How to Choose Window Treatments Correctly—Every Time

Last week I asked the question: do you dare to go naked? Or are you afraid of letting it all hang out? (We also discovered how many innuendos I can make when it comes to window treatments. Answer: more than you’d think).

When we bought our first house, I was only 24 and had never given any thought to my windows. So when it came time to decorate, I somehow believed that I needed both shades and curtains on each one. Seriously, what was I thinking?!

I shudder to think of the time and money I wasted on that endeavor, only to come to my senses less than a year later. Thankfully I did, or we would still be living in a dungeon of gloom—straining our eyes to see our breakfast cereal, and tripping over the puppy. I like to think I made some Craigslist hunters very happy—they got a great deal on brand new curtains. Whelp…you live, you learn.

And since that time, I’ve learned a lot. And because I don’t want anyone to make my (expensive) mistakes, I thought I’d share with you some tips on how to choose window treatments correctly—the first time around.*

Along with my tips, I’ve included examples of window treatments done right by some of my favorite bloggers.  Be sure to click through and check out these fabulous ladies and the rest of their homes! (And don’t forget to pin from the original source).

How to Choose the Right Window Treatments

  • First decide on how you want the room to feel.  In general, curtains are more formal, shades are more casual, and bare windows are more modern.
How to Choose Window Treatments

Curtains were the right choice for Brynne’s formal living room on The Gathered Home.

  • In rooms used for entertaining (living room, dining room), sheer curtains add a touch of sophistication while keeping the room bright.
  • If the treatment is expensive, opt for a neutral–it will give you greater freedom if you redecorate later on.
  • Hang the curtains or shade a few inches from the ceiling to elongate the window and make the room seem taller.  If you are hanging grommet curtains, make sure you allow for the extra fabric above when installing the rod!
How to Choose Window Treatments

Anu over at Nalle’s House got it right! See how her curtains just barely touch the floor?

  • Choose a curtain length that will just brush the floor, and hem if necessary. For standard 8′ ceilings, go for 96″ curtains. Please, please, please….don’t have your curtains swingin’ in the breeze with 8” of space between them and the floor. BIG mistake.
  • Hang your curtains and hardware as close to the ceiling as possible, but with at least 2” of space between them and the ceiling.
  • Heavy fabrics or dark colors look best in large rooms with tall ceilings.  So unless you live in a McMansion, light fabrics and colors are your best bet. If you do go for a dark color, try a lighter fabric.
How to Choose Window Treatments 4

Lauren at A Lovely Lark used simple, white roller shades for privacy in her child’s room–bright & modern!

  • In bedrooms, Roman shades elongate windows and are easy to open & close frequently.  Any kind of simple shade will give you a more modern look as well.
How to Choose Window Treatments

Woven shades add texture and warmth, like in this dining room from Two Thirty-Five Designs.

  • Shades can be hung either inside the window frame or mounted over it. If you’re ordering shades yourself, measure, measure, measure!  Then measure again. Then have someone else measure it, just to be sure. And if the shades are going inside the frame, be sure to leave ½” of room on either side.
  • In bathrooms, privacy film is often the best answer.
How to Choose Window Treatments

Celine over at Aquahaus knew to keep her beautiful windows naked! The contrasting color makes an architectural statement in the room.

  • In casual rooms, hallways, or offices, bare windows can still be beautiful! Painting the window frame in a contrasting color, such as black, can be just as lovely as a window treatment.
  • Don’t pay tons of money for expensive curtain rods. Ikea rods do the trick, and you can spray-paint them gold, silver, copper…anything you want.
  • Please, no tie-backs. Just…no.

*I’m a firm believer that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to decorating, so take my tips with a grain of salt.  In the end, choose what you love and what you can afford!

Do you have any tips on dressing windows? Any rules that you swear by?  I’d love to hear them!

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Comments (9 )
  • Kristen
    | 14 January 2015

    As I was waiting for my 2 year old to fall asleep last night – I was doing what I normally do during those painfully boring 15 minutes: sit in his room and dream up design ideas for that space. One thing I keep getting stuck on is the windows. I like the kids rooms to be dark at night. But big curtains don’t seem like the right answer. The 2 windows are different sizes (on different walls) and just awkward for decorating purposes. I actually was thinking of the roller shade idea – so I’m glad to see that someone has that idea in their child’s room. Still not sure…

    • annabode
      | 14 January 2015

      Haha, I do that too! As to windows, what I did in my son’s room (and all our bedrooms) is buy these white Roman shades from Macy’s. They were very affordable and came in almost every size. They can make the room very dark when pulled down, because the fabric is quite thick, but when they’re up the room is nice and light. I like them better than roller shades because you can mount them close to the ceiling, over the frame, which will give the room height–and the kind I got had a kind of simple valance at the top, and are cordless. Good luck!

  • Alesha D
    | 10 September 2015

    My go to window treatment is cellular shades. Levelor has a line sold at Lowes that are cut onsite to your exact window size. They are really easy to mount and look great. I have a light brown blackout shade in my master and light filtering in my bathrooms, dining room, kitchen and living room.

    • annabode
      | 16 October 2015

      That’s so cool that you can get them custom cut! I’ll have to check those out! We don’t have any window treatments on at our new house and it is not fun 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  • Beth cargile
    | 27 January 2016

    I have 12ft ceilings with 10ft windows in my living room and chose to leave them uncovered. Now its Winter and since the windo run the whole lenght of the living room we are freezing. Any ideas on how to cover these?

    • annabode
      | 1 February 2016

      I think a Roman shade or another simple fabric shade would be beautiful — you should check out Decorview!

  • Gina
    | 27 January 2016

    I am a big fan of roman shades and that is always my first choice for a window treatment. But last year when we bought new windows for our new room the windows and doors company advised us to use custom made curtains as that would look better with those windows. I was skeptical at first but then i decided to try it out. Well, roman shades are still my favorite but i would never ever regret using curtains in our new room. the room looks brilliant.

  • Ivy Baker
    | 11 April 2017

    I liked that you talked about how you should use a curtain that almost touches the floor. It does seem like that could be a great feature to have in a room. I know that I would like it because it would give the room a more classic feel.

  • John
    | 12 June 2018

    I like that tip to choose how you want a room to feel. Different room types have different needs that you may want to address. You can make a big room seem cozier if you use darker colors for example.

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