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How to Purchase Curtains Correctly: A Complete Guide

When chosen and measured correctly, curtains can make a very big impact on the aesthetics of any home or office. The right curtains can turn an ordinary living room into an elegant area for entertaining, make a drab kitchen tasteful and inviting, add a touch of color and flair anywhere they are hung and also help you cut-down on your energy bills. In short, curtains can, and do, make any home space more livable.

When purchasing curtains for any room,  it is vitally important to consider the following 5 Factors in order to get the most pleasing results.

  1.         Size
  2.         Fabrics
  3.         Color
  4.         Functionality
  5.         Price

In order to help you make the best curtain choices for your home, we’re going to take a look at all 5 of these factors and break them down for you, so that you fully understand why and how they work, and can make the best decision when it’s time to make your curtain purchase.

FACTOR #1 - SIZE

Measuring the space where your curtains will be hung is vitally important to get the best aesthetic results. In fact, when properly measured, most curtains will greatly enhance the appearance of any room and can even make a room appear to be bigger than it actually is.

The two main measurements for curtains are length and width, with the caveat that width must include both the size of the space to be covered as well as extra fabric for pleating.

In order to correctly measure curtains you will need:

1- A metal tape measure

2- Paper and pencil

3- A level ruler (which is optional but can be helpful)

 

Mental rulerPaper and pencil

 

NOTE: It is NOT recommended to use a cloth measuring tape as this may give you an incorrect measurement.

Also, since curtains are normally a window treatment, and since all window treatments are traditionally measured width by length, the width should always be measured first.

Measuring the correct WIDTH

1- Measuring your Track or Pole

For a curtain TRACK, the full length of the track from one end to the other should be measured.

Curtain poles

Track

For a curtain POLE, the entire pole should be measured NOT INCLUDING the finals, which are decorative pieces typically placed on the end of curtain poles.

Curtain poles

Pole

2- Track or Pole Placement.

The track or pole should be placed approximately 15cm higher than the window itself, and should also be approximately 15 to 20cm wider than the window on both sides (Thus, 30cm to 40cm longer overall.)

Curtains wireframe

3- Multiply the width.

Keep in mind that the width of the track or pole must be multiplied if you want your curtains to have pleats. If not, there will be enough fabric to cover the window but the curtains will not have enough fabric pleats (but instead be completely flat and unattractive).

For a PENCIL PLEAT curtain, multiply the width X2.

For a GROMMET curtain, multiply the width X2.

For a HOOKTOP curtain, multiply the width X2. 

For a ROD POCKET curtain, multiply the width X2.

For a TAB TOP curtain, multiply the width X1.5.

As you can see, the width of your curtains should actually be about double the width of your track or pole. Keep this in mind when you’re shopping for your new curtains.

At Koikaa, you can simply enter your track width and length, we will automatically calculate the curtain width according to each heading option and provide you with a price.

Curtain measurement

Also, if you’d like your curtains to overlap slightly in the middle, you can add another 2.5cm (approx. 1 inch) to each side. In this case, just add an additional 2.5 cm at the track width box.

NOTE: If you’re still unsure about how to measure for your new curtains, check out How to measure curtains.

Measuring the correct LENGTH

When measuring curtain length, you must first determine where you want your curtains to end. (The ‘end point’.)

1- At the window’s sill  (1.25cm or .5 inches above the sill)

2- Below the window’s sill  (15 cm or 6 inches below the sill)

3- At the floor (1.35cm or .5 inches above the floor)

Curtain sizes

To get the correct length, use your metal measuring tape and start from the top of the track or pole to the end point of your choice.

FACTOR #2 - FABRICS

While the proper measurements are obviously vital, one of the most important choices that you’ll be making when you purchase new curtains is the fabric. Indeed, the type of fabric you choose can have a huge impact on the ‘vibe’ that your living, dining, kitchen or bedroom has once the new curtains are hung.

If a sunnier, lighter and more inviting feel is what you’re seeking, fabrics like linen, chenille or burlap are probably a better choice as they can help create an airy, casual and more open vibe.

