Drapes vs. Curtains - Is There  a Difference?

Choosing the perfect window treatment is like selecting the perfect frame for a painting. The right choice can bring a room to life, but the wrong one - it can make a room feel like something out of a haunted house . Both beautiful and functional, curtains and drapes can enhance a room’s look and feel, provide privacy, and protect furniture from sun damage. Chances are you’ve heard the words “curtains and “drapes used interchangeably (even by the most talented interior designers), but there are subtle differences between the two (including different price tags). Here's what you need to know about curtains and drapes - by the end you’ll be able to impress even your most design-savvy friends!

Drapes Window Treatment

Drapes

When you hear drapes, think of the heavy, formal, and luxurious window treatments in castles, palaces, and fancy hotels. Drapes are usually sold in pairs, come with a lining, and come in solid colours, rather than patterns. In comparison to curtains, drapes cover a larger surface area, usually extending from the top of the window to the floor. Unlike curtains, drapes are often custom ordered to fit a specific window. In some cases, extra long drapes are ordered to create a “puddling” effect below on the floor. Drapes are also pleated. Though there could be an entire blog post dedicated to pleating alone (and there might be one day, a good thing to remember for now is that drape pleats are often either “box” or “tuxedo” pleats. Drapes hang from a rod and can be strung up in a variety of ways. For velvet or luxurious fabrics, you can choose a more decorative or elaborate rod, but the “hardware,” should complement the rest of the room. 

Curtains and Drapes 2

Curtains

Curtains are like the eccentric and lighthearted cousin to drapes. The flavour of variety offered can make a room more colourful, versatile, and airy. Like drapes, curtains are sold in pairs, but they come in a variety of colours and sizes, and they are made of lighter and airier fabrics. Because of their versatility, they can be used to decorate windows in most rooms. Curtains are unlined, meaning you’ll likely need an additional window treatment like blinds to keep light out. Curtains can usually be bought “off the shelf” from your favourite interior design store (Ikea, Wayfair, etc.), making the price much more appealing. Similar to drapes, curtains hang from a rod using grommets, metal or fabric rings, or a fabric sleeve.

Window Treatment

 

Cleaning

Drapes and curtains are the one thing in your home that should always be left to cleaning professionals. For one, unless you’re using an industrial machine, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to fit your drapes or curtains in the washer to clean. The linings, embellishments, and fabrics make them extremely difficult to wash, and puckering and shrinkage are common DIY cleaning mistakes. Ironing pleats can also become a nightmare and lead to an avoidable headache. Choose a drape master like Gibson’s Cleaners, and call for a quote ahead of time – make sure to have measurements and the number of pleats (if drapes) handy. 

So, what window treatment should you choose? For larger statement rooms, where you want to keep sunlight out, we recommend drapes. To add some cheap and cheerful charm to a bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom, curtains are your answer.

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Linley McConnell

Written by Linley McConnell