Installing curtain rods and adding window treatments is an easy way to make a room look more polished, while also achieving privacy and protecting your interiors from the sun. Today’s options range from light and subtle to heavy and dramatic, with varying options for blocking light and views from onlookers. Whether the goal is to add style, functionality, or both, you may want some guidance when it comes to what you can achieve with curtains. So read on to learn about your options, get helpful shopping tips, and see why the following products are considered among the best curtains for decor, privacy, and more.
- BEST OVERALL: NICETOWN Noise Reducing Thermal Insulated Curtains
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: GoodGram 2 Pack: Sheer Voile Curtains
- BEST SHEER: HLC.ME White Sheer Voile Curtains
- BEST SEMI-SHEER: MIUCO Moroccan Embroidered Semi Sheer Curtains
- BEST BLACKOUT: Deconovo Room Darkening Thermal Insulated Curtain
- BEST SOLID: MIUCO 1 Pair Thermal Insulated Curtains
- BEST PATTERNED: H.VERSAILTEX Blackout Curtains
Types of Curtains
The type and material of the curtains you choose depends on your decor and design preferences as well as your desired functionality. Whether you hope to add oomph with a bold pattern, go simply sophisticated with subtle sheers, or gain privacy and light-blocking capabilities, see what you can achieve with the following options.
Sheer curtains allow plenty of light to enter the room and offer a flowing, easy elegance. These mostly transparent panels are generally chosen for style, since they won’t offer much privacy unless paired with a shade or layered with heavier drapes for less interior visibility.
Sheer curtains are available in a variety of fabrics for differing design tastes and have varying degrees of required care. Polyester options offer the easiest upkeep, as they’re generally machine washable and naturally wrinkle resistant. Cotton sheers suit more casual spaces and vary on upkeep requirements. Sheers made with linen lend a sophisticated look, while lace versions are particularly feminine, but both tend to demand dry cleaning or hand/delicate washing and ironing.
Semi-sheer curtains have a look and feel that’s similar to the flowing quality of standard sheers, but with a bit more texture and weight. These curtains allow sunlight in and reduce its glare, but offer increased opacity so people outside can’t see through them by day. However, at night when the lights are on, figures and movement may be visible to those outside. The degree of privacy you can obtain from semi-sheer curtains depends on your choice of color and material. Fabric choices are similar to those of sheers, with polyester being the most easy-care.
If keeping the light out is your top priority, room-darkening curtains may be a good choice. Ideal in bedrooms, these curtains stop light from passing through a special backing or lining. Varying degrees of darkness are available, ranging from light-filtering to total-blackout options. The most effective options use a triple-weave fabric, made up of three interwoven layers with a center of black yarn, that helps block light and insulate the room. External layers are most commonly made with polyester or velvet.
By limiting entering sunlight, blackout curtains can keep your home cooler and reduce your need for air conditioning, which can help lower energy costs in warm weather. In cold conditions, they can help insulate the room to retain heat. Blackout curtains can also prevent the sun from damaging and fading furniture and floors and even block out noise.
Solid color curtains have timeless appeal and are easier to coordinate with room décor. If you already have a lot of patterns in your space or like to regularly switch up your design aesthetic, single-colored window panels can offer a finished look without attracting too much attention. This allows you to regularly change accessories without clashing against the curtains. Bright options make a statement and add drama to the room, while neutral colors offer more design flexibility and are less likely to fade from the sun.
Patterned curtains can be a focal point of a room and tend to suit spaces with mostly solid colors that would benefit from an added design element. Options range from large, graphic prints to subtler designs like small dots and florals. A playful pattern or animal motif can add whimsy to a space, and is especially appealing for children’s rooms. Stripes, chevrons, and geometric patterns can be appealing in modern spaces, while medallions, trellises, and arabesques work well in more traditional homes. Vertical stripes may be thin and subtle or bold and impactful and can offer the illusion of height when hung in rooms with low ceilings.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Curtains
The curtains you select largely depends on your needs and style preferences, so it’s important for you to think about their intended function and how you would like them to look and feel. Other considerations include cleanability and upkeep as well as color, pattern, and energy-saving properties.
