Curtains vs Blinds – what should you choose?

Should you choose curtains for the living room? Are blinds the best choice for the kitchen and bathroom – or the other way around? When dressing the windows in your home, the first decision is almost always about curtains vs blinds.

If you’re not sure which style of window treatment to pick, here are two things to consider: 

  • What look are you going for? 
  • What functionality do you need? 

And to help you decide, here are the main pros and cons of curtains vs blinds.

curtain vs blinds - what should you choose?

Why choose curtains?

The pros 

There is a new buzz in the interior design scene – curtains are making a comeback. So if you thought of curtains as old-fashioned and stuffy, think again. 

The great thing about curtains is that they’re extremely versatile. Like blinds and soft furnishings, they finish off your home décor and bring your colour scheme together. But they do that by either being the ‘party piece’ of the room – or by providing contrast to your choice of wallpaper or upholstery. 

Curtains can add drama and be the focal point of the room, like jewellery for your home. And if you’re looking for some extra opulence, you can add swags and tails to round up the look.  

But they can also calm down wild and exciting patterns used elsewhere in the room. Or they can add a little bit of zing to your calm surroundings. And they do that without ever overwhelming your eye or competing with the existing décor.    

Even better, curtains frame the window beautifully in both large and small spaces. They enhance tall windows and make spacious rooms feel warm and comfortable. And they give smaller spaces a cosy, intimate feel. 

On a practical level, you can choose from a larger variety of curtains than blinds. Also, they add insulation and keep those cold draughts out. And they are the best choice to reduce light levels in your bedroom and are perfect for doors and bi-fold windows.

And while curtains use more fabric than blinds, curtains don’t need to be expensive. My top tip when weighing curtains vs blinds: choose an inexpensive fabric and dress it up with interlining or trimmings

The cons

As mentioned above, curtains will take more fabric than blinds and you need to invest in a track or pole, which can make them the more expensive solution. Their bulk can also take up more space in the room and cut out more daylight than blinds, depending on their positioning. 

If you choose full-length curtains, be aware that they can collect dust bunnies. They are also not the best choice in a household with small children or pets. Cats are known to climb up or claw curtains and dogs might raise their leg on them while children with sticky fingers have also been known to cause trouble. 

Additionally, curtains don’t work well in humid environments. They can get damp and mouldy when used in a bathroom and they will stretch or shrink as they absorb humidity.

On a practical level, you need to consider the type of window or door you have when choosing curtains. If you have tilt & turn windows, hinged windows or shutters, you have to make sure the curtains leave enough room for them to function properly.  

Their weight might also make it hard to open and close curtains, especially if you choose a heavy fabric like velvet or linen or go for interlined curtains. So if you have a big bay window or tall period window, you might have to invest in a corded track, draw rod, curtain track glider or a motorised solution.     

Also, radiators are a big challenge for curtains vs blinds. Full-length curtains will look better but also block out the heat when closed. In this case, you have the choice between sill-length curtains or dress (i.e. non-working) curtains in combination with blinds.

Why choose blinds?

The pros

When it comes to curtains vs blinds, the latter are a good choice if you’re looking for a lightweight, practical option

Blinds take up less space and may let more light into the room with roller blinds causing the least amount of light loss and Roman blinds losing a little bit of daylight when drawn. This also makes them the perfect fit for small, functional spaces like boot rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.

Blinds are often the best pick if you’re looking for a simple, pared-back look. Roller blinds, for example, are the most practical and least decorative choice. They are completely unobtrusive and blend well into the background.

Of course, there’s an exception to this rule: If you are looking for a dramatic and decorative style of blind, London blinds are for you. They are luxurious and extravagant and their flounces need a lot of arranging when moved. So they’re not really designed to be used every day and are more like a dress window treatment.

When comparing curtains vs blinds, blinds use less fabric, so they are often the cheaper option. But cheap doesn’t need to mean bland. You can always jazz up a plain fabric with trimmings or borders.

There is also always the choice of dress (i.e. non-working) blinds which use even less fabric while still giving you the decorative effect for less money. And if you want to dress your glazed door, blinds are the perfect choice for you. 

The cons

Practical also means less decorative and especially roller blinds won’t add any visual interest to your window and décor. There are also fewer styles to choose from. And when it comes to the use cases of curtains vs blinds, there is also less choice with the latter. 

For example, if you’re thinking about getting blackout blinds, be aware that both roller and Roman blinds will still bleed light around the edges. Although a pelmet can be added to reduce light bleed at the top of the window it won’t help with light seeping through the sides. Perfect-fit blinds might be your only option here.  

And if you have a very wide picture window, blinds might not be your best choice either as they aren’t a practical option at large widths. This leaves you with having to use two or more blinds to match the size of the glazing while keeping them functional. 

Also, child safety regulations are a bigger factor for blinds than curtains. When using chains or cords for your blinds, you have to make sure they are at least 1.5m above the floor to keep children safe from getting tangled up in them. That means, if your window is not very tall, you’ll probably end up with a very short chain. Another option is to choose a chain that can pull apart easily to protect children from accidental strangulation. 

The type of window you want to dress is also important: If you have a tilt & turn window, you will have to put the blind outside the recess to keep it in working order. If you want a Roman blind for your hinged window, make sure the blind goes far enough above the window so you can open it easily. 

And last, but not least, if your window is not level at the top, blinds are not a good choice. They will look squint and will need an expert fitter to avoid it swinging out at a slight angle with the bottom edge being higher or the blind hitting the recess on the side.

The best of both worlds

When you have to make a decision about curtains vs blinds, it’s about what you want to achieve with your window treatment: Are you looking for a decorative style? Or does it need to be more on the functional and practical side? 

If you simply can’t decide, there’s a solution for you too, because curtains and blinds are actually very complementary. Get the best of both worlds by combining both, for example dress curtains with Roman blinds or heavy interlined curtains with semi-sheer roller blinds.

And if you have windows of a different size and shape in the same room, a mix of curtains and blind might just be the perfect choice for you.