How to Design Window Curtains


Depending on the fabric, color, texture, and pattern, curtains can serve as the focal point of a room or may be unobtrusive and quietly frame a window. The right curtains may also help to fix an architectural flaw, such as an oddly placed window or window that's an unconventional shape. Considering any unusual architectural elements in the room, in addition to following basic design principles, can result in simple curtain panels with well-planned decorative touches to rival any custom-created drapery.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Decide on a color scheme. To pick a fabric color, evaluate the room where the curtains will hang. Using a fabric in the same color as a bold accent color found throughout the room can create a dramatic focal point, while choosing a neutral color may blend with the wall and soften the background, according to "Threads Magazine."

  • Focus on personal style. Design curtains reflect personal taste, while being consistent with the architecture and period of the house.

  • Consider the mood of the room. The type of fabric can emphasize the overall mood. Linen, denim or cotton curtains provide a casual mood, while silk creates an elegant feel.

  • Determine the length of the curtains. Curtains may be hung directly above a window or may extend from ceiling to floor if the room is formal. Measure from the curtain rod to where the curtains will hit the floor and add 18 inches to determine the length for each panel. Measure 1 1/2 to 3 times the actual width of the window to determine the width of the curtain fabric.

  • Create a sketch. Use graph paper for the most accurate sketch. Draw the window and proposed curtains, including any hardware, such as curtain rods or tiebacks. Divide the window into sixths if the curtains will be hung just above the window frame to determine the finished length of the swag, or curtain when it is tied back, and divide the window into fifths if the curtains will hang just below the ceiling.

  • Create patterns for top treatments only. Standard, rectangular curtain panels may be cut directly from the fabric and do not require any pattern, but use lining fabric to trace the pattern for any intricate top treatment.

  • Pay attention to details to create a custom look. Ensure any repeating patterns match, that the seams are serged and contain drapery weights and that double-sided hems are 1 ½ inches and bottom hems are 4 inches. Also ensure all hems are blind-stitched and that lining is used -- and that it's 1 inch shorter than the fabric.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fabric color can change depending on the type of light shining on it and time of day.
  • Change the visual appearance of a square window into a rectangle by extending the curtains onto the wall beyond the edge of the glass for a more aesthetically pleasing look.
  • Choose simple curtains for small spaces and more complex curtains for larger spaces.
  • Strong vertical lines of floor-to-ceiling curtains also camouflage a boxy or unusually shaped window.
  • Treatments should flow visually over a number of continuous windows.

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