No shade, just shades.
Much like a rug is the foundation of a room, window treatments are the finishing touches—and often, a space just doesn't feel complete without some form of curtains or shades. The right window treatments can make a room feel more cohesive, or even serve as a standout statement piece in their own right. But, shopping for curtains and other window treatments can be tricky, since you need to know what will work in your space based on your windows and lighting, get the correct sizing (which can be a challenge in its own right!), and keep all of that in consideration while you also look for the perfect aesthetic, too.
To help, here's a quick breakdown of what to think about before you buy curtains and other window treatments—or, you can click here to skip right to shopping some of our favorite brands.
Before you start shopping, it'll help to ask yourself a few key questions, based on your personal taste and the space your outfitting with drapery.
The exposure you choose is based both on function and style—you might like the look of sheer curtains, but if you need to block some of the light that comes in or need an option that will provide you with more privacy, you'll need to find an alternative, like maybe a semi-sheer. These are just a few of the most common options you'll come across:
Having a style in mind can help you shop for curtains—especially when you're shopping at a big retailer like Wayfair or Amazon—since it allows you to narrow down your search. Just pop in the keywords or filter based on your preferred styles, and it'll be a lot easier to browse until you find the perfect drapes. Or, if you're going custom, knowing your favorite style going in can help make sure that you get your dream curtains.
In any case, there are multiple header styles to know, from rod pocket and grommet to pinch pleat, box pleat, ripple fold, and more. You can read the full breakdown of these styles (and different exposures, too!) in House Beautiful's guide to all the different types of curtains.
Sizing is super important, because there's nothing more frustrating than falling in love with a set of curtains, ordering them, and hanging them up only to find out they're too short or way too long. So, before you buy—and really, before you even shop (this is yet another way narrowing can help you while you browse online!)—make sure you've measured correctly. Be sure to also factor in where your curtains should hang from, and don't just measure from the top of the window frame. To make the space look its best, biggest, and brightest, hang your floor-length drapes either two inches below the ceiling, or four inches above the window.
Designer Leann Baker, who shared some window treatment dos and don'ts with House Beautiful, also suggests factoring in "puddling"—when some of the fabric of floor length curtains gathers a bit on the floor—in your measurements. With thicker drapes, you'll get a heavy, formal look; whereas puddling in sheer curtains is all about those cozy vibes.
Sizing also goes beyond just getting the measurements right, because you also have to think about function when you think about sizing. Curtains don't always—and frankly, shouldn't always—necessarily be floor-length. Café-length curtains (that go to the windowsill instead) would be ideal in a kitchen—especially since it's a high-traffic area of the house—Baker explained. You might even consider skipping curtains altogether and going with a Roman shade in the kitchen, for example.
All of these brands have plenty of pretty curtains to choose from, whether you're going high-end and custom on a big budget or you're buying from one of your go-to retailers at a smaller price point. But, that's not all. Most of the options on this list specialize in window treatments in general, and that means they go well beyond curtains and drapes. So, if you're looking for blinds or shades (of just about any variety: Roman, roller, pleated, honeycomb—you name it!) you're covered, too.
And if you're not sure what type of window treatment you need for your space, House Beautiful's guide to window treatments can help.