Nowadays, a living room is rarely the room where you “live.” However, they tend to house the biggest screens, our most impressive bookcases, and the finest furniture: after all, this is often the room devoted to entertaining guests. It is, therefore, a very public one, and it should look ready to impress whoever comes to your home for the first time.
It would be impossible to cover everything there is to know to design a “magazine worthy” living room. However, we can give you in-depth information about window dressings. Whether you are going for heavy, luxurious curtains or more utilitarian blinds, your window dressings are bound to be one of the most prominent decorative elements in your living room.
In This Article
- The Basics: Blinds Vs. Curtains
- What are Blinds?
- What are Curtains?
- How to Choose Blinds or Curtains
- Buying Curtains and Blinds for your Living Room
The Basics: Blinds Vs. Curtains
When it comes to selecting window treatments, the first dilemma that you will need to solve is the choice between blinds or curtains. There are advantages to both, and there are many ways you can alter the overall ambiance of your living room with either.
But what are the exact differences between them exactly? If you are completely new to the world of décor, you may need some orientation regarding the different types of window dressings out there.
What are Blinds?
Blinds are a type of window dressing made from stiff and thick cloth, plastic, or metal – basically, any type of material that won’t simply hang and curl freely.
The most popular type of blinds is the vertical office blinds that we have come to associate with questionable detectives in old-school mystery movies. However, blinds do not need to be plasticky or cold. Nowadays, you can find blinds made of fragrant, warm woods coated in soft fabrics or showcasing a variety of designs.
The main type of blinds available out there include:
- Vertical blinds.These are ubiquitous parallel slabs that often run from the top to the bottom of your windows. They usually come with a rolling mechanism that allows you to adjust their angle, alternating between more privacy and more light.
- Horizontal blinds.Sometimes also known as Venetian blinds, horizontal blinds are one of the strongest tools in the suburban spy set. They consist of horizontal slats attached with a side tape. The tape lets them close more tightly than vertical ones.
- Pleated blinds.Instead of a series of thin slabs, pleated blinds are made from one piece of pre-bent, stiff cloth. This is held together by vertical strings or wires, like an accordion.
- Honeycomb blinds.Honeycomb blinds look similar to pleated ones, but each pleat has a small opening in the middle. As a result, they can be a bit bouncy when pulled down, but they also offer insulation
- Panel blinds.A looser, thicker version of vertical blinds, panel blinds consist of wider sections of cloth or plastic that move along a track. Because of this, they can work as space dividers.
- Roman blinds.This high-end model is usually made from a single piece of stiff fabric (such as jute) that can fold behind itself along horizontal sections. Roman blinds provide a very neat, classy look, but they are prone to jamming.
Despite all the variations they offer, blinds have a pretty consistent set of advantages and disadvantages over curtains.
Pros of Living Room Blinds
On average, blinds tend to be more budget-friendly than curtains. Most models are also detachable, which makes them easier to take down for washing or deep cleaning. If you opt for plastic or wooden shades, you will only need to dust them off every few weeks: they won’t trap dust or mites, making them safer for people with allergies.
Cons of Living Room Blinds
Except for roman blinds, most blind models fail to provide complete closure or total darkness. Vertical and horizontal blinds will always leave tiny spaces in between each slab, even when completely closed. Most blinds can be opened or closed with a side cord, which can pose a hazard for homes with cats or small children.
What are Curtains?
Curtains are panels of soft, smooth fabric, which usually hang more or less freely from a curtain rod. Unlike blinds, curtains are usually placed in layers, which opens the door for bolder color combinations and visual effects.
Despite the wide variety of styles, curtains are usually classified by length:
- Puddling-length curtains. These curtains usually go up to two to three inches below the floor and then puddle on the floor.
- Kissing-length.This is when the bottom edge of the curtain is long enough to barely scrape or kiss the floor.
- Floating curtains. Often used for very high windows, these leave a significant amount of space (at least 5 inches) between the bottom edge of the curtains and the floor.
- These are very short curtains, meant to cover only the top third or top half of the window.
- Café curtains. These short curtains are designed to cover the bottom half of a window. They may or may not be paired with a valance. Instead of a stiff rod, they are usually hung from an elastic line
Most of the design opportunities offered by curtains come from mixing different fabrics. Very light, sheer fabrics can be combined with linen, velvet, or blackout linings.
Pros of Living Room Curtains
It is easier to include elaborate designs or patterns on a curtain panel than on blinds. If your room is decorated with a vintage or art-deco-inspired motif, curtains will work better with this look.
Besides, curtains are generally better than blinds at becoming the centerpiece of a room. By mixing sheer and heavy fabrics, curtains also offer you the possibility to switch from complete darkness (and the subsequent privacy) to a mild blur that lets you enjoy sunlight completely. Finally, curtain panels are also better at covering a window completely than blinds, as they would leave no slit in between
Cons of Living Room Curtains
The main disadvantage of installing curtains is their cost: quality fabrics are rarely cheap, especially since most curtains are usually made in custom sizes – unlike drapes, which are easy to find in standard sizes.
