There’s a fine difference between curtains and drapes.
If you’re looking for a functional window treatment that will block strong morning sun or keep your neighbors from watching you walk around in your bathrobe each morning, then most people will say you need a “curtain.”
If style is more important than function and you’re seeking a more formal look, then most people will use the term “drape” to describe your desired window treatment. Some people also use the terms interchangeably.
In this article, we’ll look at formal, decorative window treatments.
About Window Drapes
While drapes tend to be decorative, they can also serve a purpose. Most drapes are made out of heavier fabrics which help to alleviate problems associated with drafty windows.
You can up the insulation quotient by purchasing lined drapes and save money on your heating bills.
Most people use drapes as a stationary window treatment rather than one that can be opened and closed with a pull cord, so if you want to be able to close off a window due to strong sunlight, you may need to pair them with another treatment like a roller blind or sheer curtains to get the function you want.
Window drapes can be purchased at the store if you’ve got a basic style and fabric in mind, but more specialized looks may require custom or homemade drapes.
Custom looks can be rather expensive, but you may be able to get a custom look for less if you’re willing to put a little work into it.
Consider purchasing a set of mass-produced drapes and customizing them with accessories.
By layering drapes in complimentary colors, picking decorative tiebacks such as tasseled or ornate ironwork versions, and using decorative finials or wall sconces to dress up the curtain rod, you can often come up with a beautiful, custom-look window treatment. You might also try searching for vintage drapes, which are often more affordable than custom drapes.
Choosing the Right Drapery Fabric
You have a lot of options when it comes to drapery fabric, and each will impart a different look to your rooms as well as having different maintenance requirements.
Consider the following options when selecting the right fabric for your new drapes:
- Cotton – Cotton has the advantages of being easy to care for, sturdy, and available in patterns and colors to suit any room. However, wrinkling may be a problem, and cotton doesn’t hold up well in a lot of sunlight.
- Silk – Silk is shiny and opulent-looking, but it doesn’t hold up very well. It’s prone to water spotting and fading, and it’s also relatively expensive.
- Linen – Like cotton, linen is known for its sturdiness. But it’s also comparatively stiff and prone to shrinking.
- Rayon – Rayon hangs well, but it doesn’t handle well. It will crease and shrink unless it’s treated.
- Synthetics – Synthetics like acrylic and polyester blends are generally affordable and wear well, but most are prone to pilling.
Choosing the Right Type of Drapes for your Windows
When it comes to selecting drapes, your choice can make all the difference between a drapery treatment that works and one that doesn’t.
Consider the following choices and tips when you’re choosing window drapes:
- Lined Drapes – Lined or insulated drapes have an extra layer of fabric on the inside. If left closed, they let lined drapes let in very little light and help insulate against drafts. Unlined drapes, on the other hand, may be somewhat sheer depending on the fabric you choose, so you should still see a little light when they are closed. Choose insulated drapes if your windows are particularly drafty, if you have a home theater that requires complete darkness, or if you like the look. Lined drapes hang differently and keep their shape better than most unlined versions.
- Pleated Drapes – Most drapes are pleated, although it’s possible to find unpleated versions if you look hard enough. Your job is to select the style of pleats that you like the best. Drapes can be pleated by tying them together with a sash, creating a more casual look, but most will have a more formal vibe. Box pleats, for example, are created when vertical stripes are sewn into the top of the fabric. Pencil pleats are smaller and more subtle. And French pleats are formed when groups of three pleats are made close together.
- Drapery Length – Most drapes are long, accentuating the height of the windows and the room for a more dramatic look. Consider hanging drapes up near the ceiling to create a formal sitting room vibe, or allow them to puddle on the floor for a feeling of opulence.