From Blah to Ta-Da! How to Choose Curtains to Showcase Your Living Room

When it comes to living room design, few elements can make or break the look of a space quite like curtains. The right window treatments not only provide privacy and lighting control, but they also lend style, color, and visual interest to the room. Whether your goal is to create a cozy reading nook or an elegant entertaining area, the curtains you choose will help set the overall aesthetic.

But with so many options for textures, patterns, lengths, and more, picking out the perfect drapes can be downright daunting. How do you even begin to transform your lackluster living room into a Pinterest-worthy showcase? Follow this guide to take the guesswork out of selecting drapes and give your space the makeover it deserves.

Determine Your Curtain Style

Before delving into color and fabric, first consider what overall style you want your new curtains to embody. Look around at your existing furniture and decor elements – do you tend to lean traditional, modern, cottage, industrial? The curtain style should complement the current look and feel of the living room.

For a contemporary space, clean-lined tab curtains in solids or subtle stripes fits the bill. Or make a statement by having floor-length, pleated curtains made from a bold or shiny fabric. If your living room is more classic and formal, choose velvet drapes with decorative tiebacks for an elegant touch.

The specific construction of the curtains also impacts their look. Pinch pleat and French pleat options have sharp, uniform folds for a tailored style. Ripplefold and rod pocket curtains have a more relaxed finish. Ring, grommet, and tab tops create defined lines, while back tabs give a smoother appearance.

Popular Curtain Styles

  • Tab curtains
  • Pinch pleat
  • Rod pocket
  • Back tab
  • Ring top

Experiment with different styles and mounting types until you find the perfect match for your living room’s existing personality and decor.

Select Colors That Complement Your Decor

Now comes the fun part – picking the color! Your curtain color palette should enhance the overall look of the space. Try pulling a subtle accent shade already present elsewhere in the room. For example, taupe curtains could pick up on a tan leather sofa or blush pink drapes can tie into artwork.

how to choose curtains for living room

If your living room lacks much color, make the curtains the star with a vivid jewel tone, dark splashy floral, or even metallic sheen. But take care not to choose anything that competes too heavily with other elements. A bright turquoise may fight with an equally loud patterned rug.

Stick with solid neutrals or simpler patterns if your furniture and wall decor already provide plenty of visual interest. Lightweight linen or cotton in ecru, gray, or ivory allows those bolder pieces to shine.

Curtain Color Tips
  • Introduce color subtly with an accent shade
  • Make curtains the focal point with vivid hues
  • Stick to solids and subtle patterns if room is busy

Most importantly, choose colors and patterns you genuinely love. The curtains will be framing your window every day, so pick shades that make you happy!

Pattern Is Your Friend

We’ve touched on using patterns for your living room curtains, but this design element deserves a deeper discussion. While solid curtains do have their sleek, versatile place, don’t underestimate the power of pattern!

Subtle geometric prints, wide horizontal stripes, or tone-on-tone damasks are easy ways to infuse visual interest without overwhelming the space. These modest patterns contain the colors already found in your living room decor.

Feeling a little more adventurous? Choose vibrant floral curtains, dynamic paisley prints, or curvy ethnic motifs. These bolder patterns make more of a statement and can even become the room’s focal point. Just keep the rest of the decor simple so the curtains don’t have to compete.

Living Room Curtain Patterns

  • Wide stripes
  • Graphic prints
  • Damask
  • Paisley
  • Floral
  • Geometric
  • Ethnic/Ikat

You also can’t go wrong with classic lace or elegant embroidered details. Whatever pattern speaks to you, embrace it proudly with your curtain choice!

Focus on the Right Fabric Texture

Fabric choice plays a critical role in both the look and function of living room curtains. Light, airy materials like linen, cotton voile, and polyester sheers allow sunlight to filter softly into the space. The lightweight construction also enables these curtains to billow gracefully from drafts.

Medium-weight fabrics like cotton, wool blends, and faux silk offer casual elegance with subtle draping capabilities. Velvet, chenille, brocade, and velour make a luxurious style statement as they absorb sound and insulate windows.

Mixing sheers and heavier drapes provides the best of both worlds. Draw the sheers during the day for an illuminated feel, then close the solid curtains at night for privacy. This layered look also lends attractive visual depth.

Curtain Fabric Weights
  • Light: linen, voile, sheer
  • Medium: cotton, wool, faux silk
  • Heavy: velvet, brocade, velour

Consider the existing furnishings and overall desired function when selecting fabric. Delicate antique chairs pair well with the grace of sheers. Formal living rooms need the polish of faux silk or velvet. Home theater spaces require thick blackout fabrics. Choose wisely for the ideal look and utility.

Find the Right Balance of Light and Privacy

Your living room’s needs for incoming sunlight and privacy should factor heavily into the curtain fabric decision. Will the curtains mostly decorate the window or do they need to act as serious window treatments?

