Living room curtain ideas to dress windows to perfection - whatever your style

Don't let your lounge window dressings be an afterthought

Green living room with pink sofa and pink and green sheer curtains
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Wreford)

In your lounge space, there's one design element that often gets a little less consideration that it should. However, living room curtain ideas can make or break your scheme.

Curtains add warmth, personality, colour and pattern to your living room ideas, and can make all the difference in feel of the space. 'Curtains act as an anchor to the overall scheme,' says Jenna Choate, Co-Founder, Interior Fox. 'And they can elevate the look and finish of a space.'

The first consideration when choosing curtains has to be the style and size of your windows. Whether you have a traditional bay window, modern picture window or classic French doors, you’ll want to find the curtain in living room ideas which complements the design and solves any problem areas.

Design and colour palette come next. ‘Choosing a pattern for curtains or blinds can be daunting, but don’t let it be,’ says Bhavin Taylor, Founder, Bhavin Taylor Design. ‘For those of you taking your first pattern step, I’d suggest you choose a pattern that you love.’

‘Try to keep the colour palette of the pattern to just one or two colours, so it doesn’t become too specific to your current interior, allowing you to ring the changes without changing the curtains or blinds.’

Living room curtain ideas

'Curtains are another way to add texture, colour and intrigue to a room scheme,’ says Yvonne Keal, senior product manager, Hillarys. ‘

‘A classic-looking space can be made to look more contemporary with stand-out patterned living room curtain ideas. Or if pattern is dominant in other pieces in the room then a neutral window dressing will help to temper it and act as some respite.’

1. Add softness with sheers

Orange living room with sofa and sheer curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Sheer living room curtain ideas are a lovely way to add a soft moment into your space, while also allowing for sunlight to gently filter through. It can also help to visually expand small living room ideas as you're not blocking off the exterior.

'For a timeless window dressing solution that feels stylish and considered, we’d recommend opting for lightweight, natural materials for curtain in living room ideas,' says Jenna from Interior Fox. 'We find this gives a relaxed and versatile look to the room that will stand the test of time. It is best to steer away from man-made fabrics such as polyester as these can often have a sheen that feels low quality.'

2. Go formal with pelmets

Grey living room with sofa and windows dressed with matching curtains and pelmet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson)

'For larger living rooms, a pelmet is an ideal choice,' says Ann Marie Cousins, Founder, AMC Design. 'Not only can this helpful addition be upholstered in the same shade as your curtains but it creates a seamless cover across the top of the curtains, keeping the eyelet or pencil pleat attachments out of sight.'

If you're looking to include a pelmet without forgoing modern living room ideas, look for a design with a cool trim, or simply choose a slimline pelmet so you can get the best of both worlds.

3. Continue your design scheme on the curtains

Green living room with pink sofa and pink and green sheer curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Wreford)

‘Window dressings can help to drive pattern and colour in your interiors scheme or quietly complement it,’ says Yvonne from Hillarys.

When you have a distinct living room colour schemes in place, simply continue this onto your curtains as you would on the walls. Use the same colours and tones as you have throughout. This works with pattern, too, but you will have to feel a bit braver for that step!

4. Treat them as an extension of the walls

Living room with two windows with curtains, and in built bookcase

(Image credit: Kelling Designs)

'When selecting a fabric, make sure to consider how it looks when the curtains are open as well as closed,' advises Jenna from Interior Fox. 'We like to choose a fabric that is within the same colour group as the living room paint ideas, this makes the room feel much brighter and open.'

'It’s worth noting that although bright and bold fabrics work well at creating a statement or in a maximalist décor, it has the potential to date very quickly. Bright colours may also fade in the sunlight, especially in a bright south-facing room'

5. Combine curtains and blinds for an elegant look

Neutral living room with coffee table, cream sofa, orange armchair and window with curtains and blinds

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

‘Combining curtains and living room blind ideas at one window can work, but it depends on your budget,’ says interior designer Helen Harry. ‘I love a Roman blind finished by full-length dress curtains to frame the blind – obviously with a beautiful pole that complements the fabric and wall colour.’

When there are multiple windows in the same living space, keep the look consistent and dress each window using the same curtain in living room ideas.

