Choosing curtains can seem like an overwhelming task. There is a lot to consider, from fabric, to headings, to tracks and rods. We’ve put together this guide to help you get started.

Consider your space

When choosing curtains the first step is figuring out what you are trying to achieve. Is it privacy? Creating a dark space for sleeping? Finishing off an interior design scheme? In most cases there will be a number of things you are looking for. Make a list of requirements and then put them in order of importance – this will help inform the decisions you make in the next steps. For example, in a bedroom you might have blocking light for sleeping at the top, then daytime privacy, hardy fabric that will withstand the sun that streams in during the day, and a soft floaty feel to soften the room.

Consider also the practical aspects of the space. Is the room one that has several windows that you will need to cover? How much of the overall area will be covered when the curtains are drawn? What direction does the sun come from? If you are covering a door how often will it be open, do you need to consider holdbacks to ensure the curtains aren’t blowing in and out with the breeze? Where will your curtains go when they are open? Is there enough space on the window for them to be stacked on either side? If not perhaps you will have them all pulling to one end – this is especially handy for areas that have a larger wall space on one side of the window, or for a ranchslider to ensure the fabric does not blow around when the door is open.

Will you be using a single track/rod with lined curtains, or a double so that you can have a separate lining behind the fabric?

Choosing a fabric

When choosing curtains this is the most crucial step from a visual standpoint. Consider the style of the room, and how you would like it to feel. Do you want soft and romantic? Bright and colourful? Neural and textured? Are your curtains going to be a feature, or a backdrop to the space? What is the interior scheme of the room? Is there a view you want to be the ‘hero’, or will you be choosing a bold fabric that will distract from what is outside the window? Will you use a solid or patterned fabric? A sheer can be drawn during the day for privacy while still allowing a view of the outside.

Next think about the practical aspects of the fabric. If the space gets a lot of intense sun you might choose a man made fabric over a natural one as these  will better endure the sun and heat. Natural fabrics are more prone to fading, movement and eventual disintegration, whereas man made ones will hold up better to environmental factors. Do you want heavier drapes of a light floaty look? If it is a patterned fabric how will it look when all of the curtains are drawn?

Pick a suitable lining

When choosing curtains it is also important to consider what lining will be used. Linings will help to protect the fabric, and are the most important factor for controlling light flow. For a full block out effect and maximum heat retention a coated lining is required. Triple weave dim out fabrics are great for bedrooms where you don’t require absolute blockout, and work really nicely on a double track as they fall beautifully. Where light blocking is not a requirement a thinner polycotton lining will help to protect your fabric from fading. If you get a lot of condensation a wipeable anti-mould lining will help to extend the life of the curtains.

Decide on a track or a rod

The next step when choosing curtains is to decide whether you will be using a track or a rod. Tracks are hidden by the top of the curtains when they are drawn, whereas rods sit above the curtain as a feature. When choosing tracks it is advisable to use a colour that blends in with the wall, when choosing a rod there are finials (decorative elements on the ends) to consider. If you are in the pre-building stage you might like to consider tracks that are in the ceiling cavity so they will be hidden from view. To achieve a similar look in a home that is already completed you can choose a track that is fixed to the ceiling, rather than to the wall.

How will you draw your curtains? By hand? With a cord? By a press of a button with a motorised track? If using a double track/rod perhaps you might get a cord draw for the rear track (closest to the window) and have a hand drawn one for the front.

Choose a heading

Depending on the look you are going for, and the fabric you are using there are a number of headings to choose from. Have a search on Google to see what style you like. For a simple clean look an inverted pleat does a great job. Wave tops allow for a beautiful fall, however be aware that these will require a specialised track. A pinch pleat or goblet heading can give a sense of formality to a room.

Confirm length

Will your curtains be kissing the floor, or pooling on the floor? Stiffer fabrics will work better just skimming, where as softer more drapey fabrics are beautiful with a pool. If pooling make sure there is at least 20mm of fabric on the ground to ensure it looks intentional, and not just as though your curtains are slightly too long!

Natural fabrics are more effected by heat and damp, the fibers within them will expand and contract depending on the environment. This can cause them to move up and down. For this reason it important to always allow for pooling of these fabrics, to avoid them from riding up the wall when the fabrics are contracted.


The final step to choosing curtains is measuring. To find out the length of your curtains you need first of all to decide where the track/rod will sit. Longer curtains will trick the eye into believing the ceiling is higher, giving a sense of space and openness. Tracks can be attached directly to the ceiling, or to the wall just below the ceiling. Rods look great when they are fixed about 2/3 of the way between the top of the window frame and the ceiling. Whether using track or rad be careful to make sure they are at least 100mm above the window frame whenever possible. Be sure to include allowance for pooling in your calculations.

To measure the required width measure the length of the window and then add room for stacking. A good rule of thumb is to add 300mm to each end to ensure the curtains are drawn off the glass. For larger windows this will need to be increased.

I hope you have found this guide to choosing curtains useful. Pop a comment below to let me know which aspect was most helpful.

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