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The 10 Best Curtains for Windows

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The 10 Best Curtains for Windows

Large windows and natural light are great, but you might need window curtains if you spend the middle of the day staring at your computer or making long eye contact with people outside your ground-floor apartment. One of the fastest and cheapest ways to improve your home is to put them in. Only a drill and a curtain rod, which you probably already have, are needed (although some styles also require hooks). Even though there are a lot of expensive window coverings on the market, there are also some cheap ones that work well..

What do we want to find?


Choose a curtain material that looks nice day and night, close up and far away, collected or pulled shut. The most frequent curtain materials are woven with a beautiful drape, like cotton, linen, silk, and velvet. Light-blocking blackout curtains are often made of synthetic fabrics like polyester.

If your curtains hang in a dusty or dirty high-traffic area, you may need to clean them. If so, consider machine-washable cotton — linen and silk must be dry-cleaned.


Window curtains range from translucent gauze to heavier materials that restrict light and heat. The right opacity depends on your demands, such as diffusing intense light or maintaining privacy in a street-level flat. We classify curtains as sheer, semi-sheer (not see-through, but let in enough light to feel "like a day in the daytime"), solid, and blackout, which often inhibits heat.


Megan Hersch, owner of Studio MG Interiors and Room Lift, measures curtains so they "just kiss the floor." So, nothing drags and traps dirt, yet they don't appear overly short. If you want drama, add 1.5 inches so the drape "breaks" on the floor. If you need to shorten your curtains to fit above a sill, console, or radiator, you can get them hemmed or do it yourself with Windowed tape.


The style of the curtain's header depends on how it's tailored and hung. Many objects on this list can be hung multiple ways. Curtains are hung directly on the rod with a rod pocket, loops, or grommets, or somewhat below it with curtain hooks or drapery pins. Many rod-pocket curtains have back tabs that can be hung on the rod or looped over curtain hooks. Hooks take longer to install but make curtain opening and closing easier.


West Elm flax linen curtain

Simone Kitchens loves West Elm's breezy linen drapes because they let in lots of light. They softened and appeared lived-in after a short time, so kitchens didn't need to wash them.

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Linen-cotton Curtain Panels

The sheer linen curtains from Restoration Hardware's Perennials line were a favorite among the experts we talked to, and Hersch gave us a tip: Restoration Hardware's teen line makes a similar linen-blend curtain for a third of the price.

Blackout Sun Zero Duran Grommet Curtain Panel

Dani Mulhern, a senior designer at Havel, an online service for interior design, recommends these insulated blackout curtains. She likes that they are cheap, don't stand out, and come in different lengths. She says that the grommet header is "super-functional."

Ikea Lenda Curtains

Corsillo loves these cheap cotton curtains, which she washes every two months to get rid of dust and drips from the radiator. Corsillo irons them, but even if she didn't, "gravity would make them flat in the end," she says. Plus, they are "very easy to install" and have a level of transparency that keeps harsh sunlight out while keeping daytime light.

Riviera Stripe Blocks Light

Katherine Tlapa, a designer for Modsy, says that the narrow stripes on these light-blocking curtains give them a "casual and coastal feel." Bachman Brown, an interior designer, also suggests patterned curtains. "A large-scale pattern is one of the best ways to dress up a window," he says. "It sets the mood for the room, and nothing draws your eye more than a large-scale fabric."

Matte Velvet Curtain

Megan Huffman, an interior designer with the online service Modsy, suggests velvet curtains for a vintage-style window treatment. She especially likes the light-blocking matte velvet panels from Anthropologie, which come in a range of colors from goldenrod to navy blue. The dense pile and heavy feel of the fabric block light and muffle the sound.

Curtains for the home are made of silk

We asked some designers what they thought were the best window treatments and found these beautiful cabana-striped silk curtains. They come in different colors and give your room a rococo look.

Drapery With Inverted Pleats

Drapery with Pleats


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