Curtains are one of the essential decorative elements in any home. These long pieces of fabric not only provide privacy and light blocking but also add a fashionable touch to the space. If your room has large windows, curtains may cover a large portion of the canvas, so they must be flawless.
But before you decide on what type of curtain you want for your rooms, you must know and understand the various curtain types, their key features, and their functionality.
So, today we bring you this ultimate guide on different types of curtains based on various criteria such as length, fabric opacity headers, and attachment style to help you choose the best curtains and shades for your sweet home.
Types of Curtain Based on Style
When choosing curtains for any room, it is critical to understand the needs of the space. Cafe Curtains, for example, are the best option if you want a functional and decorative curtain for your kitchen or drawing rooms. However, if you want stylish, formal curtains for your living room, a panel pair is the way to go.
So, here are the most popular curtain styles with all the details.
1. Single Panel Curtain
The single panel curtains have a single panel of fabric. The panel covers the entire window and can easily be opened to let in some light by pulling to either side. These curtains are pretty functional and handy and give a simple, minimalistic look. However, if you have a wider window, you might need a panel pair.
There are different ways to decorate your room with single panel curtains. You can hang them straight with rod pockets, eyelets, tab-tops, or even rings. Moreover, you can even tie the panel curtain back on either side to give the room a more informal, misaligned look.
2. Panel Pair Curtains
If your room has large windows, a panel pair curtain is what you need. As the name implies, the panel pair comes in two curtain panels that hang above the window on either side of a single rod or bar. The curtains can be opened or closed by pulling them to opposite sides.
Panels have always been a popular choice for curtains as they can gorgeously blend in almost any interior design style. When hung straight, these curtains create a modern, contemporary look. Or you can tie each panel with tiebacks for a traditional feel in your room.
A valance is a short curtain fabric panel that hangs across the top half of the window and hence is popular as Window Toppers. This small curtain panel helps design a neat look by covering the window treatment hardware like rods, hooks, etc. It can be used singly or in combination with other window treatments or curtains.
The valance works best with rod pockets and hidden tabs, but you can also staple them to the curtain board for an uncluttered look. It is a quick tool to tie together the look of a room with different window blind styles.
Available in popular styles like Straight, Arched, Cascade, Balloon, and Scalopped, a valance curtain can magically fit into various interior styles.
Quick Tip: It’s best to decide on the curtain colors and patterns based on your room’s entire decor. If the room’s design sports neutral and solid colors, you can add an artistic, abstract touch with casual patterned curtains.
4. Window Tier or Cafe Curtains
The window tier is a set of two or three short curtain panels typically hung in the middle of the window rather than the top, covering its lower half. This curtain option is best suited for areas that require privacy but also need natural light, like kitchens. Being popularly used in cafes and kitchens, these are also called Cafe Curtains.
The two curtain panels at the bottom can also be paired with a valance or swag on the top. The cafe curtain not only keeps the balance between privacy and light but also gives an adorable, casual look and oozes friendly vibes into the space.
5. Window Swags
Swag can be considered a unique valance that’s less formal and adds a soft, relaxed feel to the space. It’s gathered pieces of fabric that loosely hang across the window’s topmost part wrapped around a curtain rod.
Swag curtains have excess curtain material that is styled in pleats or can be shirred. The middle of this curtain is short and hangs across the rod, while the ends casually hang down the length of the window on either side.
Generally, these can be used alone as decorative pieces for windows, but if you need privacy and opacity for your room, you can pair them with different curtains, blinds, or shades.
6. Window Scarves
If you are looking for a purely decorative drapery, get a window scarf. It consists of a long piece of curtain fabric draped around the window treatment rod like a scarf. This curtain style differs from a traditional one because it doesn’t block light or offer privacy when used alone.
It does, however, make an excellent, tasteful window decoration. And if you need to darken the room, you can use window scarves in conjunction with other window coverings such as blackouts or panels.
In terms of fabric, these draperies look best in soft, lightweight fabrics such as silk, chiffon, and velvet, and they can be used in living rooms, bedrooms, and offices for more deluxe aesthetics.
