Blackout curtain ideas – block out the light for total darkness and a better night's sleep

Creating the ideal sleep environment can help ensure sweet dreams

One of the most important factors to ensure a good night's sleep is creating an ideal sleeping environment. And though creating a stylish and restful interior plays a part in that, lighting is also a huge factor – which is where our blackout curtain ideas come in.

What are blackout curtains? How do they differ from regular curtains?  

As advocators of all things multi-purpose, we love nothing more than a pair of blackout curtains. Not only do they look great, but they also keep sunlight out while, in most cases, keeping heat in. Many of the latest designs on the market feature special thermal technology, which can actually cut down on heating bills, too. More on that from the experts.

Make sure your whole scheme looks beautiful with more of our bedroom ideas

‘Blackout curtains have an extra thick blackout lining that significantly reduces the amount of light coming in and provides additional insulation,’ explains expert Yvonne Keal, senior product manager at Hillarys.

‘But like all blackout fabrics and linings, they do not block sunlight completely. To create an extra dark environment, layer blackout curtains over blackout blinds, especially in for a bedroom.’

blackout room with curtains and bed

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jo Henderson)

‘All of our blackout linings are three pass' explains Rebecca Hunt, Junior Buyer for Window Decor at John Lewis & Partners. 'This simply means that the lining is made up of a series of three coatings - white, black, white. This does not interfere with the pattern or design, but provides the customer with the assurance that this is the highest specification of light blocking. All blackout lined curtains and blinds will block out both natural (sunlight) and synthetic (street lamps) light.'

Further ideas: Bedroom curtain ideas – create a cosy and peaceful sleeping space with your window dressings

How practical are blackout curtains?  

old room with curtains and bed

(Image credit: Hillarys)

Blackout curtains are hugely practical. They act in the same manner as all other curtain designs, adding colour and pattern but with the added bonus of the light blocking quality. And best of all, this clever aspect doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style.

'Some of the criteria we take into consideration when choosing are the suitability of a pattern/design to be offered in blackout is the suitability for a bedroom setting,' Rebecca from John Lewis & Partners explains. 'Typically, more muted tones and softer colour palettes for enhancing a calm setting for sleep.'

Blackout curtain ideas

1. Balance the light

room with pink wall and curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

The lighter the room, the more you'll feel the benefit of blackout measures. While most of us are seeking an airy and light environment for living, it's a different story once night falls. The more windows and light sources, the more light pollution we invite in from outside – such as car headlights and street lights. So being armed with blackout curtains is a great way to eradicate the light from intruding on a night's sleep.

If you are dressing windows with the proper blackout materials you can have as many windows as you like – just factor in curtains or blackout blinds to balance the light. When planning how to dress a bay window, make extra sure the curtains fit properly so that no chinks of light can get through.

2. Team lightweight voile curtains with blackout blinds

room with frame on navy wall and lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

If heavy lined curtains are not the vibe you wish to have, but you desire the blackout effect – team curtains with blinds.

If your chosen curtains are more for decorative purposes than anything else it's best to pair them with a blackout blind to offer more control over the light. Decorative curtains you can buy off the peg are often not lined, and therefore don't provide the benefit of blocking out the light to aid a better night's sleep. In this case a blackout blind might be a better solution, to provide the same function as a blackout curtain.

3. Take blackout curtains to the floor

bedroom with white window bed and lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

So often we misjudge the measurements for curtains, one of the key things not to do when choosing curtains.Take the blackout curtains from floor to ceiling to ensure there are no creaks of light let through. If your curtains are the same length as the windows, or only marginally longer you run the risk of light seeping under the curtain – which defeats the object of trying to blackout the room. Always over measure, rather than under measure.

4. Add colour and brightness

bedroom with pink curtains and pillows on bed

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Curtains are the ideal way to add colour and pattern to finish a room. Don't let the nature of blackout curtains or blinds fool you into thinking they need to be dark or dull. Choose your design in a vibrant shade to inject colour and add brightness to the room by day. The burst of colour will help to hide their hidden darkening purpose.

5. Coordinate designs with bedding

For those who love all things to match there is the option to make your blackout curtains and blinds match your bedlinen. 'We have customers who particularly like to match their bedding to their window dressings, so we see cross-shopping across some of our best selling designs,' says Rebecca. 'For instance, the Nerine, Wisley and Arley designs.'

room with white wall windows and hillarys kyla curtains

(Image credit: Kyla Curtains, Hillarys)

Are blackout curtains easy to clean?

As with all curtains that you've invested any money on, the best advice is to have them professionally cleaned. This prevents damaging them in any way, and it also means they will be dried properly – the last thing you want is a damp odour lingering after you've washed them.

Yvonne at Hillarys agrees, adding 'All of our curtains have a care label in them and we only recommend dry cleaning to keep them looking their best. In between we suggest using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to keep them dust free and in tip-top condition.'

How do you hang blackout curtains? 

You hang blackout curtains in the same way you would hang any other curtains. Often due to the lining quality they prove heavier than thin voiles or linen-style panels. Ensure the curtain rail can take the weight before you start to hang your blackout curtains.

‘Like any curtain, blackout curtains can be made with different headings and hung on a choice of poles and tracks,' explains Yvonne Keal at Hillarys. 'To keep light bleed to a minimum it’s a good idea to extend your curtain pole or track above and either side of the window, according to the space available.'

More: Fitted wardrobe ideas - better organisation & space-saving in any bedroom

See the improvement on your sleep quality with our blackout curtain ideas. The experts say they're a game-changer.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.