Image shows a beige background with a pair of red velvet curtains ties back with bright red ties framing the image at the left and right hand side. In the centre of the image are the words "How to Choose Curtains" with the Unitas logo underneath them.

How to: Choose Curtains

It’s often the same; you’ve done the most incredible decorating job, the paint is perfect, there isn’t a bump in the wallpaper and it’s all lining up perfectly, then you hang the curtains and it just doesn’t look right. Put simply, the way you choose, measure and hang curtains can make a huge difference to a room. Do it right, and your room will appear larger with higher ceilings and light flowing in. however, do it wrong and your perfect room is suddenly dark and claustrophobic.

With that in mind, we put together this guide on choosing curtains, measuring them and then hanging them.

Let’s do this!

Colour and Fabric

There’s an old rule of thumb that says to choose a curtain colour in the same colour-family as your walls, i.e. if your room is pink, you should be looking at pinks and reds for your curtains. Of course, that rule is absolutely fine and can be kept to, if that suits your style, but a contrast can also provide a striking look.

An equally important consideration is the fabric, which will dictate not only the final appearance, but also how much light they allow in. If a material is too thick or heavy, they may not fold when drawn, while a material which is too light might not fall well.

It’s always a good idea to get samples or the material and colour you’re considering. Firstly, this allows you to see how it looks with the décor, but also how it will fall and appear when both open and closed. Although it’s not always easy if you’re buying the curtains ready-made, but the larger fabric sample you use, the more of an idea you’ll get on how it will look.

What’s the Purpose?

Obviously, the main thing you want curtains to do is close across the window, to provide privacy and block out light so you can rest and sleep, but curtains can also dictate how warm your room stays. For example, a heavy curtain will keep heat in your room, which may be what you want. However, if you have a room that’s a sun-trap and gets very warm, you may want a lighter fabric which lets that heat out.

Length

Again, the length of the curtains can do wonders for your room, or do the very opposite. Place the curtains too low over a window can shrink the room whilst placing them higher will elongate the room and make the ceiling look higher. Ideally, you should aim for about 6 inches above the window.

In the same way, placing the curtains too close to the window sides, can shrink the appearance of the wall, so you should allow for about 4 inches either side.

Then you’re considering where you want the curtains to end. If you have a full floor to ceiling window, you’ll obviously need to have full length curtains. Traditionally, with full-length curtains, you’d have a slight puddle on the floor so would allow the curtains to be about 2 inches longer than the length of the curtain rod to the floor. If this is your style, go with it. However, for a more modern and sleeker look, let the curtains fall so that they end flush with the floor.

Custom or off-the-shelf?

Buying custom made curtains gives you a huge number of benefits; including the perfect fit, a lot more options in design, style and finish and the knowledge that you’ve got a long-lasting investment. However, this also comes with a hefty price-tag that might just not be in your budget.

Luckily, the high street and the internet offer a large number of options. There are so many choices, it can become difficult to see the wood for the trees. Think about taking recommendations from friends and using online guides like trustpilot before investing in a particular brand or outlet. You should also consider when buying from a shop or online retailer that once you’ve hung the curtains, they’re unlikely to allow you to exchange, especially if the curtains you’ve chosen are pinch-pleat ones.

Washing Instructions

You’ll need to consider washing the curtains at least once a year, so consider how you’re going to do that before buying. Some are hand wash only, others are dry-clean only, whilst some allow machine washing. The biggest consideration here is to ALWAYS follow the manufacturers’ instructions.

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