Curtains & drapes – what’s the difference? - Lifestyle AU
Curtains & drapes – what’s the difference?

Curtains & drapes – what’s the difference?

Curtains & drapes are often thought of as one and the same but the truth is that there are a few distinct differences between the two types of window covering. While these differences may seem subtle, they are nevertheless important when it comes to the interior decorating of your home.

Words by Yohei Guy

When it comes to curtains & drapes, you'd be right to assume that the two terms are comparable as they are often used interchangeably by members of the public. However, one is mainly decorative, while the other has a more practical function. Although one might exist without the other, a beautiful, stylish home should have both on their more oversized windows.

Curtain fabric in Allusion by Zepel

The differences between curtains and drapes

Choosing the appropriate window coverings for your home is a daunting task, especially if you don't have an artistic eye for interior design.

Let's go over some common differences between curtains and drapes and how to determine which window covering is best for your home.

The definition of curtains

Curtains are typically fashioned of lighter fabrics when compared to drapes and have fewer construction details. As long as the material can pleat or fold easily, it can make up a curtain. Curtains are an excellent choice for high-traffic areas because they are typically composed of lighter fabrics such as polyester and cotton and can be opened and closed quickly.

Curtains are a low-cost and simple-to-clean option. As a result, people often choose fabrics readily cleaned by hand or in a washing machine on a gentle cycle.

Curtains supported by Silent Gliss Cord Operated Curtain Tracks

What do curtains do?

Curtains provide the function of concealing a window and blocking off the light while also providing privacy, adding colour and decor to a space. They can be used anywhere people wish to have the choice of maintaining privacy or preventing the outside world from intruding on their personal space.

Layering curtains with lighter lace curtains, blinds or shades can provide you with the casual style you want while simultaneously providing you with the seclusion you require. Curtains are used in various settings, ranging from houses, flats and hostels to offices and restaurants. They can also be used in different types of living spaces including bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms and more - strong evidence of their adaptability.

What types of curtains are there?

Here are some examples of the various types of curtains available, ranging from décor to functional and everything else in between:

  • Curtains with a single panel
  • Curtains with a pair of fabric panels
  • Sheer curtains
  • Curtains with pinch pleats
  • Box pleated curtains
  • Curtains with goblet pleats
  • Curtains with pencil pleats
  • Curtains with grommets
  • Curtains with rod pockets
  • Curtains with tab tops
  • Curtains with ties at the top
  • Blockout curtains or blackout curtains
  • Curtains that conserve energy
  • Curtains for the window sill
  • Apron curtains with a ruffled hem
  • Cafe curtains

As you can see, there are many different types and styles to choose from, each with its own look and purpose. Researching these different styles will help you decide what complements your home and décor, ensuring you make the best choice.

Curtains supported by the Somfy Glydea® Ultra system

The definition of drapes

Drapes, like curtains, are made of fabric panels and are often supplied in sets of two. The difference between curtains and drapes is that drapes are lined with fabric thick enough to shut out all outside light. This makes them ideal for use in bedrooms or other very light rooms.

Drapes are typically made of heavy, somewhat stiff textiles, including luxurious materials such as silk, damask, or velvet.

Drapes, also known as draperies, are long enough to span from the top of a window to the floor. Sometimes they are even longer and tend to pool on the floor below the window. Classic style drapes are usually coupled with valances, veils and other types of window treatment items such as tie backs.

While drapes are also available in various styles and colours, they are most typically solid in colour rather than significantly patterned. In addition, drapes are commonly pleated at the top and the pleats, together with the thick fabric is what characterises the more formal look of this classic window treatment.

Magnet Drapery by Zepel

How to choose between curtains and drapes?

When it comes to choosing between curtains and drapes, the window coverings you select will be determined by design, intended use and the size of the room.

If you’re still finding the decision difficult, have a look at the helpful hints below which will help you narrow down your choices.

  • Consider if the space in question gets full, part or limited sunshine, and then consider the amount of light you want the area to have in terms of brightness
  • Don't use sheer curtains in a bedroom where complete darkness is required for sleeping, despite their attractive appearance
  • Think carefully about trends of the day as they change so quickly. Prioritise window coverings of superior quality which will last for decades. Something fashionable today may look hopelessly old fashioned if you attempt to sell your home in a few years’ time
  • Consider how frequently you will replace drapes before opting for trendy over classic
  • If you have children, cats, dogs, or all three in your home, choose a fabric that will hold up to repeated washings and dry cleaning. You may also want to consider using shorter panels to keep them out of reach of curious hands or paws
  • If you are looking to soften the look and feel of a room, choose patterned or softer coloured curtains.

In terms of style, curtains are well-suited to a modern and more casual look. If a more formal or traditional look is preferred then drapes are your best bet. Drapes are also more ornamental and block out lights and can also help with noise reduction, provide more privacy, boost insulation and seal out breezes.

Re Boot Drapery by FR-One

Curtains & drapes - a window of opportunity!

As you can see, curtains & drapes serve different purposes and both types of window coverings offer a wealth of options. Understanding the differences between them will help you choose the best window decor for your home that will work in both functional and stylistic ways.

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