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Blinds, Curtains, or Both? What to Consider Before Making a Decision

by Andra Hopulele
10 min. read

Dressing your home up to suit your needs is a great part of home ownership. When it comes to window treatments, you might be tempted to simply go for whatever looks good, or whatever is cheapest. However, it’s worth taking a bit of time to consider your options before making a choice. From blocking excessive sunlight to better controlling room temperature, the type and colour of the blinds and curtains you use can make a world of difference. So before you make a decision, take a look below at some points worth thinking about.

Blinking in the Morning Sun

The windows in your bedroom are among the most important to get right when it comes to choosing curtains or blinds. Numerous factors come into play, and each bedroom is different depending on where it’s situated. A room full of natural light might be a blessing, but for those bedrooms that face east and get a full blast of sunshine on clear mornings, you’ll need to think about how to block it out.

Not only can the blinding light rudely wake you up, but it can also make the room uncomfortably hot. In this case, it’s a good idea to fit adjustable blinds, slatted, roller or Venetian, that are designed to completely block out the light if needs be while allowing air to circulate. Lighter colours will reflect the sun’s heat, keeping your room marginally cooler.

Thick curtains will also effectively block the worst of the direct sunlight, but also prevent much natural light from coming in. This is perhaps okay in the bedroom, but for west or north facing living rooms, kitchens or dining rooms, where the sun is an issue during the daytime, it’s not a very flexible option. Here, adjustable blinds may be the better choice.

Temperature Control

Blinds, Curtains or Both

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Your choice of window treatments can play a large role in controlling the temperature in your home, or at least in certain rooms. Looking to keep the heat in? Opt for thick curtains or Roman blinds as they will completely cover your windows and prevent heat from escaping. Slatted and Venetian blinds are not so good for keeping the heat in, as the gaps allow warm air to escape.

To keep a warm room cool, it’s good to choose a treatment that will block out the worst of the UV rays, while letting the natural light in. Roller, vertical and Venetian blinds are the best choices in this case since they’re adjustable and are available in a variety of fabrics and thicknesses.

Functionality over Style

In a similar vein, consider what each room in your house is used for, and how direct sunlight will affect the day-to-day activities carried out there. For example, a home office will benefit from an adjustable window treatment that is able to block harsh sunlight that’s likely to obscure a computer screen. In the bathroom, where moisture is common, fabrics are likely to get damp, so more moisture-resistant treatments are often necessary.

Saving Cash

A combination of both blinds and curtains does look fantastic, but it soon becomes pricey if you plan to use this combo throughout the home. You can halve your costs by going with one or the other in rooms that are seldom used. Spare or smaller bedrooms and laundry rooms are good candidates for either curtains or blinds, but rarely both.

In this way, you’re able to invest more in the areas that are more commonly used, such as the kitchen, living room or bedrooms. By spending less in the other rooms, you can put more into these rooms, making them look great, while also being as functional as possible.

Showing Off

Blinds, Curtains or Both

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When you do want to go all out and show off with stylish window treatments, you can’t beat a set of fancy curtains. Well, perhaps a beautiful set of wooden blinds can work as well—or you could try having both! When thinking in terms of style, match window treatments to the theme of the room, rather than the other way round.

Rather than falling for a particular curtain pattern, look for something that will work with what you already have. But, if you must have those beautiful mahogany shutters, make sure there’s a room that they work well in.

Dust Busting

If you suffer dust allergies, choosing the right window treatments is especially important. Slatted blinds are particularly notorious for build-ups of dust and need to be wiped down or vacuumed regularly. Roman blinds are better but can be difficult to remove when they do need cleaning. Most curtains will absorb dust during their lifetime, but for the most part, they can be easily removed and periodically machine washed.

Expert Insights

When it comes to decorating your home, window treatments are seen as an afterthought rather than an important piece of the design puzzle. But the truth is the blinds and curtains we choose could make or break a room. Check out some expert opinions on how to get the most of an east-facing bedroom or a north-facing kitchen and make any room in your house shine.

Leslie Appleton

Leslie Appleton
Owner and Principal Designer at The Inspiration Nest

What would you advise someone who is on a tight budget but knows that drapery can make or break a room?

Drapery can add texture and warmth to a room; it can often pull a space together and is that perfect finishing touch. For those on a budget, there are lots of options out there for ready-to-hang drapery and hardware from your local big box stores such as Ikea. Shoot for a simple and timeless look by using materials such as linen or linen-looking fabric – its light, airy feel combined with a neutral color will provide a pulled-together looking space that you will love for years to come.

What are some common mistakes that most people make when hanging curtains?

