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21 Different Types of Curtains (Style Guide)

Learn more about the different types of curtains you may use in your home. Look at the styles that might provide a distinctive touch to your living environment.

A shiny silver curtain with a white central panel.

All homeowners face a moment where they have to decide what to do with their windows. Unless you want to have windows that are completely wide open, you need some type of window covering.

Curtains are a great option. Curtains are functional and decretive. There are so many curtain styles available, you are sure to find the perfect style for your home. There are some factors to consider when making your selection.

This article outlines all the different styles and types of curtains to help you decide. You will read about the different fabrics, styles, and lengths of these types of curtains.

Read On

Curtains have the functional purpose of blocking light and providing privacy. They do have other uses that are more secretive in nature. Some are intended purely for function, such as blackout curtains. Others, like sheers, are an accent to the room.

You do not always have to decide between decorative and function because there are some that provide both. This curtain style guide will help you know exactly what to look for and how to choose between the various types of curtains.

Types of Curtains

When considering what types of curtains you want in your home, there are a number of factors to think about. One of the first things to decide is where do you want the curtains. You want to consider the room and the windows you are covering. You want to pay attention to whether or not the window already has a curtain rail, or if you will need to purchase and install one.

Next, you need to decide if you want something that is purely decorative or functional. You might want a combination of the two. This will help you determine if you want a valance, drapery panel, or something else.

Once you have a good understanding of what function or look you want, this guide can help you pick the best option.

Curtains by Style

Every room that you want curtains will have its own style and decor. There are going to be some curtains that work well with the existing style and others will not.

There are aspects of curtains that give them different styles. Some are more contemporary styles and others are more modern curtain styles. Some curtain styles have pleats, which indicates how the fabric folds are sewn together. This impacts how they hang.

Box Pleat Curtains

Box pleat curtains are a traditional style of curtains. The majority of pleated curtains you see will be box pleated. Box pleated curtains have the fabric brought together to create a loop on the face of the curtains.

The loop is flattened against the face of the curtain equally on either side. This creates a box shape and it is sewn in place. This style allows the curtain folds to run deep and without interruption along the length of the material.

The curtains give the room full coverage and they have a tailored look. The box pleat maybe three inches to six inches wide. The desired fullness drives the width of the pleat.

Box pleating is often used for heavy fabrics like synthetic velour or cotton. You can find it on on most types of materials like satin, sheers, and lighter fabrics. This style is ideal for bedrooms and dining rooms.

Eyelet Curtains

A bronze-colored curtain with a gold eyelet
A bronze-colored curtain with a gold eyelet at the top.

Eyelet curtains have large eyelets in the top of the curtain, which are reinforced with grommets. This is considered a contemporary or modern style. The grommets support the panels which allows you to open or close the curtains easily.

In addition to making them easy to open, the eyelet and grommet combination add a bit of stylish that replaces a valance. These curtains are more casual in style and are ideal for kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms.

These curtains have a laid back kind of vibe to them. In addition to placing them in bedrooms, kitchens, or bathrooms, you can put them in rooms where you will open the curtains often.

Goblet Pleat Curtains

As you might imagine, goblet pleat curtains look like an upside-down wine or goblet glass. This type of curtain has tiny pleats stitched together roughly four inches from the top.

If you plan to use the window a lot or open the curtains, goblet pleat curtains may not be the best option for you. They are ideal for rooms that have high ceilings and a formal feel to them.

Goblet pleats are heavily detailed and have a similar look to pinch pleat curtains. They are often hung on a pole or track. This style curtain is elegant and modern.

If you want a luxurious and refined look, this might be the right choice for you. Often, you will see chenille or velvet curtains in this style. If you choose a lighter and thinner material, you may need batting or filling to help the curtains retain their shape.

Grommet Curtains

Blue curtain with a black metal grommet
A modern blue curtain with a black metal grommet.

They are incredibly delicate and should be used in curtains that you are not going to open. Goblet pleat curtains are best used to decorate and frame a window.

Grommet curtains are a modern style curtain. These curtains have open rings that are metal that are punched into the top of the panel. These rings allow the curtain to move easily along the rod.

Grommet curtains are the perfect choice if you plan to open and close your curtains regularly. They are durable and can stand up to that much activity.

This curtain style is great for sliding glass doors or wide windows where heavy fabric is normally difficult to open. They are a great option for bedrooms, also.

Grommet curtains show off part of the curtain rod which gives it a unique look. It can also create a fold that is rippled where you slide them on the rod. This helps to form uniform pleats.

