If you would like to refresh your window treatments but find it difficult to envision what new curtains may look like, this article can help. Here, we discuss different kinds of window dressings and illustrate the ideas with photographs. The links can help you bring curtain ideas to reality and add color, zing and character to a room.

Complement Décor

Curtains can highlight décor, serve as a focal point or add interest to windows. Carefully choosing curtain color, texture and pattern can transform a room or a window from ordinary to interesting.

This bold, colorful geometric curtain pattern pulls design elements together, allows light when needed and offers privacy as well.

Here, curtains tone down a busy room. The neutral color and classic design of full-length linen curtains with valances draw the eye away from the eclectic combination of color, patterns and objects to balance the room's decor.

Decorative rods and tiebacks complement the color and pattern of the curtain. The eye is drawn to the window, which is embellished with ornamentation that matches curtain hardware. A small window becomes an attractive focal point for a room.

Nautical décor creates a cohesive look with color, design and light. Here are two examples of how curtains add to a nautical decorative scheme.

Two styles of window coverings using the same fabric pull the look together. The light background complements the light color of the rattan furniture. The blue print echoes the blue accents of the room. Note the thin, dark rods and the dark trim on the shade that bring coherence to windows.

Here, color and geometric designs create an entirely different atmosphere. The blue stripes and trim on the cream-colored curtains echo the stripes on the upholstery and the geometric pattern of the rug and pillows. Note the thickness of the dark curtain pole that brings out the color of the wood in the furniture. The dark color of the window mullions tie into the navy and white theme. The room is balanced by plain white lamps and light blue and white accessories.


Sheer curtains work well in many situations that don't require privacy. They give a room an open, airy feeling while offering some modulation of light and privacy. If you need thermal or light-blocking curtains some of the time, layer sheers with heavy drapery that can be opened and closed.

What makes these sheers interesting is the contrast of the dark eyelet rings and dark rods with the white of the curtains.

Here, translucent linen sheers grace a formal room.

Don't limit curtains to the interior. These flowing sheers around an outside gazebo shield the area from direct sun and provide privacy.

Light-Controlling Shades and Blinds

Shades control light as well as enhance the décor of a room. Matchstick blinds, Roman shades, solar shades and vertical blinds complement a variety of decorative styles. Many are inexpensive to purchase.

Take advantage of summer sun and create a casual, beach-house atmosphere with shells and glass. Hanging trinkets from nautical rope at windows gives a fun look to a room. Note the plain canvas tied to hooks over the other window. The window treatment blends with the rustic furniture and earthy look of the fireplace. If privacy is an issue, install shades close to the glass. Roll them up during the day and down when you want privacy.

Solar shades minimize heat gain without blocking light or a view.

Matchstick roll-down shades give a casual feel to this living room. The warm wood color complements the wooden ceiling.

This Roman shade in a boldly colored ikat pattern enlivens an otherwise ho-hum window.

Here is another example of using window coverings to harmonize color and design. The window becomes a focal point, the muted light grey shades balancing the dark grey walls and furnishings.

These emerald green shades look like artwork in this room. Attention is drawn to the windows, with pops of color in accessories complementing the jewel-toned green. The neutral carpet and upholstery balance the look.

Light and airy, these Roman shades form a decorative backdrop to a comfortable sitting room. The speckled pattern of grey and white draws the eye to the window. The striped upholstery and geometric Moroccan rug contrast with the circular design on the shades. The warm hue of the honey-colored wood furniture offsets the cold colors.

Pops of Color

Judicious use of bold color at windows can make an effective design statement.

Here, the purple at the windows is echoed by upholstery and a floral arrangement.

In this room, turquoise curtains set the color scheme and command the eye to the window.

These dark, patterned curtains create a mood.

Expanses of red curtains and deep valances let the windows make the color statement in this room.

Personalize Your Window Coverings

Passamenterie, or adding decorative fringe and ornamentation to window treatments, personalizes and embellishes curtains, blinds and shades. Fringe, ruffles, pompoms, ribbon and more can turn a blasé curtain into a personalized statement.

Bright yellow curtains are highlighted with tasseled fringe. 

Here, ruffles give a romantic look to otherwise plain curtains.

Whether you purchase ready-made window treatments, work with a designer for a custom look or prefer do-it-yourself projects, these curtain ideas can help you define what appeals to you. Use your imagination and taste to create a mood, set a color scheme and enhance the ambience of your living space.

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