People hanging curtains often make the mistake of hanging their curtain rods and drapery too low. Always go as high as possible with your rod. It creates height and draws the eye upward.

Also, be sure to allow your drapery to skim the floor- measure once and check twice!

Don’t be afraid of a little pattern or color. It often adds some drama to a room and it is a great way to pull some unexpected color in.

Frédérique Croze

Frédérique Croze
Interior Designer and Founder of Zü Design&Architecture

What would you advise someone who is on a tight budget but knows that drapery can make or break a room?

If you have a limited budget, the first possibility is to avoid the tailor-made curtains which can be quite expensive. Some well-known decoration stores have a large range of ready-made curtains, with different sizes, colours, materials, or hanging types that could fit your needs.

Another possibility is homemade curtains. It is quite easy, and you can find lots of sewing tutorials to help you. You could even use some old sheets instead of buying new fabrics. But you will need some equipment such as a sewing machine.

At last, I can share with you a Zü Design&Architecture tip, that can be used if you just need to give your windows a new outfit. Just buy one panel, and split it in two, for each side of the window. Two hems and it’s done!

What are some common mistakes that most people make when hanging curtains?

Most of the time, we encounter people who have invested in curtains without thinking about their needs. As an interior designer, I care about the needs of my client in their day-to-day life first, and then about the decoration. When it comes to curtains, it is important to think about their function: is it for aesthetics? Or to protect your privacy? To contain heat in your room? Or to darken it? You will need to answer those questions to select the right curtains for your home.

Another mistake we often see is the position of the rods. The perfect position for me is a high rod, to give you a sense of height in your room, and two wall fixtures need to be wide enough to allow you to pull the curtains off the sides. This way, your curtains won’t hide the light during the day.

Keysha Jillian

Keysha Jillian
Owner and Designer at K.Jillian Designs

What would you advise someone who is on a tight budget but knows that drapery can make or break a room?

Window treatment adds a necessary finishing touch to any room and while custom drapery can get quite expensive, there are many cost-effective ways to introduce draperies to your home, without breaking the bank.

First, several retailers offer affordable draperies that will range from $9.99-$129.99 per panel. Although some of the selections found in this price range may offer compromised quality, many will demonstrate acceptable fabric and workmanship.

Second, if you have tall ceilings that require longer window panels, an inexpensive way to accomplish this and add a custom design flair is to purchase fabric and have a seamstress add the additional fabric to the top, middle or bottom of the panel to extend the length to the exact length needed. The aforementioned suggestion can give the custom look found in high-end model homes, but at a fraction of the cost.

Regardless of which option is best for you, make sure not to leave your windows bare. Take your home from looking unfinished to complete!

What are some common mistakes that most people make when hanging curtains?

Two common mistakes that people make when hanging window panels:

  1. Hanging the curtain rod too low. Extending the rod as close to the ceiling as possible gives the illusion of having taller ceilings, which will make the room feel bigger.
  2. Hanging drapery that doesn’t hang long enough. Window drapery should be no shorter than a half inch from the floor. I treat window treatment like pants – generally, you don’t want to see them flooding or draping on the ground.

June Shea

June Shea
Interior Designer and President of Shea Studio Interiors

What would you advise someone who is on a tight budget but knows that drapery can make or break a room?

Draperies are not only beautiful but functional. They provide acoustical buffering by reducing the echo in the room, they provide climate control benefits by reducing drafts and blocking the sun’s rays plus they make a nice addition to complete a decorated space.

That said, think of the draperies as an investment in helping with the first two criteria. A way to save on cost is to use store bought panels and rods in standard size; most windows are 84” to the top of the molding. You can also consider a fixed panel solution where the drapes only flank the windows and do not completely cover them, reducing material and labor.

What are some common mistakes that most people make when hanging curtains?

Common mistakes are:

  • Assuming drapes are just for décor and have no practical, functional purpose, will you save on heating and cooling by adding treatments? Will that offset some of the cost and if so, should you invest more in the right solution?
  • Not using full-length panels. Half height panels are to windows what short sleeve dress shirts are to menswear!
  • Not using the right material for the purpose.
  • Hanging draperies at the wrong height and it’s different in each space. Some rooms might look great with drapes to the ceiling and some are better just above the casing.


Choosing the right material and colour, and the right type of window treatment for each room of your home is easier said than done. When weighing up your choices, take a tour of your home and identify where direct sunlight has the most impact. Invest in making these rooms comfortable before focusing on style and less used rooms. After all, the perfect curtain might just be the element that ties in the design and makes everything fit together.

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