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Curtains Vs Drapes


Curtains and drapes are the most classic window treatments and by far, the most effective with regard to privacy allowance, light control and unparalleled elegance.  While we often use the two terms ‘curtains’ and ‘drapes’ interchangeably, it is noteworthy that they are not exactly the same. So, if you’re wondering what’s the difference between curtains and drapes, read on. And also learn which of these window treatments is right for you!

Order custom curtains and drapes from Spiffy Spools online in any size. We offer over 3,000 fabrics and patterns to pick from, so you can dress your windows exactly to your liking!


What are Curtains?


Curtains VS Drapes: What are Curtains?


Typically, curtains are window panels created with mid to lightweight fabrics and are unlined, which makes it easy to operate them. Curtains suit frequently-used windows as they glide easily on the pole given their lightweightedness. They have a summery charm to them as they don’t block all light and are more dressed down as compared to drapes. 

There are several types of curtains that come in a variety of lengths, mostly suited to casual and semi-formal spaces. For instance, café curtains dress the lower half of the window. Sill-length curtains reach upto the sill or a few inches below the sill. Floor-length curtains stand an inch above the floor or gently touch the floor.


What are Drapes?


 What are Drapes?


Drapes are window panels typically featuring heavier, more “luxury” fabric options. Due to their weight and thickness, they tend to block out light slightly more effectively than curtains. Additionally, they are also lined for privacy or room darkening. The lining adds to the volume of the drapery, helping to form more sumptuous pleats. It also protects the face fabric from sun damage and wearing off due to usage.  

Drapes are often designed to look dressed up with intricate patterns, rich colors, and fine finishes such as tassel trims. They also often touch or “puddle” on the floor, doubling the luxuriousness and amping up their formal appeal. The puddled drapes are often used as a decorative option and feature carefully styled fabric pools. Given this length and heavy weight, they may be difficult to hang and are mostly not ideal for windows that are frequently opened and closed.




The Primary Distinctions


Curtains VS Drapes


The fabric’s making, lining and panel length are the key factors that distinguish curtains from drapes. Hence, we may conclude that the primary distinction between curtains and drapes ultimately comes down to formality.  

Drapery is the most formal window treatment you can select. While curtains can also be formal, they are significantly more casual when compared to drapes. Curtains are a versatile option that can be dressed up or down, whereas you can always expect drapes to bring a regal feel to the space.

In summary, the three key points of distinction – that establish drapes as the more formal option are: 

  1. Weight of Fabric: Curtains are made of lightweight fabrics that have a casual homely vibe to them. Drapes feature heavy statement fabrics and are designed to look dressed up for a formal setup.
  2. Lining: Curtains are not lined so that they can filter light in and be easy to operate. Drapes are lined either for privacy or room-darkening, making them more robust and sumptuous in visual appeal.
  3. Length: Curtains come in various types of lengths – from as short as cafe curtains to as long as floor-length curtains. Whereas, drapes are always floor-length and may be specially designed to puddle on the floor for a more glamorous look.


Curtains Vs. Drapes: What is Right for You?


White drapes for home office


To help you decide whether curtains or drapes are the right option for your window, consider the following questions:


How Formal is the Overall Space? 

If the area is envisioned to look dressed up to entertain guests and host events and parties, you need formal drapes to live up to the mandate. Options such as silk and velvet are a great pick because they are heavy, “luxury” fabrics.

Fabrics with intricate embroidery and traditional weave such as jacquard, brocade, and damask also fall in this category because of their exquisite details and involvement of skilled craftsmanship.

For private areas of the home or when you require curtains primarily for their functional qualities, like while covering a closet space, you can go for casual or semi-formal curtains. Options such as sheers, linen, cotton, and their blends are the best choices because they are mid to lightweight fabrics. 


How Often Do You Operate the Window?

Curtains are generally desired for spaces where more activity takes place within the home. Hence, they are more oriented toward fulfilling their function rather than adding decorative elements to the space. Due to the practical ease they offer, curtains are the best candidates for frequently used windows. Given their light weight and ease of movement, they can be easily operated to cover and uncover the windows. In high-traffic zones, keep to curtains that stand an inch above the floor. And in very casual spaces or where the safety of kids and pets is at stake, you can even go for short curtains and cafe curtains.

In spaces purely meant to entertain where high traffic is rare and windows are least used, long drapes are ideal. Puddled drapes are typically meant to stay stationary and are ideal for rarely operated windows. However, you can also style drapes to suit more used windows by making them just touch the floor, allowing you to operate them more easily.


Which Length Makes Sense in the Space? 

The length of your curtains or drapes should also factor in the purpose of the room. While puddled drapes speak of extravagance and may relay your personal design statement most eloquently, they may not be the right choice for each and every kind of space. 

For example, a lengthy window treatment may work in a dining room, but not in a kitchen where they can aggravate fire hazards. Similarly, short curtains may look fun-loaded and homely but may seem out of context in a living room that features curated furniture and high-end decor or a bedroom that needs to be kept warm or cooler with an insulative window treatment for room-darkening and temperature control.


Is The Space Beneath the Window Free or Obstructed?

Now no matter what vibe you’re going after or what design style, sometimes the architectural factors will have a louder say. If your windows simply don’t have the potential to be dressed to the floor with heavy drapes because of obstacles like furniture or radiators underneath, short curtains are your only go-to. Alternatively, if your heart is set on drapery, you can go for shades or blinds for functional purposes and flank them with narrow decorative drapes that touch the floor.


Do You Need Higher Privacy or Room Darkening?

Unlined curtains filter in light and load the space with surreal charm. Sheer curtains are always preferred for rooms where light is an asset to the decor. But what lightweight curtains don’t provide is 100% privacy. Firstly, the interior spaces are visible from outside when light is put on in the evenings. Secondly, they fail to contain sound as they don’t form an impenetrable barrier. If you have houses close by, this can be bothersome as you may disturb others as well as be disturbed by their regular chit-chats. 

So, while selecting curtains for nurseries, bedrooms, and media rooms, adding a blackout lining is vital. It blocks light efficiently, curtails sound to a great extent, and does not allow even a shadow to appear on the face fabric. If you don’t need room-darkening, go for privacy lining so that the curtains can contain more light, heat, and sound, than otherwise.

If you have asked these questions to yourselves and gotten the answers, you surely know by now whether curtains or drapes are right for your space.


Order Custom Curtains and Drapes Today


Order custom curtains from Spiffy Spools


As you can see, there’s a distinct difference between curtains and drapes, however in common parlance, the terms can be used interchangeably. What is more important is to know how they are to be styled to meet your needs and aesthetic goals most perfectly. 

Once you’ve decided what look you are going for, it is easy to decide between the two and design them appropriately. Some spaces in the home may be styled with curtains and others with drapes, and now you know how to make that key decision. Check out our blogs and catalogs for more inspiration and decide what’s best for your home. And don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you have along the way!



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