6. Visually expand narrow windows

living room with full length green patterned curtains, a matching rug, a brown wood coffee table with glass top, and a sofa with cushions to the side

(Image credit: Hillarys)

‘A pet hate of mine is mid-length curtains,’ says interior stylist Charlotte Boyd. ‘For me, they just don’t work in any room and make a space look dated. If you can’t have floor-skimming curtains then just go for a blind instead.’

When deciding how to design a living room with tall, narrow windows, make them feel wider by fitting a curtain pole that is wider than the window and extends further on each side. This will allow you to draw the curtains to the very edge of the window frame, creating the illusion of width and allowing maximum light into the room.

7. Highlight a beautiful bay

living room with bay window covered by full length pink floral curtains, a rich blue sofa with matching blue and floral cusions and a green rug

(Image credit: Hillarys)

‘If you have your heart set on living room curtain ideas but are not sure about having to draw them across the bay window every day, combining them with an easy-to-operate bespoke blind could be your ideal solution,’ says Lisa Slack, head of product design, Thomas Sanderson. ‘This then allows you to select a curtain fabric for more of a decorative feel as dress curtains.’

Highlight elegant bay window ideas by combining bold patterned curtains with plain Roman blinds. 

8. Choose a plain fabric

Green living room with turquoise armchair and long flowing curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

‘Bold patterns tend to date more quickly,’ says Charlotte Boyd. ‘A good-quality plain linen or sumptuous velvet will stand the test of time and can easily be incorporated into a new colour scheme.’

‘If you want to add a bit of subtle pattern, choose a textured weave or a damask. These also have the advantage of being thicker, so are more insulating.’ A styling trick not to be missed for cosy living room ideas.

Add warmth to a chilly space over winter months by opting for a combination of both blind and curtain in living room ideas at your windows. Mix and match fabrics and colours with subtle woven stripes and a tone-on-tone damask in rich shades of navy and gold.

9. Match walls and curtains

Living room with green and white patterned wallpaper and matching curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Matching living room curtain ideas to the wall patterns is a bold but impactful move. When the curtains are closed you'll have a wrap around effect where the window area appears as another wall. 

Make sure you've tested how the pattern looks when the curtains are pulled back,. however. The ruching created can completely change how a pattern looks, so make sure it doesn't clash with the wall, or turn into something you don't love as much.

‘Think about how the curtains will look when closed as well as open,' adds Yvonne from Hillarys. ‘If the window is big, curtains in a bold colour or busy design will become a substantial feature when drawn. And a pattern that is obscured when the curtains are open will be fully visible once they are closed.’

10. Show off a bright pattern

grey living room with yellow pattern curtains, a white sofa with colourful cushions, and a grey coffee table with plants sitting on a tray on top

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore)

Window dressing ideas are a brilliant way of bringing colour and texture to a room scheme, keeping things interesting. 

'I like to experiment with bold colours when it comes to living room curtain ideas as they are an ideal opportunity to make a real statement,' says Ann Marie from AMC Design. 'A deep blue velvet curtain, for example ,will add warmth to the space creating a strong focal point, whilst also remaining highly practical.

'The use of a rich fabric like velvet adds a premium feel for an elegant and sophisticated space and modern velvets are really robust so drape beautifully while being easy to care for.'

11. Keep out the chill with lined window coverings

living room with pink and orange dragonfly wallpaper, a window with cream curtains and two tone blinds, a grey sofa with pink and white cushions and a pink throw, and a white coffee table on an orange patterned rug

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘Deciding whether to line living room curtain ideas - or not - depends on the situation, privacy and room darkening requirements,’ says interior designer Leah Brandwood, head of design, Blinds2go. ‘Lining gives curtains and blinds a more luxurious feel as well as reducing the amount of light entering the room. Plus they will help to insulate a home. But unlined fabrics are also a very stylish option for allowing natural light to gently filter into the room.’

‘Go for the right weight of lining,’ adds Helen. ‘There’s nothing worse than a Roman blind with insufficient lining so that the light comes through and changes the look of the fabric when the blind is down.’

12. Use the right pattern

Brown living room with patterned curtains and sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

‘People tend to think that plain or simple means long term,’ says Bhavin. ‘But there are so many colours, textures or patterns that will offer you a classic, timeless look and everyone should be open to these and be braver with their choices.'

