Although curtains have a history almost as long as textiles, window treatment always seems to be a challenge for both homeowners and renters. With so many options and choices of fabrics, tracks, rods, styles and headings for drapery, people often don’t know where to start looking for and many times they give up before even getting started. If you feel like this, don’t worry as you are not the only person feeling lost or overwhelmed in the room.

Before central heating and air conditioning was invented, people didn’t always have an option to choose light over warmth and until the 13th century, when glass making was perfected and became an option for windows, curtain used to be the best way to keep out the cold.

In the late 19th century the windows were a mirror image of the current fashion style with overstuffed, over adorned and over decorated rooms. After the Second World War when large homes were broken up into apartments, and housing subdivisions and new towns were developed, curtains became an essential component to most homes. However, many times they didn’t reflect the home’s design style.

In today’s age, curtains are used to define space, create privacy, and provide a soft warm environment while adding color, pattern and texture into your home décor.  Some curtains are functional while others are purely decorative.


Curtains usually do not have linings and they are hung from a rod by tabs. More casual and easy to make, curtains are mostly light weight and can be used as a decorative piece. Its length depends on where you are using it. It can be floor-length or short that can cover the window. Drapes on the other hand, are usually lined and cover the length from the top to the floor. More formal and stylish, drapes are, generally attached by hooks to a traverse rod and require a cord to assist opening and closing. Furthermore, drapes are pleated and even when it is fully open, it may still take up some space of your window view. Blinds typically have slats, also known as louvers, which rotate back and forth to control light and privacy. Blinds are however, becoming less and less desirable in today’s market since they tend to collect a tremendous amount of dust. Shades are generally one piece of material that raises and lowers, with no unsightly stack or any tendency to collect dust. They also have great insulation and heat reduction properties and they come in a large variety of fabric options.

Another benefit of installing drapes is the illusion it creates in a room. The higher the drape is hung, the taller the room will appear. Use this technique with curtains too and even if you are against anything blocking your window, consider hanging faux drapes on each side of the window for the illusion of a taller and more finished space.

Although lining and pleats are typical characteristics of drapes, several curtain manufacturers are offering lined curtains like these curtains.  Those lining are intended for warmth and light insulation. Construction wise, we have the actual fabric with patterns, and on the back there is a layer of flannel or another blackout fabric and another layer of a thin fabric to finish it off. Relatively inexpensive and extremely easy to install, those lined curtains are usually sold as single curtain panels for you to hang directly from your rod.

Besides serving as window treatment, curtains can also be used as room dividers, closet doors, and even as part of your canopy bed or headboard (think of a nice curtain hanging behind a low-profile bed). Depending on how your room is designed and how many windows and closets you have, you can replace your bi-folded closet doors with a fabulous set of curtains hanging from a nice rod to give the illusion of having a larger room with more windows.

VK Sustainable Concepts’ Principal Andrea Vollf, LEED AP ID+C, is a registered interior designer and sustainability professional with over fifteen years of experience in the interior design and marketing industries. Ms. Vollf is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Illinois Chapter, with in‐depth knowledge of all aspects of Sustainability – Social, Environmental and Economic.  Connect with Andrea on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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