Curtain drapes ideas for you to try

A wide range of curtain drapes ideas are available for standard windows, but it helps to narrow down the choice.

You can think about your window in two ways:

  1. Practical issues
  2. Aesthetic issues

Practical issues

First ask yourself if there are any practical goals you need to aim for.

  • Do you need privacy?
  • Is the privacy just for nighttime, so drawing drapes together will be the answer?
  • Do you need privacy during the day, so you'll need additional elements such as shades or sheers?
  • Does the window let in draughts, so insulation would be useful?

Aesthetic issues

Now think about how you want your window treatment to look.

  • Do you want to make a feature of your window by using elaborate drapes and trimmings?
  • Do you just want an attractive set of drapes, but quite simple?
  • Would you rather not draw attention to the window, and use a minimalist approach?

Decide which of these are applicable to your window. Doing so will give you a much clearer picture in your mind of what you're trying to achieve with your curtain drapes ideas.


Now decide what's possible and what isn't.

  • There may be features nearby which prevent you using enough stackback space.
  • You may not have enough room above the window for a top treatment.
  • Radiators or warm air vents could prevent floor length drapes from being used.
  • You budget limits you in your choice of fabric, and how much you can use.
  • Once you've analyzed all your options you can go on to selecting the most suitable window treatment.

Curtain drapes ideas

Here are some curtain drapes ideas you can use on a standard window.

Standard Window

standard windowSketch of standard window

By standard window I mean any window of a regular rectangular shape with space above it and to the sides.

It could be wider than it is long, have an attractive frame, and be recessed into the wall.

The main points are:

  • It has enough space either side for stackback.
  • There is ample room above the frame for a top treatment if that's what you want.

The shape and position of the window doesn't limit you in your choice of drapery design.

Sill Length Curtains

curtains below sillCurtains finish below sill

My preference is to use floor length drapes whenever possible. I think they always look more elegant.

But sometimes it isn't possible, or advisable. You might have a deep radiator or warm air outlet which may prevent your drapes reaching to the floor.

Or in your child's bedroom, you might want to keep the drapery out of the way.

If you do use this method, I think it's best if the drapes finish about 4 inches below the sill.

Of course, you can also use top treatments such as cornices and valances. Swags are usually too much, because they make the treatment look overdone.

Floor Length Curtains

floor lengthFloor length curtains

Floor length drapes are always more elegant than sill length ones. For this reason I have always recommended clients to have their drapes finish on or near the floor whenever possible.

Because of the weight of fabric, these drapes are able to hang better and maintain their folds.

Although you can use a simple track such as Swish de Lux or similar to support the drapes, this doesn't takes away from the treatment effect. If possible use a good thick pole, or any top treatment.

If the goal is to treat the window simply but effectively, then my preferred choice has always been a pole. Because poles are available in all sorts of sizes and designs, they allow for a great range of curtain drapes ideas.

Curtains with Cornice (Pelmet)

corniceCurtains with shaped cornice

Because there is plenty of space above the window, you can incorporate a cornice. Although you can fit a cornice against the ceiling if necessary, top treatments always look best if there is space above them.

A straight cornice would have been one option, but here I've illustrated a shaped one. One advantage is that the area of the cornice isn't too large. Also, because it slopes upwards towards the center of the window, the maximum amount of light is able to enter the room.

Tall windows lend themselves to having their top treatments coming down at the sides. This shape helps to frame the window and give a pleasing effect.

Curtains with Valance

curtains with valanceCurtains with valance

Using a valance is a great idea whenever you want a top treatment which is softer than a cornice.

It's easier to make than swags, but you can also make it as interesting as you like by the use of trimmings.

You can keep the base of the valance level for a an easy and simple solution. Or shape it, as illustrated here.

If the fabric you're using is heavily patterned, it's usually best to avoid too many trimmings, as they tend to make the overall effect too fussy.

One trimming which looks good on all sorts of drapery valances is a bullion fringe. This is used on the bases of easy chairs and couches, but looks equally effective when sewn to the base of your valance.

Curtains with Swags

curtains with swagsCurtains with swags and cascades (tails)

The ultimate in window treatments is using swags and cascades.

Note the following:

  1. The amount of fabric you'll need for swags and cascades can easily come to one third to one half of the fabric needed for the curtains.
  2. It will take longer to design, cut out the patterns, and make these than to make the drapes.
  3. Because of the extra fabric needed, this method will cost more.

But the rewards are worth it! If you have a room where you want to really make a statement, this is the way to do it.

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