Say what you will about window dressing, but curtains have the potential to make or break the look of a room. Not only do draperies make a space feel finished, but they also have the magical ability to transform an interior, whether it’s creating the illusion of a higher ceiling, drawing the eye across a room, or framing views to a beautiful vista just outside. As designer Gail Davis told us of curtains’ space-enhancing superpowers: “It’s just like putting mascara on the eyelashes.”
Unlike painting your walls in the season’s favored hue, however, installing curtains is relatively hassle-free. “They’re a great way to inject your personality into a space, and an easy swap pending your mood or the season,” advises designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard (who launched his own pattern-happy collection with The Shade Store last fall). You can go bold—like the all-over prints Heidi Caillier selected in a home outside Seattle—or keep things classic, as with the elegant Roman shades in Julia Reed’s New Orleans home.
No matter your style, these 55 curtain ideas will hopefully inspire you to create your very own windows onto the world.
In the media room of his New York City home, TV personality Thom Filicia dressed his windows in floor-length curtains patterned in the tiniest of gray-and-white checks, a move that—pro tip—not only gives the illusion of more generous windows, but also adds subtle texture to the largely neutral scheme.
Leave it to a Dior executive to have shades that look like haute couture! In the breakfast room of her Paris flat, Mathilde Favier selected a floral fabric by the late, great French decorator Madeleine Castaing to inject feminine flair to a classic Roman shade.
The views from this Pebble Beach, California, house are too good to be tampered with. So design firm Workshop/APD ensured that the curtains wouldn’t interfere. Follow suit by selecting a long, semi-sheer neutral for a laid-back vibe.
For a rustic, layered look, opt for thick, textured fabrics, as designer Ryan Lawson did in this Connecticut Colonial. The natural fibers pair perfectly with the homeowners’ bohemian artworks and accessories.
Designer Gail Davis used subtly patterned, floor-length curtains to create the illusion of height in this New Jersey home office. The diminutive green print, meanwhile, works to draw the eye outside.
No one uses pattern quite like Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Here in this dreamy Maui home, he worked to bring the lush tropical colors inside in both the window treatments and in the bed curtains, which are in a JAB Anstoetz fabric.
The unapologetically maximalist home of French lighting designer Marie-Lise Féry features plenty of unexpected color combos. We especially love how she used curtains in pistachio (a textile by Métaphores) and dusty pink (a Kvadrat fabric) hues to pick up the colors in the rest of the room.
If all-over pattern isn’t quite your thing, take a cue from design duo Nickey Kehoe and opt for sweeping curtains with an ornate border, as seen here in star chef Suzanne Goin’s Los Angeles home. Pattern recognition alert: The curtains nod to the checked edging on the lampshade.
Antiques dealer and designer Jean-Philippe Demeyer called a medieval hunting lodge home. So it’s no surprise that the windows also featured details fit for an aristocrat, like these sumptuous rust-colored draperies. But if you choose to go heavy, make sure you lighten the mood with bright furnishings.
Can clashing patterns on your furniture and windows actually work? Yes, according to Heidi Caillier, who selected an abundance of bold prints in this Fox Island home outside Seattle. The trick is balancing scales and patterns, as with the large floral Scalamandré print on the sofa and the smaller, geometric Katie Lee fabric on the window treatments.
Another fun idea: Choose curtains that are a tint or two lighter than your walls, as Summer Thornton did in this Chicago home. Note that the cashmere curtains’ lower trim picks up the exact color of the de Gournay damask wallcovering.
This 1920s Palm Beach villa has a flamboyant history (it used to belong to a duped countess) and flamboyant interiors to match, ever since interior designer Mark D. Sikes overhauled it. Also matching? The furnishings, walls, and window treatments, all in a Fermoie stripe. Do it if you dare!
For a home in the Hamptons, up-and-coming designer Remy Renzullo looked to the decorating greats of the 20th century (think Billy Baldwin and Sister Parish) and his own childhood home. Here, in a bedroom, he played with a French Provençal fabric, upholstering the bed and curtains in a dark blue pattern and covering the walls in its reverse.
Not all curtains need to be dramatic or floor-grazing. Here in the guest bedroom of a New York farmhouse, designer Virginia Tupker hung mid-length drapes. Their length creates a perfect sight line across the room, and their pattern—a Les Indiennes cotton—introduces just the right amount of country-chic sweet.
There are patterns aplenty in this Paris apartment designed by Lorenzo Castillo. To keep things classy, not clashy, the designer selected prints in the same teal, red, and cream colors, as with the GP & J Baker linen curtains. Follow suit to pull off a similarly elegant look.
At first blush, Darryl Carter’s 1913 Washington, D.C., townhouse appears to be largely neutral. But the designer relied on subtle, citrus-hued textiles to bring in a ray of warmth, as he did with the floor-length butter-yellow curtains.
You might think that floor-length curtains work best in a bedroom or a formal sitting room, but New York designer Tatyana Miron Ahlers shows that they can work in a kitchen too. Here, in her Manhattan apartment, she hung up golden draperies to complement cinnamon-colored banquettes and the multicolored flecks in the terrazzo flooring.
