The 10 Best Window Curtains
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in March of 2015. When you are planning the look, feel, style, and comfort of any space, it's important to get the right window treatments. Not only can they serve as an additional eye-catching element, but they can also ensure the ideal light filtering for a bedroom or living room, as well as temperature control. Our selection of curtains includes something for every taste and budget. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 30, 2020:
Having the right pair of curtains can make or break a room. It's important to not only have the proper length, color, and pattern in mind, but you should also be sure of what you need your drapes to accomplish, such as blocking out light, noise, heat, and cold. We provided options to serve myriad scenarios, including sheer selections as well as durable insulated ones, all in a variety of designs, dimensions, styles, prices, and colors to appease differing budgets and tastes. We also curated drapes that paid attention to detail, with consistently quality sewing and hemming. Many also employ tight weaves, special technology, and layered designs to deflect heat and light. If you are strictly in the market for blackout styles, we have a list for that as well.
For some rooms, like offices or reading nooks, you may want a gauzy option like the Lorraine Home Fashion Monaco or Miuco Moroccan, while late-sleepers and afternoon nappers would much prefer light-blocking options like the newly-added Rose Home Fashion Insulated, Deconovo Room Darkening, Best Home Fashion Thermal, and Eclipse Fresno. All of these selections will help keep sunshine and noise at a minimum, and the latter three are all priced to fit into tight budgets.
In addition to the Rose Home Fashion Insulated, we also brought on the Exclusive Home Curtains Catarina, a quality set of drapes with an elegant, versatile look that appears more expensive than it is. These curtains can be styled in a handful of ways, come in a variety of charming colors and sizes, and are aesthetically appealing without being overly ornate.
Lili Alessandra Milan Damask The Milan Damask by designer Lili Alessandra is a set of two 54x120 panels crafted by highly skilled artisans using the finest faded damask Venetian linen. Each panel installs via rod pockets, sports elegant folds when aloft, and features a subtle ivory and sea green palette to create a light and airy ambiance. lilialessandra.com
Amity Ethan Velvet Those looking to create a dramatic look should consider the Amity Ethan Velvet, a pair of heavy, artfully pleated cotton velvet drapes available in a range of sizes and colors with three-inch rod pockets. Care is simple, as they can be safely machine washed on a cold, gentle cycle and dried with low heat. The set is offered with custom headers, lining, blackout lining, and weights. amityhome.com
Silvana Grey Silk Blackout A Crate and Barrel exclusive appropriate for both formal and casual rooms, these luxurious grey curtain panels are made using natural fibers. Each is lined with light-blocking polyester and outfitted with linen yarns to add texture to the sheen of pure silk. They're ideal for blocking out and muting distracting light without completely darkening a room. crateandbarrel.com
More Than Mere Window Dressing: Choosing Window Curtains
For blocking sunlight, either to keep a bedroom darkened or to reduce the glare on your television or computer screen, opaque curtains are a must.
Window curtains serve three primary purposes: they block the view in through windows, providing privacy to those inside a residence or commercial space; they block light, creating an interior space darkened for sleep, watching television, or for ambience; and they enhance the aesthetic appeal of windows as viewed from inside a room.
Some curtains can provide all three of these services, while others are specifically designed to meet one or two of those criteria. When you set out to choose the right curtains for your bedroom, living room, office, or any other space, before you begin to think about colors, fabrics, patterns, and any other specifics, you must first know exactly what functions the curtains are intended to perform.
If you want window curtains that will provide privacy for street level windows in a home or office, then make sure you carefully measure your windows and only consider options that will fully cover them. Next, consider whether you want the curtains to provide privacy and darkness. Many semi-sheer light filtering fabrics will block the view into a room while still letting in plenty of pleasant natural light. These are often the ideal choice for a space that is primarily used during the daytime, such as an office or living room, but note that after dark, many thinner curtains can be seen through when the interior behind them is illuminated.
