How to choose your curtains for a designer look on a budget – interiors experts share what to look for

Plus, our 3 favourite finds

A living room with high ceilings and long curtains and a modern chair in front of the window
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

When decorating your home, curtains can often become overlooked in favour of more focal elements. And yet, curtains can either make or break a room, they can elevate it or make it look cheap. So to avoid cheapening your home and instead achieve a designer look on a budget, there are a few things to know about how to choose expensive-looking curtains like a pro.

Whether you’re looking for high-end-style living room curtain ideas or drapes for the bedroom, the same principles apply as explained by our interior and curtain experts.

The idea of designer-looking curtains has been popularised in recent weeks thanks to a set of viral Amazon curtains as demonstrated by the likes of @copycatsstyle on TikTok whose video attracted over 6.6 million views.

But the truth is you don’t need these specific Amazon curtains – not to mention they’re currently sold out, unsurprisingly so. All you need is knowing what to look for when shopping for your next curtains.

Long pleated curtains covering half of ceiling to to floor windows

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jake Curtis)

How to choose designer-looking curtains on a budget

‘The allure of expensive window curtains lies in the attention to detail,’ says Kate Duckworth, trends and interior expert at Swift Direct Blinds. So that’s exactly what you’ll need to do when choosing your new curtains – pay attention to the details and follow these expert tips.

Where to buy designer-looking curtains on a budget

1. Avoid synthetic materials

A living room with high ceilings and long curtains and a modern chair in front of the window

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

Choosing the right material is probably the most important decision you can make when picking out your curtains. And the best curtain idea is to avoid synthetics and go for natural materials instead.

‘Your choice of fabrics can make a big difference in the perceived value of your curtains,’ explains Emma Cottrell, marketing manager at BoConcept. ‘Choose high-quality textiles for your curtains where possible to give your space a rich and luxurious feel. Opting for natural fabrics like velvet, linen and cotton can add depth and texture to any space and make your curtains look more expensive.’

‘Natural fibres such as silk, cotton, or linen drape elegantly,' agrees Kate. 'Think velvet for a dramatic look or linen for a more relaxed elegance. To avoid the pitfalls of cheap-looking curtains, steer clear of purely synthetic materials that lack the lustre and texture of natural fabrics.’

And going for a style that’s lined will make your curtains look even more expensive. ‘A quality lining adds weight, improves drape, and protects the fabric from sun damage, all contributing to a more finished look,’ Kate says.

2. Opt for neutral colours and timeless patterns

High windows with dark brown curtains with a bench to the side

(Image credit: Future PLC/Davide Lovatti)

When thinking about your curtain colours for the living room or any other space in the house, try to ignore current home decor trends. As these could start looking dated in a few years’ time.  

‘There are a few colours that are considered “safe colours” when it comes to curtains,’ Emma says. ‘These colours mesh well with the vast majority of decor styles, are unaffected by trends, and can create a timeless, expensive feel. These colours include white, grey and brown.'

'We advise that you don't pick a curtain colour just because it is the latest craze - this can make your curtains look cheap once the trend wears off. However, you don't need to stick to neutrals - pick a colour that you genuinely love.’

The same goes for patterns – choose wisely and go for something timeless and not too in your face, like stripes for example. ‘Vertical stripes on curtains can also be used to make your windows look longer,’ Emma says.

‘Overly bold or garish patterns can cheapen the appearance of curtains, while subtle and timeless designs lend an air of enduring elegance,’ Kate explains.

3. Consider size and length

A pink room with a window and a curtain next to a wooden dresser

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘Longer curtains that touch the floor look more expensive and luxurious whilst shorter curtains may look cheap,’ Emma puts it simply. 

But according to Kate, there is a little bit more to getting the size of your curtains just right. ‘Ill-fitting curtains can detract from the overall aesthetic, so precise measurements are essential,' she says. 'Learn how to measure your windows to dress them properly.'

'Curtains that pool slightly on the floor, think just grazing the floor, not dragging, and have enough fullness, ideally double the window width, create a more luxurious look. Curtains that stop above the window sill or don't have enough fullness will look unfinished and cheap.'

4. Don’t forget curtain headings

Living room with grey sofa and large full-length curtains over sash windows.

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to the perfect, designer-looking curtains, every element should come under scrutiny. From the way it hangs to how it hits the floor and what it looks like at the very top.

‘When choosing curtain headings, opting for a pencil pleat gives a more luxurious, tailored look compared to eyelets,’ Kate notes.

And while there is a world of choice of affordable curtains that look high-end, these are our top 3 picks, all in line with our experts’ advice.

Our picks for expensive-looking curtains

Which one will you choose?

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.