If you’ve fallen for a bold fabric for your curtain in living room ideas, ensure that it ties in with the rest of your scheme. Go for a colourway that complements your living room sofa ideas, armchairs or a rug. Then add cushions in toning colours and in patterns that echo the curtain print.

13. Add luxe with jewel tones

grey living room with turquoise curtains, rug with colourful triange pattern and bright pink and turquoise armchairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore)

‘Heavy drapes in luxe fabrics like velvet or damask not only look lavish and opulent but help keep rooms cosy and warm,’ says Yvonne. They don't have to be as pricy as they might look, either, especially if you take advantage of current home decor discount codes.

‘Choose a thermal lining for your living room curtain ideas if insulation against draughty windows is required.' 

Jewel-coloured curtains like red, blue or purple living room ideas will pop against walls and look opulent teamed with velvet upholstery and plush soft furnishings.

14. Mix and match

blue living room with cream curtains and blue and cream blinds, a grey sofa with an assortment of cushions, a wooden coffee table and a wooden storage unit

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

‘If you can afford it, I would always go for made-to-measure living room curtain ideas,’ says Bhavin. ‘Treat them as an investment and get them made by a good curtain maker. There is nothing nicer than a hand-sewn or hand-finished pair of curtains that have been made for the specific dimensions of your window.’

Use complementary colours to give your living room a calm, cohesive look. Try a patterned Roman blind at a tall living room window, teamed with plain floor length curtains, in a toning shade. Edge curtains in a darker plain - picking out one of the darker colours from within your pattern for a co-ordinated look.

15. Combine sheers with patterned curtains

living room with grey walls, wooden floor, green pattern curtains and a grey sofa with pattern cushions

(Image credit: Blinds2go)

‘Many windows require a permanent screen of some kind to ensure passers-by can’t look right in,’ says Yvonne from Hillarys. 

‘This is where sheer curtains and blinds come in. Sheers are generally layered under a thicker window dressing, screening the window from outside to give privacy.’

16. Think about the track

a grey and white living room with grey curtains at a bay window, with light carpet and a white velvet sofa with matching cushions

(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

‘As bay windows project outwards from the rest of the room, a traditional curtain pole can limit how much material can move around the bay,’ says Lisa from Thomas Sanderson. ‘Choosing a curtain track instead will allow the material to glide around each corner without any fabric catching or getting trapped.’

‘Another benefit of a curtain track is that your fabric will stay more uniform each time it is pulled across the window. With no need for curtain rings, sets of pleats can be hooked onto the track at even points, allowing your living room curtain ideas to hang elegantly whether tied back or fully drawn.’

What type of curtain is best for living rooms?

'Function comes first when deciding on living room curtain ideas,' advises Juliette Thomas, Director, Juliettes Interiors. 'If you are a fan of watching TV or films, you want to make sure your curtains are heavy, with a blackout layer, to allow for prime watching.'

'If you live on a busy street or road, then privacy will be your focus so opt for a combination of sheer blinds and curtains. These will allow natural light into the room, without anyone looking inside. Alternatively, if they are just decorative, then the options are limitless!'

The size of your space plays a part in choosing between curtain in living room ideas, too. 'In a small living room, it is best to avoid short curtains as they can give the feeling of a lower ceiling,' says Ann Marie from AMC Designs. 'Instead opt for a set that hang from a curtain pole above the top of the window frame that hang to the floor - never to the sill!'

Which colour curtain is good for living rooms?

'It will completely depend on your scheme,' says Juliette from Juliettes Interiors. 'Curtains are an opportunity to make a statement so choosing an interesting pattern or tactile texture will draw the eye immediately.'

'Alternatively, if you want your furniture or wall colour to be the focal point, opt for a lighter, neutral colour palette for your living room curtain ideas, in a lighter material like linen, or disguise your curtains by matching them to your wall colour.'

'In terms of colours and pattern, this is really a case of personal preference,' adds Emma Deterding, Creative Director, Kelling Designs. 'However I always opt for neutral curtains if there's a lot of colour and pattern in the room already. Not only does this help to balance the scheme, but if you have spectacular views out the window, then this will allow them to flow into the room making the room feel a lot larger.'

Additional words: Jennifer Morgan

Lisa Fazzani
Deputy Editor

Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.

With contributions from