Woman opening her window treatments; sunlight shining through blinds and curtain.Your home’s window treatments are more than mere “window dressing”. They regulate light and temperature, provide privacy and, of course, contribute to your home’s decor. With countless varieties to choose from, however, it can be hard to know which to select. Read on to learn the differences between each type of window treatment and how to decide which ones are right for your home.




Shades are soft panels of fabric that are connected to a frame. They are available in a range of lengths, widths, fabrics and textures. A cord is used to open and close shades.

Shades come in several varieties. Roman shades fold into a pleated pattern when drawn up, balloon shades bunch up in puffy shapes and tie shades need to be tied to be held open.

While curtains and drapes are installed above window frames, shades fit into the window frames themselves. To allow in light, many shades must be fully lifted, sacrificing privacy for natural light.




Unlike shades, blinds are not made from a single piece of material but rather numerous louvers or slats that open and close. This helps to grant light and privacy at the same time. Blinds are opened or closed with a cord.

Blinds are often made of materials such as vinyl, wood, bamboo or aluminum, and they come in various sizes and varieties. The slats themselves can range from half-inch or 1-inch mini-blinds up to 2-inch Venetian blinds.




Curtains are one of the most popular types of window treatments. These fabric panels usually come in pairs and are available in numerous colors, fabrics and sizes. They can be installed alone or over shades or blinds. Curtains hang from curtain rods, which are installed above or beside the window frame. They usually have tabs on top for the curtain rod to pass through.




Though similar to curtains, drapes (or draperies) are slightly different. They are fabric panels as well but often have a lining that blocks most or all light, making them ideal for bedrooms. Drapes are often long enough to touch the floor and have a more formal appearance than most curtains.

How to choose

Choosing the type of window treatments for the windows in your home is best dictated by their function.

Ask yourself the following questions when choosing which type of window treatments to use:

  • How much light or view do you wish to let through?
  • Do you want to insulate or dampen sound?
  • What type of installations do the window trims, ceiling and nearby walls allow?
  • Do you want to minimize the windows or make them the focal point of the room?
  • How do you want your windows and treatments to fit in with the rest of the room?

To provide light and privacy: Blinds are good for letting light in without sacrificing privacy.

To keep out light: Drapes are often the best solution for blocking light and are thus popular for bedrooms. They can also insulate against heat and cold. “Blackout” varieties of any window treatment may be well suited to room darkening needs, however.

To make a style statement: Curtains offer some of the most eye-catching colors and patterns, and they can conceal shades or blinds that are less stylish.

To save money and upkeep: A practical option for cost and maintenance, roller shades are available for as little as $20 and are easy to clean thanks to their flat surface.

These tips won’t make you an interior decorator extraordinaire, but they will help you choose the right functional window treatments for your home. We’ll leave the decorating decisions up to you!