On the other hand, if darkening a room is your goal, (or keeping out the heat and/or cold), you should choose heavier materials for your curtains like decorator fabrics with a high thread count. Cotton-blend chintzes, warp sateens and antique satins are the best for this. Velvet can also be used for a more regal and traditional look.

Whatever fabric you choose, make sure to do your due diligence and take a closer look at them before you purchase. Unwind a few bolts and feel the actual fabric on your fingers to assess the texture and, if possible, transparency. Bunch it together to see how it gathers and drapes. These are the characteristics you need to know before purchasing, as they will determine how the curtains will look once they’re finished and hanging in your home or office.

In fact, you can order free fabric samples with any product at Koikaa

Polyester and Cotton Curtains (Polycotton blends)

As we’ve seen, cotton curtains are soft, easy to clean and don’t absorb odors, but they tend to shrink and wrinkle after washing.  On the other hand, polyester curtains don’t shrink or wrinkle and dry quickly, but the fabric isn’t as soft or inviting and they absorb odors.

A poly cotton blend however combines the best of both worlds without the negative aspects of either, leaving you with a fabric that’s durable, soft, less flammable and resists shrinking and wrinkling while also being less expensive and flame resistant.

100% Cotton

One of the most popular fabrics on the planet, cotton is used the world over for many different purposes, including, naturally, curtains. In fact, cotton curtains have traditionally been the #1 choice for many homeowners because they’re soft, very easy to clean, extremely durable and long lasting. One caveat with cotton curtains however is this; cotton shrinks and wrinkles very easily after washing. It is suggested that cotton curtains be hung wet after washing and allowed to air-dry in order to keep wrinkling and shrinking to a minimum. Like burlap, cotton curtains are fresh, inviting and offer plenty of UV protection for your home’s interior.

100% Polyester

A synthetic (man-made) fabric, polyester is incredibly versatile and, as such, can be manufactured to replicate the look of many other, more expensive, fabrics.

Polyester has a number of excellent benefits when used as a base material for curtains. Not only is it very durable, but polyester is highly wrinkle-hesitant, doesn’t stretch or shrink, and dries very quickly.

On the other hand, polyester curtains have the nasty habit of absorbing household odors and holding on to them for a long time.  They are also very flammable, which is the main reason polyester curtains are not recommended for use in and around the kitchen.

Cotton/Linen Curtains

Both manufactured from natural fibers, cotton and linen make a wonderful combination when used to make curtains, giving any room a softer, cooler and fresher look (although, like cotton alone, cotton/linen curtains are very prone to wrinkling and shrinking). Cotton/linen curtains can be used in virtually any room of the home and, if done correctly, will look wonderful.

LINEN AND COTTON CURTAINS

Burlap

A natural fabric made from jute or flax fibers, burlap is 100% biodegradable and an environmentally friendly fiber (much like cotton). Burlap is also quite strong and very durable, and curtains made using burlap will create a soft, natural look for your room that is reminiscent of an antique shop. Burlap curtains are perfect for their combination of privacy and sun protection.

Velvet Curtains

Velvet is a heavy fabric that keeps out the cold, making these window treatments ideal insulators for homes with drafty windows. Thanks to their thickness, velvet curtains provide extra privacy and help to block sounds and light. Velvet curtains drape well, so they offer a polished look that dresses up formal dining rooms, traditionally styled living rooms, or regal master bedrooms. 

Velvet fabrics

FACTOR #3 - COLOR

Choosing the correct curtain colors for any room is probably the most difficult choice you’ll have to make, as the color will influence every other factor.  A well-chosen color can turn a drab room into an inviting oasis, or make a small, dark room even smaller and darker if chosen incorrectly. (Unless you want to have a small, dark room, of course.)

One of the biggest questions about color is simply this; do you want your new curtains to stand out, and be the center of attention, or do you want them to blend in with your established decor and add to the room without drawing too much attention?

