When shopping for curtains, the wide variety of styles, colors, types, lengths, and materials is enough to make a grown person cry. Well, maybe that’s just me.
To save you from tears of stress, we’ve put together a detailed guide on the different types of curtains. We’ve broken these up by category, focusing on style, material, length, thickness, opacity, and hanging style. We describe each curtain’s design, uses, and range of variations.
Skip the stress of ordering the wrong curtains by taking the time to read this detailed guide on the many different types of curtains you can use in your home.
Table of Contents
The Different Types of Curtains
When we say there are a ton of different options for window curtains, we aren’t exaggerating. In this list, we’ve found thirty different types of curtains to cover.
Although all curtains serve the purpose of operating as a window covering, the different types will vary differently in their look and performance.
Curtains can also vary in the materials they’re made from, the length, and the amount of light and privacy they provide. Some options also have limited uses, like creating or completing a decorative theme.
1. Single Panel
Single panel curtains are great for covering an entire window. You can slide these side to side to allow light in and tie them up for a modern look. You can use single panels for most rooms and decorative themes.
2. Panel Pair
Panel pair curtains come with two identical panels that pull together to block out the light. You can push one or both panels to the side or tie them back for a symmetrical design. This option comes in contemporary or modern styles.
Valances are short curtains that go over the top of long curtains. These are a decorative way to give a complete look and hide the hanging rod that secures the windows’ curtains. Some window treatment sets come with valances, or you may have to buy them separately.
4. Window Covering Set
A window covering set comes with everything you’d need to create a complete window covering design. These sets have one or two curtains plus a valance. Additional optional accessories include tiebacks, curtain rods, and rarely a pelmet.
5. Curtain Liner
Curtain liners are also optional, but they do give your curtains more versatility. You can add a curtain liner to your existing curtains to get more durability and security without affecting the curtain’s look. Some liners can also block noise or provide insulation.
6. Window Scarf
Window scarfs are similar to valances in that they hang at the top of the window over top of regular curtains. But scarfs billow down the sides of the curtain rather than covering only the curtain header.
This long, slender piece of curtain can give your room a dramatic look to achieve a specific nuance, like whimsical or sultry. When combined with traditional curtains, you can get a layered look.
Types of Curtains: Thickness/Opacity
Curtains can also vary by their thickness and opacity. Some curtains have a thin opacity that allows them to be see-through, while others are thick enough to block out all light.
Before choosing an opaqueness and thickness for your curtains, consider these factors:
- Do you want curtains that allow light in when closed or block all light?
- Do your curtains need to provide privacy?
- Will your curtains serve a purpose other than decorative?
- Is there any flexibility in your design that would allow you to use an opaque curtain without letting in the light?
Here are some curtain types with varying ranges of opacity and thickness.
Sheer curtains are semi-transparent, which let in tons of sunlight when closed. But since they’re so see-through, they offer little to no privacy, so they’re not suitable as a solo window treatment for most bedrooms.
Sheer curtains are purely decorative, making them suitable for dining rooms and living rooms. Some models can even go around your bed.
Blackout curtains are best for blocking out the most amount of light when closed. These curtains are best for bedrooms, as they also provide the most privacy.
Blackout curtains are made with heavier materials and typically have built-in liners. They also work great for dens and theater rooms.
Semi-opaque curtains are a mix of blackout and sheer curtains. This type will allow in some sunlight when closed, but they provide more privacy than sheer types.
You can use these curtains for any room. Combining these with other curtains can give you more opacity to get more privacy and light blockage.
Types of Curtains: Curtain Rod Styles
When shopping for curtains, you’ll also want to think about how the curtains secure the rod. Different styles would allow you to achieve different looks. Some models may be better if you choose not to use a valance.
10. Tab Top
Tab top curtains secure to the curtain rod via sewn loops of fabric at the top of the curtain. Many people choose this style due to its look and the ease of hanging.
The curtain’s panels hang loosely below the tab tops make this style great for patterns or prints. Since these curtains don’t hide the curtain rod, you may want to choose one with a nice aesthetic to match your existing theme.
This style often uses decorative embellishments like buttons to enhance the style. Tab top curtains are great for achieving a contemporary country, farmhouse, cottage, or simple casual ambiance.
11. Rod Pocket
Rod pockets have a pocket sewn into the curtain’s top. This pocket allows the curtain rod to slip inside and come out the other side, making them easy to install and hang.
However, this pocket creates a tight fit that can make it challenging to open or close, so they may not be the best option for windows you frequently use.
Rod pockets are popular to use with valances, but they also have a great casual look without valances. These curtains look best when made of linen or cotton.
