Should I Put Curtains In My Living Room

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When determining whether to install curtains in your living room, there are several important factors to consider such as your view, architectural details, lighting needs, room style, furniture placement, and continuity with adjacent spaces. The various perspectives in the provided articles offer guidance on when curtains are recommended to control privacy and light as well as situations when skipping curtains to showcase outdoor views or ornate trim work may be preferable.

Takeaways include selecting window treatments that align with your decor goals, using alternatives like shades or sheers to filter light and proper hanging to draw the eye up. Evaluate your individual space and needs when deciding on bare windows or beautiful curtains.

Consider the View


One of the main reasons to skip curtains is to showcase an exceptional outdoor view. As designer Robin Baron shared, if you have “expansive views” of something beautiful like a city skyline or peaceful woodlands, avoid covering the windows. Let the view be the artwork and focal point in the space. Similarly, designer Kendall Wilkinson opted for bare windows instead of her typical layered treatment in a Lake Tahoe home surrounded by nature. If you are lucky enough to have a killer view, show it off!

On the other hand, if your view is unsightly, boring, or you want more privacy, curtains can help block unattractive sights or prying eyes. Figure out what you’ll be looking at through the windows before finalizing your curtain plans. An eyesore landscape may call for thick drapes, while a boring brick wall likely just needs a pop of color or pattern at the windows to become less of an issue.

Evaluate the Architecture

Another reason to potentially nix the curtains is to highlight beautiful architectural details. As designer KK Harris noted, if your windows are “uniquely handcrafted” with ornate trimwork or other special features, let them shine as works of art in their own right. Covering stunning millwork and wood details with fabric would be a decor travesty!

However, plain vinyl or builder-grade windows definitely need some enhancing with curtains. Add warmth and style by layering bare-bones windows with beautiful, textured drapery. Make sure rods and headers are large enough to draw attention upwards and highlight standard windows as architectural elements.

Consider Lighting Needs

Beyond views and architecture, assessing your lighting needs is crucial in the curtain debate. Do you need full light-blocking abilities? If so, opaque curtains are non-negotiable, according to designer Emilie Munroe. However, if you have other window treatments like shades or blinds already providing privacy and light control, curtains may be more decorative than functional.

In spaces starved for natural light, skip the extra layer of drapes which will further darken the room. But in rooms with abundant sunlight or glare issues, curtains can filter the light. Figure out your specific lighting requirements and challenges to decide if curtains make sense.

Evaluate the Room’s Style

The overall decor style also influences the curtain decision. Designer Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo pointed out that bare windows suit modern, minimalist spaces beautifully. The clean look highlights sleek lines and decluttered style.

On the other hand, traditional rooms beg for fabric window treatments. Curtains look right at home among antiques, ornate molding, and carved wood furnishings. However, tailored roman shades or geometric prints keep the look fresh instead of dated and stuffy. Choose curtain styles harmonizing with your room’s aesthetic.

Create Continuity

When dealing with open floor plans, you need to determine if curtains should be used to create a continuous look throughout the space. Designer Sara Hillery advised skipping curtains altogether in open areas if the room is already busy. Maintaining too many elements from space to space can feel chaotic and overdone.

However, cohesion among rooms with good flow can be achieved with matching window treatments. Use complementary colors and fabrics to provide consistency without becoming overwhelming. For example, have drapes in the living room but roman shades in the adjacent dining space.

Follow Furniture Layouts

How your furnishings interact with the windows also influences your options. Designer Jenny Brown suggested skipping short cafe curtains, as they appear awkward and disjointed. Instead, opt for long, flowing drapes if using curtains at all. However, if furniture like couches or beds sit flush against the wall under the windows, floor-length curtains get scrunched up and can’t function properly.

The ideal layout is to float furniture, like dressers or credenzas, a few inches from the windows to allow curtains to open and close unobstructed. If that furniture positioning won’t work or you have oddly placed windows, swags, valances, or other decorative treatments may be better suited than traditional curtains.

Window Treatment Alternatives

Rather than standard curtains, consider alternative treatments that add style while avoiding drawbacks. For example:

  • Roman or roller shades in pretty patterns provide privacy and light filtering without totally blocking views when open.
  • Solar screens effectively reduce glare and heat gain while still allowing you to see outside.
  • Sheers or lightweight linens soften harsh sunlight and add airiness while maintaining visibility.
  • Shutters offer traditional charm and enable light control while fully retracting out of view if desired.
  • Blinds, in materials like wood or faux wood, filter light and layer in warmth without hiding architectural details.
  • Valances, swags, and cascades add softness, texture, and color while letting your eyes focus on the outdoors.

Window treatment combinations also give design flexibility. Try pairing breezy sheers with sun-blocking shades or traditional drapes with sleek blinds. Mix and match to get the right balance for your needs and tastes.

Hanging Curtains Successfully

If you do opt for curtains, proper hanging is key to maximizing their beauty and function. Here are some top tips:

  • Mount rods high and wide to draw the eye up and make windows appear larger. Extend rods at least 8-12 inches past the frame and position just below the ceiling line.
  • Buy enough panels so when opened fully, the curtains cover the window area completely without large gaps at the sides. Often 3 panels or more does the trick.
  • Choose extra long panels that puddle slightly on the floor to maintain a luxe, elegant look when closed. XL sizes work better than standard.
  • Wash and steam panels before hemming so they won’t shrink unevenly after installation. Proper prep prevents headaches.
  • Install supporting hardware like rings, finials, and holdbacks to keep panels hanging neatly and sliding smoothly. High quality hardware prevents damage.
  • If mounting above bulky furniture like radiators, allow ample extra length so curtains clear any obstacles below.
  • For sheer panels letting in light, install separate full blackout lining mounted behind to prevent light leakage and boost insulation.

Should I install curtains if I have a great view?

If you have an exceptional outdoor view, it’s often best to skip curtains and showcase the vista.

What if my windows have beautiful architectural details?

Ornate window trim and woodwork usually looks best left uncovered rather than hiding details behind curtains.

When would curtains help control light in my living space?

Curtains can filter incoming light and reduce glare if you have issues with too much sunlight streaming in.

Do curtains work in a minimalist decor style?

Curtains can appear cluttered in a minimalist living space. Opt for sleek shades instead.

Where should I mount the curtain rod to maximize the effect?

Mount the curtain rod high and wide, just under the ceiling, to draw eyes up and make windows appear larger.

How should I arrange furniture near windows for curtains?

Float furniture like sofas a few inches from walls to allow curtain panels to hang properly.

Can I test curtain options before fully installing them?

Yes, try removable stick-on curtains first to audition different looks risk-free.

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