While shopping for curtains, first consider how you would like to use them. For instance, if the goal is to keep early sunlight out of the bedroom choose darker-colored, heavier materials, or even blackout curtains. To add a decorative element that lets sunshine stream in, sheers offer a soft, lightweight flow that disperses light in an ambient way. For a similar look but with a bit more privacy, choose a semi-sheer curtain. Curtains can also be paired with heavier drapery, shades, or blinds to achieve a layered look and greater opacity. The color and/or pattern you choose depends on whether you want the curtains to garner attention or blend with the other décor.
The top material choices for hanging window treatments are linen, silk, faux silk (often polyester), and velvet. Blackout curtains and inexpensive sheers are typically made from polyester or polyester blends. These versions are popular because they are easy to launder and generally stay wrinkle-free. Linen and silk tend to require more upkeep, requiring dry cleaning and regular ironing or steaming. Velvet or faux suede make for a heavier curtain that can help keep the room warmer on cold days, but these fabrics tend to accumulate dust and may need a spot or dry cleaning. Vacuuming your curtains, top to bottom, with a brush attachment can help with regular upkeep.
Density and Thread Count
The density of a curtain is its overall weight, which affects how it hangs as well as its light-blocking and insulating abilities. The higher density the fabric, the more efficient it is at blocking sunlight and keeping warmth in on cold days. Thicker curtains, such as those woven in layers or made with velvet or faux suede, have a higher density than sheer options.
Thread count refers to the number of threads within a 1-inch area of the woven fabric. A higher thread count usually translates into greater longevity for your curtains. However, some high thread count options require dry cleaning, so it’s worth noting before making a purchase if you want to bother with the additional upkeep and expense.
Curtains can add texture to the room, both visually and to the touch. The texture varies depending on the pattern and material. Part of your curtains’ visual appearance depends on how you choose to hang them, but a woven pattern or embroidery can offer visual depth, while sheer, flowing panels offer lighter textural appeal.
When it comes to tactile texture, the softest fabrics are velvet, silk, and some cotton options. The softness of these fabrics can also add warmth and luxury to space. Easy-care polyester often isn’t as soft to the touch as these finer choices.
Colors and Patterns
When it comes to colors and patterns for your curtains, decide if you want to attract attention to your window treatments, or if you’d rather them blend in with the décor. For visual pop, choose bright colors and bold patterns. For a more seamless look, pick solid shades just slightly darker than the wall color, or consider neutral color choices.
If you have a lot of patterned accents, such as pillows and rugs, curtains in a solid color prevent the room from looking too busy. On the other hand, patterned curtains can add visual interest to a room with simpler furnishings and accessories, and while large graphics and geometric shapes can be quite bold, stripes and dots can be more subdued. Opt for playful patterns in children’s rooms and secondary spaces.
Energy Saving Properties
By keeping the sun out of the room on hot days and holding in warmth as temperatures drop, curtains may help you save on heating and cooling bills. Higher density curtains, like thick velvet or lined polyester, are more likely to have insulating properties to stave off the winter chill. Sheer versions let plenty of light in, which can act as a natural heat source. And some window treatments are designed as energy-saving options. These typically have a lining to slow or prevent the transfer of heat, with the layer closest to the window fabricated to reflect heat back outside.
Our Top Picks
The best curtains for you may be stylish and meet your needs for sunlight and privacy. Consider some of the following choices.
Sold in a set of two, these curtains are made of 100 percent polyester triple weave blackout fabric. They impede 85 to 99 percent of light, depending on color choice (dark colors block the most). The thick construction also reduces noise, insulate against extreme weather, and protect interior furnishings from fading and sun damage.
Easy to maintain, the panels can be machine washed and tumble dried. They’re available in three widths (29, 34, and 42 inches) and five lengths ranging from 45 to 90 inches long. Six grommets top each panel for easy hanging.
Windows come in many lengths, and so do these nicely priced sheers. GoodGram’s 52-inch-wide curtains are available in six lengths, from 45 to 105 inches, including this popular 84-inch length. The sheer quality adds a delicate decorative element while diffusing sunlight for an ambient glow. Color choices abound as well, with 16 shades in addition to this subtle gold. The 100 percent polyester curtains can be thrown in the washer for easy cleaning and are a breeze to hang by simply sliding them over a standard-sized rod.