There may be ruching, embroidery, or other decorative embellishments to add style. Many people pair rod pockets with a second layer of curtains, such as blackouts.
12. Hidden Tab Curtain
Hidden tab curtains are a hybrid of tab and rod pocket curtains. This style features tabs hidden by a decorative piece of fabric at the top of the curtain.
The extra fabric usually has a pinched pleat for extra style. These curtains are used with or without valances and are popular for creating a country, contemporary, or traditional look.
13. Grommet and Eyelet
Grommet and Eyelet type curtains feature large eyelets with reinforced grommets along the top of the curtain. Many people choose this style to achieve a modern or contemporary flair. You can use these to have extra style without the use of a valance.
Types of Curtains: Style of Curtains
The style of your curtains will have a huge effect on your room’s decor. Many people prefer to match their curtains’ style to the rest of the room to get a cohesive look. You can achieve different looks due to the curtain’s pleat style, which is at the header (top of the curtain).
The pleat refers to how the folds of fabric were sewn together and the way the curtain hangs. The pleat will affect how the curtain hangs on the rod and how it drapes over your window.
14. Pleated curtains look great for formal or traditional looks. Most pleated curtains are made with thicker, heavier materials. A few different pleat options are:
Pinched pleats create an elegant look due to the pinched, stitched pleats at the curtain’s top – the header. These range from three-finger to five-finger pleats, with three-finger being the most popular. Use this style in sitting rooms, bedrooms, or rooms where you entertain.
Pencil pleats are a casual alternative to box or goblet pleats, working well in bedrooms and informal living rooms. These curtains have thin, single pleats that work well with a range of hooks or rods.
Box pleats look great in bedrooms, lounges, and dining rooms due to the deep, uninterrupted folds along the full length of the curtain. This style gives you full coverage with a tailored look.
Goblet pleats are best for decorative window coverings in large, high-ceiling formal rooms. While this design looks great, it’s not very functional and should stay stationary. It would be best if you didn’t put these on windows that you frequently use.
Eyelet – sometimes referred to as Grommet – pleats give your windows a contemporary or modern feel. This style uses grommets – open rings – to support, open or close the panels. Since you’ll be able to see the curtain rod through the grommets, you might want to choose one that’s decorative.
Let’s look at some of the common curtains’ styles, where they’re best used, and the nuance they achieve.
Classic style curtains are a universal option that looks great in any room in the house. Many people use valances or additional accessories to achieve a full window treatment design.
The biggest appeal of classic style curtains is that they give a timeless, classic appeal. This style is best for achieving a bohemian, country, or classical theme.
Modern style curtains have a more modern nuance, with minimalist designs, eco-friendly materials, and metal accessories or accents.
You can find these in solid colors, clean lines, abstract elements, or bold patterns. If you want to achieve a dramatic design, consider using modern curtains.
Casual style curtains are the most popular choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. These curtains can create a casual, relaxed vibe, so they rarely feature valances. The most common types are tab top or grommet and eyelet styles.
Contemporary styled curtains are similar to classic styles but with a breath of fresh air. This style usually comes in earthy tones or varying shades of gray, as inspired by nature.
You could also choose a brighter shade to brighten up a colorless space. These curtains often have rich textures to provide a sophisticated yet unpretentious, non-formal setting.
Types of Curtains: Materials
Curtains come in a wide variety of materials. It’s crucial to spend time considering the different types before making a final decision on your curtains.
The material will affect the curtain’s look, performance, and ease of care. Some materials will also serve additional purposes besides decoration, such as blocking out light, sound, or heat.
Cotton curtains are a versatile option for multiple applications. This fabric is semi-sheer, which provides some privacy while allowing in plenty of light.
Most people layer cotton curtains with other fabric curtains to achieve a full window treatment. These curtains can go in any room in the house, as they come in a wide range of styles. And they’re easy to clean, which is a huge benefit.
Linen is another common material choice. This fabric is heavier than cotton but still creates a casual design. Linen curtains allow in some light but not as much as cotton. And they offer more privacy.
However, linen curtains are more difficult to clean, so it’s not the greatest option for rooms where there’s a lot of dust. The rough texture can work like a magnet, attracting layers of dust.
Silk is a gorgeous, soft fabric that’s used for a wide range of curtain types. This material is semi-sheer, so it lets in a lot of light, although the thicker the material, the less light it will allow. You can use silk curtains to achieve a classic or contemporary look.
But be aware, it is difficult to clean silk and will probably require professional cleaning. If you choose to use silk curtains, keep them in areas where there won’t be a lot of traffic or contamination.
Velvet curtains are also popular for providing the maximum amount of privacy. This fabric is heavy, so it does great for blocking out drafts and outside noises. Many light-sleepers prefer to use these for bedrooms.
