I have a bit of a history when it comes to waiting “too long” to hang curtains. For some reason, I don’t prioritize them (as long as privacy isn’t an issue) and I’ve learned that’s ALWAYS a mistake. I am never not instantly taken aback by how much they change a room for the better. I’m talking INSTANT elevation, INSTANT coziness, INSTANT “I look like I have my life together”. But I know that depending on how many windows are in need of dressing, it can really add up. I’m sure this news is news to no one. So unless you have windows that require a custom route, let’s get into some window treatments that will take it easier on your wallet.
First, let’s start with a very fun fact. The curtains in the opening photo, the photo above (my old apartment), and the two side-by-side photos below all have different curtains from IKEA. Look at how they all frame and bring a calming softness to each room. I doubt anyone would guess that they were from IKEA and for that we are IKEA neutral-colored curtain fans at EHD for lyfe.
Another reason why these look higher end is because of how they are hung. The rod is hung at 2/3 the distance between the window and ceiling. AKA GO HIGH! Unless you have a special situation where your rod must be hung closer to the top of the window, it will always look better and make your ceiling feel taller. We promise. Here is a post dedicated to how to hang curtains if you want some more guidance:)
Now, let’s get into why a neutral curtain color might be best for you.
- It’s a great option if you want to keep things soft and minimal. A no-fail tone if you will.
- It’s also great if you want to play with bolder colors in your furniture and decor but don’t want to go all out in the color department.
- It’s Timeless. Never goes out of style.
But remember that “white” isn’t your only neutral-toned option. You can go with more of a cream or tan or taupe to add some visual depth (like Rosa did in her bedroom above). You can even go with a soft gray to cool things down. So just because “neutral” isn’t as flashy as something “colorful” doesn’t mean it’s boring. Here are a few of our top picks!
1. Natural Tan Basketweave II Curtain Panel | 2. RITVA | 3. Light Filtering Farrah Curtain Panel | 4. Light Filtering Linen Curtain Panel | 5. Bodulf Solid Max Blackout Thermal Rod Pocket Single Curtain Panel | 6. Linen Curtain
One thing I will say about neutral curtains is that you need to be aware of the “see-throughness” of it all. Look, you might not need privacy so a curtain on the sheerer side might be perfect. Also, the sheerer typically equals less expensive so keep that in mind as you shop. If you are someone who wants light-colored curtains but needs to block out the morning sun, something like #5 is a great option!
Colorful Solid Curtains
I figured I’d start with my living room/office since “pre pink curtains” I was a white curtain gal through and through. So while my pink curtains are custom by Decorview (because of my beautiful but not in the least bit standard turret window), I think the journey to choose a colorful solid color might be helpful for those on the fence. Basically, my initial instinct was to go white or slightly off-white. That way I could bring in any color I wanted and wouldn’t have to worry about clashing with a color or pattern. But when I hung my IKEA curtains up temporarily, they looked sad and visual got lost in the turret. So I needed a color that popped more and made the room feel happier. That’s why I chose the pink. It’s still slightly neutral but brings a ton of life to the space.
But let’s say you want to go bolder! More color! More contrast! Let me reintroduce you to Sarah Zachary’s design. Those saturated golden rust-colored curtains are STUNNING! I love that bold warm contrast to the green wallpaper and bright blue sofa but then look how they complement the wood tones. So good. And while these are also custom you can easily take this idea and implement it with a more budget-friendly option.
Now choosing a colorful curtain doesn’t mean you automatically want a bunch of colors in one room. Maybe you want to go for a tonal design like William Hunter Collective wanted in the photo above. So if you want color but for it to still be calm for the ole eyeballs, this is a cool and fun option.
Another EHD tip is to stay away from grommet curtains. You know the ones with the metal ring around where the rod goes. Look, if you already own them there is nothing wrong with them. But if you are in the market, pocket rod curtains or curtains you can hang rings with tend to look less readymade and more custom.
Neutral Curtains With A Little Detail
So maybe you want a neutral curtain but a neutral curtain with a dash of fun on the side. I’ve got you. Now, you always have the option for a fun and easy DIY like Ginny did with the white curtains with the black pom trim above. Those are actually plain white IKEA curtains (told you we were fans) with an iron-on black pom trim. Had the curtains remained plain white they would have gotten lost against that big beautiful window. So it was a genius idea to add the trim for some contrast and playfulness!
But if you are NOT a DIYer then fear not because there are a ton of great options (like Erik’s curtains above) to give you that neutral look with a twist. Come and see!
