Window treatments work quadruple duty in your household (you heard that right)—not only do they keep nosey neighbors at bay, they filter light (sleep in later? yes please!), help insulate your home against heat or cold, and contribute to the overall look and feel of your space. But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Before you go ordering expensive custom curtains (which if it’s in your budget, by all means…), here are a few expert tips to keep in mind. We won’t leave you hanging!
Curtains are icing on the cake, giving your home a more pulled together look and complimenting your space’s style. “I like to keep things simple and straightforward when it comes to drapery,” says our lead designer, Brady Burke. “I find that with draperies less is more. I often add color and detail to a design through accessories and décor.”
There’s no reason to go over the top, unless that is the look you’re aiming for—simple is A OK. “My favorite choices are classic whites and textured neutrals,” says Brady. “But you’re looking to add flair, try fringed curtains, stripes, a bold color, or a rich textured velvet.” (Check out Anthropologie, one of our Havenly Design Award winners, for all of your whimsical curtain wishes.)
Read on for Brady’s favorite budget-friendly curtains in every style, plus some insider secrets to sourcing the draperies of your dreams.
Light & Bright Whites
White drapes are a classic—they go with anything, in any home, in any style. White brings a crisp, clean look to your space. With a variety of fabrics from sheer gauzy linen to heavy 100% cotton, there is most certainly a set you’re sure to love. Here are Brady’s go-to’s:
“My first choice is the Pottery Barn Broadway Drape. They come in three sizes and are sold as a pair, which is a win off the bat,” says Brady. “This set is made from a solid cotton, so will stretch much less than linen and add a simple and clean look to any design.” Curtains that are sold in a set can deliver a bang for the buck.
Pro tip: when purchasing curtains, be sure to double check if you’re ordering just one panel or a set of two.
CB2 Basketweave Blackout Drapes
“I’m also a big fan of the CB2 White Basketweave Blackout Drapes. They have a beautiful, soft texture. I love the basketweave fabric — it’s sturdy and matte so there isn’t any sheen,” Brady says. Made with tightly woven 100% cotton and lined with polyester, these panels provide a solid presence and block outside light, promoting a better night’s rest (without your room being weighed down by darker drapes). “They are thick and full, giving your room a luxe feel.”
Neutrals easily compliment any space they’re hung in. Textures, however, add more dimension and interest to your home for that effortlessly styled appeal. You know, put together, but not trying too hard.
“These curtain panels are lightweight and come in a ton of colorways, but the ‘Natural’ color is soft and organic. The texture adds just the right amount of detail to your windows.” The fabric has a light-filtering weave, letting sunshine stream through while still offering privacy and cutting any glare on reflective surfaces.
Light yet sturdy, the heathered fabric lets in a good amount of light while still giving you privacy. That way, you can close them during the day as needed and not feel like you’re living in darkness, vampire-style. Brady weighs in: “They have a subtle crosshatch pattern, adding an organic textured detail to any neutral design.”
Stripes are a timeless pattern that can elevate any space (cue: any homes from a Nancy Myers film). Wider stripes have a classic feel reminiscent of a big beach umbrella and laid-back summer days, while thinner stripes feel inspired by the French countryside and create the illusion of elongating the room and raising the ceiling. Stripes are a sophisticated way to add visual interest to your space without too much fanfare.
“My all-time favorite draperies are the Riviera Stripe collection from Pottery Barn. I love the vertical detail and how it works to draw your eye up,” Brady says. “The stripes are subtle and classy and can play well with multiple styles. They can add a modern touch in contemporary spaces, a classic touch to a more traditional home, or even bring a coastal feel to a Cali Cool design.” Not to mention, their subtle blackout liner helps to minimize light for even sweeter dreams.
And while we’re a fan of light and airy neutral curtains for their chic versatility, textiles can be a great place to play with color, texture, or even pattern. Just like with an accent wall, colored draperies can add visual contrast and a touch of drama to your space. But, far less permanent. Thanks to the lower price point, you can easily change them if your tastes shift.
PB Teen Classic Sail Cloth Drape, in Navy
Did you know you can often find stylish and affordable decor through the kids’ department of your favorite brands? “RHTeen has an amazing lighting section, and I often find affordable and stylish draperies through Pottery Barn Teen & Kids,” Brady explains. “The Classic Sail Cloth Drape in Navy from PBTeen is a great way to add a bold color to your room without breaking the bank.”
When it comes to print, the options are endless. Go for a global motif for that boheme flair, a geometric pattern for a modern vibe, or a repeating floral reminiscent of the cottagecore trend. “The Miro from Anthropologie adds just the right amount of floral — on trend, but not a throw back to grandma’s house. And the versatile, dusty blue hue operates almost like a neutral, softening the impact.”
“Hung over your windows, velvet curtains add a cozy and luxe feeling to your space. They look especially good in a bedroom,” Brady advises. “I often select velvet curtains in a bold color to add a bit of oomph to a contemporary or modern look.”
Although velvet is a more expensive material, it adds an elevated feel to any room. These Cotton Viscose Evergreen Curtain Panels from CB2 are a rich dark green, making a bold statement and conjuring up royalty vibes. As Brady says, “I love velvet so you will typically find me adding it to any design where it makes sense.” Wham, glam, thank you ma’am!
Insider Design Tips
Ready to shop? Keep Brady’s expert advice in mind and you’ll find the ultimate budget-friendly drapes for your home.
- While pole pocket drapes are easier to hang and manage, sometimes, choosing grommet drapes tends to be the more affordable route.
- Measure first! We always recommend hanging curtains “high and wide.” Meaning at least 6-12 inches above the top of the window frame, and extending the rod out beyond the window border so the curtains are just dusting that inside frame. It gives the illusion of larger windows while maximizing natural light.
- No highwaters, please. Take them from the top of the frame (see above) to the floor.
- Don’t forget to check out the kids’ and teens’ departments of your favorite brands for more affordable (yet still stylish) options.
- Sticking with solid cotton or solid linen will ensure your drapery investment is worth the money—they’ll never go out of style.
- To give your drapes a more elevated (read: custom) look, dress them up with hardware. Choose a statement metal rod or drapery rings to hang them from.
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