4 Things to Do Before Buying New Window Treatments

updated Mar 10, 2020
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(Image credit: MA Allen Interiors)

For as lovely as they can look in your home, sometimes, buying window treatments can be a taxing task. That’s why it pays to know what things to do before you pick out your new curtains or shades—so you don’t get stuck with something that won’t work.

Luckily, we have designer extraordinaire MA Allen, founder of MA Allen Interiors, to call upon for help. We asked her for tips on what to do before buying window treatments, and she had lots to share. From measuring your window frames to which fabrics to choose, read ahead for four things Allen says you should do before you splurge on new window treatments.

1. Know Where to Shop

1. Etsy: “While retail stores such as Pottery Barn and West Elm are always worth a look, Etsy vendors offer a great selection of curtain options—with many vendors offering custom sizes.”

2. Eastern Accents: “A designer source that offers ready-made curtain panels and custom sizes.”

3. Hunter Douglas: “A great source for natural woven shades. I use their Woven Woods collection regularly. They even offer motorized shades, which come in handy when there is a long run of ganged windows that need shades or a shade in a difficult to reach place, like behind a large soaking tub in a master bathroom.”

4. Amazon: With hundreds of pages of curtain options, Amazon may seem a little overwhelming, but if you’re willing to spend a little time searching you can find something right up your alley.

See our complete list of places to buy curtains.

2. Measuring Matters

According to Allen, measuring your windows is the most important part of the curtain buying process. Along with ensuring your new window treatments fit well, properly measuring beforehand allows you to fine-tune the installation process and achieve a custom look with ready-made curtains.

“The number one mistake I see is curtains that are hung too low,” Allen says. “Every situation varies but more often than not, the best location for the curtain rod is just below the crown molding. It’s important to measure for this and then select the curtains, instead of buying curtains first and then working backwards off the length to place the rod. It’s a relatively small expense that makes a major impact to get the height right, then have a seamstress hem the curtain panels to hang to the floor, either just touching or breaking.”

3. Consider Fabrics Carefully

Like it or not, Allen says the type of fabric you choose for your curtains can make a big difference in your home.

“The fabric should relate to the aesthetics of the room and coordinate with other fabrics, finishes and materials in the space,” she explains. “Many homeowners rush to cover every window at the onset, not taking into account the style and design of each room. Instead, take your time and plan each space holistically because window treatments can add a lot of style to each space. For instance, dressier spaces can be further elevated with the use of silk or embroidered fabrics, and nothing adds more warmth and casual elegance to a room than linen ones. ”

4. Blinds Be Gone

If you thought blinds were the only way to curb natural lighting in your home, then think again. Allen says there are several stylish alternatives to humdrum blinds, that can still help you manage your natural lighting.

“I have to admit I do not use blinds or shutters,” she explains: “I dislike how much natural light is blocked by blinds and shutters, so I tend to favor soft treatments. In lieu of blinds, I love simple woven shades made of natural and sustainable materials, from jute and grasses to bamboo. Pick a waterfall style shade and measure the mounting height to be just behind the curtain rod for a gorgeous layered look.”

“There are also a lot of options for lighting control when you go with layered window treatments. If saving money is key, try using stationary curtain panels to give the illusion of functional curtains (but without all the extra fabric) and have your shades lined or even blackout lined for privacy and light control. If privacy is needed, but also natural light, opt for an unlined woven shade to filter incoming light but block views. In this case, one can use fully traversing curtains to close for full light blockage.”