Window fittings are one of the most important planning decisions you will make when moving into a new home or renovating an existing one. In a traditional decor, curtains are by far the most preferred choice, and their easy availability in home stores make them fairly accessible. They are stylistic design components that enhance a space with variety, delicacy, and beauty, in addition to fulfilling their fundamental role of privacy and light control.
However, in a hurry to go shopping, it’s easy to make mistakes and disregard subtleties that are fundamental to getting the most out of your curtains. Therefore in this article, we list the most common mistakes to avoid while buying custom curtains and hope these help in making your next shopping trip for drapes an absolute success. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Wrong estimation of width
Softly rounded pleats are the distinguishing trait of curtains that set them apart from all other window treatments. Therefore, the worst possible look of a curtain is that of a miserably sparse sheet-like flat surface pulled from one end of the window frame to the other. To get the best look of a drapery set, always consider the width as twice that of the actual width of the window, including the extended area on both sides to ensure stacking room for the curtain panels.
So, if your window is 30 inches wide, add 6 inches on both sides for the stacking room and count it as 42 inches. Then, the curtain width should not be less than 84 inches – that is 2x fullness. If you want a more sumptuous look and especially if you are using very delicate fabrics like sheers or silks, 3x fullness is recommended.
2. Choosing unusual/wrong length
If the width of the drapery panel ensures its rich gather at the pleats, the length ensures its stylishly elegant fall. The longer the drape, the better the fall. Hence, floor-length drapes that are short of an inch to touch the floor or lightly touch the floor are recommended for all rooms with a few exceptions. Sill-length is the next best option in these exceptional cases where windows have radiators, furniture, or countertops underneath, or if the floors are often wet as in bathrooms and kitchens, or in case kids and pets have easy access to them. This length facilitates ease for opening and closing the curtains, and is therefore, highly recommended for frequently used windows too.
Ceiling-to-floor puddled drapes are the luxurious best of drapery, but ideal only for rooms where aesthetics overrules functionality. Cafe curtains that cover the lower half of a window are recommended for kitchens and bathrooms as they allow in plenty of light and air while also providing adequate privacy. Curtains should ideally stick to one of these categories in length, else they fail to look pleasing to the eye. When deciding the length of the curtains for each room, never lose sight of the functional aspect as you strive to achieve its most aesthetic appeal.
3. Incorrect position and size of pole
If the curtain pole or track is placed very close to the edge of the window height, it will look out of place and also allow light to leak in from above. Mount the curtain pole at least 6 inches above the window frame. If your window is only a few inches from the ceiling, consider mounting your hardware directly on the ceiling or as close to it as you can on the wall. Hanging your curtains close to the ceiling creates an additional level of illusion and also prevents light from spilling from above.
Another common error concerns the length of the pole/track itself. If the pole is kept exactly the same length as your window, the curtain will cover part of your window when stacked on the sides, blocking light and view, while also making the windows look smaller than they are. To avoid this, extend the pole a few inches past the frame edge on each side. The extra width allows for drapes to stack on the wides without hampering light or view, while also making the window appear larger.
4. Not lining the curtains
Unless you have opted for sheer drapes, not lining the curtains or your carefully planned custom roman shades can reduce their life and also leave an impression of sloppiness. The lining gives the curtains an extravagant volume, making them fall in rich and full pleats. It also extends the life of curtains and other furnishings in the room by protecting them against harsh sunlight and premature aging over time. While blackout lining may not be needed in a living room, standard privacy lining is highly recommended.
5. Incorrect heading style
The heading style on the curtains characterizes their personality and decor style. There are more than twelve heading styles you can choose from to find one that suits your room’s decor style and your personal aesthetic.
Choosing the right heading style that fits the stylistic foundation and purpose of the space and also meets the functional purpose of drapes is crucial. For example, pinch pleat drapes are more suited to formal spaces, while grommets and flat-panel curtains reign in laid-back rooms.
Curtain specialists strongly recommend that you also think about the frequency and degree of usage of your drapes before deciding on the heading style. For example, if the drapes will be open and shut frequently, opt for a style that glides on rings or grommets, and stay away from rod pocket tops or back tab tops that do not glide as easily.
6. Hanging curtains straight out of the box
While this tip has nothing to do with the purchase, it is a stage that is often overlooked by customers who are in a hurry to hang the curtains. To get the best look for your drapes, don’t hang them straight out of the box. Train the fabric to form well-rounded pleats in the right places. Here’s how you do it –
Iron them gently to clear the wrinkles formed by the packaging. Then hang them on the pole and fold them in at the pleats with your hands as you gather them. Tie them up loosely at three or four positions and keep them so for at least two weeks. Or, you can steam iron them while they are tied up to expedite the process for up to 2-3 days. This will ensure that your drapes don’t flare at the bottom, and fall in uniform, straight pleats much faster than they would without training.
Now that you know what are the mistakes you must avoid when shopping for drapery panels for your windows, all you have to do is to avoid them. Since windows easily take up much of the visual space of the room, their design should always be chosen with utmost forethought. Done right, they can make your rooms stunning but miss the mark and you’ll find the entire room design on a slippery slope. Shop wise so that you don’t have to shop twice.