machine washable. It can be found in every imaginable color and style and can be formal or casual, based on the style. However, it is a bit stiffer than other fabric types.
- Linen is light and often sheer. They typically use it in more casual spaces.
- Velvet is luxurious and heavy. It is seldom used in casual rooms.
- Sheers are a superb choice if you want a window treatment that allows light to pass through, but it should not be your choice if you need privacy from prying eyes.
Color and Pattern
Draperies or curtains encompass a sizeable amount of visual space, so it is essential to consider the pattern and color you want.
Put as much thought into the choice as you would furniture upholstery for a sofa or chair. Consider the fabric and designs of the furniture and the wall color in the room.
Match or blend the curtains with those primary elements. Before choosing one particular drapery or curtain, get a fabric swatch and tape it up on the wall next to where you are thinking of mounting it.
For living room draperies or curtains, their size matters. They should always be at least twice the width of the window, even if they are kept open most of the time.
It is also vital that they are long enough. For an elegant and dramatic look, they can puddle on the floor. But for a more contemporary and clean look, they should barely skim the floor.
They should not be higher, however. When draperies are too short, they look cut off. If you are getting store-bought panels rather than custom-made ones, it is better to buy them too long and then have them hemmed.
Mounting the Curtains
There are two ideas for hanging curtains.
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Install the hardware a few inches above the top of the window frame. It’s traditional and will always look good regardless of the window treatment.
Install the hardware just below the ceiling. It is a trendy, modern look and makes the ceilings appear higher than they are.
When is it Acceptable to Not Hang Window Treatments?
Sometimes you simply do not want to hang window treatments. As with most decorating, it is a matter of taste and your own personal style. But here is some advice from interior designers about when they feel it is acceptable to go without window treatments.
- As discussed previously, when the view is too good to cover-up
- If the windows look great on their own, for example, uniquely-shaped windows or double-height windows
- When there is little natural light streaming into the room
- In contemporary spaces
- When you want a break from patterns or colors
What Color Should Living Room Curtains Be?
The basic rule is if a room has vivid colors on the walls, carpet, or other items in the room, it is best to choose curtains with a neutral tone.
Or the opposite is also true — if the entire room and furniture are in more neutral tones, vivid colored curtains will bring life into the room.
Neutral colors like black, taupe, beige, gray, ivory, and white are fresh and contemporary.
Choose curtains at least one shade darker or lighter than the walls to prevent them from blending in and disappearing. If you choose white curtains, remember that lighter colors are less opaque than darker colors.
Dark-colored curtains in deep tones look stunning against lighter-colored walls painted warm-white, cream, light-gray, or light taupe.
Should Window Coverings and Carpet Match
The carpet and draperies or curtains do not need to be a perfect match. They just need to blend well together.
If your carpet is a soft tone, go for a dramatic shade for the window coverings. As long as the two are in the same color family, it will look great.
Should Window Coverings Match Throughout the Home?
There are no official decorating rules on how to decorate with window treatments from room to room. However, many designers will use the same window treatments throughout the home except for uniquely style rooms.
When in doubt, use one type of covering throughout.
Know When to Match Window Coverings
If your room has multiple windows, they must be dressed using the same window treatments to pull the space together. If you need window coverings for multiple windows like this, it will look bizarre not to have them match—the rest of the time, it’s a choice.
If you prefer the consistency and simplicity of getting the same window treatments throughout the house, you can certainly do that.
But for a more attractive, custom design look, mixing the treatments is actually preferable.
Think about it this way. If you are remodeling two bathrooms, you could get the same amenities for both rooms. It would be quicker and easier but also look rather dull and generic.
The same holds true for window treatments. While you should always match them while they are within the same space, give each room its own personality and style by changing them according to the room’s wall color and style elements.
With rooms like bedrooms, for example, that are closed off from the rest of the house, don’t be concerned about the overall flow.
These rooms are the perfect spaces to experiment with something a bit more bold and trendy.
Allow your kids to have a voice in the colors used in their rooms or try fun and funky patterns in the guest room or bathroom.