Curtains and drapes or drapery are just names for fabric covering a window, right? Even designers sometimes get this wrong and assume the two are interchangeable. Not so much. While the difference is subtle, it can make a big difference when choosing window coverings for your home.
So really, what is the difference? Let’s break it down.
What are curtains?
Curtains, of course, are fabric window coverings, usually hung from a rod or track. The majority of box-store purchased fabric window coverings will be curtains. They come in a wide variety of fabrics, colors, patterns, and materials. Often they come in just a few set sizes, like lengths of 84″ or 54″. As they’re sold with either one panel or a set, you will usually need to purchase multiples in order to create the fullness you need for an attractive style.
What makes them different from drapes is you get no customization. You purchase these based on fabric available from a manufacturer, in the inch measurements they provide. If you have unique architectural features to your home, you may be unable to find curtains that can meet your needs, and if your window sizes vary, there may not be matching options in different sizes or shapes. They’re mass-produced and often only quickly examined by QA in a long line of products, and may have loose threads, uneven hems, varying color in batches, or other discrepancies that custom design would catch and prevent from making it into your home.
Some articles and even experts in our field label “curtains” as lightweight, sheer, or other fabric- or style-related options. The truth is curtains are simply the mass-produced, non-customized box store window coverings made from fabric, hung on rods. That’s it.
What are drapes or drapery?
Drapes – or drapery – are the same idea as curtains, but made with care. They’re customized for the window they will be installed in. They can be made from any material, any opacity, and any length. They can even be made to fit custom hardware for unique or unusual windows.
Most importantly, they are made with YOU in mind. When we create draperies, we’re not just covering your windows. We’re taking into account how much sunlight comes in through the window and if insulation from heat gain or loss is needed. If your room gets hot when sun hits it, or cold when it doesn’t, we’re going to find a solution perfect for you and your room.
We consider if you have pets or children that may require easy-to-clean fabrics or fur removal. Your personal tastes and your home’s style matter. After all, no one wants draperies that clash with their couch! If your home has a traditional style, we’re going to help choose traditional fabrics and even hardware that match in with your existing room’s features.
Small details matter. We match hardware to existing metals in your room. The exact height of hardware and length of the fabric, and even the weight of the fabric itself can evoke different emotions. Fuller, rich fabrics with solid, darker colors can make a bedroom feel more romantic. Plus you need darker materials in a bedroom anyway for optimal sleep hygiene anyway. If you’re in a family room or home office, you need glare to stay off your screens.
Draperies can also be motorized.
If you have a SmartHome system, they can even be integrated. If you don’t, though, phone apps, tablets, Google Voice or Amazon Alexa devices can control your drapes. Don’t want any of that? That’s fine! We can also install a wall button much like a light switch that allows you to simply open or close drapes with the push of a button (also shades, blinds, and even awnings!).
So curtains are basically just cheap drapes?
Basically, yes. Curtains are essentially mass-produced, non-customized, lower quality drapes that can usually only be purchased in pairs. We understand not everyone is ready to or wants to invest in custom draperies, and there’s nothing wrong with having curtains. We’re obviously biased in favor of high-quality and custom design solutions, since that’s what we do and we love it! Sometimes curtains or drapes aren’t the right solution for your room too, and when shopping online for premade solutions, it’s even harder to find blinds, shades, or especially shutters that aren’t custom and will still fit correctly, prevent gaps, and last for years to come.
Layering drapes with shades or other options is a client-favorite as well, since then you can get really creative in both design and functionality.
Last but not least, nothing beats the look on our client’s faces when the custom drapes are installed to perfection and complete the vision they had all along for their homes.