Installing curtains is also pretty expensive and complex. Thick fabrics like velvet tend to be too heavy for clip-on rods or lines. Therefore, they usually need to be attached to drilled-in rods, making them unfeasible for renters.
Finally, maintaining curtains may require its own budget. Certain fabrics can trap dust, mold, or even smells too easily. To preserve the color and design, they usually need to be dry-cleaned. If you have pets who are still being potty-trained, this may turn out to be an impossible task.
How to Choose Blinds or Curtains
Having weighed the pros and cons of each, there are many factors to consider before making the final decision between blinds or curtains – and most importantly, which one would be the ideal one for your living room.
Often, the most important limiting factor is money. If your budget is limited, then you may need to choose blinds. Either choice you make can be adapted to fit your room, depending on the overall style. Look at the other materials in the room and decide what would match the existing trends best.
If you are fond of modern or industrial designs or are working with a light color pattern, blinds can blend in with the rest of the room without eliciting much attention. Conversely, more classical looks often require curtains surrounded by hanging drapes or a window scarf.
If you have a massive TV or home theatre directly across the window, blinds may also offer additional advantages: mainly, they will allow you to adjust the amount of light you let in more accurately and to make the best of your TV’s brightness settings.
Other aspects that you should consider include the height of the ceiling, the type and size of the windows, and the direction of the incoming light.
One of the most common problems in modern homes is that ceilings are just not built as high as they used to. If this is the case in your home, you can use living room curtains or blinds to correct it.
Thin, horizontal blinds, especially in a color that matches the wall, can visually elongate the room and make the ceiling appear higher. Alternatively, you can play with the position of your curtain rods for a similar visual effect: use kissing length curtains hung as close to the ceiling as possible.
Window Type and Size
If you have wide rectangular windows, it will be easier to install blinds in the correct size. On the other hand, square windows tend to look blocky. From the outside, this can be minimized by adding flower beds or other decorative elements. From the inside, layered curtains may be necessary.
Some elaborate types of windows, such as lookout windows or bay windows, may require a lighter touch to be admired. Here, wooden or roman blinds in a neutral color may be best.
The Direction of the Incoming Light
This is often one of the hardest aspects to figure out at a new home, as the amount and strength of light may vary throughout the year – so an ideal solution in September may be uncomfortably by April.
The total amount of light entering a window is better controlled with blinds rather than curtains. In some cases, though, you may just have direct rays coming from one side of the window (especially the top). In this case, you can combine heavy valances with a sheer or light curtain underneath: this will allow you to keep most of the view while still protecting yourself from the most intense angles.
Buying Curtains and Blinds for your Living Room
Are you ready to make a final decision? If you need toms extra help bringing all these tips into the real world, check out some of these options. Feel free to order directly, or just use them as a starting point to decide what you want!
Moroccan-inspired Jacquard Curtains and Grommet with Thermal Insulation
This high-end set of draperies offer a great example of the full potential behind well-chosen curtains. If you love ethnic styles and have predominantly white or light-colored furniture, these curtains will bring out a sunny, feminine quality to the overall room.
The combination of light blues and creams will evoke the warmth of summer, even during the winter. Moreover, the thermal insulation layer will help you keep the room warm (or cool) throughout the year, reducing your energy bill.
Danadesk Sheer Pink and Gold Curtains
On the other end of the trend spectrum, this set of pink and gold curtains will match a more traditional definition of luxury. They combine a sheer white curtain embroidered with gold Regency-inspired application with a heavier lining of pink fabric.
Although the sheer layer is delicate, the pink fabric underneath can be easily separated and is machine washable. If you install them on a grommet, try to place them as high as possible to enhance their decadent feel.
Radiance Bamboo Roman Blinds
This option provides both privacy and insulation for a standard family home – the kind where functionality is the goal, and children or dogs are routinely left free to make a mess.
The bamboo lines will provide some thermal insulation without trapping any odors or dust. These blinds are also certified as being made from driftwood, ensuring that they are environmentally sustainable.
Relektevt Cordless Faux Window Blinds
These simple but sturdy blinds will best match a living room with relatively narrow windows or one that is mostly decorated with earthy or brown furniture or accents.
These blinds are made from a very resilient, scratch-resistant plastic, painted and treated to look like wood – down to the texture. They will be easy to clean or disinfect with any standard sanitizing spray.
The cordless closure system is safe and easy to operate. By relying on wider, dark-colored slabs, these blinds can effectively block most of the light entering a room. Still, if possible, try to buy a set that’s at least an inch wider and two inches longer than your actual windows.