7. Window Treatment Set
Simply put, a window treatment set is a complete curtain set for your windows. It mainly includes a valance, swag or scarf, a single panel or panel pair curtain, and sometimes, you might even get accessories like a curtain rod, curtain hooks, and tiebacks in the set. It’s the perfect option if you need a matching, integrated window treatment for a cohesive living room interior.
8. Curtain Liners
A curtain liner is a piece of fabric tacked to the back or insides of curtains or drapes. It is a functional rather than decorative type of curtain. Typically, the liners are sewn to the back of the curtain, but you can also hang them separately using the same hooks as for the curtains.
Curtain liners serve a variety of functions, including privacy, light-blocking, insulation, and temperature control. There are also thermal curtain liners available to keep your space warm.
Quick Tip: If you need more darkness and privacy in your room, a curtain lining can do that for you. However, since curtain lining makes the drapes heavier, choose the right shades to use liners with.
9. Roman Shades
A Roman shade consists primarily of a single curtain panel that can be raised or lowered vertically to maintain light and airflow through the window. When the shades are lowered, they resemble flat curtains, but when raised, the panel is folded over using horizontal bars to form crisp, neat flat folds.
Roman shades can be hung using interior or exterior mount brackets that can be installed easily at home. Furthermore, since the see-through curtain will make the bars and cords more visible, it’s best to use medium-weight fabric like cotton and linen for these shades.
Due to their visual versatility, Roman shades suit many interior decor styles, be it contemporary, French-style, Countryside, or Vintage.
10. Priscilla Curtains
Priscilla curtains are the best tap to create vintage, romantic visuals in a room. These curtains feature soft, uniform riffles that run down the length of the curtain, bringing casual charm vibes into the room. Mainly made from sheer, see-through fabrics, this elegant curtain style is perfect for soft, laid-back countryside homes.
Priscilla curtains are typically hung on two curtain rods to attain the popular crossover on the top halves of the panels. These contemporary curtains can then be tied on opposite sides with tiebacks to create a vintage silhouette look.
11. Balloon Shades
The balloon shade is a more somber, traditional Roman-style curtain. These shades feature scalloped swags or curved horizontal pleats that run the length of the curtain and end at the window sill or frame. You can raise or lower the curtain using the cord and ring system attached to the back of the shade.
When the shades are raised, the inverted pleats fold to form a fluffy balloon valance with soft curves or swags. Balloon shades are ideal for giving a room a luxurious feel with ample fullness.
Types of Curtains Based on Header Styles
The top piece of the curtain panels attached to the curtain track or rod is the curtain header. The design of this header gives the shades and curtains their fullness, waves, and an overall finished look.
With different kinds of pleats and designs they are styled in, here are some most popular curtain types based on the header styles.
12. Ripple Fold Curtains
Ripple Fold or Flat Pleat drapes have uniform ripple or wave-like pleats across the panel width when pulled together but appear completely flat when stretched. These clean ripples are formed by long cords connected to the carrier behind the curtain panel, giving the drapery a contemporary look.
The ripple fold drapery is typically hung below the curtain track with hooks and is very simple to slide, open, and close. Furthermore, depending on the amount of fabric used, ripple fold curtains provide varying degrees of fullness.
The curtains are also supported by two types of carriers. The Overlap master carrier allows the two curtain panels to overlap in the center, whereas the Butt master carrier creates a continuous ripple effect. You can select a career type based on your desired appearance.
Quick Tip: To get the perfect curtain width, measure the width of your window frame and double it. You can also double the width of your curtain track or rod. If you want to estimate the curtain width for more than one panel, divide the doubled width by the number of curtains you want on your window.
13. Pinch Pleat Curtains
Pinch pleat curtains feature a classic, fashionable header with tightly packed pleats spaced evenly apart and permanently pinched a few inches down the top of the curtain panels. These pleats flow down the length of the curtain, creating an elegant, wavy effect.
Pleat drapery is mostly made from heavy, textured fabrics and can be hung on a rod or pole using curtain rings and hooks.
