When to Choose Blinds, Curtains, or Drapery, According to the Experts
When it comes to deciding which window treatments will look best in your home, the vast number of options can turn a simple interior design project into an overwhelming process. While many of the terms—drapes, blinds, and curtains—are used interchangeably, there are some distinct differences, and those nuances can impact the overall ambience of your home. The biggest distinction comes down to "light control and aesthetic," says John Weinstock, executive vice president of Graber Blinds. "Blinds offer the most light control with a variety of tilting options. Blinds or shades can be paired with drapery to enhance windows in any part of the home." While each type of window treatment has its own unique set of characteristics, all of them can be used to transform any room. Here, experts explain what makes drapes, blinds, and curtains unique, as well as how to know which is best for a specific space—and the pros and cons of each.
"Blinds are hard window coverings composed of slats or vanes that cascade down or over a fenestration, such as a window or sliding door," says Keith Miller of Miller Interior Design. The coverings are fastened together in a stacked formation with draw cords that operate by way of manual pull or motorization and allow closure for privacy and sun control. "Blinds function well for easily controlling privacy and daylight glare," Miller explains. "With a relatively simple twist of a rod or pull of cords you enjoy an instant shift." He does note, however, that they're not efficient at completely blocking light exposure and the cords that make them functional can become cumbersome and even dangerous in some cases. If you want window treatments that have the ability to fully block out sunlight, you can pair blinds with drapery instead of assembling them as a stand-alone piece of décor.
Unlike blinds, curtains are soft window coverings. They're made with a light—or even translucent—piece of cloth or other material that's intended to block or obscure the sun's rays and air drafts. One of the biggest pros of curtains is their versatility. Miller explains that there are many clever and charming ways to lightly dress a window or door with curtains, from a cropped piece over the lower portion of a café or window to one mounted at full length in a living room. One downside of curtains is that they don't offer much light control due to their lightweight material. However, you can easily remedy this issue by pairing curtains with other fixtures, like blinds or shades to create a complete window solution.
Although they're both considered soft window treatments, drapery is typically made from heavier materials than curtains, such as damask, silk, or velvet. The fixtures consist of fabric panels that are lined with light or heavy cloth for light and temperature control. "They are more formal in aesthetic and offered in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures to appeal to design which adds a sophisticated dimension to windows," says Weinstock. Drapery can be one of the most successful applications for both windows and doors when looking to fully block light exposure, according to Miller; it's ideal for fully protecting one's privacy and insulating interiors from drastic temperatures. "For many design styles, nothing finishes a room more completely than dressing windows and doors with a set of drapery," says Miller. However, this window treatment can be complicated to construct given dimension restrictions, architectural impositions, and functionality parameters—considerations that Miller says only a skilled professional can resolve well.
The Best Space for Each Window Treatment
When selected properly, Weinstock says blinds add a sophisticated dimension to windows and can elevate virtually any space. "They are a viable option when sprucing up the home with natural elements or where light control is a priority," he notes. Blinds also perform well in areas that attract clutter where the fixtures provide clean lines and balance. For spaces that require a level of sophistication, drapery is the perfect solution, according to Miller. He says the window treatments beautifully enhance their surrounding architecture, adding a visually stunning and slightly romantic interest to the interior's furnishings. Applying drapery in more formal areas of the home, like the living room or bedroom, on the other hand, is the best practice. Although they're similar to drapery in structure, curtains are often used to soften a space due to their lightweight material. Traditionally, Weinstock says these options are used in kitchens, children's rooms, and other informal locations where the goal is to provide an attractive finish to home décor.