How to Buy Curtains: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you’ve just purchased a new house, or are looking to update a current room in your home, buying curtains is one of the best ways to elevate your home’s style with ease. Not only can curtains give your space a new look and feel, they’re practical, too! With a few tips and tricks, you can even save money on them and install them yourself.


So, if you’re in the market for new curtains but not sure how to get started, keep reading. We’ve got you covered with a handy guide for how to buy curtains that will work for your space, decor and lifestyle.

Step One: Consider Your Needs

Before choosing a particular style of curtain, consider where the curtains will hang and what functions they need to perform. Do you mind if sunlight filters through? Is the window exposed to sunlight for the majority of the day?

For example, my bedroom window faces East, so I’m treated to early morning sunshine each day. This is great…except when I want to sleep in. That’s why I chose to install blackout curtains with a built-in liner for sun protection in my bedroom. Not only do the curtains make the room cozier, they’re a lifesaver on lazy weekend mornings when I want to sleep in just a little longer!

Step Two: Find Your Fabric

Now that you’ve decided on the basics, you can move on to the fun part of buying curtains; finding the right style! This includes picking out fabric texture, color, prints or patterns.

You may have fallen in love with a set of 100% linen curtains that would look dreamy in your beach-themed home, but linen fabrics are often dry clean only, as are heavier silks and velvet. If you’ve got small children or pets, you may want to consider a cotton blend fabric that’s washer friendly.

Color, print and pattern are important to consider as well. In some cases, curtains can blend in with your decor, but in other cases you may want them to stand out or make a statement. Dark colors add dramatic flair to any room, but darker colors can also fade if exposed to direct sunlight for the majority of the day. A good tip for this is to buy curtain liners. Sometimes they’re even built into the curtains themselves! Lining your curtains can save you money in the long run by extending the life and look of your drapes.

Step Three: Determine Length

Generally speaking, floor length curtains are ideal in any room. Exceptions might be a kitchen, or a child’s room, where floor length drapes might get in the way. For a clean look, have the curtains fall just to where they touch the floor, or have them hover about a half an inch above. This length is especially ideal if you’ll be opening and closing your curtains a lot. If you crave a more dramatic look, let your curtain panels extend past floor length by a couple of inches.


Letting your curtains extend a few inches past the floor gives a more dramatic look.

If you do need to purchase shorter drapes for a kitchen, bathroom, or other room, an apron-length is a good alternative. This length hangs longer than the window sill, without coming to the floor. It can also give the effect of making your room seem larger.

Another tip to make your room look bigger is to hang your curtains above the window frame, closer to the ceiling. This will make your windows appear taller, and will help your room seem larger.

Step Four: Know When to Buy

Savvy shoppers know that there’s a best time to buy everything. Generally it’s when retailers slash prices to make room for new stock (hint: here are a few idea of what to buy in winter, summer, fall). In the case of buying curtains, a great time to shop is in January. This is when retailers offer traditional white sales on all kinds of linens. By shopping during this peak sale season, you’ll be able to score luxurious brands at a fraction of the retail price.

Another good time for buying curtains is during college move-in season in August. During this period, many stores offer steep discounts on room essentials like curtains. This is an especially good time to look if you’re buying curtains for a teen or child’s room.

If you can’t wait for these times in the year, you can find great deals on curtains year-round at off-price retailers. For example, BLINQ works with major retailers to help sell their excess and returned inventory at deep discounts. This means you can find new deals on things like curtains every day. If you do buy online, make sure the site has a good return policy — just in case the curtains don’t quite fit your needs when they arrive.

Step Five: Ready to Hang

You’re finally ready to hang your curtains! Hanging your curtains may sound like a project for an HGTV guru, but you can save the hourly fee of a handyman and install them yourself with few simple tips.


Hanging curtains a few inches above the window frame gives a tailored look.

First, measure the height and width of the window so you know what length rod to purchase. For a more traditional look, place the curtain rod and hardware about six inches above the top of the window, and about 4 inches on each side. With this placement, you’ll be able to pull the curtains fully closed. If you want to make your windows appear larger, add more space to each side of the window, so that that inner edge of the curtain covers just the side frame of the window.

You can find prepackaged curtain mounting kits at most hardware stores for easy installation. Just remember that curtain rings are usually not included, so they’ll likely need to be purchased separately.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well prepared to find the perfect set of curtains for your space. And, since you’re a savvy shopper, you now know where you can score great deals curtains and window treatments — without even leaving your couch!

Have any other questions or tips about how to buy curtains? Leave a comment below!

Author: Katie

A Tar Heel born and bred, Katie hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. When she isn’t writing or shopping online, you can find her hiking a mountain trail, perfecting her no-bake cookie recipe, or secretly reading romance novels on her Kindle.

6 thoughts on “How to Buy Curtains: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. AvatarRoger Middleton

    My wife and I run a small cafe in our town and we’ve had the same curtains in it for a few years now and we’re needing some new ones. I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to understand the functionality needed from the curtains to make sure they will either block or let sunlight come through. Since we’re very adamant about extra lighting in our cafe, we’ll be looking for some that let a good amount of light through.

  2. AvatarPenelope Smith

    I want to get some new curtains this summer. I want them to be able to block out light in the early morning hours. I liked your tip about buying curtain liners. That does seem like it would make it easier for me to find curtains that will meet my needs.

  3. AvatarTyler Johnson

    That’s good to know that you can get the best prices on curtains when all the college students are moving out. I would want to save as much money as possible since I have heard that they can be expensive. I would want to make sure that I get good curtains for a good price, so I’ll wait a few months to replace my curtains.

  4. AvatarBenjamin Andrews

    I like that you suggest taking the time to find the right style and fabric of curtain that is right for your house. My brother and his wife are on a redecorating binge, so I have been helping them look into ideas. I will send this information over to them, so the can start customizing what kind of curtains they want.

  5. AvatarStefan Bradley

    I’m glad that you mentioned how you should consider how often you will be opening your curtains when determining the length you want. My wife and I are planning on remodeling our bedroom and want to find some curtains to match our bedding. We’ll see if we can find some curtains that are the right length and design for our room.

  6. AvatarSophia Slate

    Thank you for stating that you should consider where the curtains will hang and what functions they need to perform before buying them. I need to put drapes for my living room in my new house. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind when getting drapes for my living room windows.

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