Drapes vs. Curtains vs. Blinds: What’s The Difference?

A sunlight-filled living room with large windows, adorned with elegant drapes that perfectly complement the white furniture.

Which Window Covering is Right for Your Home?

With so many beautiful and practical window coverings available, how do you know whether to choose drapes vs. curtains or drapes vs. blinds? It’s helpful to understand that each type of window covering is different and may be better suited to the needs or décor of a particular room.

When considering blinds vs. curtains, consider your requirements for each room. Are you looking for:

  • Privacy – How important is it? Does the amount of privacy required change throughout the day?
  • Light control – How much light do you want in the room, and how flexible do you want your control of light to be?
  • Insulation – Are you looking for a window covering that helps to insulate and save energy? 
  • Decor matching – Some window coverings work better with certain interior decoration styles than others. 
  • Specific functionality – Does the covering need to be damp-resistant or work with a sliding door? 

These considerations will all help you decide which window covering is right for each room.

Read on to learn more about curtains, drapes and blinds, the differences between them, and which are best suited to the rooms in your home.

Curtains, Drapes and Blinds – What’s the Difference?

Drapes vs. Curtains

While the words “curtains” and “drapes” are often used interchangeably to describe fabric window coverings, they are distinct products. While both are decorative panels of fabric that hang from a rod or rail, the main difference is in the type of fabric used and the size of the panels. Here’s some more information about each:

Curtains

  • Usually made from unlined light or sheer fabric, curtains primarily filter light and offer daytime privacy but are not designed for light blocking or nighttime privacy when used alone. 
  • A versatile window covering options, curtains are available in different widths and lengths – from half-window café style to full length.
  • Available in many patterns, textures and colour options, curtains are perfect to soften a room’s light and décor without overpowering the space.

Curtains offer many clever ways to dress a window – see Martha Stewart’s curtain styles guide for inspiration.

Drapes

  • Drapes are made from heavier, richer and more opulent fabric than curtains – such as damask, velvet or silk, and are always lined for more body, thermal control or light blocking. 
  • Generally, they have a more ornate pleated style or may be finished with a decorative top treatment such as a valance. They can add a focal point to a room and work well where there are architectural features to highlight.
  • Drapes offer superior privacy, making them ideal for bedrooms and other rooms where light control and privacy are important. The heavier fabric also makes drapes great insulators of both heat and sound. 

At Ruffell and Brown, we specialize in custom-fitted draperies for windows of all sizes and shapes. For those looking for a lighter curtain but with the benefit of custom fitting, we also offer a large range of sheers – light-diffusing fabric panels that can be used alone or paired with drapes or blinds.

For more info on what to consider when choosing between curtains and drapes, see this guide from Better Homes and Gardens.

Blinds vs. Drapes and Curtains

Blinds differ from curtains and drapes in several ways, but the biggest distinction is that they are not made from fabric, and they are fitted within the window frame.

The main features of blinds are:

  • Made from metal, wood, vinyl or composite (faux wood) slats or louvres that sit within the window frame for a neat finish. Available in different real wood or coloured finishes.
  • While they don’t completely block light, blinds offer good control over light and privacy thanks to the ability to raise or lower them completely as well as adjust the louvres as required. 
  • The clean lines of a blind can add interest to a window without distracting from the décor of the room, making them suitable for many styles and tastes.
  • Blinds are perfect for windows with something directly below them, such as furniture, a radiator or a sink.
  • Vertical blinds offer the same functionality for floor-to-ceiling windows or sliding doors.

What About Shades?

It would be amiss not to mention shades in this discussion – these are fabric window coverings that sit within the frame and are lifted or lowered to the desired position, such as roller shades or Roman shades. These should be considered as an alternative where drapes are not appropriate, but a softer look is preferred.

Which Window Covering is the Best for Each Room in My Home?

When choosing window coverings for your home, the good news is you don’t necessarily have to choose between drapes vs. curtains, blinds vs. curtains or drapes vs. blinds. 

The functionality of each window treatment means something different may work better in each room. Below are our recommendations for which window covering option is the best for each area of your home:

  • Bedroom – Drapes provide room darkening and a cozy environment.
  • Kitchen – Café curtains or faux wood blinds are neat and easy to clean.
  • Bathroom – Vinyl or composite blinds are resistant to damp and humid conditions.
  • Living room – Drapes offer a luxurious finish.
  • Dining room – Curtains or vertical blinds offer simple and flexible decoration.
  • Kids’ bedroom – Blinds are easy for children to use. Hang curtains over the top for a softer look.

Combine Window Coverings to Maximize the Benefits

As we have seen, curtains, drapes and blinds each have their benefits and positives, but you may be looking for maximum functionality. In that case, why not consider layering two different treatments for flexibility and a decorative look that complements your home? For example:

  • A wood blind combined with drapes allows for flexible lighting and privacy in the day with maximum light blocking and ultimate cozy comfort at night.
  • If you like the function of a louvred blind but find the look too stark, consider pairing it with light curtain panels to soften the look.

Ask Your Ruffell and Brown Window Covering Designer for Advice

At Ruffell and Brown, we understand that although the aesthetics of your window coverings are important, how they function is also a crucial part of the decision-making process.

Our team has years of experience guiding you towards the best options for the different rooms in your home, resulting in window covering solutions that look amazing and do the job, too.

Whether your ultimate decision is curtains, drapes, blinds or a combination of all three, we pride ourselves on offering a completely customized solution you will love.

Drop into our Victoria, BC, showroom to view our fabric and blind selection, or contact us for a no-obligation quote today. 

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