No matter the size or style of your window, selecting the best curtain colors for your space can be tricky. As well as their visual appeal, curtains need to meet your practical needs too – and hopefully elevate the overall look and success of your room scheme.
Of course, the color you choose will depend on plenty of other factors. The paint color ideas you've picked for the space, for instance, alongside the rest of your room's palette.
With help from the experts, we’ve rounded up some of the best colors to choose for your curtains - and there are ideas for every style.
What are the best curtain colors?
‘It’s important to consider the style and size of the room, as well as taking the existing palette into account,’ advises Stéphanie Coutas, founder of Stéphanie Coutas interior design studio. ‘Decide whether the curtains are going to seamlessly blend in, or whether they are going to be a bold, accent feature of the room – I love to use pops of color to create an element of surprise.’
Evoking instant feelings of calm and serenity, blue is a color often favored in interior design. Used in a window dressing, it sets a relaxed tone for the room while also providing the perfect amount of visual weight if you’re looking to emphasize the window’s architecture.
‘I believe fabrics are an essential aspect of making a cozy home, so the choice of curtains is a really important one,’ says Stéphanie Coutas, founder of Stéphanie Coutas interior design studio. ‘In this home office we chose deep blue hand painted velvet curtains with a vertical motif to enhance the framing of the window and to contrast the white walls.’
If there was ever a room to persuade you to explore bolder curtain colors, it’s this beautiful bedroom by Folds Inside. Not only does the energizing red look impressive, but it also guides your eye to look outside, making what lies beyond the window part of the room scheme too. ‘A bold and dramatic color choice for curtains will add so much character and vibrancy to a room, as well as helping to draw your attention to a beautiful view outside,’ explains Folds Inside founder Emma Gurner.
When going for a bright curtain color, it’s well worth considering how you might balance this decision in the surrounding room scheme with the right color that goes with red. ‘Red is a theatrical choice, so it felt important to also establish an element of calm too,’ says Emma. ‘I introduced this by choosing a contrasting light blue shade for the walls which, as a cool color, balances the strong heat of red.’
Your curtains don’t necessarily have to be a bold color to make a bold statement - in fact, even white curtains in the right space can demand attention. Designed by Studio Ashby, this charming white living room is the perfect example of how plain white curtains can balance bright color for a look that’s lively yet sophisticated. The curtains strike a powerful pose against black joinery and window frames, without distracting from the pops of bright yellow and sultry olive green.
In a space with more than one window, you might not want the curtains to hang too heavily or be too dominant in the scheme – and white is also a great choice for these scenarios. Especially when paired with white walls, the curtains seemingly blend into the surrounding wall for an effect that’s calming on the eye, without compromising on the privacy and practicality that curtains offer.
Possibly not the first color you might think of for curtains, shades of orange can actually make for a brilliantly energizing window treatment – ideal in rooms where you might need a little pick me up.
As a bedroom idea, it’s best to opt for softer tones of peach, while livelier tones of tangerine and amber are great for living rooms or creative workspaces. To keep the look modern, avoid large prints, instead opting for small scale patterns and subtle detailing.
We’d all love sunshine to be streaming through the windows everyday, but in reality, a room’s golden hour is often fleeting. One way to battle the gloomy days is with sunny yellow curtains. Particularly effective in rooms that lack natural light, a yellow window treatment helps to evoke that coveted golden glow to give the space a much brighter feel.
In this smart living room by Le Berre Vavaud, a black trim at the bottom of the curtains has been added to ground the look and give a sophisticated, contemporary edge. There are a lot of colors that go with yellow beautifully, so it will slot effortlessly into many different decorating schemes. One tip is to incorporate another yellow element in the room - such as an armchair, rug or artwork - to situate the color within the scheme and provide connectivity.
Perhaps you’re looking to create a space that feels cosseting and cozy? Deep fruity hues may be the way to go for you. ‘Rich shades of plum or scarlet help to make a space feel intimate,’ says Emily Mould, design director at The Romo Group. ‘You could also choose more substantial fabrics – luxurious wools or sumptuous velvets can help prevent drafts and retain heat for a super cozy living room or bedroom.’
When deciding on colors for curtains, Emily advises thinking about the impact you want to make in the room as a whole. ‘If you want to make the curtains a design statement in the room, go with a strong color, pattern or contrasting texture,’ she says. ‘Alternatively, for a more subtle look, choose a plain, textural neutral or muted pastel shade.’
Using bright color isn’t the only way to turn your curtains into a focal point. If you’re a fan of a more pared-back palette, then opting for patterned curtains in neutral shades could be a better fit for your style.
‘For this project, the client was looking to make a statement, but in a neutral color scheme as she wanted to retain a sense of calm in the space,’ explains Kendra Nash, founder of Nash Design Group. ‘We landed on this gorgeous print by Opuzen. It was the perfect backdrop for the boho neutral vibe the client gravitated towards.’
While this idea might not work for every space, if you’re lucky enough to have a wall of large windows, why just limit yourself to one color? This colorful living room design combines a collection of curtains in different complementary shades that all sit together beautifully for a unique look.
The key is keeping the material you use consistent, so that each curtain is exactly the same weight, texture and tone with just a gentle difference in color. Light linens with a slight transparency will allow for a little light to shine through for a breezy feeling that’s perfect for the summer months.
What color curtains make a room look bigger?
Curtains can take up quite a large proportion of a room, so it’s worth taking the time to consider how to make them work hard in a space – and enhancing the size of a room is often on the wishlist.
Typically, darker colors will attract the eye, and can make a room feel like it’s closing in on itself. This can be used to great effect in spaces such as bedrooms where you want to feel cozy; deep reds, plums and navy blues are a great choice.
On the other hand, lighter shades tend to help open a room up and increase the feeling of spaciousness – great if you’re hoping to make a room look bigger. ‘I find that window treatments that include a lot of white and neutrals tend to make a space look larger, especially if the walls are also painted in similar light tones,’ says Kendra Nash, founder of Nash Design Group.
As well as color, there are other choices to make if you want your curtains to work hard in a room, as Stéphanie Coutas, founder of Stéphanie Coutas interior design studio, advises; ‘Make sure your curtains are full length, flowing from the ceiling down to the floor – this helps to enhance both the size of the window, and the room as well,’ she says. ‘Opting for a hidden curtain rail amplifies the effect, as it gives the feeling of the curtains draping down infinitely.’
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Interiors stylist and journalist Amy Neason was the Deputy Style and Interiors editor at House Beautiful for years. She is now a freelance props and set stylist, creating work for a range of national publications and brands such as Imogen Heath. She has previously worked at Established & Sons, and her skills include styling still life and interiors shots for editorial features and sourcing unique products to create inspirational imagery.
She is particularly respected for interpreting seasonal trends into feature ideas and style stories.
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