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The 10 Best Curtains for Any Room, From Sleek Panels to Embroidered Drapes

Aug 06, 2023Aug 06, 2023

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My younger sister recently moved into her college dorm room. Days before, she asked me to compile a list of stuff she needed (and would likely forget to bring). The one item I forgot to include: curtains. The weekend before move-in day, we ran to the store to pick up a couple of panels—only to quickly realize that we were poorly prepared, having sorely underestimated the amount of info needed to shop for the right one. What type of window were we dealing with? Did it come with any hardware already mounted? We had no clue which size curtain to get or what accessories we needed to hang them. So we went home empty-handed—and proceeded to spend all night reading up on how to pick the perfect curtain.

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When we finally got to see the window in person and take down all the required measurements (triple-checking our calculations), we immediately got to work, hunting for the best curtains for her room. We carefully considered each hanging option (should we go with rod pocket, eyelets, back tabs, or hanging loops?), collected all the tools we needed (thanks, Dad), and educated ourselves on the various types of materials curtains are made of (who knew there were so many?). We wanted to go with a fairly heavyweight fabric that would filter out most light (since her dorm is east-facing, so it gets a high dose of sun in the morning), made with a breathable polyester blend that wouldn’t pill or fade over time. And the window didn’t have standard dimensions, so we had to go with a highly customizable option.

Read on for everything we learned along the way, including the most important points to keep in mind while shopping for the best curtain for your space.

Shading Rate: The first step to figuring out the best curtain for your room is to consider the amount of sunshine you want it to filter. Shading rate refers to the percent of light that a curtain prevents from shining through. The more opaque it is, the higher the percentage. For living rooms and other daytime common areas, 40 to 60 percent is ideal, while bedroom drapes typically have more than a 70 percent shading rate. Note: Sheer fabrics are better for spaces that are meant to be bright (such as sunrooms), and room-darkening curtains work best in bedrooms, since they provide more privacy and are designed to block the most light.

Dimensions: When it comes to curtains, size matters. As a rule of thumb, to create a full look, the width of your curtains should span at least twice the width of your curtain rod or track. So if your rod is 36 inches wide (between end caps), you’ll need two curtain panels that total at least 72 inches in width. For extra fullness, multiply the rod’s width by 2.5 to 3. The lighter the fabric, the higher the multiplier you should use. The last thing you want is a panel that hangs flat, without any volume.

To calculate the proper length, measure the distance from the curtain rod to the floor. If you’re looking to hang floor-length panels, subtract three-eighths of an inch to the rod-to-floor distance. But if you want the curtains to brush the ground, add 1 to 3 inches—and for an extravagant puddle effect, add 6 to 12 inches. Note that standard curtain lengths are 63, 84, 96, 108, and 120 inches. When it comes to measuring, it’s always better to round up and check twice!

Materials: Curtains come in countless fabrics, from organic cotton and silk to rayon and polyester. Every material has its pros and cons, so you should choose the one that best suits your preferred form and function. Velvet, for instance, is great for providing thermal insulation and protection from the sun—but it’s also a magnet for dust and fairly difficult to clean. Linen is U.V.-resistant and hypoallergenic (not to mention good at repelling insects) but creases easily and can attract mold or mildew. And polyester is affordable, durable, and easy to maintain—but it’s not very eco-friendly. Whichever you choose, make sure it aligns with your personal needs and values.

Add a dash of opulence to your space with this sleek panel. Made of 100 percent raw silk and lined with cotton, the rich spread is less prone to wrinkles and weighted for a smooth drape. Note: The curtain also comes in two longer sizes—108 inches and 120 inches—which are available in additional colors.

Material: Silk and cotton. Dimensions: 52 x 84 inches.Colors Available: 5.

Price: $255

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Fairly new to the luxury homeware scene, Quince offers high-quality, sustainably made products at prices that are hard to beat. Made of an OEKO-TEX-certified cotton blend with a slight lustrous sheen, the brand’s take on velvet drapes is lighter than most—yet still polished and dramatic. Available in four versatile colors (I personally love the champagne hue), it’ll instantly glam up any room.

