When it comes to window treatments, there are so many options that it can be overwhelming to choose what’s right for your home. To make it even more confusing, many people—including interior decorators—use the terms “drapes” and “curtains” interchangeably, mixing in “shades” and “blinds” as if they were synonyms, too. However, while all four types of window treatments can be used with many decorating styles and in any room of the home, each has distinct characteristics of its own.
Like curtains, drapes are fabric panels, and typically sold in pairs. The differences between curtains and drapes, however, is that drapes are lined, sometimes with fabric heavy enough to block out all outside light, making them perfect for bedroom use. Drapes (sometimes called draperies) are long enough to reach from the top of the window to the floor, sometimes even puddling a bit beneath the window. Heavy, somewhat stiff fabrics are the norm for drapes, including luxury materials like velvet, damask, or silk.
While drapes come in a range of styles and colors, they are most often solid rather than heavily patterned. The top of a drapery panel is often pleated, and these pleats, along with the heavy fabric, contribute to the formal appearance of this popular window treatment. Like curtains, drapes hang from a rod on rings, hooks, grommets or a fabric sleeve at the top or on the back of the panel.
In the bedroom, the most popular draperies are the blackout style, which keep the room dark enough for deep sleep. These are an especially good choice for anyone who needs to sleep during the day, such as night shift workers.