Interior Design

How to Choose Curtains: The Ultimate Guide


I’m Holly
My mission is to help you create a timeless home that you love through interior design, DIY, and organization!
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There are so many things that you need to take into consideration when choosing curtains. This ultimate guide on How to Choose Curtains will help you determine the best choice for your space!

How to Choose Curtains

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. For more info, please see my full disclosures here. 

There are so many considerations that need to be made when deciding on the right curtains for your room. Curtains have the opportunity to make or break a room and choosing the wrong ones can take away from the look you’re going for. So how do you know the dos and don’ts of picking curtains? Well let’s go over a few!


How to Choose the Right Curtains

When curtains are chosen correctly, they make a room. There are few things to always keep in mind when choosing curtains for any room or space. We will go into each in more detail, but here are the things to always keep in mind when choosing curtains:

  • Color and Fabric
  • Length
  • Off the Shelf vs. Custom Made

Let’s talk about each in a little bit more detail.

Color and Fabric

When deciding on colors for curtains, you can always count on neutral colors to be timeless, but don’t be afraid to add some color in rooms too if bold is more your style. One thing to always keep in mind is that if you are going to a bright bold color, they will tend to fade a lot quicker than the neutral colors. If you are wanting to just add a little pop of color you can consider striped fabrics, or fabrics with simple patterns.

Some of the fabrics that work best are:

Cotton – cotton panels are easy to care for and give a casual look. They are light enough to let light through, and some you will need to add a cotton liner if you want less light.

Linen – linen panels are casual but also have a tailored look. They are airy and let plenty of natural light through.

Linen/Silk Blend – these curtains have all of beautiful benefits of linen, but give the sheen of silk for a more luxurious look.

Velvet – velvet panels have a more polished look and they block out the most light and heat. They also feel very plush.



Some of the most common curtain lengths are: (I have am image below with all of these lengths).

Apron – apron length panels will fall about 4 inches below the sill. You would normally use apron length on windows that are frequently opened. Also, if you live in a home with a radiator, these would keep the curtains from touching the radiator.

Floor Length – floor length curtains are best when they fall 1/4 inch above the floor.

Puddle Length – puddle length is my favorite for dining rooms, bedrooms, and living areas. It’s a good rule of thumb to have them fall 5-8 inches past the floor.

Off the Shelf vs. Custom Made

Choosing between custom or pre-made is going to depend on your budget. One really great benefit of custom is that it can come in any fabric you can dream off, tailored to fit exactly what you want, and the length is always perfect for the room.

If custom panels are not in your budget, then there are so beautifully pre-made curtains that look custom and no-one would ever know the difference…except your wallet! 🙂

How to Measure and Install Curtains

I know some of you may be starting fresh & not really sure what’s the best way to hang and install curtains. There are a few rules to “curtain hanging etiquette”. Here are a few of the basics to always remember, along with a graphic I made to help you out:

  • Hang your curtains high & wide to make the room feel bigger
  • Always measure 1-3″ above the top edge of the window frame down to where you want the curtain to hang
  • Decide where you want the curtains to end: sill length, apron length or floor length
  • Extend curtain rod 10-12″ past the window frame
  • Hang curtain rod 4-6″ above the window to make the room feel taller
  • Opt for 96″ or longer on curtain length

Curtain Measurement Guide

What Length of Curtains Do I Need

The rule of thumb for most, is that floor length is the way to go. This is mainly because most ready made panels will be made for floor length. However, more and more pre-made panels are being made in puddle length.

I love the option of having puddle length panels in certain rooms where I am going for a more romantic look, like bedrooms and occasionally a living space. With kids and dogs though, puddle length can have you always adjusting and can even rip off the curtain.

Do Curtains Have to Touch the Floor

No they don’t! Apron or sill length is great for areas where radiators are in the way or when there is a deep sill. Or you can go puddle length for a more romantic look. Length is going to depend on the mood you are trying to create in a room.



This post contained affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Guide to Choosing Curtains



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  1. Chrisine says:

    Loving the curtains you picked out plus the way you puddled them on the floor. That’s always a trick I love to do, it feels so luxurious when people do that.

    Happy Memorial Day!

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      Thank you! Yes, I still can’t believe how great they look for the price! Happy Memorial Day! 🙂

  2. Italianbelly says:

    Thanks for the ideas here. The do’s and don’t s are especially helpful. #inspirememonday

  3. Carrie Merth says:

    Thanks for the tips and tricks. I am debating on curtains in my living room. One of these days I need to make a decision… oh the drama!!!

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      I know how you feel! It took me forever to change out these curtains, but I am so glad I did! 🙂

  4. Ali B says:

    I so needed to read this! We have lived in our home for almost 5 years with those cheap generic blinds. We have wanted to get curtains, but I wasn’t sure which size to get. Thanks for the tips!

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      So glad you found it helpful! Good luck on the curtains search! It makes such a huge difference 😉

  5. Beverly says:

    Great tips, Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts at Over The Moon Party.
    See you next week.

  6. Great information here and beautiful choices.

  7. Vanessa says:

    These are beautiful curtains and I love how they look. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party.

  8. Mary says:

    Holly your curtains are beautiful. I also like Ikea’s curtains they are cotton and a great value for the price. And your tutorial is spot on. I don’t know why but when I hung my curtain rods years ago they were way too low. Has it always been the rule to hang them as high up to the ceiling as possible or is this a new trend?

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      I love them too! Well, I have always read in Home Decor books that was what you were supposed to do in order to make the space feel larger and open it up. I don’t think it was ever really talked about a lot though until a few years ago when people were able to start getting their decor out on sites like Pinterest! Until Pinterest unless you read it in a book, you didn’t know! ha

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