For the most part, window dressings come in two types, which are curtains and blinds. To varying extents, both will do their job of protecting your privacy, reducing light penetration and heat loss, and decorating the windows of your home. Which one you’ll choose largely comes down to personal preference.
If you’re struggling to pick between them, don’t worry – just keep reading and you’ll learn about every aspect of both curtains and blinds so you can make the best choice for you, depending on your situation.
Curtains Pros and Cons
A curtain consists of one or more long sheets of fabric suspended from a curtain pole or rail that extends across the top of the window. It can be suspended in several different ways. Some curtains feature a single long pocket along the top, others incorporate a series of metal ringlets, and others are attached to tab top hoops.
Cost of curtains
Curtains come in a wide variety of materials, so their cost can vary quite a lot. A linen curtain costs significantly more than a polyester curtain, for example.
You may also need to factor in the cost of installation. If you have a curtain rail installed, you can easily hang curtains yourself. If there’s no rail, and you’d like to fit one, you might need the help of a professional.
It’s also worth noting that windows that are not standard sizes may well need curtains that are made to measure. This will add significantly to their cost.
Curtains and insulation
Curtains are generally thicker and heavier than blinds, giving them greater insulating properties and helping to reduce your heating bills more effectively than blinds.
Of course, the heavier the curtain, the better an insulator it will be. As such, it’s best to hang heavy blackout curtains on problem windows (thick curtains will make a big difference to single-glazed windows, for example).
You might find that there’s a radiator just beneath the window you’re looking to dress. Radiators are often positioned below windows to keep the air circulating through the room, but if heavy curtains are hung over them, this effect may be reduced.
Appearance of curtains
Needless to say, the visual appearance of curtains differs considerably from blinds (and vice versa). Whether these differences are good or bad is a matter of personal taste. It’s worth noting however that curtains typically tend to offer much more choice than blinds.
Curtains of different types can also be easily paired with one another for greater flexibility. For example, you might put a heavy blackout curtain with a lighter voile for privacy.
It’s also worth noting that lace and voile panel curtains are brilliant solutions where privacy is required but natural light will still illuminate the room. They are also proven to prevent allergens and flying insects from entering the home through open windows.
Durability of Curtains
Curtains tend to be less durable than blinds – or at least, less durable than blinds made from metal or wood. Over time, textiles are vulnerable to staining and discolouration, particularly when placed in moist environments, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Most types of blinds can also be wiped clean, whereas curtains will need to be removed and washed (depending on the material, some curtains may need to be dry cleaned).
Blinds Pros and Cons
Blinds come in several different varieties. There are Venetian blinds, which are formed of horizontal slats that can be angled to filter the light.
Vertical blinds do the same, except the slats are (as you might have guessed) lined up vertically.
Another option to consider is roller blinds, which consist of a single sheet of material that rolls into a cylinder at the top of the window.
Finally, there are roman blinds, which are designed to pleat or concertina when folded up and flat against the window when down.
Cost of blinds
As with curtains, blinds vary considerably in price depending on the type, material, manufacturer, and whether you need to purchase made-to-measure blinds.
Blinds and insulation
Being much thinner, blinds do not insulate in the same way that curtains do. While the heavier the blind, the more effective an insulator it will be, no blind can match the performance of a set of heavy blackout curtains.
This is especially true of slat-blinds (both Venetian and vertical), through which cold and warm air will easily pass through.
Appearance of blinds
As mentioned previously, the difference in the appearance of curtains and blinds is largely subjective. Many blind types offer limited colour options. The culprits here are the metal and wooden varieties of Venetian blind.
On the other hand, these blinds couldn’t look more different to fabric-based curtains and blinds (which is precisely why you might have chosen them).
Slat blinds have a notable advantage – they can be opened and closed with great precision to allow the required amount of light into the room. That said, if you’d like to completely block out the light, then a set of blackout curtains are undoubtedly the go-to option.
Durability of blinds
As we’ve mentioned, blinds tend to be easier to clean and maintain than curtains, generally needing no more than a quick wipe clean.
Curtains or Blinds?
Let’s run through a few of the rooms in your home and consider whether curtains or blinds might make a good match.
Curtains or blinds for the bedroom?
For maximum light exclusion in the bedroom, a set of blackout curtains is a must. They’ll block out almost all-natural light, helping you get your much-needed eight hours of quality sleep, even during the height of summer.
For the same reason, blackout curtains are indispensable for night-workers and those who enjoy a lie-in at the weekend. Finally, heavy curtains in the bedroom will help maintain a consistent temperature, which will further aid sleep.
Curtains or blinds for the bathroom?
The bathroom’s a different matter altogether. Here, a lightweight set of blinds will be a considerable advantage. This is because they won’t absorb airborne moisture like curtains will and as such, will last considerably longer. Our privacy voiles are another option, with mould resistant polyester.
Curtains or blinds for the kitchen?
If your window is behind a kitchen counter, you’ll quickly tire of having to reach over to draw a set of curtains – so blinds may be preferable for ease.
Often kitchen curtains are used to dress the window, and we can offer co-coordinating accessories to complete the desired look.
Curtains or blinds for the dining room?
In the dining room, you’ll want to strike the right balance between your personal requirements such as privacy or insulation and ambiance. Roman blinds are a great choice for dining rooms especially teamed with curtains for a dramatic impact.
Curtains or blinds for the living room?
Since your living room is where your television is usually located, blackout curtains might be useful for reducing glare during early-evening film viewings. By the same token, you’ll probably be heating your living room more than any other room, and you don’t want that extra energy to leak from the windows as soon as it’s generated.
Curtains or blinds for patio doors?
A good set of patio doors will allow large amounts of natural light into your home. Vertical blinds will give you more control over that light. If your patio doors open inwards, you’ll want to ensure that they don’t affect the dressing. In this case, roller blinds that are attached to the panels of the door itself tend to work well.
Sliding doors and french doors are complimented with a set of curtains.
Curtains or blinds for bay windows?
Bay windows are not actually a single window, but a group of windows arranged at angles to one another, so they protrude from the building. A single set of curtains around a bay window is best achieved with a track (requiring 3" curtains) or a bay pole.
Why not both?
Of course, you don’t always have to choose one or the other. Many homes will have blinds and curtains fitted throughout. Why not try to combine both?
When you combine curtains with blinds, it can add elegance and extra depth to a room, similar to a feature piece of furniture. It’s a great way to get the best of both without having to choose between one or the other.