Living room with floor-length white curtains

7 Curtain Mistakes That Could Make Your Home Look Awful (and How to Avoid Them)


Curtains can either make or break the look of your home. They're one of the most overlooked yet transformative elements of interior design. Done right, they create a cozy and high-end vibe, even on a budget. Done wrong, they can leave your room looking disorganized, cheap, or smaller than it actually is. So let's talk about seven common curtain mistakes that can make your home look awful and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Choosing Curtains That Are Too Short

A common mistake people make is choosing curtains that are too short. Curtains that hang a few inches or even a foot off the floor make the room look "off" and less cohesive.

Effect on Room Cohesion

Short curtains create an awkward visual relationship between the window and the floor. It can break the flow of your room, making it look smaller and disjointed.

Solutions to Avoid This Mistake

  • Graze the Floor: Aim for curtains that gently graze the floor for a polished and tailored look.
  • Slightly Puddle for a Relaxed Look: If you want a more relaxed and romantic vibe, let the curtains puddle slightly on the floor.

Recommendations for Budget-Friendly Curtains

Stores offer affordable curtains in longer lengths (98 inches or more), so you can find options that fit your needs without breaking the bank.

Short curtains in the living room making the room look smaller and disjointed

Image by topntp26 on Freepik

Mistake 2: Hanging Curtains Too Low

Mounting the curtain rod too low, just above the window frame, makes your ceilings feel lower, giving the room a cramped appearance.

How Low Curtains Affect Room Perception

Low curtains give the impression of a small, confined space, which is not ideal if you're aiming for an open and airy look.

Solution: Hang Curtains Higher

  • Create the Illusion of Height: Hang your curtain rod closer to the ceiling, around 2 to 6 inches below the ceiling line. This visually elongates the windows and makes the ceilings appear taller.
  • Rod Placement Guidelines: The rod should extend 8 to 12 inches beyond the window frame for optimal width.

C. Curtain Rod Selection Tips

Choose a sturdy rod that complements your decor. Adjustable rods are versatile and can accommodate various window sizes.

Mistake 3: Using Curtains That Aren't Wide Enough

Curtains that are the same width as the window often lack pleats or gathers when closed, giving them a flat, dorm-room vibe.

Dorm-Room Vibe from Narrow Curtains

When curtains don't have enough fabric, they look like plain sheets covering the windows, giving the room an unfinished and cheap appearance.

Solutions to Avoid This Mistake

  • Choose Curtains 2-3 Times the Window Width: For a more elegant and gathered look, your curtains should be at least 2-3 times the width of your window.
  • Gathered Look for Elegance: This adds fullness and sophistication, even when the curtains are closed.

Example Recommendations for Wide Curtains

Many stores, such as Wayfair or HomeGoods, offer wide curtains that provide an elegant, pleated look without breaking the bank.

Mistake 4: Opting for Cheap-Looking Fabrics

Some fabrics, particularly those that pill easily or appear overly synthetic, can cheapen the look of your curtains.

Impact of Synthetic Fabrics on Room Aesthetics

Polyester lace and stiff sheer fabrics can appear plasticky and dated, reducing the elegance of your space.

Solutions to Avoid This Mistake

  • Natural Fabric Recommendations (Linen, Cotton): Natural fabrics like linen and cotton provide a high-end look that's timeless and versatile.
  • Blended Fabrics as Alternatives: Cotton-polyester blends or linen blends offer the best of both worlds—affordability and quality.

Affordable Fabric Sources

Stores may have affordable options that stand the test of time.

Mistake 5: Selecting the Wrong Curtain Color

The wrong curtain color can clash with your decor or stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Bedroom with complementary curtain and bed linen colors

Impact of Clashing Colors on Room Appearance

Colors that don't complement the overall color scheme can make the room feel chaotic and disorganized.

Solutions to Avoid This Mistake

Understanding Color Theory: Learn the basics of complementary and analogous colors.

Complementary, Analogous, and Neutral Colors:

  • Complementary Colors: Opposites on the color wheel (e.g., red curtains with green walls) create contrast.
  • Analogous Colors: Colors next to each other on the wheel (e.g., blue curtains with blue-green walls) provide a calming effect.
  • Neutrals: White, off-white, tan, or light gray curtains are versatile and timeless.

Tips for Choosing the Right Color

If you're uncertain, default to white or off-white linen curtains for a classic look.

Mistake 6: Picking the Wrong Pattern

Patterns add flair, but too many competing patterns can overwhelm the room.

Issues with Competing or Bold Patterns

Too bold of a pattern can dominate your decor, while too small of a pattern can look cluttered.

Solutions to Avoid This Mistake

  • Contrasting Pattern Scales: If your pillows have a large floral pattern, choose a smaller geometric pattern for your curtains, or vice versa.
  • Pattern Mixing Guidelines: Contrast the scale and type of patterns for harmony.

Examples of Suitable Pattern Combos

  • Floral + Geometric: Mix a big floral pattern with a smaller geometric one.
  • Stripes + Polka Dots: Pair vertical stripes with playful polka dots.

Mistake 7: Choosing the Wrong Fabric Weight

Different curtain weights serve different purposes, and choosing the wrong one can affect the room's functionality.

Importance of Curtain Weight Selection

Selecting the right fabric weight ensures your curtains serve their intended purpose.

Solutions to Avoid This Mistake

  • Sheer Curtains for Decorative Purposes: Ideal for spaces with no privacy issues.
  • Medium-Weight Curtains for Light Filtering: Offers privacy while letting some light in.
  • Blackout Curtains for Privacy: Ideal for bedrooms or areas requiring darkness.
Bedroom with blackout curtains for privacy and light control

Selecting Fabric Weight by Room Function

  • Living Room: Medium-weight curtains provide the right balance of privacy and light.
  • Bedroom: Blackout curtains help with a good night's sleep.
  • Dining Room: Sheer curtains work well if privacy isn't an issue.

Final Thoughts

Curtains play a significant role in transforming your space, so it's essential to get them right. By avoiding these seven common curtain mistakes, you can make your home look sophisticated, cozy, and cohesive. Don't be afraid to mix and match patterns, colors, and styles to add your unique touch. Let us know what you thought of these tips in the comments, and check out more interior design and DIY home decor guides linked below!


How High Should I Hang My Curtains?

Mount the curtain rod 2 to 6 inches below the ceiling line for a taller ceiling illusion. The rod should extend 8 to 12 inches beyond the window frame.

What's the Best Curtain Fabric for a Hotel Look?

Linen or cotton-polyester blends give you that luxurious, hotel-like feel while being budget-friendly.

Should Curtains Match Wall Color or Furniture?

Curtains can either match or complement your walls or furniture. For a more cohesive look, choose a complementary or analogous color.

Are Blackout Curtains Necessary in All Rooms?

No, blackout curtains are best for bedrooms or spaces where you need complete darkness. Use medium-weight or sheer curtains in other rooms.

Can I Mix Patterns on Curtains and Pillows?

Absolutely! Mix contrasting scales (large vs. small patterns) and pattern types (floral vs. geometric) for a balanced look.

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