Curtains or Blinds?

BY ERIK J. MARTIN ON OCTOBER 5TH, 2017

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When addressing how to dress your naked windows, the decision between curtains and blinds can be trickier than you think, say the experts. That’s because selecting an ideal window treatment for a particular room in your home will depend on many variables and personal preference.

All of the top options – curtains, drapes, blinds and shades – are intended to accomplish the same thing: create extra privacy and add a decorative and stylish look to the room. But making the wrong choice can create an esthetic eyesore and functional faux pas. Picking carefully, on the other hand, can help elements in the room harmonize and result in greater satisfaction.

“Using curtains or draperies in a room is usually more of a decorative treatment employed in more traditional settings, unless you choose to cover the windows with full traversing drapes for privacy or light and sound control,” says Brianna Goodwin, CEO of Ver-Tex Shading Solutions in Boston. “Blinds typically solve more light control and privacy issues in areas where that’s more important and are often used in less formal or more contemporary applications.”

Debbie Clifton Perez, owner of Tampa, Fla.-based Tweak Your Space, says she usually prefers curtains or drapes.

“They’re a great way to add color or texture and help with the acoustics in a space. They can be made with sheer fabrics that let more light in, standard weight fabrics, or drapes with blackout lining to make a space darker and quieter,” Perez says.

Kymberlyn Lacy, owner of International Flair Designs in Little Rock, Ark., meanwhile, is big on blinds and other hard treatments, “such as Roman shades for extra privacy,” she says. “Two-and-a-half-inch horizontal blinds are considered pretty standard in room design, but vertical blinds are making a comeback since the addition of different textures and features like two-way mechanical panels operated by remote control.”

To help narrow down your choice, Maria Elena Holguin, designer with Robb & Stucky in Coral Cables, Fla., says it’s important to answer key questions.

“What is the purpose of the room, how will it be used, what is the view and to what extent do you want to block it, and are there any children, pets or people with special needs?” Holguin asks.

In the bedroom, Perez and Lacy recommend heavy drapery panels to reduce noise and control the amount of light. Alternatively, consider room darkening blinds with drapery side panels, suggests Holguin, who advises blinds only if you have a spectacular view.

“Living and family rooms are often used for TV or movie watching, in which case room-darkening blinds may be the best choice,” Goodwin says.

Then again, “blinds tend to be less formal in the family or living room, so I would recommend drapes,” Perez says.

If you have a formal dining room, Holguin says drapes add a classy touch, “but if you have a more casual dine-in space, blinds only or blinds with side drapery panels are best,” she adds.

Blinds are also ideal for kitchens and bathrooms “because they’re more resistant to stains, odors and absorbing moisture,” Perez says.

To help settle the horizontal vs. vertical blinds debate, consider that “vertical blinds should be used in more contemporary rooms on larger windows,” including sliding glass doors, Goodwin says. Horizontal blinds are preferred almost everywhere else.

Whatever treatment you choose, be sure the colors, textures and materials mesh with your room’s contents.

“I like blinds to flow with the floor or wall color, while drapery fabrics should flow with other fabrics used in the room,” Holguin says.

To measure correctly for blinds or curtains, first decide whether the window treatments will be mounted inside or outside the window frame.

“Most curtains or draperies are installed outside the window opening, whereas blinds can be installed either way – depending on the depth of the window,” Goodwin says. “To create a formal look, curtains should pile on the floor or skim the top of the floor, covering the baseboard. To create the illusion of a larger window, extend the hardware three to four inches beyond the outside of the window frame, and add up to five inches of fabric on both sides of the window for maximum privacy.”

Measuring for blinds can be a bit more complicated. For tips, visit blinds.com/measure.

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