Based on the number of folds sewn together, pinch pleated curtains can have two to five fingers or folds in each pleat. The three-finger pleat or the French pleat is the most popular pleat curtain header style for a traditional interior in living areas and bedrooms.
14. Goblet Pleat Curtains
A goblet pleat curtain is a decorative pinch pleat curtain with a stylish header resembling a goblet or wine glass. Above the cinching point, the pleats are folded in a cylindrical shape, giving it its popular, classic goblet look. Mostly made from thick fabric, these drapes lend a formal, intense look to the room.
However, a goblet pleated curtain is relatively less functional and flexible than pinch pleat curtains as they must stay in place because of a delicately designed header style. So, it’s best to use them for decorative purposes in areas where the curtains aren’t moved frequently.
15. Pencil Pleat Curtains
A pencil pleat curtain has narrower, jagged folds sewn several inches below the curtain top. The folded pleats in these curtains resemble rod pocket curtains, but the pleats in pencil pleated curtains are fixed and mostly attached to the rod with hooks.
Unlike pinch pleat curtains, a pencil pleat curtain looks flatter and adds a casual vibe for friendlier spaces like living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms.
16. Tailored Pleat Curtains
Tailored pleat curtains, also popular as Euro or European Pleat Curtains, are similar to pinch pleat curtains except that the pleats here are tacked at the very top of the curtain panel, and the folds flow elegantly from top to bottom. These curtains fit well in classy, contemporary home decor styles.
Each pleat in the tailored curtains is attached to a hook or rings that can be hung on the curtain track or the conventional curtain rods. When made with heavy, thick materials, a tailored pleat drape exudes elegance and a touch of sophistication in the rooms.
17. Butterfly Pleat Curtains
A butterfly pleat curtain is a variation on a pinch pleat curtain. This curtain has uniform folds that are tacked a few inches below the top of the buckram, creating a gorgeous, fluffy butterfly pleat.
Again, depending on the look you want, you can choose two, three, or more folds per pleat for this curtain. Furthermore, this unique pleat style works best with soft, light to medium weight curtains such as silk, linen, velvet, cotton, and so on.
18. Box Pleat Curtains
Box pleat curtains feature clean rectangular or box-shaped pleats that are cinched a few inches below the curtain top. These pleats flow down the curtain panel and give it a more formal appearance.
With their sleek arrangement and cinching of flat pleats, box pleat curtains provide a crisp, neat, and modern look. However, because the box pleats are stiffly sewn in place, these curtains are not flexible enough to be moved frequently.
19. Inverted (Box) Pleat Curtains
Inverted pleat curtains, like box pleat curtains, have rectangular pleats, but because the pleats are inverted, the fullness is turned inwards, making the curtains appear flat from the front. This drapery seems formal and complements modern, sophisticated home decor, adding depth and dynamism to the space.
Curtain Types Based on Attachment Style
Surprisingly, curtain styles differ not only by the design of the curtain panels but also by how the curtain panels are attached to the traverse rods or curtain tracks. So, below are some popular curtain types based on the attachment styles.
20. Grommet & Eyelet Panels
Grommet panels or curtains are usually hung on the curtain rods with metallic rings or grommets that are punched into the top of the curtain fabric. When the curtain is pleated, these rings align and slide onto the curtain rod, revealing little to no window treatment accessories.
So, if you’re considering a valance to hide the hardware, An Eyelet or Grommet curtain can be a good substitute. Since the curtain’s weight is put on the rod through built-in rings, this curtain style is the safest choice for elegant heavier curtains.
21. Cubicle Curtains
Have you seen those curtains used in hospitals or therapy clinics for the private enclosure? Those are cubicle curtains.
Cubicle curtains can be considered a cross between ripple fold and grommet or eyelet curtains. This drapery style has tiny built-in metallic or plastic grommets or eyelets on the top of the curtain panel, which are then attached to the curtain track with curtain hooks.
Like ripple fold curtains, this curtain style appears full when gathered but flat when stretched across the track, giving it an extremely minimal and elegant appearance.