You can use this style with solid fabrics or geometric patterns. If you have a traditional style, this is probably not the best choice for you as they are incredibly modern.

Hidden Tab Curtains

A blue hidden tab curtain in a vintage style
A vintage-style hidden tab curtain in blue shade.

Hidden tab curtains are also called back tab curtains. These curtains gives you a tailored look without having to deal with pins or clips. These curtains have loops or tabs sewn into the back of the header of the curtain.

The curtain rod slips through the tab so that is it cannot be seen from the front. The rod cannot be seen, either. The curtain almost looks like it is floating. These curtains have a clean and elegant line to them.

Hidden tab curtains form pleats over the rod at each tab without having to use any hardware. The top of the curtain sits above the rod. This gives a nice crisp edge to the top of the curtains.

Back tab curtains are ideal for windows where you do not plan to open and closet the curtain often. The material sits directly on the rod and makes it difficult to slide the tabs over the pole.

You should consider using flat rods instead of round ones to help keep the pleats straight. The tabs will lie flush against a flat rod. This gives you crisper pleats.

Hidden tab curtains can support and distribute the weight of heavier material without letting them sag. These headers can be used with lighter-weight fabrics. You may find that the rod shows through sheer fabrics.

Hidden tab curtains may be used with or without a valance. These curtains are considered complementary to traditional, country, or contemporary styles.

Panel Pair Curtains

Panel pair curtains fit in contemporary and classic styles. They have two individual curtain panels. When you have a panel pair, you put a curtain on either side of your window.

If you want to close the curtains, you simply pull the two curtains together. If you want, you can tie back the curtains to create a symmetrical look while holding the curtains open.

Panel pair curtains can be used in any room with any window. These curtains give you the ability to let in as much light as you would in the room.

Pencil Pleat Curtains

A curtain in pencil pleat style
A black shiny curtain in pencil pleat style.

Pencil pleat curtains have single, thin pleats that allow you to use specific types of rods and hooks. These curtains have a casual look to them. These curtains are ideal for living rooms and bedrooms, especially rooms that do not a large amount of formality.

Pencil pleat curtains are tailored and gives the room a more feminine appearance. The tapes of these curtains are sewn in to the back of the panels. They have strings to draw up the material to make the pleats elegant and elongated.

When you have windows that you do not want to open or close the curtains often, pencil pleats work well. This style has a top drapery panel that is non-functional with functional curtains at the bottom.

These single pleats are spaced widely than on a traditional pinch pleat. These curtains are rounded at the top and not a fan shape.

Pinch Pleat Curtains

Light brown color pinch pleat curtain design
An elegant pinch pleat curtain style in a light brown shade.

Pinch pleat curtains are a classic heading style. They are also referred to as a French drapery pleat by some. The top of the panel of the curtain forms a three-finger flute that is two inches from the top.

The top is structured and then it flows to the floor and relaxes as it does. This gives the panels their fullness. The curtains create a formal look that has pleats that fan out towards the top. Then they fan out larger at the bottom of the pleat. This makes the curtain visually appealing.

Some homeowners may add more layers by sewing in a valance along with a tassel fringe at the bottom of the curtain. There is a variation you may find, which is only two folds are sewn. This creates a fan that is less full.

There is another variation of this particular pleat. This variation is that the pinch pleat is the top pinch pleat. The folds of this fabric are sewn together at the top. This creates a much sleeker header. This controls how full the panel is the entire way down.

Rod Pocket Curtains

A rod pocket curtain in cream color
A rod pocket curtain in cream color blends in a wooden accent wall.

Rod pocket curtains have a pocket sewn into the top of the curtain. These curtains are also referred to as pole pocket. You need to feed a curtain rod through the curtain and out through the other side of the pocket to hang the curtains.

You will often see rod pocket curtains with a valance. If you want to create a more casual look, you hand rod pocket curtains without a valance.

Rod pocket curtains are best with linen or cotton materials. You may also see ruching or embroidery on this type of curtains. These curtains are ideal for thinner and tighter curtain rods.

You want to use these curtains on windows where you do not want to open and close the curtains often. This style looks great in apartments. They are versatile which makes these curtains incredibly popular. They come in a variety of styles and colors which match any decor.

Single Panel Curtains

A single panel curtain is where there is only one panel covering the entire window. The panel is able to be pulled back to either side. Once pulled back, it can be tied to give the asymmetrical and modern look.

These curtains are a modern style and match almost any type of decor. Single panel curtains are sold individually. They are well suited for specific type of configurations or windows.