If the simple elegance of sheers appeals to you, these lightweight curtains can provide the look you like for a good long time. The durable polyester fabric resists snags and tears, and the quality stitching deters loose threads. These 54-inch wide panels are available in nine different lengths, ranging from 52 to 132 inches long. The simple sheers are a soft polyester and come in over 20 colors to coordinate with almost any décor. For more privacy, layer them with heavier drapery, shades, or blinds. Easy to clean, you simply toss them in the washing machine, tumble dry on low, and finish with a quick iron if needed. The rod pocket insert slides onto an up to 1.5-inch rod.
Though made of 100 percent polyester, these Miuco curtains are soft to the touch and have the semi-sheer appearance of fine linen. They still allow light to filter through, yet provide more privacy than standard sheers. Each set measures 52 inches wide and is available in three lengths: 63, 84, and 95 inches. The trellis design adds subtle interest, and the background fabric is available in 15 different colors. Eight stainless metal grommets allow for an easy fit on a standard 1.5-inch rod. For easy care, machine wash in cold water and dry on the gentle cycle.
If you could use more peace, quiet, and warmth, these Deconovo curtains could fill the bill. Though soft and lightweight, the 100 percent polyester curtains offer substantial light blockage, while thermal insulation properties keep heat from escaping and block the sun from entering to help save on energy bills. The triple-weave construction also allows for outside noise reduction.
While available in 27 colors, the company recommends a darker option for better light-reducing capabilities. Sold as a single panel, each curtain measures 42 inches wide and is available in three different lengths, 63, 84, and 95 inches. Six silver, anti-rust grommets along the top allow the panels to be hung easily on a standard-sized curtain rod. The curtains can be machine washed but should be air-dried for good results.
If you hope to bring a shot of color to your room—and enjoy ample blackout benefits—these Miuco curtains are worth a look. Triple-weave construction can block up to 98 percent of light and UV rays (with dark colors being the most effective), helping to retain heat during cold days and reflect it when temperatures rise. The curtains also filter out up to 60 percent of outside noise.
Each panel is 52 inches wide with the choice of three lengths: 63, 84, and 95 inches. The 3-inch-wide bottom hem is weighted so the panel can hang smoothly. Eight metal grommets slide over standard-sized rods. The pair features the same material on the front and back for a high-quality appearance and comes with matching tie-backs to complete the look. For upkeep, machine wash in cold water and dry on the gentle cycle.
Blackout curtains don’t have to be solid and staid. The casual classic pattern on these impactful panels is available in six different color combinations. Eight retro copper grommets, that fit a standard-sized rod, complete the look. Crafted from triple-woven polyester microfiber fabric, the curtains can block 90 percent sunlight and prevent 100 percent UV rays. They are insulated for energy efficiency, are noise-reducing, and formaldehyde-free. Each curtain measures 52 inches wide and is available in lengths of 63, 84, 96, and 108 inches. Machine wash and tumble dry on low for regular care.
FAQs About Your New Curtains
Still wondering how to wash, hem, or hang your curtains? Read on for answers to commonly asked questions.
Q. How do you hem curtains?
If you can‘t find curtains that are the right length, simply follow these steps.
- Hang curtains from a rod, decide where you want the bottom to land, and pin the hem.
- Spread the curtains wrong-side up on the floor, fold the sectioned-off bottom up halfway, and iron.
- Fold to the desired length and press flat again.
- Hem with a sewing machine or iron-on tape.
Q. How do you wash curtains?
Some curtains, such as polyester, can be machine washed, while others, like silk and linen, require dry cleaning. Because curtains are long pieces of fabric, even the easiest care panels should be hung promptly after they are cleaned to avoid wrinkling.
Q. Should curtains touch the floor?
Floor-length curtains lend elegance and drama. However, if you like this look, keep in mind that the bottoms of the panels are likely to pick up dirt fairly easily. For less maintenance, consider curtains that hover half an inch above the floor. This makes vacuuming, or otherwise cleaning the floor, easier too.