Material: Viscose and cotton. Dimensions: 48 x 84 inches; 48 x 96 inches; 48 x 108 inches.Colors Available: 4.

Price: $From $119

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Peri Home specializes in soft, dreamy textures. This sumptuous floral curtain from the Australian heritage brand showcases a beautiful and subtle embroidered pattern that effortlessly adds warmth and depth to any room. Made of plush chenille fabric that’s OEKO-TEX certified, it’ll make your space feel polished and sophisticated, along with cozy and inviting.

Material: Polyester and cotton.Dimensions: 50 x 84 inches.Colors Available: 2.

Price: $245

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Great for dayrooms, this airy curtain from West Elm—a fine blend of cotton and European flax—softens the harsh rays of the sun while still letting plenty of light in. Featuring a subtle geometric pattern reminiscent of stained-glass shapes, it can hang two ways—bunched or pleated and is super easy to care for (read: machine-washable).

Material: Cotton and flax linen.Dimensions: 48 x 84 inches; 48 x 96 inches; 48 x 108 inches.Colors Available: 1.

Price: $From $79

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If street lamps keep you from falling asleep and the smallest sunbeam can easily disrupt your slumber, it’s wise to buy a pair of blackout curtains (which have a 100 percent shading rate). The best one in my book is this customizable, made-to-order panel, which features multiple hanging options and is available in almost every size. Crafted with organic, OEKO-TEX certified materials, the white backdrop (who says blackout curtains have to be black?) will make your room feel clean and bright—without letting any unwanted light shine through.

Material: Belgian flax linen and polyester. Dimensions: 24 – 156 x 24 – 180 inches.Colors Available: 1.

Price: $From $55

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In creating this CB2 exclusive for the Black in Design Collective, Lani Adeoye drew inspiration from traditional hand-painted textile patterns created by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The machine-washable drapes are made of 100 percent organic cotton, which is exclusively grown using water- and energy-saving methods that have a low impact on the environment (read: without any synthetic fertilizers or persistent pesticides).

Material: Organic cotton.Dimensions: 48 x 84 inches; 48 x 96 inches; 48 x 108 inches; 48 x 120 inchesColors Available: 2.

Price: $109

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Twopages’s pleated drapes come in over three dozen shades (we went with Green Banana) and can be tailored to fit any window size. You can choose from six types of liners (with varying degrees of fabric weight and shading rate), and the hanging header style (hooks are included!). The panel can also be “trained” to keep its shape, ensuring the fabric folds maintain a crisp vertical line from top to bottom. For a more refined look, add a matching tieback.

Material: Polyester and cotton.Dimensions: 18 – 240 x 30 – 236 inches.Colors Available: 37.

Price: $From $65

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Very few retailers offer a range of bohemian styles like Anthropologie. This includes an assortment of pieces from All Roads, particularly the Yucca curtain. The two panels, cast in dreamy earthtones evoke a sense of calm, while the playful tassel that fringe the sides lend a sweet touch. It is both relaxed and refined, a worthy addition to any home that radiates the same vibe.

Material: Cotton, acrylic, and wool. Dimensions: 108 x 50 inches; 63 x 50 inches; 96 x 50 inches; 84 x 50 inches. Colors Available: 1.

Price: $From $108

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Founded by Erin Banta and Kelsey Brown, New York–based Pepper Home is celebrated for its elegant textiles, the kinds of styles that make interiors pop. The DTC label has a particular focus on southern and coastal motifs, covering its pieces in patterns that are perfect for posh apartments or stately residences with oceanfront views. Indeed, all its custom-made collections imbue an unmissable charm.

Material: Cotton.Dimensions: Custom.Colors Available: 8.

Price: $From $118

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Featuring a gender-neutral star pattern, this cheerful curtain is a charming addition to any nursery or playroom. Super soft and easy to wash, the semi-sheer drape is made of organic cotton that’s grown and harvested without chemicals or pesticides. The sustainable fabric is also certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which bans the use of harmful substances at every stage of manufacturing—so you and your little ones can rest easy.

Material: Cotton percale.Dimensions: 44 x 63 inches; 44 x 84 inches. Colors Available: 3.

Price: $From $59

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