Single panel curtains are ideal for sliding glass doors. Curtain panels are more affordable for those on a budget because homeowners only have to purchase the exact number of panels they need for their windows. This also means that there are no extra costs.

Tab Top Curtains

Tab top curtains are a style that have loops of fabric which are sewn into the top of the curtain. These loops are prominent and easy to be seen.

The curtain rod will go through the loops. These curtains are easy to install on curtain rods. Tab top curtains may have embellishments such as buttons intended for decoration.

Tab top curtains are a casual style of curtain that are incredibly popular. You will also find them in contemporary country style. It is possible for you to use a contrasting color for the tabs and the rods to create an accent. You can also use the same fabric that is in the panel.

Tab top curtains are versatile and can be used in many style homes. They have both a contemporary and traditional look. These curtains fit homes with a contemporary, countryside, farmhouse, or beach style.

Tailored Pleat Curtains

Tailored pleat curtains are created by using interlocking folds that are sewn into each panel. This design creates a crisp line in the curtains. These lines contrasts well against more relaxed styles such as like ripples or gathers.

These curtains add dimension to any window treatments without being formal or too stiff.

Tailored pleat curtains are one of the more popular style. They have an elegant look that is slightly understated. It is fuller than other styles.

Tailored pleat curtains has waterfall pleats which are stiff because of a buckram stiffener. These curtains are easy to operator and functional.

Tailored pleat curtains come in many different materials, colors, and patterns.

Tie Top Curtains

Tie top curtains are similar to tab top curtains. These curtains hang below the curtain rod. This creates a space to expose the rod along with the wall behind the rod. Tie top curtains are fragile and typically used for lightweight or sheer material.

These are not the most common types of curtains. However, they can be found in nurseries or kids’ rooms. Tie top curtains are constructed with two strips of fabric between a half and 2 inches wide.

These curtains are self-lined and then sewn to the curtains with a loop or tie. They are fairly simple to construct and install.

When you use this type of curtain, you will be able to see the hardware though the curtains. For this reason, you want to ensure that you select a nice curtain rod.

Curtains by Fabric

One of the important considerations for you when selecting curtains is the fabric. The fabric serves many different purposes. They are decorative, provide privacy, and blocks light. The thinner the material is used for semi-sheer or sheer fabric.

Thicker curtain fabric is used for blackout and semi-opaque fabrics. Different types of fabrics have different features to offer. Cotton curtains, for example, are semi-sheer and allow in a good amount of light while giving moderate amounts of privacy.

Blackout Curtains

Blackout curtains that are ideal for private rooms.
A set of blackout curtains that are ideal for private rooms.

Blackout curtains allow in the least amount of light into a room when they are closed. This type of curtains are made with a heavier type of material. They may have a built-in liner. Blackout curtains will give you the most privacy.

These curtains are often used in theaters, bedrooms, and any other areas where you want to keep out natural light. Blackout curtains are often used behind sheer curtains for additional features.

They have a more polished look than if the curtain liner was by itself. These curtains can help you get a better night sleep.

Energy Efficient Curtains

Energy efficient curtains are also called insulated curtains or thermal curtains. They are heavy and thick curtains that have an additional amount of insulation. This insulation stops cold and hot air from coming in or leaving your windows. Check out Bed Bath & Beyond for unlimited colors and designs.

Energy efficient curtains help regulate the temperature inside the house. They can help keep your house at an appropriate temperature regardless of the season.

While you may not think so, it is just as important to keep hot air out of your house in the summer as it is cold air in the winter. Energy efficient curtains are affordable and you can find them in a wide range of lengths, colors, and fabrics.

Lace Curtains

A classy white lace curtain
A classy white curtain with a lace motif at the bottom.

Lace curtains are a fabric that is sheer making it ideal for creating an airy, bright, and light window treatment. These types of curtains give you the least amount of privacy. These are a popular material to use in kitchens and areas where you want a lot of light.

Lace curtains are created by knotting, twisting, or looping threads together to create a pattern. The pattern it creates may be simple or complex. No matter what the pattern looks like, it has areas that are open and closed.

Lace curtains are sheer and light giving you a decorative look in your home. Lace can be made with different fibers. However, the most common are silk, rayon, linen, cotton, and polyester.

Lace curtains may be made by hand or with a machine. Most of the lace curtains you find on the market today are made by machine.

White Curtains

White curtains can blended with various colors
White curtains that may be blended with various colors.

White curtains are incredibly popular with many people. There are many different shades of white curtain fabrics that are intended to match many different color schemes.

Many homeowners want to find the whitest white fabric possible. It is essential to know that bright white might make your walls look yellow. It can also make fabric look blue or grey.

