The Secret to Choosing Curtains to Make Your Room Look More Expensive

gauzy curtains in a living room
Brittany Ambridge ; DESIGN: Jeremiah Brent

It only takes one look at a professionally designed room to notice how much more expensive custom-made curtains look as compared with their ready-made counterparts. Yes, choosing curtains in a store is much more than just picking a fabric you like and hoping it looks good in your room. There are a million small factors that can go wrong in the selection of drapes for your space: Do they provide the right level of privacy? Are they high enough to hang the right way? Does their hanging style match the architecture of your home?

These are all questions that interior designers have mastered through education or trial and error—this makes them experts at designing custom curtains for their clients that look much more expensive than they might be. Lucky for us, there are a few handy rules to follow to ensure your ready-made window treatments will look much more expensive than they actually are. Here is our foolproof guide on how to choose curtains to make them look like a million bucks.

On Fabric and Privacy

Oblong windows with long brown curtains flanking fireplace
Jeremiah Brent

One of the main considerations when choosing a curtain fabric is the purpose you'll need your window treatments to serve in a specific room: Do you need blackout curtains for the bedroom? Are you looking for your curtains to let natural light through? Do you need privacy from neighbors? Once you've figured this part out, you can start narrowing down your choices.

Most linen and cotton curtains come in varying degrees of opacity ranging from sheer, which will feel breezy and let natural light through while still providing a mild amount of privacy, to opaque, which provides more privacy and doesn't allow as much natural light to shine through. Velvet curtains are great to provide a natural blackout option, but most opaque curtains can also be doubled with a blackout lining for complete darkness.

On Hardware and Hanging Style

Gauzy curtains hanging on gold rods
Jeremiah Brent

Curtains usually come in a variety of hanging styles, from the more modern grommets and tab tops to rod-pockets, rings, and pleated styles. Rings are ideal to add a few inches of height to your curtains and showcase your hardware. This style is transitional to fit any decorating style. Rod-pockets, grommets, and tab tops are more contemporary and cost-saving since they don't require the extra rings, while a pleated style is more traditional.

Hardware also comes in different styles, from industrial to modern and traditional. You can always add accessories like tiebacks and finials to your curtains to add flair to your window hardware.

On Length and Width

beige curtains in front of large window
Jeremiah Brent

Curtain height and width is something many people struggle with. While the natural instinct when hanging curtains is to hang them right above the window frame, hanging them just below the ceiling will make your windows appear taller. Similarly, hanging the rod a few inches wider than the window will allow your open curtains to sit outside of the window frame, not blocking natural light and also making your windows appear larger.

Another crucial thing to consider when hanging curtains is where they should hit on the floor. Typically, they should either hit right at where the floor begins, but some prefer having them pool on the floor for a more romantic look. They should never hang any higher than the floor—if a radiator or furniture is in the way, consider hanging window shades instead.

On Color and Pattern

Sunny corner home office space with yellow curtains and plant on desk.
Fiordaliso / Getty Images

While neutral solid curtains in a linen or velvet will always be the most timeless and classic, it's possible to introduce color and pattern if done well. For instance, a soft tone-on-tone stripe or floral pattern can add visual interest and romantic vibes to a sheer curtain. You can also go with a bold pattern, but only if you want this to become the focus of your room.

Another strategy favored by interior designers is to have the color of the curtains match the wall color. This works especially well with darker rooms with heavy velvet curtains. Remember, simpler and more seamless is always better when it comes to curtains. 

Next up: Nate Berkus sheds light on window treatments, once and for all.

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