For blocking sunlight, either to keep a bedroom darkened or to reduce the glare on your television or computer screen, opaque curtains are a must. The sunlight is pernicious in its ability to penetrate ostensibly solid cloth, so if you want to be sure your interior will be dark, only consider curtains that guarantee they block light. Dark colors are often advisable, as they reject/absorb more light than paler shades, and as they will not reflect any light that leaks past or that is created by interior lighting.
For dressing up the windows, as it were, curtains are an ideal choice, especially when your property has unappealing or damaged windows and/or window frames. While blinds can offer privacy and can filter out light, only curtains can actually cover large portions of a window, concealing and drawing attention away from unsightly frames. (If you like the way your window frames look, simply install a curtain rod broad enough to allow the curtains to be pulled all the way to the sides of the window.) Curtains that are primarily intended for decor should be made from a fabric of medium weight; lightweight fabrics don't hold their shape well, especially when bustled or tied, and overly thick fabrics resist the elegant folds you expect from parted curtains.
A Few Words on Curtain Length
There is no right or wrong way to hang curtains, provided they cover the windows enough to afford you the desired privacy and/or darkening. However, taking a few tips from design experts can help guide your choice of which curtains to buy, as well as how you will install them. Experts agree that a pleasantly designed room can lead to enhanced mood, increased productivity, and an overall improved sense of well-being.
And when in doubt, it's best to choose curtains that are likely too long for the windows in question rather than risking buying curtains that might be too short.
A curtain rod should generally be placed about four to six inches above the window frame; adding even more height can create a dramatic look that also gives the illusion of larger windows. Start from the spot where you will install the rod, remembering to account for any length the rings or other hardware will add to the curtain, and then measure downward.
If you want shorter curtains, those that only cover the windows themselves, opt for a length that will just barely come into contact with the bottom of the sill -- curtains that hang slightly below a window frame tend to look awkward. The next most common length is to use curtains that barely touch the floor, or that sit less than an inch above it.
Interior designers often recommend a curtain technique known as puddling, wherein you choose curtains that measure two to four inches longer than the distance between the rod and floor, thus settling on the ground in a gentle pile. With the right fabric (a soft and flexible yet resilient weave), this approach looks great while also removing the need to find curtains that fit your wall and windows perfectly.
And when in doubt, it's best to choose curtains that are likely too long for the windows in question rather than risking buying curtains that might be too short. Curtains can always be cut and hemmed to an ideal length -- any competent seamstress can hem a curtain, or you can have the process handled for you by a professional at low cost -- while extending a curtain that is too short is inconvenient if even possible.
Window Film: The Curtain's Ideal Ally
Curtains that are opaque enough to create privacy at both day and night often also tend to block out the view you would otherwise enjoy. The addition of privacy window film, which can be applied directly to your glass windows and doors, is the ideal way to enjoy protection against unwanted views in during the daytime without any noticeable loss of the use of windows by those within.
Do keep in mind that after sunset, window tint becomes ineffective at creating privacy if the interior behind it is illuminated.
Window tint is too often overlooked as an option for use on residential windows, considered by many a product reserved for skyscrapers or for the windows of a spa, gym, or other business that values the discretion of its clientele. The fact is that many varieties of window film are optically clear from within a room and cannot be perceived from outside save for the fact that windows appear shaded and cannot be penetrated by the human eye. Window tint, in other words, will not change the appearance of your windows, but it will allow you to leave the curtains wide open during the daytime, enjoying the view and the natural light.
Indeed most high-quality window films allow in a majority of the sun's visible light while rejecting a huge percentage of the harmful ultraviolet light that can fade and discolor flooring, upholstery, and that can even damage the skin.
Do keep in mind that after sunset, window tint becomes ineffective at creating privacy if the interior behind it is illuminated. Fortunately, once night has fallen, you can simply draw the curtains closed to maintain the privacy you cherish.