Before we get started, let’s talk about the differences between curtains and drapes because these terms are not interchangeable. Curtains are relatively inexpensive and thin solutions to window coverings. They can come in a variety of materials, patterns and colors. More often than, many companies like to call their curtains “low-cost drapes”. But that simply isn’t the same thing. Curtains are like fast fashion— It’s a quick and cheap way to cover your window space, albeit temporarily. Curtains are not made to last and in many cases will need to be replaced over a short period of time due to exposure to sunlight, humidity and dust.
Drapery, on the other hand, is a thick-fabric meant to hang and add a dimensional appearance of it’s own. Traditionally used to help with blocking or softening sunlight, drapes are just as functional as they are decorative. Usually made from premium fabrics and stitched with distinctive pleats when folded, they’re made to last, and in many cases become an heirloom piece over time. Examples of drapery can be found throughout history, from large estates to royal courts and even in art. Because it’s made from premium fabrics and measured to fit and flow with a certain panache, they’re considered custom as well.
Most people are familiar with curtains in one shape and form or another, especially since places like IKEA and Amazon flood the masses with cheap, fast products. Drapes need to be looked at as part of your overall investment in your house and living areas where you’ll spend most of your time— Think bedrooms, living areas, lounges… Whereas you might consider curtains for the bathroom or enclosed patio. Whether you want some additional privacy or just want to dress up your windows, drapery is an excellent choice that will likely last a lifetime. Before you make a purchase, however, you should consider some basic practices when choosing your drapes.
Do invest in your Drapery, Don’t go cheap!
Probably the most important rule when selecting your drapes is to think about the quality of the fabric above all else. Good drapes will last a lifetime and in some cases can be passed along to the next generation. Consider the weight and feel of the fabric when looking for quality drapes. The fabric should have an even thickness and be firm yet soft to the touch. High quality drapes shouldn’t wrinkle that much and in some cases, not at all. Investing in good hardware is just as important. You wouldn’t want to match beautiful drapery with a cheap hanging rod that barely supports the weight of the fabric, would you?
Measure Properly or not at all
One of the biggest challenges in selecting drapes is getting the right measurements from the start. If you end up too small, your drapes are going to look like they don’t belong. If you end up measuring too big, your drapes will overwhelm your space. As a rule, you should double whatever width your window opening is. This will give you plenty of fabric that will still pleat properly when closed, without looking like a bedsheet. A better alternative would be to let a professional do the measuring for you.
Installing your drapes
Here’s the thing, most companies that sell drapes will also offer installation. If this is the case, let a professional install it. They’ll be familiar with tolerances for every size window and will make sure all of the hardware functions properly. If you prefer to do it yourself, consider where you plan on securing the hardware into the wall, as well as the way the weight will be distributed along the length of the rod. Failing either of these steps may damage your wall or could even result in your drapes collapsing.
Good quality drapes should require minimal maintenance, however, it’s still a good idea to dust and steam every now and then. Simply using a brush attachment on a vacuum extension is enough to give your drapes a good dusting without damaging the mounting hardware or cloth. Having an inexpensive steamer on hand will help to replenish the volume of the folds in your drapes and keep them looking new.
There’s no denying that adding drapery to your room can enhance the overall look and feel of all the elements in your design. You can easily make a room look bigger or smaller and even add an extra layer of luxury and depth. As with any window treatment, drapes should reflect your personal style while giving you comfort in your surroundings. So even if you step outside the boundaries and rules of design, drapery will carry its own value and reflect your time and thoughtful touches.