Different Types of Curtains

Curtains are not hanged on the windows for privacy, although that’s a need, especially for the bedrooms. With its ability to add a splash of color and personality to the room, your choice of a curtain is very important in completing the look of a room. Any curtain has the ability to dress up your windows and create a certain look, making it a good investment, style-wise.

There are a lot of fabric, style and length choices for a curtain, but basically, here are the most common types:

1. Rod pocket curtain

Rod pocket curtain (also known as cased heading curtains, panel curtain or pole top curtain) is the most basic and common type of curtain. It is a straight curtain with one or two pockets on the top where a curtain rod or pole could be slid inside. Then, the rod would be fitted unto the hooks or sockets at both top sides of the window.

This type of curtain is typically used with lightweight fabrics and are often unlined for a more casual look. The more fabric squeezed into the rod, the more dramatic the bunching of the curtain will look. Some rod pocket curtains have a ruffled header for a more feminine and old-fashioned look, which some people prefer. Because the pockets are tightly fitted to the rod, it’s hard to move the fabric back and forth. It is best for windows that are normally kept in a closed position, or in rooms where you don’t mind having a curtain obstructing the window all the time. If you want to reveal the window to let sunlight in, you may use decorative tiebacks.

2. Pleated curtain

Pleated curtains are classic styles of drapery that never goes out of fashion, but their popularity rises and falls depending on the current trends. These create a formal look, making them perfect for a more traditionally-inclined and formal interior style.

The pleats are formed using header tape, which is sewn from the back of the curtain. The tape forms pleats when pulled together. The curtain is hanged using hanging hooks inserted to the tape, then the hooks are hung on the rings, which are attached to the rod. To open and close the curtains, a cord-and-pulley system is used.

There are different types of pleated curtains:

  • French pleats – French pleat curtains have groups of triple pleats clipped together on the base to create a wide open top. With this look, the curtains would stack neatly to each side. It needs a special curtain rod to hold the pleats together. Its tailored, elegant look makes it suitable for a formal dining area or a lounge room.
  • Pencil pleats – It has smooth, consisted folds at the top of the curtain, resembling the size of a pencil. Pencil pleat curtains are hung using drapery hooks attached to the back of the curtains and then hooked into the curtain rod. A curtain of this style with sheer fabric works great with large glass windows or doors.
  • Pinch pleats – This style of curtain has groups of pleats on top that look like they’re pinched together, thus the name. The pleats are sewn for a permanent, gathered look. Pinch pleated curtains also vary, depending on the number of pleats – there are two finger pinch pleats, three finger pinch pleats, four finger pinch pleats, and five finger pinch pleats. With more pleats, the more amount of fabric needed and the more expensive the curtain gets. It creates a quite formal look but can suit contemporary and modern interiors depending on the color and choice of fabric.
  • Goblet pleats – The most formal of all pleated curtains, this type is perfect for a grand room in a traditional-style home with high ceilings. The pleats on the top are formed to resemble a wine glass. To retain the full and rounded shape of the “goblet,” the main pleat is filled with interlining or waddling, and some are stuffed with cotton wool or tissue paper. Most goblet pleat curtains are made of medium to heavyweight fabrics.
  • Box pleats – Box pleated curtains look tailored, as it is pleated in a box shape lined up next to each other. The pleats drape into deep folds down to the bottom hem of the curtain. It is ideal for formal dining and seating rooms, or in study areas.
  • Gathered pleats – This style combines the look of the pencil pleat and the pinch pleat. The pleats are gathered by pleating tape is sewn to the back of the curtain’s top edge, then pulling the cords in the tape to tighten or loosen the pleating according to your choice.
  • Tailored pleats – Tailored pleat curtains are like pinch pleats, but the pleats start at the topmost part of the fabric. It works best with medium to heavyweight fabrics; lighter weight fabrics may need a lining if you want to make a tailored-pleat curtain out of it.

3. Eyelet curtain

Also called ring-top or grommet curtains, eyelet curtains have grommets attached to the top of the fabric panel, wherein the rod is inserted. The eyelet headings create large and soft folds, and it also makes closing and opening the curtains easier. This type of curtain doesn’t make use of much fabric, unlike the pleated types, making it great for showing off prints and patterns. It’s best to use a good-looking wooden or metal rod with decorative finials on both the rod’s ends for this type as this hardware will be exposed. Depending on your fabric of choice, this suits any decorating style from casual, contemporary and even traditional.

4. Tab top curtain

Tab top curtains look modern and informal. They have tabs or loops at the top (made from the same or contrasting fabric) which are inserted to the curtain rod, creating folds. Because of its structure, this type of curtain can only be used with curtain rods. Like the eyelet curtain, the spaces between tab tops expose the rod, so it’s better to invest in attractive poles and finials. Tab top curtains look great using sheer and billowy fabric, creating that casual style that suits country or cottage looks.

However, the tab tops are hard to push and pull back and forth across the rod, so it’s best for windows that are not frequently opened. Like the rod pocket curtain, it needs tiebacks if you want to reveal the window.

5. Café curtain

Typically used in kitchen windows, café curtains are used for adding privacy while still allowing a lot of light to enter the room. It covers only a certain portion of the window (either the lowest or highest part), with the valence added on top of it. Café curtains are usually, but not all the time, hanged in tension rods placed inside the window frame.

Decorative Treatments for Curtains

The curtain types stated above doesn’t always come as they are. Some people use decorative treatments to complete the look of the curtains, to conceal hardware, or to just add a bit more style. Here are some common decorative treatments you can use for your curtains:

  • Valances – short pieces of decorative fabric usually hung from a rod with the style of a curtain. It only covers the uppermost part of the windows to camouflage the rod and draping hardware like hooks (especially when you hang multiple layers of curtains) to create an aesthetically pleasing look. It is soft and drapey, and it may come pleated, layered, gathered, tailored or having grommet top.
  • Pelmets – has the same function as valances. However, these are often made from chipboard and are covered in decorative fabric. Some pelmets are made of timber, while most are upholstered.
  • Swag (festoon) – a piece of pleated fabric hung at the top of the window that resembles a semi-circular shape. It usually comes with a jabot
  • Jabot (cascade or tail) – a vertical pleated piece of fabric used with swags that are hanged along the top of the window. It trails down the sides of the swags to hide the seams between them. For curtains with only one swag, jabots are plainly decorative.
  • Tier – a tailored or ruffled window treatment hung in the middle of the window sill to cover at least the bottom a third of the window. It is usually paired with a valance on top for a finished look. This is typically used in kitchen and bathroom windows.