Curtains and blinds are one of the biggest ways you can transform a room next to paint or a large area rug. They are hugely important to any room makeover and can instantly create softness, add drama with bold patterns, or a punch of color to really finish off your space.
But, it can be confusing to know how to choose window treatments, so I'm breaking it all down for you and sharing my tips to choosing curtains or blinds & how to hang them properly.
Curtains vs. Blinds
The first question when choosing window treatments is deciding between curtains, blinds, or both. While it's mostly personal preference, there are a few tips to consider based on the room you're working on.
First, let's cover the basics of each. Curtains are window coverings that are made of lightweight fabric. Drapes are typically made of heavier fabric and go all the way to the floor (I'm using curtains and drapes interchangeably here, while "technically", they are not.) Blinds on the other hand come in several varieties made from plastic, wood, or fabric and help control the amount of light let in. In general, blinds are usually cheaper and easier to keep clean than curtains and drapes, however, they are more limited in design styles. Curtains and drapes add instant style and texture to a room and the flowy fabric makes the space feel cozy. Blinds make rooms feel more open and less "crowded" with their less intrusive design.
This is actually the very reason I wanted to switch from curtains to blinds (aside from the fact that our blinds were too short and not the right color) in our bedroom. The curtains felt too crowded in our small room and I wanted a cleaner, more open look that blinds offer. See a quick snapshot of our bedroom with ill-fitting blinds below...You can see how if the curtains were hung 8 inches above the frame (if they were longer, of course) how it would make the ceilings feel taller. That's why hanging them properly is so important.
When deciding between curtains or blinds, first think about which look you like better. Do you prefer one over the other? Then, you should consider functionality of the space and whether or not you need more privacy or light control if your room faces the road or is in clear sight to your neighbors. With blinds, you can adjust the amount of light let in, while with curtains you don't have that ability – they're either open or closed. If you like the the look of blinds and want to keep the space feeling clean and open – great! But, if you want to add more style or texture to your space using curtains, but you need the privacy and light control of blinds, you can combine them and use both!
Using Blinds with Curtains
It's very common to use blinds with curtains to get the best of both worlds. You'll still have the functionality of blinds for privacy and light control, while adding extra style with curtains. How pretty does this look?! Notice the curtain rod is several inches above the window frame and how it creates great height.
Image via Amber Interiors
I love the look of curtains with blinds, but our particular rooms in our home are a bit too small and are better off without curtains. In our living room, I initially had just white sheer curtains from Walmart that were like $5 a panel as our window coverings for about a year. While they worked great and had the airy, coastal vibe I was going for, they were sheer, so privacy was a bit of a problem since we hang out in the living room the majority of the time and our large window faces the road. I could have left the sheer panels up when we got wood blinds, but ultimately, I decided to take them down to keep the room feeling open and clean.
How to Pick Colors
There are tons of options out there for colors and styles of curtains and blinds, it really just comes down to what your style is and how you want your room to feel (check out this blog post if you need help figuring out your style). That's enough to cover in a whole separate blog post, but a good start is to look on Pinterest and search tons of blinds and curtain images and see what you're drawn to.
One of the most common types of blinds these days are wood blinds. They are beautiful, versatile, and functional. You all know I'm partial to wood blinds and love the warmth and texture they add to a room. We first got wood blinds in our kitchen a couple years ago (still working on making over the rest of the space...renovation happening hopefully this fall/winter!), then we got them in our living room, and now we have them in our bedroom. They truly look amazing in any space and come in so many different shades and textures. The photos really don't do these blinds justice. They have more texture and look even more beautiful in person.
I'm a sucker for lots of natural light in our home so it's important to me that we don't block out lots of light. Wood blinds are perfect for this because they naturally let light in through the woven wood, yet give enough privacy that you can't totally see in our windows at night. We do have privacy liners for our wood blinds just in case we want to completely block everything out, but we honestly never use them in our kitchen our living room.
When I was choosing blinds for our bedroom, I went with the deluxe woven wood shades in Girona Raffia from Blinds.com. They're similar in color to the blinds in our living room and fit the light and beachy style in our bedroom perfectly. They also have a white trim edging on the outside as a cute touch. We did get privacy liners for these and the liner is actually attached to the back of the blind, unlike the kitchen and living room blinds where the privacy liner is separate so we can choose to have it up or down. A little light can peer in on the either side of the blinds where there's a gap between the window frame and the blind, but I actually don't like it pitch dark at night while I sleep so this doesn't bother me at all.
Probably my favorite feature of our new bedroom blinds is they're cordless! You just pull down on the blinds and they glide down, and then push up to open. It's so convenient to not have to mess with the cords and have them dangling, not to mention much safer if you have kids at home. I wish all of our blinds were cordless now!
How to Hang Curtains and Blinds Properly
The general rule of thumb when hanging curtains and blinds is "high and wide." You want to make your windows feel as tall as possible, so you usually want to hang your curtain rod or blinds at least 6 inches above the window frame. This creates the effect of nice tall windows, even if they're not. For the width when hanging curtains, you want to hang them wider than the frame, about 6-12 inches out on both sides. Again, this helps the window appear larger, but it also ensures the curtains don't block the window cutting out light when they're open because they're hanging in front of the wall, not the window.
Now, let's talk about the proper length for curtains...The worst thing you can do is make your curtains too short. It's like wearing too short pants – it makes the rest of the outfit feel off. Curtains look best when they either float an inch or so above the floor, just touch the floor, or puddle on the floor. The most common is when they just touch the floor and it's my personal preference. In order to pull off the puddle so it looks intentional and not like you just didn't feel like hemming your curtains, you should use thicker fabric that drapes nicely (not a lightweight cotton) and use it in a space where you want extra softness and femininity.
For our bedroom blinds, I chose an outside mount which means it covers the window trim and mounts outside of the window. In order to "cheat" the window up and install them 6 inches above the frame, you'll need to choose an outside mount. Our blinds were custom-made for our windows so we got the perfect fit and they look amazing! I actually didn't hang these blinds 6 inches above the frame, but if I had wanted to, I would have just added 6 inches (or however high you wanted to go) to the measurement.
Hopefully that helps! I know it seems like a lot to think about, but really it comes down to what you like best, so you really can't mess it up too badly :)
If you have any follow up questions, or have a specific question about curtains or blinds in your home, just leave a comment and I'll try to help you out.