It is surprising to many that white wall paint is a much warmer-tone than you realize. You should know that white curtains are not always practical, no matter how beautiful they look. Pets and small children often like to hide in curtains, which means they can make them dirty.

Curtains by Length

Another important consideration when making a determination about window treatments is the curtain length. You can use the length of your curtains to achieve a specific style.

The size of your windows will also help determine which length you need. You do want to remember that not all curtain lengths will not work for all windows and rooms.

In general, there are some standard curtain lengths. They include 63 inches, 84 inches, 94 inches, 108 inches, or 120 inches. While you can find curtains in other lengths, these sizes are the most common ones you will find.

Apron Curtains 

A white apron curtain on a French window
A white apron curtain looks nice in a French window.

Apron curtains are also referred to as half-length curtains. These are an ideal way to make your windows look longer. This type of curtains are used on smaller windows that are found in bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.

In general, the curtain rod is hung above the window. The curtain itself falls several inches below the window sill. When apron length curtains are closed, your window looks larger.

Apron curtains are a great option if you have small children or pets. There are some windows that have air conditioners or radiators under them. These are perfect curtains for these windows.

Cafe Curtains

Cafe curtains are also referred to as kitchen curtains or tier curtains. They are short curtains that are typically combined with a valance that matches them. They are intended to hand from the middle of the window all the way to the bottom of the window sill.

Cafe curtains give you privacy while also letting in light from the top part of the window. These curtains have two panels installed for each window.

When you have cafe curtains, you can use the panels to cover the bottom portion of the window completely. The curtains can be drawn to one side when you want more light in the room. These curtains are hung from rings. They have rods that run halfway through the window to cover the bottom.

These curtains are usually constructed made of a fabric that is lightweight and unlined. They may be made of lace or sheer. You would traditionally find them in white, but are also found with patterns and colors.

Floor Curtains

A long dark beige drape with white in the center
A long dark beige drape with white in the center touches the floor.

Floor curtains are exactly how they sound, curtains that reach the floor. They do not actually touch the floor, but come within one inch of it. These are perfect curtains for sliding doors and floor to ceiling windows.

Floor curtains are great for small windows that are hardly, if ever, opened. In this case, these curtains can give the illusion that the windows are floor to ceiling.

Window Sill Curtains

A light beige window sill curtain
A light beige window sill curtain.

Curtains that are window sill length touch the sill, or right above it. These windows are ideal for windows that you plan to keep open most of the time. You are most likely to find these in bathrooms, small windows, or kitchens.

Window sill curtains may fall about a half inch above the window sill. It gives the window or room a charming and casual look. This is the shortest length of all the standard curtain lengths. These curtains may have colors or patterns.

Common Curtain Questions and Answers

What to do when curtains are too long?

When your curtains are too long, there are some steps you can take. You can can shorten the curtain without cutting it. One of the ways you can do this is to sew a hem in the curtain.

This allows you to retain fabric instead of cutting it off. You can fold the material over and uses buttons to fasten the material. You can use safety pins to secure the fold.

If you pin the material carefully and slide the pin into the lining, they will not be able to be seen from the front.

What to do when curtains are too short?

You have a few options when your curtains are too short. You can block the curtains which means put something in front of the window so no one can see how long the curtains are. You can release the hem from the panels. Typically, curtains have a two inch inseam. You can also use two inch rings with clips to provide instant length to your curtains. You want to ensure that the rings and clips match the curtain rod.

Will curtains keep a room cooler?

Yes, curtains can help to cool down your room. You can also use a combination of curtains, blinds, and other window treatments to help cool your house.

In addition to cooling your house, you can also lower your cooling bills. You can also choose appropriate colors for your curtains to help keep the room cooler.

White curtains will help keep the room cooler than black curtains.

Will curtains block out noise?

In short, yes, some curtains can block out noise. They can absorb the sound that is coming into your house. The right curtains can even absorb the sound that is in a room.

Curtains can reduce reverberation and echoes. It is critical to understand that not all curtains will absorb sound.

There are some factors to consider to determine if your curtains will absorb sound. These include if they are soundproofing or sound absorbing. You also want to know the type of material, the density, and the amount of coverage they provide.

Will curtains drop after hanging?

Yes, your curtains may drop after hanging. They may drop as soon as you take them out of the box. While this may happen, it is more likely that the bottom will flare instead.

You have to train the curtains for anyway from three days to two weeks when you take them out of the box. This helps them have a better shape. One of the first steps is to lay the curtains flat, then gather and tie them together. After that, you should steam the curtains.