Windows come in all shapes and sizes. That means curtains, in turn, are not “one size fits all.” With so many different widths and lengths, how do you know which curtain panel set is right for you? Ask yourself these 10 questions before you shop for your next pair of curtains and you’ll avoid having to return a pair that’s too big, too small, or the wrong fabric!
1. How tall are my windows?
Never ever guess how tall your windows are! 95% of the time, you’ll be wrong. Trust me—I’ve done this so many times and have had to return to the store because I thought I could just “eyeball” it. Looks like my visual estimation skills could use some help!
Figure out where you want your curtains to fall: At the window sill? Just above the floor? As we call out in The Essential Handbook for Measuring Curtains, having your curtains hover about an inch or inch and a half above the floor will help give your room a classic, tailored look. Having your curtains pool on the floor is luxurious, but difficult to clean around. Decide where you want your curtains to fall and measure from the top of the rod to your end point (floor, window sill, etc.) and subtract about half an inch.
2. How wide are my windows?
Your window width will determine the length of your curtain rod and the number of panels you’ll need. Follow these two steps for measuring your windows and curtain rod.
3. What’s the style of my room?
What’s the tone of your room? Is it laidback and casual, or more formal? Is this where the kids hang out or where you go to nap? If you’re looking for privacy, you don’t want sheers. On the other hand, sheer curtains may work great in the kitchen where you only want to filter the light.
4. Will I dry clean or machine wash my curtains?
Remember when curtains were the best hiding spot during hide-and-seek? If you have kids or pets, give this one some thought. Some fabrics can be spot cleaned, others cannot.
5. What kind of curtain rod do I want and how long will it need to be?
From ornate to industrial, curtain rods come in a variety of sizes and styles. The more ornate ones can add quite a bit of length to the ends of the rod, so make sure you have enough space on either side of your window before you choose one of these. If you have a long expanse of windows, you may need to special order a long rod or research making one on your own.
Honestly, my curtain rod does not match the eyelet finishes on my curtains. It doesn’t really bother me, but it wasn’t something I thought about when I went curtain shopping. For a truly “put together” look, though, the details matter! Match the eyelets with the curtain rod, or vice versa.
7. How will I secure the curtains?
Will you let them hang at the edges of the window? Tie them back with burlap ribbon? Will you pull the panels back into metal “holdbacks?” There are so many ways to style your curtains? While you’res shopping for curtains, shop for these supplies too!
8. How many panels do I need?
Depending on the width of your windows and the look you want to achieve, you may need more than one panel set per window. (A panel set includes two panels.) I prefer a “full” look to my curtains, so even with a window that’s 4.5 feet wide, I double up on panels.
Take a picture of the room with your phone so you can bring the room’s colors with you when you pick out curtains. If you want the curtains to blend with the room, pick curtains that are a few shades darker than your wall color. If you want them to act as an eye-catching pop of color, go bright or very, very dark!
10. What’s my budget?
Probably the most important question of all…what’s your budget? You can splurge on custom curtains or get the look for less from your favorite home décor store—Kirkland’s! With a little research, you can find affordable curtains and hardware online, or, wait for a sale to pop up. Instead of buying curtains and rods for my entire home all at once, I went room by room and only shopped when they were on sale. That helped to spread the cost out.
Ask yourself these questions before buying curtains and you’ll find the right curtains on your first shopping trip. Do you have any tips for those of us headed out to shop for curtains? Share your experience in a comment below!