Cubicle curtains have the unique ability to glide smoothly down a bent or curved track. So, not only are they a functional option for window treatment, but you can also hang cubicle curtains around your bed using a curved cubicle track on the ceiling. Interesting, right?
22. Rod – Pocket Curtains
Like Grommet curtains, a Rod pocket curtain can slide onto the curtain rod or bar via a pocket designed on the top of the curtain fabric. This rod pocket is made from the same fabric as the curtains (plain or patterned) and thus boasts a simple and clean vintage look.
However, this attachment style is a bit frictional, which is why these curtains are not suitable for frequent movement, so they are best used in rooms where curtains are not opened and closed frequently.
23. Tab-top Curtains
Tab-top curtains feature fabric loops that are sewn at the top edge of the curtain panels. You can simply slide the curtain rod through the loops to hang these curtains. Since the loops are made from the same or similar fabric as the curtain, a tab top curtain looks creative and cohesive.
You can jazz them up even more by adding decorative buttons at the bottom of the loops. Based on how the loops are designed, the tab-top curtains are available in different styles such as Knotted Tab-tops, Twisted Tab-tops, etc.
24. Tie-Top Curtains
Tie-top curtains are knotted around the curtain rod with the help of fabric strips attached to the curtain top. Because these curtains hang below the rod, the hardware will be visible through the tie-top curtains. With a soothing, casual appearance, this curtain style will look fantastic in informal spaces and kitchens.
Furthermore, due to their delicate attachment style, tie-top curtains work well with lightweight curtain fabrics such as sheer.
25. Hidden Tab Curtains
The hidden tab curtains have tabs or loops designed on the backside of the top of the curtain panel. As such, these curtains are also popular as Back Tab curtains. This is another excellent curtain option that exposes minimum to no window treatment hardware.
Quick Tip: To determine the right curtain rod length, measure the width of your window frame and add 3-6 inches (depending on your preferred look) on both sides. A long curtain rod allows the curtains to cover the entire window while giving enough space to move the curtains when you open them.
Based on Fabric Opacity & Thickness
Besides sprucing up the interiors, a window curtain darkens rooms by blocking light through the windows. The thicker the curtain fabric, the more light it jams. So, depending on the fabric thickness and opacity, here are some common curtain types you must know of.
26. Sheer Curtains
Sheer curtains or Sheers are light, airy drapes made from a lightweight fabric that introduces softness into the space. These see-through curtains allow ample natural light into the room, keeping your space bright and ventilated. If privacy is not your first concern, sheers are the perfect modern decorative drapery for you.
However, for better privacy and lighting control, you can layer a sheer curtain with blackouts. Nonetheless, see-through sheer curtains look elegant in almost any interior style and exude a softly gleaming ambiance.
27. Semi-Sheer Curtains
Semi-sheer curtains provide more privacy than sheers. They don’t significantly block the light and keep your room sufficiently bright, but they are a little difficult to see through. You can go for colored sheer curtains or lace curtains for this purpose.
However, with the lights turned on, these curtains will not help much at night, and you may need to pair them with thick drapery.
Quick Tip: Linen and Cotton curtains are the best options if you need your room to be moderately bright.
28. Semi-Opaque Curtains
Semi-opaque curtains are the standard curtain types that fall between sheers and blackouts. Although you won’t be able to see through these curtains, the room will be adequately lit.
Semi-opaque shades work best with linen, cotton, silk, and synthetic fabrics. You can consider roman shades, pleated curtains, or even panel drapery styles for a semi-opaque look.
29. Opaque Blackout Curtains
Opposite sheers, A blackout curtain ensures maximum privacy and lighting control in any space. These curtains are made of heavy tightly-woven fabric that blocks nearly 100% of the light coming through them, oozing a perfectly dim, cozy ambiance for private spaces like bedrooms.
Some blackout curtains also have curtain liners for added opacity and insulation. Moreover, they can be used behind sheers for an elegant layered, refined look.
