Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How To Choose Curtains {and not lose your sanity}

I waited seven months after moving in to our new house before purchasing curtains for our family room. I took my time looking for just the right ones and made sure I got exactly what I wanted. I am THRILLED with the result!

{my curtains!!}

Choosing curtains can be a harrowing experience! Maybe what I learned in the process will take the pain of out your decision.

1. Know your needs.
FUNCTION: We love the view of the back yard and didn't want to obstruct it. Light control isn't an issue and neither is privacy so our curtains were really just for looks. Do yours need to block light, provide privacy or disguise an unattractive view? That will help determine the type of fabric, whether they're lined or not and how much width you need.

FORM: Do you want something trendy? Traditional? Do you plan to replace them in two years...or ten? Do they need to be stationary or open and close easily? All of that will help guide your shopping AND determine whether to get rod pockets, ones with grommets or ones that clip on.

CARE: We have young kids and live in the desert where there is a lot of dust so we knew they needed to be machine washable, too. Check the care instructions before purchasing. If they are 'dry clean only,' add the cost of dry cleaning to the price tag.

{we hung them so that they 'kissed' the floor}

2. Are you going for neutral or WOW? Figure out whether you need curtains that are A: neutral so that they calm the room down and blend in to the walls or B. have a WOW factor to bring pattern and color into your otherwise-bland room. This will help you narrow down your search considerably and make sure you don't end up with curtains that overpower (or underwhelm) the entire room.

Some people invest in neutral furniture and paint the walls in calm colors then bring in the POP of color with things that are easier to change like accessories, pillows and curtains. Then maybe colorful, eye-catching curtains are right for you. You might be better off buying fun fabric and making your own. I can't help ya on that one.

Other people love to paint the walls in bold colors and decorate with colorful, funky decor and furniture. Those people may need neutral curtains that won't take attention away from the more exciting elements of the room. These people will have an easier time finding ready-made curtains because most retailers offer a wide selection of plain curtains in tame colors and patterns that will work in the most rooms.

As my husband pointed out, I will always want to have bright, funky furnishings and accessories, so I need more neutral curtains to keep things from being TOO eclectic and loud.

We had actually originally set out to have gray walls and ended up with a gorgeous shade a blue-green that we adore. So we took the opportunity to 'get our gray' with our curtains. Plus gray is my hubby's favorite color so he feels like he won this one. Which really means a win for ME.

{I still get to enjoy the view of the yard}

3. Get a vision and don't settle for less.
Curtains really set the tone for a room and make a BIG impact on the space. Decide how you want the room to look and feel. Collect images and shop around. Make sure your curtains fit your vision before purchasing. If you're not sure or the effect is just an "Eh, it's ok" reaction then pass them up and move on. It's worth the wait!

{both windows}

4. Budget first.
How much do you want to spend? Take into account how many windows you have and how many panels you will need. If we'd needed to close our curtains, I'd have needed FOUR panels per window instead of two which would have DOUBLED the cost! And don't forget about rods. They can be even more expensive than the curtains themselves.

{they have an ikat-esque pattern}

5. Try before you buy.
Like paint, I HIGHLY recommend buying one of the curtains your plan to buy (or a large swatch of the fabric you intend to use) to put ON your window before committing to doing the entire room. Look at how the light filters through it, how it looks at night, how the pattern 'reads' from across the room (maybe you need a smaller or larger-scale pattern?) and how it fit into the overall scheme of the room. Look at it from the other side of the window, too.

We duct taped the 84' version that was available at the store up to our window so we could get an idea of the feel throughout the day. I was in love.

I am so glad I took my time and shopped around. I couldn't be more happy with how the room is coming together!

Mine are "Sorrento" by Cindy Crawford in Skyline Gray from JC Penney. I ordered the 108" length on-line and had it shipped to my house for free. They arrived in three days!

Are you frustrated by all the curtain choices out there? How are you narrowing down your search?

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