STAND OUT-  For curtains to stand out, you’ll need to choose a color that’s much different from the wall and/or floor covering color. Darker walls and floors would thus have lighter colors for curtains and vice-versa:

Stand out

BLEND IN- In order to achieve a blended-in look with your curtains you should choose a color (or colors) that are similar in tone to your wall and/or floors:

Blend in

Choosing a color based on the mood you want your room to embody.

If you’re more concerned about giving a room a certain ‘mood’, then the colors you choose are going to be slightly more important than whether or not they match or offset the wall and floor.

Green color curtain

The color green represents harmony, peace and life-balance. It is a very reassuring cool and also has healing benefits.  Green is perfect for a child’s or senior’s room.

Red color curtain

 Red represents power, energy and excitement, the color red is a great bedroom curtain color for setting the mood and making you more energetic and excited.

Yellow color curtain

Yellow is the happy, friendly color that also gives you confidence and inspires creativity.  It’s a fantastic color to use for curtains in a child’s room, play room or the den.

White color curtain
White represents cleanliness and also purity and simplicity.  White is a smashing curtain color for smaller rooms as it can make them feel larger due to the influence white has on our perception of space.
brown color curtain
Brown is the color of nature and warmth as well as reliability and support.  It’s a soothing color that’s ideal for living and family rooms as well as sunrooms.
Blue color curtain
As being the color of cleanliness and calm, blue is often times used in the kitchen.


When choosing a color there are many factors that will influence your choice, including;

  • Accents in the room, like pillow, paintings and furniture
  • How the curtains look from outside the home
  • Blending them into the background of your decor, or making them stand out (as discussed earlier)
  • How much light you want to enter (or not enter) a room
  • How you want your guests to feel when they’re visiting

FACTOR #4 - Functionality

Besides the decorative effect they have on your home (or office), curtains also can be very functional in terms of insulation, lighting and privacy, keeping light, heat, cold (and prying eyes) from entering (or exiting) your home.

Lighting and Privacy-

In common family areas like dining rooms, living rooms, dens and so forth, light materials are best as they allow the most light to enter the room on any given day.  The best fabrics would include chenille, linen or sheer fabrics.

In bedrooms and other, more private areas of the home, heavier thermal/blackout fabrics or adding blackout lining are the best options, especially since a darker room will allow your body to produce more melatonin for better sleep.

Insulation- Heavier curtains are best for insulation properties, and it’s also a good idea to make them longer so that they prevent cold air from entering the room as easily.

NOTE:  Keep in mind that longer, thicker curtains, while they insulate better, also cost more to purchase and maintain.

Lining vs No Lining- If you’re purchasing curtains for insulation purposes, you may wish to consider getting curtains with a heavy lining as that will greatly increase their insulation and darkening factors.

FACTOR #5 - PRICE

One of the biggest factors when choosing curtains is the price (and, of course, your specific curtain budget).

The price of new curtains is based on all of the factors we’ve now talked about, including size, color, fabric and functionality.  These factors can make a huge difference in the overall price, so make sure you take them all into consideration before making your final choice.

Also, keep in mind that ready-made (also known as prêt-à-porter) curtains are usually quite a bit cheaper than hiring a curtain specialist to make bespoke (custom) curtains. The reasons are simple; a professional curtain designer is going to charge a lot more for their time and expertise.  However, you can still save money by performing the installation yourself, which is relatively straightforward and can save you up to 50% in some cases. (Of course, it helps to have some basic tool handling skills).

Below is a brief summary of the average cost you’ll pay when you visit others curtains companies compared to the prices you would pay shopping at Koikaa.

Other Curtain Companies Koikaa
8 windows From $4800 From $1600
10 windows From $6000 From $2000
12 windows From $7500 From $2400

 

CONCLUSION

We hope this guide has been very helpful and has given you the insight and knowledge you need to make an educated, elegant and eye-catching choice on your new curtains.

We invite you to visit our website, or visit our store , and see all of the fabulous and fun fabrics that we offer (and our excellent prices, naturally).

Also, if you found this article helpful, please share it with friends, family and your contacts, ‘like’ us on Facebook, and tell others about Koikaa.  Thanks!

 


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