How to Choose Curtains & 8 Things You Need To Consider

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Images via McGee & Co. & Unknown

It can be overwhelming shopping for curtains- especially if you don’t know what you’re shopping for. There are so many factors that come into play- the length, color, how they hang, how many panels you need, etc.

So I thought it would be beneficial to cover eight things to consider before choosing curtains. And also how to choose the right curtains for your needs. Sound like a plan?

Images via The Hoxton Hotel & Prestigious Textiles

8 Things To Consider When Picking Out Curtains

  1. Style
  2. Opacity and lining
  3. How to hang them
  4. Purpose
  5. Length
  6. Quantity
  7. Color
  8. Durability

Now let’s take a closer look at each one and talk about how to decide which curtains are right for you.

Images via Quadro Room & Stephen Karlisch

1. Curtain Style

One of the first things to figure out is the style of curtains you want. In short, there are five main styles that you’ll come across, and those are tab top, ripple fold, pleated, grommet, and pole pocket. I wrote an entire blog post about different curtain styles and the pros/cons of each. Once you figure out the style you want, that will start to narrow things down tremendously.

2. Opacity & Lining

If you’re on the market for some curtains, it’s probably for one of two reasons- you either want privacy or want to filter the light- maybe even both. Either way, the curtain’s opacity is important to consider. Opacity will determine how much light will enter your space through the curtains while they are closed. Curtains come in various opacity levels- and some websites/brands will tell you the percentage. 0% being transparent and 100% being opaque.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you need the curtains for insulation purposes. For instance, if you have single-pane windows and living in a cold climate, consider thermal curtains. Since thermal curtains are typically 100% opaque, consider doubling up your curtains. Use a sheer curtain for the inner layer, closest to your window, and then layer a heavier curtain on top of that. And although doing double layers can cost a little more, it will give you the most flexibility…plus, it looks great!

3. The purpose of the curtains

I had to put this one right about opacity because this is super important. Do you want curtains for an aesthetic or functional purpose? If you want curtains pure for an aesthetic thing- everything applies except #5. If it’s just an aesthetic thing, you really only need a couple of panels on each side to make it look good.

4. How to hang the curtains

How you plan to hang the curtains is another factor that comes into play when choosing the best curtains.
In most cases, you’ll hang the curtains from a rod on the wall. But, if you’re mounting the curtains from the ceiling, you’ll need a curtain track instead of a rod.

Be sure to check the rings or hooks that come with the curtain rod or track and make sure they’ll work with the curtains. For a timeless look, hang the curtains on the wall with a rod using drapery hooks and rings, or hang them from the ceiling on a track and use drapery hooks so the hardware is hidden.

5. Length of curtains

Simultaneously while figuring out how they will hang, you should also consider the length you’ll need. To figure out the length of curtains you need, you’ll also need to know where you’re hanging them from and how much you want them to drape/puddle on the floor.
In my opinion, curtains look best when the curtains are “kissing the floor”- meaning that they touch the floor ever-so-slightly. It takes some planning to get this look, but it’s so worth it!

Images via Slettvoll & Robson Rak

6. How many curtain panels are needed

Let’s talk about how many windows you’re trying to cover and the width of those windows. If you’re using your curtains for a functional purpose, then you’ll need enough curtain panels to cover your window- obviously, right?

Most curtain panels are 48-54 inches wide, but just getting enough panels to cover the width of your windows isn’t enough. The last thing you want is your curtains stretched to the max, only to see cracks of light leak in through. And honestly, it just looks awful- avoid it at all costs, please.

Instead, you’ll need to purchase a few extra panels to ensure there’s enough fabric to cover the window. Ideally, you’ll have a few ripples in the fabric when the curtains are completely closed. This is called the fullness factor. If you’re choosing the ripple-fold style curtain, this measurement really comes into play. Helser Brothers have a very helpful article on their site about figuring this out.

7. Curtain color

The color… this one is obvious, too, right? But let’s talk about it. If you want the curtains to be a statement, then a contrasting color from your walls is the way to go. But, if you want something subtle, then a similar or complementary color to the wall color is the best choice.

While you’re figuring out which color you want, it’s always smart to order samples if possible. One of my favorite places for curtains is Half Price Drapes– their rice and oatmeal-colored faux linen curtains are a couple of my go-tos. The color is perfect, the price is right, and they are great quality. They even can do custom if you need it!

8. Durability & Cleaning

If you’re using the curtains every day- meaning opening and closing them, then chances are, they’re going to get dirty. And if you have kids, even more so. So make sure you look at the cleaning directions- can you machine wash them, or do they need to be dry cleaned? One thing great about off-the-rack curtains (not custom) is that since you’re purchasing them in panels, you can replace certain panels as need be.


There you have it- eight things you should consider before choosing curtains. I hope you found this post helpful and feel more prepared the next time you’re out shopping for curtains. If you have any questions or feel like I forgot something, just let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,


  1. jimmy says:

    Hi! I read your article and really like it. It is very interesting and informational. The way you give details about the carpets and details are amazing.
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  2. Moshells says:

    Great advice! This is incredibly useful since I want to purchase a new curtain. I appreciate the information.

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