Curtain Patterns
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Last updated: Friday, April 11, 2008 | 7028 Views

When it comes to selecting curtain fabrics, it’s tempting to go with a solid color.

We’ve been told, after all, that using too many patterns will overwhelm a room and make it look too busy.

So if you have an upholstered plaid sofa or a pair of flowered armchairs, curtain patterns are a no-no, correct?

Not necessarily.

The keys to making curtain patterns work are right at your fingertips.

Read on to learn more about choosing curtain patterns.

Curtain Design Tips

In order to create a cohesive room, you need each element to tie into the overall theme. Every piece of furniture, fabric, and accessory should fit in with the color and/or style of the room.

So if your room is done in blue and white French country, then every element should have blue or white in it OR should be French country.

For example, you might find a set of red plates in the French country style. Hanging them on one wall as a decorative statement would really make them pop against the blue and white room. Of course, every rule is meant to be broken, but this is a good starting point design-wise.

When it comes to making custom curtains, the idea is the same. Your curtains should tie into the overall scheme but not necessarily duplicate it. Actually, a room with a sofa, armchairs, and curtains all in the same fabric pattern would either be boring or overwhelming depending on the pattern.

What you want is to pick up one or two of the colors found throughout the room and make sure that they are a part of your curtain pattern.

One of the most attractive window treatments out there, which really makes for cohesive rooms, is to use exactly the same colors in the window treatments and upholstery fabrics.

For example, the upholstery could be white, turquoise, and coral plaid, whereas the curtain fabrics could pick up the same colors in a floral print. This ties them together and adds visual interest.

Curtain Pattern Options

So once you’ve decided that patterned curtains are the way to go, how do you decide what fabrics to use? Fabric patterns generally lend themselves to various styles like formal or modern rooms. Consider the following options:

  • Brocade – Brocade is often found in formal dining rooms or living areas. It has a raised design woven into cotton, silk, or wool. Depending on the base material, the brocade will be either medium or heavy weight. Most brocades are floral-patterned, although other options such as fleur de lis do exist.
  • Calico – If you’re looking for a more inexpensive and casual curtain pattern, calico might be the right choice for you. Calico is characterized by a small pattern of printed florals on cotton, and it makes a great choice for café style curtains.
  • Chintz – If you’re looking for a patterned fabric for a formal room that isn’t as heavy as brocade or damask, try chintz. Chintz is a smooth, shiny fabric printed with multicolored patterns on a lighter background.
  • Damask – Damask is one of the most popular curtain fabrics, with a raised pattern like brocade. However, it’s a little thinner. It comes in a variety of patterns including floral and fleur de lis.
  • Gingham – Gingham is another casual fabric pattern and is often found in kitchens. It’s characterized by a check pattern, usually light in color, and made out of cotton or synthetics.
  • Matelasse – Another heavy fabric with a raised design like brocade and damask, matelasse is generally less formal than the other two. Because of the weaving process, the design of matelasse is less even and more unfinished looking than in the other two fabric types.
  • Natural Weaves – In a natural weave, the fibers themselves are rough and uneven, resulting in a bumpy, textured fabric that may have some small gaps. Fabrics may be stiff like canvas or may be even more textured and almost nubby. Natural weaves look great in rooms with wilderness themes or pared-down modern vibes.
  • Tapestry – Tapestries depict very deeply textured designs or scenes and usually work best in formal rooms. They also tend to be expensive.
  • Ticking – One additional casual option is ticking, a pattern of alternating dark and light vertical strips. Ticking is a vertically striped fabric incorporating a pattern of darker stripes on a light background. Ticking is named after the printed fabric traditionally used to cover mattresses.


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