1. Modest Windowpane Plaid Curtain Panel | 2. ALVINE SPETS | 3. Light Filtering Stitched Edge Curtain Panel | 4. Light Filtering Lace Trim Curtain Panel | 5. Windowpane Plaid Curtain Panel | 6. Light Filtering Marlow Velvet Trim Curtain Panel | 7. Stencil Vine 100% Cotton Floral Room Darkening Single Curtain Panel | 8. Light Filtering Global Border Curtain Panel | 9. Cotton Canvas Bomu Curtains
Some are playful with a printed pattern like #1, #5, and #7 while with others, the fabric itself is a pattern like #2 and #4. But I love love the subtle pop of color on #6 and the color/pattern combo of #8🙂
Bold Patterned Curtains
Another fun (or maybe not so fun depending on your design preference) fact, EHD isn’t known for our use of patterned curtains…trust me I looked and there were only a few. I think it comes from being more of wallpaper/colorful paint people. That’s not to say you can’t be a patterned curtain/wallpaper/colorful paint person! Many are and it’s awesome. Plus, the beauty of readymade patterned curtains is that you can return them if they end up not working out. Not as easy when you go the custom route…
Now, above is an awesome example of great readymade patterned curtains. They are old Target that Emily’s used to decorate her kid’s nanny, Sylvia’s, home back in 2016. I love how the pattern brings movement to the room and that it’s also the main pattern in the space. It’s not fighting for attention:) But it’s also nicely balanced out by the blue half wall! A perfect example of how to use a patterned curtain.
However, you don’t need to paint your walls to match your curtains. Take Rosa Beltran’s stunning and delicately patterned curtains. They add just the right amount of pattern to add interest and warmth while not taking over the room visually. I doubt these are readymade considering she’s the queen of custom (if you don’t know her business, Clad Home, go now!) but there are definitely similar affordable options out there.
Here are some of our current favorites:
1. Farmhouse Ticking Stripe Custom Curtains | 2. Embroidered Tobias Velvet Curtain | 3. Jen Hewett Imaginary Basket Sleeve Top Curtains (Set of 2) | 4. Light Filtering Jacquard Curtain Panel | 5. Arches Cotton Sleeve Top Curtains (Set of 2) | 6. Velvet Floral Curtains | 7. Green Flower Print Curtain | 8. Penny Curtain | 9. Sheer Ophelia Printed Burnout Curtain Panel
Wanting to have a patterned curtain doesn’t mean you need to go “all-out”. Options like #1, #2, and #3 are still patterned but not “in your face” patterned. If that’s more of what you want then #5, #6, and #9 are fun and pack a big ole design punch!
Last but most certainly not least…
Sometimes a curtain doesn’t work or look right. Sometimes you need a shade instead and we are also big fans, as proven by the multitude of rooms we’ve designed over the years. Readymade shades can be a little trickier if you don’t have a standard-sized window but not impossible. The white ones in the above photo come in a ton of sizes.
Here is an example of when shades were a better option than curtains. First off, choosing a roman shade made it so the wallpaper was the real star of the show. Then with the two windows being fairly close together and the bed/nightstand being against that wall, curtains would have looked heavy and cramped behind everything. So these shades add a subtle pop of color as well as make the room feel lighter.
Here’s another example of when a roman shade was a better functional option. Since this is a smaller room, real estate is precious and the furniture is pretty close to the walls. This again makes installing curtains hard because they would either be cramped next to or awkwardly squished behind a piece of furniture. Shade to the rescue!
Fabric roman shades aren’t your only option! We love the texture of a woven shade like Jayma and Adam used in their bedroom. Some are better for privacy than others but it’s such a great and easy way to add texture to our room!
For this section, I decided to stick with the neutral options since they are the most popular:)
1. Light Filtering Bonaire Balloon Window Shade | 2. Burnt Bamboo Cordless Window Shade | 3. RINGBLOMMA | 4. Linen-Blend Roll-Up Curtain | 5. Tie Up Linen Blind | 6. Cordless Light Filtering UV Protection Paper Roman Shades
I honestly love all of these and it’s really up to you and the style of your home as to which one is best for you!
I hope this was helpful and if you were already shopping for affordable window treatments, I hope your search is now over:) And if anyone else has a great affordable resource or specific curtain they love, drop it in the comments!
Love you, mean it.
Opening Image Credits: Design by Arlyn Hernandez | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Arlyn’s Bright & Happy Rental Living Room Makeover