Life Style

Curtains vs Roman Shades: How To Choose

Looking to dress up the windows of your new home? Or renovating interiors and want to breathe new life into your rather ho-hum space? Either way, you will be looking for soft window treatment options and will likely have to choose between curtains and roman shades. And more likely than not, you will be left feeling confused about making the best possible choice. But fear not! We have created this article to help you keep the key considerations in mind and finalize the one that’s the best for your space.

First, let’s take a quick overview of curtains and roman shades. As is obvious, both are window treatments. Both are hugely and historically popular with homeowners. Both are made of fabric, both are tailored, and installed on windows using some kind of hardware. Lastly; both custom curtains and shades can be made using almost any fabric.

Beyond these similarities, there are differences too. 

  • Curtains open sideways to reveal the window panes. Shades, on the other hand, go up and down. 
  • Curtains are flowing panels with gather; shades are single structured layers. 
  • Curtains have pleats; shades have stacks. 
  • Curtains have some kind of heading (pinch pleat, grommet top etc.) for mounting on the rods hung above the window’s top edge. Shades, on the other hand, can be hung above or inside the window frame. 
  • Curtains require more fabric than shades. 

Now we come to the factors that you should keep in mind before finalizing between curtains and shades.

  • Size of room – Curtains hog more wall space and floor area, and can overwhelm a small space with all the fabric.  So, if you are working with a small room, shades are a better choice as these stay close to the windows and occupy less volume. 
  • Placement and size of windows – Curtains look best with even sized windows with sufficient wall space on either side for drawing the curtains aside for full window access. Shades, in contrast, work with windows of most standard sizes but are best avoided for windows wider than 100 inches as they may get too heavy to operate. Shades are also good for windows placed too high on the wall, or without wall space on one or both sides. For odd-sized windows too, shades work out better.
  • Window architecture – If you have a window frame worth showing off, skip curtains and go for inside mounted shades. Whether up or down, the shade will keep your window highly visible from inside the room.
  • Ready made or custom coverings – Curtains can be bought ready made easily in multiple standard sizes. There’s a wide ranging availability of fabrics, prints, and textures too. Curtains can also be custom made to your requirements. Readymade shades are not so easily available, nor will you get much variety in terms of fabrics and colors.  Shades are mostly custom stitched.
  • Ease of changing – Curtains score over shades on this count. It’s much easier to switch curtains on the current hardware, than it is to mount new shades on existing hardware. 
  • Room insulation – Curtains provide better insulation from heat, cold, and noise because of their voluminous nature and fabric folds, especially if the fabric is heavy (like velvet, wool, or suede) or if underlined with a blackout lining. On the other hand, since roman shades are made of flat fabric, they fail to provide insulation. Thus, the curtains have the upper hand when it comes to providing insulation. 
  • Pets and babies at home – Wondering what on earth, pets and babies have to do with window coverings? Well, remember that curtains often hang down till the floor level, or at least, below the window level. A frisky pet or a naughty toddler is likely to pull and tug at the flowing curtains which can bring down the curtain, rod and all, and cause an accident. In such a situation, custom roman shades that are stitched to sill length are not so easy to grab, making them accident proof. However, shades too have a cord system that can attract toddlers. But you can loop it higher out of their little hands’ reach. Or you can also opt for remote controlled shades.
  • Window treatments for kitchen- Any window treatment that you choose for your kitchen must have high functionality and safety standards while also enhancing the space aesthetically. In this case, roman shades are the better and more popular option. Unlike curtains, they do not have billowing fabrics that can catch fire over hobs or get wet from splashes from sinks that can lead to moss and damp, which is very unhygienic.

Using curtains and shades togetherIf you want the best of both the words, use curtains and shades together on the same window. Yes, that too is an option for window treatments! Just install a sheer shade and hang non-sheer curtains on top of it. When curtains are pulled across and the shades are down, your privacy is maintained and the room also stays dark and insulated. When curtains are pulled aside and the shade is down, you get light filtering in gently while still maintaining privacy. When the curtains are pulled aside and the shade too is up, you get full outside views and an unrestrained inflow of light and air.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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