Living Room Curtains: the Complete Guide to Beautiful Drapery

Living room curtains in large scale ikat fabric from Ballard Designs

If you’ve ever walked into a room and thought that something is missing, you may want to take a second look at your living room curtains. Window treatments are essential in every space, but none more so than your living room. We all want our living rooms to feel cozy, relaxing, and inviting, and the softness of window treatments instantly creates that cocoon-like feel we’re all after.

In this blogpost, we’re sharing how to successfully add living room curtains that will transform your space and complete your room.

Why You Need Window Treatments in Your Living Room

Don’t underestimate the importance of window treatments in a room.

  • Add Softness — In every room, you should balance soft and hard surfaces. If you have lots of wooden or metal furniture, add extra plush rugs, soft upholstery, and, yes, lush window treatments. Think about a scale and imagine adding something into each side while you’re bringing in furniture pieces.
  • Emphasize Tall Ceilings — In every room, you need something to add height and draw your eyes up. A great light fixture, a very tall furniture piece, or, you guessed it, window treatments can all accomplish this. Hang curtain rods near the ceiling to get the most height out of your drapery.
  • Add Color and Pattern — It’s normal to lean on classic, neutral elements in your room when making  furniture investments. If your room is lacking drama (like color and pattern), a bold curtain panel will  create a focal point.
  • Draw Attention to the View — If you have a great view out of your windows, drapery panels are a great way to accentuate them. A curtain will add weight to your window frame and draw attention to out the window.
Living room curtains in green family room

Isabella Drapery Panels from Ballard Designs in a green living room

What type of curtain is best for your living room?

While window treatments give your living room a polished look, they also controlling light and offering privacy. Start by prioritizing what you issues you need to address in your space.

Ask yourself some questions about what you need in the room:

  • Am I happy with the amount of natural light my room receives?
  • Will I be closing my curtain panels?either for light filtering or privacy or both?
  • Are my windows in a difficult to reach place that will make it challenging to open and close?

Answering each of these questions will help you narrow down your options and ensure you choose window treatments that will function well for your room.

Double rod curtains in a bedroom with sheer and lined drapery panelsPicking the Perfect Style

1. Light Filtering & Privacy

If you have a living room with lighting challenges, window treatments will help make the space more comfortable. Here are some common challenges and which panels will help solve them:

  • I want more natural light but I need privacy — If you want to let in as much natural light as possible but you need privacy, choose a sheer curtain panel. The loose weave will let in light but filter your window for privacy.
  • I like light during the day, but want to block harsh rays during certain times — In a scenario like this, you may need window treatments with two types of panels. Start with a double rod kit, then add sheers on the back with a heavier, lined drape in the front. This gives you flexibility for privacy, harsh light, and gentle light.

Most of our window treatments are lined, which adds weight and body to a curtain panel, creating a more tailored and high end look.

2. What color should my curtains be?

There are lots of directions you can go when choosing living room curtains. Some designers love a subtle drapery panel that matches the wall color, while others prefer something bold that will make a dramatic statement. Both of these approaches are beautiful, and it really comes down to personal preference.

When trying to ask yourself how to decide the look and feel of your panels, ask yourself what is the focal point of the room. If you have art, a furniture piece, or something that is the center of attention, choose a window treatment that’s a supporting actor in the cast of your room.

If you’re missing a focal point, maybe a bold curtain panel is the perfect choice!

3. Mood for Your Living Room Curtains

Does your living room have a more formal feel? Or one that’s casual and laid-back? Figure out what kind of statement you want your room to make, and then let this guide your choice for curtain materials.

For more formal, dressier rooms — choose a Dupioni silk or a velvet curtain panel.

For more casual, laid-back rooms — opt for a simple linen or a playful pattern.


If you’ve read our blog or brushed up on your interior design skills you probably already know that, more often than not, interior design is math equation. How do you space furniture? How high should you hang your chandelier? How high should I hang my gallery wall?

Window treatments are a practice in precise measuring, and it’s crucial to measure properly before shopping for curtain panels to ensure you create the correct proportions and your panels will fit properly on your room’s windows.

What sizes curtain panels do I need?

Curtain panels should be 2x the width of your window. So if your window is 48 inches wide, you need about 100 inches of drapery width for the window.

Diagram for how wide your curtain panels should beIn most cases, living room curtain panels should skim the floors or be no more than 1 inch higher off the floor. Ready-made drapery panels typically come in 84-, 96- and 108-inch lengths, so you may have to round up to the closest panel size or move your rod an inch or two to accommodate the length.

Where should I hang curtain hardware?

Hang hardware at least 4-6 inches over your window, depending on the height of your ceilings. This emphasizes tall ceilings and makes your room seem larger.

Outermost brackets should be placed 4-8 inches past your window moulding. This way you can push panels fully past windows to let in more natural light.

How to Hang Curtain Panels

1. Different Methods for Hanging

There are lots of methods for hanging your drapery panels on a curtain rod, which we detail in our other drapery blogpost.

Each option has it’s pros and cons, but in general, we recommend hanging curtains with drapery pins and curtain rings. This will make your panel easiest to move and ensures a uniform length along your floor.

Hang living room curtains with drapery pins and curtain rings for designer look

2. When to Use a Double Rod Kit?

If you need to serve several purposes with your drapery panel, you may need two curtain options, like a sheer paired with a lined drape. This is easy with a double rod kit, which holds two curtain panels and lets them operate independently.

Add a sheer drapery panel to the back rod of your curtain, then add a bolder color or pattern in the front to create drama and more light filtering when needed.

Bay window with corner connectors in dining room as inspiration for living room curtains

3. Common Challenges

  • Bay Windows — Bay windows are always challenging because they make using a standard size rod impossible to account for the irregular shape of the window opening. In these cases, we recommend using a rod corner connecter.
  • Extra Wide Windows — If your windows don’t fit the standard width, consider adding a rod connector which can lengthen a standard rod by 6 inches or connect to rods for the perfect length.

Find more inspiration and information on living room curtains and other decorating secrets below:

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    March 26, 2023

    Great information. I will use your tips. Love the blue walls on the first photo. What’s the color?

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      March 28, 2023

      Thanks, Roni! It’s Benjamin Moore’s Exhale AF-515.
      Glad you like it,

  2. Reply

    Diane Pyle

    March 26, 2023

    Suggestions for window treatments over windows that have plantation shutters??

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      March 28, 2023

      Hi Diane,
      Drapery would be beautiful layered over plantation shutters. Just be sure you extend your curtain rods out past your window moulding so that you can draw your curtain panels back enough so that your shutters can still open and close without hitting your panels.
      Happy decorating!