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Curtain Do's and Don'ts

Things to Know Before You Buy Curtains

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Formal Dining Room Image

Formal Dining Room by Christopher Barson

flickr.com/Christopher Barson
Framing windows with long curtains and drapes is a great way to add glamour and personality to a room, but before you head out to the store to buy some check out these curtain do's and don'ts.

DO think long and hard about what color and pattern to use. Curtains take up a large amount of visual space and will have a huge impact on the look of your room.

DON'T skimp on size – Curtains need to have generous proportions. They should always be at least double the width of the window, even if they're going to be drawn most of the time. It's also vital that they be long enough. For a rich and elegant look they can puddle on the floor, and for a more streamlined and clean look they can skim the floor – but they should NEVER be any higher. When drapes are too short they look truncated. If you're getting store-bought panels (as opposed to having them custom made) it's better to buy them too long and then have them hemmed.

DO choose lines panels if you want to control the temperature in the room as well as the amount of light that filters through. A basic cotton lining protects the fabric a little while still allowing some light to filter through; a more insulating lining helps keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer; and a blackout lining is ideal for bedrooms because it doesn't allow any light to filter through.

DON'T forget the hardware. Curtain rods and finials should "match" the fabric. Heavier drapes such as velvets should be on a large and somewhat decorative rods while light silks and sheers can sit on light-weight and more dainty rods. That said, they should also "match" the rest of the room. Make sure they connect to something in the room. For instance, if you've got Lucite lamps or chairs, a Lucite drapery rod might be in order.

DO consider what fabric is best. Cotton is versatile and easy to clean; velvet is luxurious and private but can be a bit heavy for some rooms; sheers are light and graceful but don't offer much in the way of privacy; and wool is heavy but strong enough to hold embellishments like tassels and fringe.

DON'T forget about finials. It may seem like a small thing, but finials at the end of your curtain rod can provide the perfect finishing touch. Remember, a great room is all about the details.

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