Quick Tip: Go for polyester or nylon blackout curtains to let minimal natural light into the room. Velvet is another material that can provide maximum light and privacy control while also adding a touch of luxury to the space.
Curtains Based on Length
The length of a curtain panel plays a crucial role in constructing the room’s entire look. So, it’s essential to pick the right size of curtains; otherwise, the entire design may fail. Overall, short curtains add a casual touch to the space, while long curtains seem formal and sophisticated.
Here are the most common curtain types based on curtain panel length.
30. Window Sill-Length Curtains or Tier Curtains
Window sill curtains hang from above the window frame and stop at your window sill or just above it. These curtains look less formal and bring a nonchalant and homey vibe into the space.
Sill-length shades are ideal for kid’s rooms, living rooms, or kitchens with small windows that need some space beneath for fixtures or other items. With these window curtains, you can play around with different accent colors and patterns.
31. Apron/Floating Curtains
Apron curtains or floating curtains hang a few inches below the window sill along the length of the window apron. These curtains look best on elevated windows in small rooms, giving the space a light and airy feel.
These shades leave plenty of space below the window and work the best for kitchens, bedrooms, or living rooms with radiators beneath the windows. Furthermore, because apron curtains do not cover the entire wall length, you can truly show off your walls and floors.
32. Floor-length or Kiss-the-Floor Curtains
As the name suggests, the floor-length curtains hang down, brushing or kissing the floor. You can hang these curtains directly above the window frame or at the top of the wall to cover multiple windows. Floor-length curtains work well in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, and dining rooms.
Floor curtains should be between 84 and 96 inches long. It’s best to keep the curtain length a few inches above the floor for ease of cleaning and frequent curtain movement. These drapes appear more formal than short or half-length curtains and provide a cozier, snugglier feel to the room.
33. Puddle Length Curtains
Puddle-length curtains are extended curtain panels that make a puddle of fabric on the floor. These curtains appear more formal, but they also add a romantic character and flair to the space. Depending on how big and fluffy a curtain puddle you want on the floor, there are various puddle lengths.
Break puddle is the shortest puddle curtain, with ½ – 1 inch of extra fabric that deviates from the traditional look of standard curtains. Medium puddle curtains have 2 – 4 inches of extra fabric folded under themselves, whereas true puddle curtains have 6-18 inches of extra fabric fanning out elegantly on the floor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should curtains touch the floor?
Yes, your curtains should reach the floor if you want a decorous, classy look in your home. Floor-length curtains are an excellent way to add layered, refined visuals to a space. But, for easy cleaning, you can keep your curtains 1/2 inches above the floor. However, refrain from using floor-length curtains in kitchens or bathrooms because they can become messy and difficult to maintain.
Should curtains touch the window sill?
Although there’s no hard rule, it’s best to keep the window curtains ½ inches above the window sill to achieve a friendlier and less formal interior. Especially, a kitchen curtain looks the best in sill length.
How much longer should the curtains be than the window?
It is determined by your needs and desired appearance. If you want to add decorative curtains to your kitchen and living rooms, you can go with sill-length, apron-length, or cafe curtains, but if you want a more elegant and formal ambiance, floor-length or break puddle curtains are the best choice.
What length should the curtains be in a bedroom?
Floor-length curtains work the best in a bedroom for an elegant, visually appealing decor. You can even use puddle curtains to design a more homey, romantic atmosphere in your private space.
Should all bedrooms have the same curtains?
No, there is no hard and fast rule that all bedrooms in a house must have the same curtains. Instead, the curtains should reflect the people who will be using the room as well as the type of interior style desired in the room.
Which curtain heading uses the most fabric?
Generally, all pleated curtains require a good amount of curtain fabric, but triple pleat and butterfly pleat curtains require the most fabric to achieve their lovely full appearance.
Curtains can make or break the aesthetics of a room, so choosing the right curtain type based on the space and people’s needs is critical. A variety of factors influence curtain design, including fabric, length, designs, hardware, and so on. And you must choose a suitable curtain for it all.
So, use this guide to get detailed information about different types of curtains available in the market and choose the most suitable ones for your home.
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