In her New Orleans home, the late author and hostess-with-the-mostest Julia Reed worked with designers Bill Brockschmidt and Courtney Coleman to create a space that nodded to tradition, but that was filled with her own flourishes. To give the living room that classic, timeless feel, she selected shades in a sunny Pierre Frey stripe.
Ava Gardner once lived in this Madrid apartment, and designer Isabel López-Quesada ensured that the place kept the “earthiness” that once attracted the Hollywood starlet to the Spanish city—but with a hearty dose of glamour. Here in the bedroom, López-Quesada worked with a white base, but added panache with a matching curtain and valance in a Brunschwig & Fils fabric.
Interior designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent used rolled seagrass rugs as shades for the windows of their Montauk retreat, which is filled with design details influenced by their trips to Portugal, Mexico, and Peru.
In a beach house on the coast of Uruguay, the earthy wall color was inspired by a bottle of sand from Petra, Jordan, and is complemented perfectly by the off-white curtains.
Interior designer Marie Flanigan chose to hang these curtains in a Houston family’s home as if they were coming out of the ceiling—all the better to frame the windows rather than block them.
These ceiling-height curtains with horizontal stripes add a shot of flair in the otherwise all-white living room of an art collector’s Palm Beach home.
The pops of color of the sofa and pillows are the main focus of this living room in a London flat by designer Nebihe Cihan—everything else, including the curtains, acts as a neutral backdrop.
In the living room of a Long Island, New York, beach house designed by Rodney Lawrence, the eye is drawn directly to the ceiling, which was inspired by the mural in Grand Central Terminal. White curtains were the way to go here, so as not to take away from the mural.
Floor-to-ceiling curtains complement the red accents placed throughout the composition of this Cincinnati living room. They also pair perfectly with the adjacent Mondrian-inspired Porter Teleo wallcovering.
A sheer striped window treatment is used to add privacy and create a tailored look in this Bel Air, California, office. While the shade is structured, the lightweight fabric feels relaxed as it filters the sun without completely blocking it.
Blue trim detail on the curtains adds structure to this abstract art–filled living room. The striped border also creates a decorative frame for the windows.
Just because you have a statement wall doesn’t mean you can’t have vibrant curtains as well. In this blue living room, the almost matching curtains complement the already bold space, adding a textural element for depth.
These bright curtains channel our favorite summer fruits, adding to the quirky and vibrant decor of the space. The curtains are made from a thicker fabric, which is ideal if you’re looking to darken the space or cool it down.
In actress Minnie Driver’s Hollywood home, the living room has a generous dose of vintage fabrics and patterns. The curtains and the shades come in complementary colors and patterns, which add a dynamic twist without overwhelming the already pattern-filled room. While the shades are heavy and designed to block sunlight, the curtains remain sheer and airy.
When decorating a home, designer Sasha Bikoff looks to nature to create softer palettes. “If you revert back to nature and see how all those colors work together organically, you can easily apply them to a space as well,” she notes. This Impressionist-style living room is light and whimsical, just like a garden.
This moody Russian living room uses minimal color and maximum pattern to achieve a dark, modern vibe. The curtains are made with rich, silky fabrics, with a pattern that accents the small touches of ornate decor.
In a Long Island, New York, home, the family room’s custom furnishings include a sofa upholstered in a Lee Jofa fabric, a tufted sofa in a Chapas Textiles weave, a leather ottoman, and a pair of armchairs covered in a Kravet linen blend; the 1950s cerused-oak side table and 19th-century copper lantern are French, the curtains are of a Home Couture fabric, and the wallpaper is by Phillip Jeffries.
In an Ibiza, Spain, home, limestone floors covered in custom Spanish esparto rugs from Antonia Molina, walls in a sandy lime plaster, and a wood-beam ceiling set a rustic tone in the living room. Custom sofa by Atelier Tapissier Seigneur and curtains in a quilted Braquenié fabric; the Oeil cocktail table by Pierre Chapo is vintage, and the painting over the mantel is by Alex Katz.
The dining room walls in designer Garance Aufaure’s Paris home are sheathed in a linen toile and hung with a collection of Moustiers ceramics. The custom curtains are of a blue linen.
Custom designs fill this vibrant London townhouse, including a sofa covered in a Donghia patterned velvet, another upholstered in a Le Manach silk velvet, and a round banquette, which is topped with a 1940s French bronze sculpture. The curtains are of a Jim Thompson silk, and the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Cornforth White.
In the master suite of an Upper East Side home, the curtains in this monochromatic blue room perfectly match the decor. The armchairs are a 1950s Gianfranco Frattini design, and the painting is by Friedrich Kunath.
In a Paris apartment owned by a Middle Eastern princess, curtains of a Brochier fabric and a striped wallpaper by Arte create a patterned yet cohesive space.
In a Long Island bachelor pad that was updated to accommodate family life, airy white curtains in the living room are juxtaposed with leather club chairs based on postwar Scandinavian designs.
The mustard-yellow curtains in this New York City penthouse are of a Pindler linen; a quartet of mirrors hang over a Louis XVI mantel.
White-and-gray curtains blend seamlessly into this Upper East Side apartment that gives old-school decorating an all-white makeover. The white chandelier is in the style of Diego Giacometti, and the rustic Chinese-style chairs surround a marble table from R.E. Steel Antiques.