The fine art of choosing the right curtains for your home

A home stylist provides a guide on how to choose the perfect curtains and drapes for your home

Woman reading book while drinking tea next to window with curtains

Curtains and drapes add fluid drama to rooms. They are my go-to décor elements when I want a quick and easy way to transform my home. There’s a lot I have learnt about curtains over the years. And I hope these little bits of information I have put together will help you too.

Let the seasons rule your fabric choices This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have seen people use the same drapes all year through. The no. 1 rule when it comes to curtains is to dress your windows as per the seasons. Good as a silky sheer looks, it is not really practical to use it in hot summery weather. The same goes for light cottons in winter. In general, you would want to opt for mull, linen, cotton or jute in summer, and silk, faux silk, nylon in winter. If you are opting for sheers, then read the information in the next point.

How thick or thin? There is a slightly technical aspect to cover here. GSM [or grams per sq. metre] is a technical term that refers to the density of weaves in a fabric. Know that a high-GSM fabric will let absolutely no light in, while a low-GSM fabric is very transparent. So depending on whether you are going to use a lining or not, or whether you need a black-out curtain or not, knowing what GSM it is, will help you shop better, especially when you shop online.

Good as a silky sheer looks, it is not really practical to use it in hot summery weather

Do you need a lining or not? This is a personal decision really. Sometimes, the curtain is merely aesthetic, and not functional, especially in a dining or kitchen area when light fabrics are used to let in as much air and sunshine. But in general, lining will add an element of body to your curtains, and make them look good and new for a longer time. Even cottons last longer when lined. Do ensure that both the lining and the fabric are pre-washed to allow for shrinkage before they are stitched. Or you may end up with an arch shaped curtain when one of these fabrics shrinks after the first wash.

Fabric care. As a rule, I opt for low-maintenance fabric for most of my curtains. By low-maintenance I mean ones that can be dipped and dried like my jute curtains, or my cotton ones that can be machine-washed and lightly ironed. I would consider curtains that need to be dry-cleaned only if they are meant for once-a-year events like Diwali or Christmas. So consider what works best for your home when you buy your curtains.

Choosing the right colours

Take a look at your room and notice what colours dominate. What colours are scarce, but nevertheless stand out? What colour are your walls and upholstery fabric? For your drapes in summer, opt for lighter shades that either contrast or blend in with your wall colour. But let that not be a hard and fast rule. If you are opting for linen or cotton sheers, your room could actually benefit from bright curtains. Another idea is to play with several cool colours.

Ensure that both the lining and the fabric are pre-washed to allow for shrinkage before they are stitched

In winter, you could either opt for the same colours in winter-friendly fabrics, or add a darker colour to the palette of your room. In the rains, opt for light fabrics that can be machine-washed and are low maintenance.

While the colours are a personal choice, take the help of a colour wheel to guide you on the colours that contrast and/or match your existing colour palette.


  • If you are using an existing colour from your room’s palette, play around with textures in your curtain fabric. They add a lovely dimension to the décor
  • Opt for blackout curtains only if your room gets too much light. For instance, bright early morning light may interfere with your sleep cycle, and it makes sense to use a blackout curtain.
  • Thick fabrics will also block the ventilation. So opt for thick, high GSM and non-transparent curtains only if your window lacks privacy.
  • Carry swatches of your room’s key colours in your wallet or purse. You never know when you are going to chance upon the perfect set of drapes for your space, and ensuring that you have them in the right colours will save you a lot of heartbreak and money.
  • Avoid using shiny, heavy fabric such as velvet, because velvet looks best on smaller surface areas such as pillow covers. Window lengths are relatively expansive and velvet can add a garish contrast to an otherwise tastefully done-up room.
  • As you build up the décor in your room, make “looks” for each time of the year. For instance, an everyday look can work for daily use, but when you have a party, you could pull out your “entertaining look” where all you have to do is change your curtains, cushion covers and table runners and your home can get transformed!

Curtains and drapes come in different heading styles these days. Just remember to match the heading with the occasion. An eyelet curtain would look great in a formal setting, whereas tabs are better for dining areas and bedrooms.

Happy decorating!

This was first published in the May 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Sharon D'souza
Sharon D’souza is the founder of The Keybunch, a design and décor blog. She is a content strategist and a freelance writer. She also designs and makes custom chalkboard products and home accessories, and consults as a home stylist.


  1. It’s interesting that this article recommends against velvet. I’ve seen a lot of homes that look beautiful with velvet curtains, although they had the proper setting. It makes sense that they could go great in my theater room as a prop of sorts, while they might be out of place for the curtains in my room. Thanks for the post!


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