These curtains will give your room a more dramatic look, but you have to get them professionally cleaned due to the thick fabric. If that poses a problem for you, you may want to consider alternative fabrics.
Burlap curtains have a similar texture and look to linen. However, burlap is a lot heavier. This curtain type is usually plain and casual. So it won’t add to a room’s style. But it’s great for a casual environment.
Most people choose this material due to the amount of privacy and light blockage they provide. When closed, there will be little to no light showing. And an added benefit is that they are super easy to clean.
Lace is completely sheer, so it lets in a ton of light, making it perfect for an airy window treatment. These curtains will not provide any privacy or light blockage, so you shouldn’t use them as a single source of a curtain in rooms where you want less sunlight.
This material is most common for use in living rooms, kitchens, sunrooms, and other home areas where you want a lot of light. You can also pair lace curtains with a thicker fabric for a fully-functional look. Lace can also be challenging to self-clean.
Synthetic materials have become quite popular for the production of curtains. This option is cheaper and easier to clean than natural fibers.
You can find these curtains in many styles and texture types, allowing for easier-to-maintain options that look and feel similar to the real thing.
Types of Curtains: Pattern
Another thing to consider when curtain shopping is if you want ones with patterns or prefer one solid color.
Solid color curtains are the same color with no designs or pattern embellishments. This style is great for accenting patterns or colors in other parts of your window treatment.
You can find curtains ranging in a wide variety of solid colors to match any decor theme or palette. A solid design is popular for almost all curtain types and lets you achieve a casual or modern look.
Patterned curtains are available in all styles of curtains and look great with a wide variety of window treatments. Many people use patterns to express their personality or to give the room a unique look.
Most patterned curtains are synthetic, lace, or cotton materials, although you can find some limited styles made of burlap, linen, or embossed velvet.
There are a variety of pattern options available. Contemporary and classic curtains usually feature toile, plaid, paisley, striped, floral, or checks. In comparison, casual curtains may have one of those patterns or even dots, chevron, graphic, or geometric prints.
Types of Curtains: Length
Curtains come in multiple lengths. It’s important that you properly measure your window if you want a curtain covering the entire area. There are also curtain length options that allow you only to cover part of the window. The varying sizes allow you to achieve different styles.
You can hang your curtains in three different positions to achieve specific looks. Which look you want to achieve will affect the length of curtain you should choose.
For curtains that don’t reach the floor, you’d want to hang your rod so that the curtains float. For this look, your panels should dangle less than one inch above the floor. You would need a floor-length curtain.
If you want curtains that graze or kiss the floor, you have to take precise measurements. You can achieve this look with floor-length panels by hanging the rods properly. Be sure you’re considering the measurements of the curtain rings and hardware when deciding on length.
Heavy curtains look best when you let them puddle or pool into a mass of excess fabric on the floor. This style is perfect for achieving a more formal atmosphere.
You can find curtains in lengths of 63, 84, 95, 108, or 120-inches.
You can use curtains with an apron length to make your windows look longer. With these, the curtain rod goes a bit higher than the window, and the curtain hangs a few inches past the window sill.
Most people use apron-length curtains to make small windows in bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens look bigger once the curtains are closed.
Puddle curtains get their name due to the extra-long length, which causes them to gather on the floor, similar to a wedding dress. This effect is due to the curtains being several inches longer than the window.
You can choose puddle curtains to create a romantic atmosphere in bedrooms or hang them in your living room or den to achieve a dramatic effect.
You can achieve this style best by using heavier materials such as brocade, silk, or velvet. You’ll get the added benefit of having the curtains block out sun, drafts, and sound. However, these materials are harder to clean.
30. Window Sill
Window sill curtains are best for windows that get a lot of use. These curtains hang over the window with the ends even with or resting slightly above the window sill. Many people use sill curtains for smaller windows, bathrooms, and kitchens.
These curtains do best when made from cotton, synthetics like polyester or rayon, linen, or burlap.
Many people like to use floor-length curtains to cover windows that go floor to ceiling or cover sliding doors. These curtains stop just short of touching the floor, usually with less than an inch of space.
A pro hack is to hang a floor-length curtain over a smaller window to give the appearance that the window goes floor to ceiling. Longer curtains look better when made from heavier material like velvet, silk, brocade, synthetic, cotton, or velvet.
Curtains can complete a room’s design and ambiance, or they can completely clash with your existing decor. Curtains that hang too short are unsightly and make your room look awkward. Curtains that hang too long can seem oppressive or overkill for smaller windows. It’s crucial to measure your windows properly and then decide on a curtain in the correct materials, style, color, and size to meet your design needs.