Though many people focus on furniture and artwork, the truth is that curtains can make or break a room. The right curtains can complement your home design or elevate it into something classic.
The problem is, high-quality curtains are expensive. When you consider the cost of fabric, skilled labor, installation, and accessories, you’re going to be spending a lot of money on these items. Luckily, they’re not purely decorative—curtains have practical benefits as well.
Once you understand all that goes into making a great set of curtains, you’ll see why this is an investment you need to make in your home. Learn about what you need when you’re buying curtains and how much you should budget for the perfect set.
Table of Contents
Quality of Curtain Fabric
Most people who wonder “Why are curtains so expensive?” think that they are just pieces of fabric that hang in your windows. On the surface, it may seem like curtains are simple panels of material you hang from a curtain rod. However, to get curtains that look great, you have to choose the right material and work with it.
Consider the fabric of the curtains you admire. If it’s too thick, they hang heavy and look bulky in the room. Too light and they don’t drape beautifully around your window. You don’t have to have a large swatch of fabric to determine if it’s right for curtains. You can take two yards, pleat the top, and hold it up to see how the fabric falls.
Established designers prefer to work with sturdy fabrics like linen, velvet, cotton, or tapestry. These materials are durable and hang well. Using two layers of these materials also helps block out light and heat when you close the curtains. If the designers don’t use two layers of the fabric, they might insert an insulating layer to achieve the same effect.
Once you choose the type of fabric you like, you’ll have to narrow down the color. Curtains can demand a lot of attention in the room depending on window size and location, so make sure the colors you choose work well in the space.
Also, consider that the sun will fade the colors over time. You might want to stay away from dark and bright fabrics for this reason. Lighter-colored fabrics won’t fade as quickly and will be less noticeable when they do.
After picking the perfect color and weight of the fabric, you have to buy enough of it to make the curtains. There are many different types of curtains, and the style you choose will affect how much fabric you need.
The general rule is to measure the window length and buy three times as much fabric so the curtains will look full.
If you’re choosing a long curtain style, you’ll have to make sure you buy enough fabric to achieve that length.
Most curtain styles come in a few different lengths:
- Floor length, which touches the floor
- Trouser length, which bunches slightly at the floor
- Puddle length, which leaves a lot of fabric on the floor
- Apron length, which falls below the window sill
- Sill length, which exposes the window sill
Consider how high above the window the curtain rod will hang when you’re writing down these measurements. Designers choose to hang curtain rods at least six inches above the window frame to make the room seem taller. You can choose to hang your curtains higher for a more regal look or lower to keep the curtains close to the window.
Some styles of curtains have swag on top, so you’ll need additional fabric for that accent.
When you add curtains to your decor, you’re not only buying the actual fabric curtains. You need to think of the necessary accessories, like curtain rods, tiebacks, rings, and liners. You can find these extras in all shapes, styles, and colors to play up your overall home design.
Custom Curtains vs. Store-Bought Curtains
Custom curtains will cost more than store-bought curtains, but you’re paying to have something specially made for you. You’ll be able to pick the fabric and style. You can even have a consultant come to your home to give you advice on what would look best in your space. They can also carefully install the curtain rod and hardware for you.
Not everyone can afford a customized window treatment, and it’s not a necessity. Store-bought curtain panels come in various colors, fabrics, and styles. You can find something that accents your rooms without spending too much money. Many of these panels are also machine washable, which makes upkeep easier.
Why Should I Buy Curtains?
You might think that you can save money by not buying curtains. This is true, but consider how much style curtains add to a room. Curtains can draw attention to your windows or discreetly keep them out of sight.
Depending on how you hang your curtains, they can make a small space look larger or an expansive space seem cozier. This is where the fabric and length will come into play. Shorter curtains can make your room seem cute and playful, while floor-length curtains add elegance.
You can choose the perfect fabric to complement the furniture and artwork you have in your home. You might want curtains with bright colors to spruce up neutral walls and furniture. You might choose white or cream curtains to allow the other items in your home to shine.
In addition to aesthetics, curtains can also help lower your utility bills. Hanging light-colored curtains and keeping them closed against the hot summer sun will ensure your home stays cooler. Similarly, closing curtains in winter will keep the heat inside your house so you stay warm.
If the curtains you choose aren’t thick enough to properly block the heat, you can buy a thermal lining that hangs between your curtain and the window. These linings pay off in the long run since over 30% of a home’s heat escapes through the windows in winter.
How Much Should I Budget for Curtains?
How much you budget for curtains depends on your intentions. If you want to buy a classic style of curtain that will last for 20 years, it’s worth spending more on something durable because you won’t need to replace them.
If you like to change your window treatments so your house is always in style, you’ll want to spend less now, because you’ll be replacing them in a few years.
You also need to consider if you’re buying curtains for your whole house or just one room. If you have many windows all around the house, you might not be able to afford elegant curtains for all of them at once.
Custom curtains can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per window. However, you can get simple panels for as little as $10 each depending on the style you want.
When you’re budgeting for this upgrade, you need to prioritize either design or money. If you want to get curtains you love, it’s worth paying more for your happiness. If you want to save money, find something practical and stylish at the store.
While it’s true that curtains are very expensive, it’s worth the investment to make your home look classy. Take advantage of how curtains not only look good but can also make your space seem larger.
Don’t forget—even the most stylish curtain will help lower your energy bill by keeping heat out in summer and in during the winter. Your curtains will pay for themselves in no time. After you shop around, you’ll find the perfect fabric, color, and length of curtain to accent every room in your house.