For pure ornamentation, breezy sheers allow sunlight to pour freely into the space while retaining a soft sense of privacy. They create a romantic, ethereal vibe perfect for a cozy reading nook.

At the other end of the spectrum, thick lined curtains in blackout fabrics prevent any outdoor light from peeking through. These dramatic curtains are ideal for home theaters and bedrooms when darkness is a must. Top blackout choices include velvet, brocade, canvas, and woven woods.

Many modern curtains bridge the gap between decoration and function. Pair sheer under-curtains with solid over-curtains in complementary colors. Adjust them separately based on the desired ambiance. This layered look provides both privacy and flexibility.

Light/Privacy Options

  • Sheer: Light, airy, ornamental
  • Blackout: No light, opaque, functional
  • Layered: Sheers + solids together

Identify your space’s priorities between illumination and privacy. Then choose the appropriate fabric and construction that aligns with your needs.

Take Precise Measurements

All the curtain planning in the world won’t matter if you don’t have the correct measurements! You need to know the exact width of each window when selecting ready-made curtains or determining yardage for custom drapes.

Use a steel tape measure to carefully measure the full width of the window frame from edge to edge. For accuracy, double check widths in multiple spots. Record the measurements for all windows being treated.

Don’t forget to account for hardware clearance too. If using a rod pocket, add at least 1 1/2 inches per side so the rod can slide smoothly. For back tabs or side tabs, add 3-4 inches total width.

Measurement Tips
  • Use steel tape measure
  • Record each window width
  • Account for hardware clearance

Getting precise measurements is truly essential for achieving the right custom fit. Other factors like your ceiling height will determine the optimal curtain length as well.

Set the Right Length

Curtain length helps set the overall aesthetic in your living room. Long, flowing floor-length curtains make a glamorous statement. Shorter lengths feel more casual and breezy. Consider the room’s proportions and style when setting length.

For a dramatic effect, choose puddle-length curtains that lightly pool on the floor. Puddling adds an elegant fluidity while beautifully framing the window. Just make sure fabric piling doesn’t occur.

Break length hits right around the floor without dusting the surface. This tailored look works well in both formal and casual settings. Break length curtains still provide sophistication without the extra fabric mass.

High-tiered curtains sit well above the window frame, typically stopping just below the sill. The abbreviated length feels modern, airy and allows light to fill the space while still softening the window.

Common Curtain Lengths

  • Puddle: Lightly pools on floor
  • Break: Dusts the floor
  • High-Tiered: Above window frame

Try out different lengths with tape to visualize the look. And don’t forget to account for sheer under-curtains in your total length measurements too.

Ready-Made vs. Custom Curtains

With your desired style, color, length, and fabrication in mind, now decide between ready-made or custom-sewn curtains. Both options have their advantages.

Ready-made curtains provide convenience and affordability. Take them right out of the package and hang for an instant window treatment. Look for quality constructions like tab-top panels or rod pockets when buying ready-mades.

Custom curtains deliver an impeccable fit, tailored details, and unlimited fabric choices. Work with a drapery professional to create a one-of-a-kind look. Though more expensive, these can become true showstopping focal points.

Custom vs. Ready-Made
  • Custom: Perfect fit, more expense
  • Ready-made: Convenience, lower cost

If going custom, provide plenty of lead time and expect to pay a higher price in exchange for premium materials and labor. For small or uncomplicated windows, ready-mades often satisfy.

Install Properly for an Polished Look

All your meticulous planning means nothing if you don’t have professional-looking installation. Take the time to hang your curtains just right for a polished final look.

Determine optimal rod placement and purchase appropriate hardware. Rods should be installed so the top edge sits 8-12 inches above the window frame. This creates attractive proportions without dwarving the window.

Inside mounts place rods within the window frame for a clean, seamless appearance. For extra rod stability, opt for wider outside mounts. Choose quality rods with rings that glide smoothly.

Your curtains also need proper side hem allowances. Back tabs require 3-4 inches and rod pockets need 1 1/2 inches clearance so curtains hang straight without pulling.

Ideal Installation Tips

  • Rod height of 8-12 inches above window
  • Inside vs. outside mount
  • High-quality curtain rings/rods
  • Proper side hem allowances

Take time to correctly install all hardware and measure side hems. It makes a big difference in how polished your curtains appear.

With all these factors covered, you’re ready to confidently choose window treatments that make your living room shine. Start by determining an overall style that fits your space. Select colors, patterns, and textures that enhance your existing decor. Consider both the aesthetic appeal and lighting needs when picking fabrics.

Measure precisely, plot lengths, and install hardware correctly for a custom finish. The right curtains truly can be transformative. Follow this guide and you’ll have a living room that goes from blah to ta-da in no time!

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