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How to Choose Between Curtains & Shades

Curtains & Shades

When it comes to providing a room with a touch of soft elegance, you just can’t go wrong with fabric window treatments. However, as you’ve probably already discovered, there are plenty of options to choose from. And while most homeowners looking to invest in fabric window treatments can narrow down their options to either custom curtains or stylish shades, it’s easy to become paralyzed when faced with this choice. If this scenario sounds familiar, this guide is for you.

Custom drapes and curtains share a number of similarities with fabric shades. Both window treatments possess a soft look that can be personalized to embody any number of styles and complement nearly every color palette. In fact, you can often find both of these window treatments adorning the same window, offering a trifecta of style, privacy, and light control.

At the end of the day, however, shades and drapery have a few key differences that you should understand before making your purchase:

Custom Curtains & Drapes Favor Form Over Function

While you can find curtains or drapery that promise homeowners a degree of privacy or light control, the truth of the matter is that these window treatments often get installed for decorative reasons. Made from a lighter weight fabric and installed over the window—as opposed to inside the frame like most window treatments—custom curtains and drapes usually serve as a statement piece that ties together the various elements of a room’s décor. To this end, they often feature bolder colors or patterns and may be paired with valances or curtain rods to enhance their style.

Nine times out of ten, homeowners who purchase custom drapes or curtains either already have more functional window coverings or will purchase more functional window coverings concurrently. This allows traditional options like blinds or roller shades—which don’t break any new ground in the world of window fashion—to shine under more glamourous top treatments.

Most Shades Possess an Understated, Yet Versatile Style

Window shades often possess more functionality than your average curtain, due in part to their installation. Sized to fit perfectly to the dimensions of your windows, custom shades are installed inside the frame. This maximizes coverage when your fabric shades are closed—blocking out nearly all light from around the edges of the window treatment and protecting you from prying eyes.

Most window shades resemble a single piece of hanging fabric when closed, only to bunch or fold around the top of the window when opened. These folds affect shade design, as many shade designers will choose subtle or monochromatic fabrics that won’t look funny when gathered. This is especially true if you opt for:

Cellular Shades

Consisting of neat horizontal rows of collapsible fabric cells, cellular shades possess an unquestionably trim appearance when closed and virtually disappear against the top or bottom of a window when opened. Since the rows of pleats usually don’t mesh well with patterned fabric, cellular shades almost always come in muted, monochromatic colors. But what these shades lack in eye-catching style, they make up for when it comes to versatility—your average cellular shades will outlive almost any décor fad, and they pair exceptionally well with top treatments like curtains or drapes.

Roller Shades

While most fabric shades fold in on themselves when opened, these window treatments coil into a tight roll against the top of the window frame. This allows them to virtually disappear when open, making these rolling shades incredibly popular amongst homeowners looking to maximize views or emphasize their top treatments. That doesn’t mean that roller shades must always fade into the background, though! On the contrary, the fact that these shades present a clean-cut panel of fabric when closed makes them well suited for bolder-colored fabrics or natural woven materials.

It’s worth noting that both cellular and roller shades offer admirable functionality—they block more light and offer more reliable privacy on average than custom curtains or drapes. Additionally, the unique design of cellular shades allows them to insulate windows against the cold.

Roman Shades Combine the Best of Both Worlds

Of course, if you want a window treatment that marries form and function, look no further than Roman shades. These window treatments are usually installed along the top frame of a window like your standard shades, and they hang in a simple panel of fabric over the window’s surface when closed for unparalleled functionality.

When opened, however, Roman shades gently fold in on themselves until they bunch at the top of a window like an elegant valance. What’s more, a skilled seamstress can create Roman shades that fold in unique ways—from shades featuring precise folds to those that bunch tighter at the sides of the window in order to form a gentle curve. Because of this, you’ll find Roman shades in traditional and modern homes alike.

Oftentimes, finding the perfect window treatments for your home requires partnering with an experienced provider. If you live in Southern California, Galaxy Draperies would be happy to help you determine whether curtains, drapes, or shades would best meet your needs and suit your style. Contact us today to get started.

What People Say About Us
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4.8
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4.6
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4.7
Leslee A
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"From scheduling our appointment to meeting with our designer, Bernadette, and the installer, Alfredo, we were met with professionalism and comforted in knowing we were dealing with people who knew what they were doing. Arrival times were well within the two-hour window. Bernadette shared her knowledge and expertise to help us choose the window treatments that best fit our needs and budget. We are so pleased with the final result and look forward to covering the rest of the window in our home."

Mike M
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"My wife and I recently moved and were in the market for new shades for our bathroom , living room and kitchen . We didn't really have a set vision so it was unbelievable when our designer Karen went through all the possibilities and showed us what would work well with the setup . Karen was not only very professional , she was personable and super knowledgeable about the products. I wish I could have her design the rest of our house ! Great product , great designer, great experience!"

Victoria S
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"I would like to say that Galaxy Draperies was the best choice we've made. We recently purchased a new home and wanted to thank Bernadette for the amazing service she provided. I was referred to her by my sister, which also happened to purchase through you guys. Not only did Bernadette make me feel comfortable but it felt like I was working with family."

Kathy S
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"Ordered Roman Shades for five windows. Designer who came to our home was nice and professional, Roman Shades arrived on time, the installation was handled by their installer who called and asked if he could come by earlier than our appointment, which was great. He was friendly, professional and did a great job! Highly recommend this company."

Amy R
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"I had a great experience with Galaxy. The designer presented me with several options and was very helpful in designing my window treatments. The installers were very professional, courteous, and careful! I will definitely use them in the future!"

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