If You Aren’t Using These Smart Curtain Tricks in Your Living Room, You’re Missing Out

updated Sep 10, 2020
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Let’s face it: Window treatments don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s easy to focus on how other design elements like paint colors and furniture, for example, bring a room to life, since they’re so prominent. Curtains and shades, however, are the real unsung heroes of a space. Beyond blocking the sun when you don’t want light, they’re maybe one of the simplest ways to freshen up a space with ease. Plus, they can easily be hung without drilling into your walls, making them renter-friendly.

If you thought there were only a few ways to work your window treatments though, you’re missing out on a handful of different decorating opportunities. From making a space seem larger to providing the perfect pop of color, read on for some curtain design tricks that can give your living room a quick style boost.

Credit: Minette Hand

“Raise your roof” to new heights 

Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you can’t have what looks like lofty ceilings. To create the illusion of grand height in your home, try raising your curtain rod as close to the ceiling as possible and let the curtains dust the floor, as seen in this Charleston home. This hack will draw the eyes up, leaving the living room feel a bit more spacious and tall.


Credit: Melanie Gnau

Go natural 

When it comes to living room window treatments, don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns, styles, and materials. Not sure where to start? Traditional curtains paired with bamboo or other natural fiber shades, as seen in this North Carolina home, is the perfect first decorative move. This layered combo creates a warm, polished feeling within a space. Plus, you can always change up the look of the room by alternating between drawing the curtains and shades.

Use a curtain as a divider

Curtains typically find their home on windows, but this Argentinian home makes the case for spreading some drapery love around your house. For a unique take on decorating with curtains, use a panel or two in an open doorway to separate your living room from the next room over. It’s a simple way to add a pop of color—and some extra privacy—to complement both spaces. Not to mention, when closed, those panels can also provide a visual sense of spatial division, if you’re looking for that kind of thing in a more open layout.

Double up 

Sometimes two really is better than one when it comes to pairs of curtains. Such is the case in this California living room, where the homeowners layered black and white curtains for a dreamy, organic look. Beyond the aesthetically pleasing contrast this kind of layering creates, the design is actually pretty practical as well: The white sheers let light in during the day, while the black panels keep the room darker for TV watching at night when they’re drawn.

Play with pattern

Whoever said curtains couldn’t have a personality of their own has probably never seen this Austin home. The playful curtains pack a punch with deep hues of green and red that correspond with the rest of the room’s furniture and decor. In general, curtains offer a lot of bang for their buck, and they’re way less of a long-term commitment than buying a really big-ticket item like a patterned sofa or rug. If you’re thinking of going bold with curtains, be sure to have a few neutral elements in the room, from your tables and chairs to what’s underfoot with your rug. These items will help ground your curtains’ pattern, so your window treatments add style to the space without overpowering the whole room.  

Make it monochrome

Patterned curtains may not be your thing, and that’s okay! For a simpler look, match your shades to the color of your wall, as seen in this Amsterdam apartment. This tonal trick creates a fresh look that’ll give you all the benefits of having curtains without making them the center of attention in your space.

Credit: Liz Calka

Create contrast

For some curtains, it’s all business up top and party down below, as seen in this Virginia home. The lower half of the curtain blends in with the room’s dark walls, while the top hue is a warmer touch that keeps the room feeling open. Color-blocked drapery is a great way to introduce contrast into a space, and this kind of a design is fairly easy to DIY, too, if you find two fabrics that you would like to combine.